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Need to Know: Will Barnett play special teams?

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Need to Know: Will Barnett play special teams?

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 3, five days before the Redskins open their preseason against the Titans.

Will Barnett play special teams?

Usually, backup linebackers play special teams. They are some of the best athletes on the team and have a combination of size and speed that makes the perfect for sprinting downfield to cover kicks.

However, Nick Barnett may not play special teams. He has started every NFL game in which he has played, all 139 of them, and special teams is not a role that starters are expected to fill.

When asked if he had ever played special teams in his career, Barnett initially joked that he hadn’t. The then said that he played punt team his first for years in the NFL.

He started his NFL career in 2003 so his last year on the punt team would be 2006 when he was in Green Bay. George W. Bush was still president, Bret Favre was the Packers’ QB, and Joe Gibbs was in the middle of his second run as the Redskins’ head coach.

It remains to be seen if Barnett will play teams with Barack Obama serving as president, Robert Griffin III as his team’s quarterback (RG3 couldn’t vote for president in 2006), and Mike Shanahan as the Redskins’ head coach.

It doesn’t appear that playing special teams was a condition of Barnett’s employment with Washington. When asked if playing teams came up Barnett said, “Yes and no. We are going to see where we are at when the season starts. I am here to do whatever I am told to do, play, and be the biggest impact I can for this team.”

It would be difficult to carry a linebacker who doesn’t play special teams on the 53-man roster and it would be even tougher to have among the 46 game day actives. But it can be done and the Redskins just might do it.

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Today’s Fan Appreciation Day schedule

9:00—Gates open

12:00—Practice begins

2:30 (approx.)—Mike Shanahan news conference

According to Redskins.com there will be performances by the Redskins Marching Band and the Redskins cheerleaders prior to practice.

Tarik talks rookie DB’s

In case you missed it

Days until: Redskins @ Titans preseason opener 5; Preseason Monday night vs. Steelers 16; Redskins @ Packers 43

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Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

If you took 100 random NFL fans and asked them to name the best player in the league, there's a very strong chance none of the 100 would say Trent Williams, the Redskins left tackle who clears paths like a snowplow. But according to an in-depth ranking system published a few weeks ago from Bleacher Report, Williams is in fact the correct answer.

The system, called NFL1000, is supposed to "bring exposure" to players who aren't as appreciated as they should be, and in the eyes of the analysts who built the rankings, no one should be appreciated more than Williams, who beat out Tyron Smith and Aaron Rodgers for the top spot. But that's still not the peak of his performance, the lineman says.

No. 71 apparently just got a hold of the NFL1000 list, and in a Wednesday Instagram post that featured it, he said his "best is yet to be seen." Sorry, opposing pass rushers.

In addition to that accolade from Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus chose Williams as their highest-rated offensive lineman, and the Professional Football Writers of America assigned him to their All-NFC team. It wasn't a perfect year for the Pro Bowler, however, as he was suspended for four games during a critical stretch in the season's second half (the Redskins were 2-2 without him).

Nevertheless, because an offensive lineman is often doing his job best when you aren't hearing his name called, it can be easy to take someone like Williams for granted. These types of awards, though, show the 28-year-old's value — value that he says will continue to climb in 2017. 

MORE REDSKINS: SETTING THE ODDS ON WHAT THE 'SKINS WILL DO WITH COUSINS

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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.