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Need to Know: Why did McCloughan bring the 32-year-old Davis to the Redskins?

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Need to Know: Why did McCloughan bring the 32-year-old Davis to the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 1, 27 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 82 days ago. It will be about 163 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 17; 2016 NFL draft 27; Redskins training camp starts 118

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Less than an hour after I hit the “publish” button on this post about how Scot McCloughan is operating a lot like Packers GM Ted Thompson the news that the Redskins had signed 32-year-old tight end Vernon Davis broke. That was a decidedly un-Thompson like move. So why did McCloughan do it?

For one thing, tight ends are become scarce these days. Spread offenses don’t use them and so the number of quality tight ends coming out of the college ranks seems to shrink every year. McCloughan undoubtedly would rather obtain tight end depth through the draft but it’s possible that he has looked at all of the prospects and decided that the chances of landing one he wants in a place in the draft where he could be the best available player were extremely slim.

It’s also important that McCloughan knows Davis well. He drafted him in San Francisco in 2006. One of the things that McCloughan said that he didn’t like about signing free agents is that you didn’t know how they will fit in the locker room. McCloughan worked with Davis for five years so he knows that the player will fit right in to the Redskins’ culture.

It’s similar to last year when McCloughan acquired just one player over the age of 30, Dashon Goldson. The safety came in a trade but the reasoning is the same. Safety is a tough position to fill in the draft (the better athletes are gravitating to cornerback, where the money is better) and McCloughan knew Goldson from their days together in San Francisco.

Fan question of the day

how can the redskins improve their defense from last season?

I can only scratch the surface of this here but here are the two improvements they can make that I think would have the most immediate impact.

Increase their sacks and interceptions I don’t see their defensive backfield becoming a shutdown unit so the pass defense will depend on pass rush. The addition of Junior Galette and what should be further development for Preston Smith should help. More pressure will help the defensive backs in coverage and the Redskins may be able to double their interception total from last year.

Stop the run on first down Sure they need to stop the run all the time. But they were the worst in the NFL on first down, giving up a little over 5 yards per attempt. This is a matter of simple, fundamental defense, with the front seven being where they are supposed to be and not missing tackles.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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