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Need to Know: Will RG3 benefit from an improved Redskins O-line?

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Need to Know: Will RG3 benefit from an improved Redskins O-line?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 30, 30 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

https://twitter.com/Smoke1300/status/614105719839817728

Let’s look at this from a couple of angles here. First, will the line be better? Certainly, it will be different with Spencer Long moving in at right guard in place of the departed Chris Chester, top draft pick Brandon Scherff moving in at right guard with Tom Compton being pushed aside and Bill Callahan taking over the coaching duties.

But will different necessarily be better? Chester was cut for a number of reasons, his age (32) and salary cap number ($4.8 million) chief among them. He wasn’t cut because he’s a horrible player. Pro Football Focus rated him 15th among front-line starting right guards last year. That’s not great but it is not awful either; it's the definition of replacement level or average. Long was given every opportunity to push Chester aside last year and he couldn’t do it. The hope is that Long will be better over time and he’ll certainly be cheaper. But there is no guarantee that Long will be better in 2015 than Chester was in 2014.

Scherff is likely to be an upgrade over Compton, who was in the lower part of PFF’s ranking, right off the bat. But Jay Gruden certainly doesn’t expect him to be perfect when it comes to pass blocking. The No. 5 overall draft pick is “going to get beat a couple times by some top-level pass rushers,” Gruden said during minicamp. It seems as though Griffin can expect some pressure from the right side.

Callahan has an excellent reputation as an offensive line coach. But so did the man he replaced, Chris Foerster. It may be that Callahan can get more out of the unit but it’s not like he’s replacing some sort of a hack.

And there are potential issues with the holdovers. Trent Williams played on one leg for a good chunk of last season and missed a game and a half, Kory Lichtensteiger has to adjust to executing power blocks at 296 lb. and Shawn Lauvao was second on the team with 20 QB hurries given up.

I’m intentionally focusing on the negative here to make the point that it’s not a given that the Redskins will field a better O-line this year. But if things fall into place, they could be a pretty good line, especially as the season goes on and Scherff and Long get more snaps under their belts. If they do develop into the unit many fans hope they can be, can Griffin take advantage of it?

That remains to be seen. It won’t help much if he holds on to the ball too long like he did at times last year. Last year he dropped back to pass 247 times and was sacked 33 times (13.4 percent). Playing behind the same line Kirk Cousins had 212 dropbacks and was sacked eight times (3.8 percent). All of Griffin’s issues were not traceable to a shaky offensive line.

If the line is indeed better then that should help Griffin. But even if it does materialize, improved protection will not be a cure for all that ails his game.

Timeline

—It’s been 184 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 75 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 30; Preseason opener @ Browns 44; final cuts 67

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Jay Gruden presser recap: Enough is on Chris Thompson's plate already

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USA Today Sports Images

Jay Gruden presser recap: Enough is on Chris Thompson's plate already

Here is a recap of Jay Gruden’s press conference on Wednesday:

—The injuries are covered in a separate post here. Jordan Reed was the only non-participant. Gruden said his status is “wait and see.”

—Gruden doesn’t see them playing Chris Thompson more than they do now. He noted that in addition to being the third-down back he also returns kicks and comes in on second and long plays. “It’s important for us to keep him healthy,” said Gruden. “He’s not a guy that I personally want to give him 30 carries a game.”

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

—In a year, Matt Ioannidis has gone from being on the practice squad to being a key member of the defensive line. Gruden was impressed with his play against the Rams. “Against the Rams, he played very well,” he said. “He had pressured the quarterback four or five times, he hawked down Tavon Austin on a jet sweep, which was a big play on the first play of the game. If he gets out of there, it could’ve been a 70-yard touchdown.” Gruden said that work in the weight room with help from fellow DL Ziggy Hood helped in Ioannidis’ transformation.

—Gruden said that the Rams game might have been the best of Jordan Reed's career despite gaining just 48 receiving yards on six catches. “Yeah, Jordan was awesome,” he said. “I thought he had the best all-around game he’s had in a while. I think, not just route-running, but blocking. He was outstanding in blocking. Had a key block on the touchdown Chris Thompson had on the second series of the game, was physical and did a great job.”

MORE REDSKINS: FIRST LOOK AT REDSKINS VS RAIDERS

—The Su’a Cravens situation was dismissed rather quickly. The Redskins will not be adding another safety to the roster. “No, we have Fish [Smithson] already as our fifth guy on the practice squad and he’s doing a good job, so we’re OK at safety spot,” said Gruden. “As far as Su’a’ is concerned, we just have to put it behind us, move forward and let him take care of his personal life and let us take care of this season.”

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

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Redskins injury report: Jordan Reed out of practice, six are limited

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Redskins injury report: Jordan Reed out of practice, six are limited

There were a lot of wounded Redskins on the practice field on Wednesday as the team started preparations for their game against the Raiders on Sunday.

One injured player was not on the field. Jordan Reed was out with a chest injury. Obviously, there is concern but Jay Gruden said that it is too early to rule him out of the game.

A half dozen players were limited: RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder), OT Morgan Moses (ankle), S Deshazor Everett (knee), and LB Mason Foster (shoulder).

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

While none of the injuries seems particularly serious, they still could affect each player’s status for the game.

Foster suffered a separated shoulder during the game, popped it back in, and continued without missing a snap. He said that said that he was letting the athletic trainers handle it. “I’m going in, getting my treatment, doing what they tell me to do,” he said.

Kelley suffered a rib cartilage injury in the second quarter on Sunday. He said that the pain was very high that day but that it has subsided since.

MORE REDSKINS: FIRST LOOK AT REDSKINS VS RAIDERS

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