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Need to Know: Will the Redskins go running back by committee?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins go running back by committee?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 2, one day before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day, no availability

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 236 days ago. It will be 10 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 16; Browns @ Redskins 30; Redskins @ Ravens 37

Stock up/stock down vs. the Bucs

—I like Mack Brown and I think he could be a helpful player to have on the roster. But I just don’t see a spot for him. If they do take on a fourth running back I think it will be someone from outside of the organization, a veteran or an experienced back cut by another team. But I’d say they should stick with three; a fourth running back is like a fifth wheel. Keep Brown on the practice squad in case someone gets injured.

—The bigger implication of Wednesday night at running back may be in the division of carries. It seems that the offseason plan has been to give Matt Jones the vast majority of the carries, upwards of 75 percent of them. But the way that Robert Kelley ran, and the way he ran throughout the entire preseason, may prompt Jay Gruden and company to call his number more often. Jones will still get most of the rushing attempts but it may be more like a 60/40 split with Kelley and maybe Chris Thompson getting the other carries.

—If I was making the decision I probably would put Nate Sudfeld on waivers and try to get him through to the practice squad. If he gets claimed, oh well, find another developmental quarterback. But I don’t make those decisions and I think that the people in the Redskins organization who do will keep Sudfeld on the 53. It’s a defensible position, certainly. For one thing, a few teams needed three quarterbacks last year. For another, they have invested a lot of time in training Sudfeld in their system and they don’t want to start from scratch with another QB with the regular season getting underway.

—As of this writing, Josh Doctson is on the PUP list. He won’t be when Saturday rolls around. He has not practiced yet but they are not going to put him on the shelf for six weeks. I would look for him to be limited in practice the week leading up to the Steelers game and then inactive for the game. That pattern will continue for a few weeks until he gets up to full speed.

—On my final projection I have the Redskins keeping seven defensive linemen and 10 defensive backs. They could change that to keep Deshazor Everett on the roster. I don’t think that they really like their D-linemen beyond Chris Baker and maybe Ziggy Hood. If they think that their best 11 defensive backs are better football players than their best six D-linemen, why not set up the roster that way and keep Anthony Lanier and Corey Crawford on the practice squad.

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The answer was yes, I made it out. But it was close.

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Redskins Playbook: 3 quotes that stood out during OTAs

Redskins Playbook: 3 quotes that stood out during OTAs

With Memorial Day weekend between now and the Redskins next batch of OTAs, let's look at the three best quotes from the first organized team session. For Redskins fans, the biggest looming issue remains the contract negotiations between Kirk Cousins and the organization, but there are plenty of other spots worth watching. 

1) Bad recruiting - A long-term deal might not get done, but that doesn't mean the talks aren't moving along. Cousins sounded almost optimistic but also knows that football is never a sure thing. To explain, he told a story from his high school days:

I’ve just kind of learned from previous experiences and if you know my story going back to high school, I played my senior year of high school with no scholarship offers, in fact there was a coach here from Northwestern today who was my recruiting coach at Northwestern, he’s still the running backs coach 10 years later at Northwestern and I was getting recruited by Northwestern, wanted a scholarship, they didn’t offer me, and it was just a reminder that you never know what’s going to happen. 

2) Sky's the limit - Despite the high-cost addition of Josh Norman, the Redskins secondary in 2016 was hardly a strength. Much of that came from poor safety play, where the team had few experienced options and spent little. This offseason, Washington invested in the position, bringing in D.J. Swearinger from the Arizona Cardinals. The new safety thinks the secondary can become a strength, quickly.

We have a lot of talent. If we work day in and day out I think this group can be one of the best. We just got to keep working, keep gelling to get everybody on the same page, the sky’s the limit.

3) Does it even matter - The NFL gives out a lot of awards, but at least publicly, there is no hardware for the funniest head coach. If there was a trophy, Jay Gruden should win it. Earlier this week the league announced a number of rule changes, most noticeably a change to stodgy TD celebration penalties. Another rule change: Overtime will shrink from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. Gruden wasn't impressed when asked about it. 

Who cares?

Bonus - Who you calling fat? Gruden is too funny to only make the list once. Asked about second-year running back Robert Kelley, the coach made sure people know the difference between a nickname and reality.

That was just a nickname, he wasn’t actually fat. I think when you’re a 22-year-old kid, 21-year-old guy out of Tulane and you understand the wear and tear that the NFL is going to give you, you better get yourself into shape if you want to maintain a career in the NFL as a running back.

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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Need to Know: Are the Redskins one of the 10 most talented NFL teams?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins one of the 10 most talented NFL teams?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 26, 18 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

It’s been 145 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 107 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 18
—Training camp starts (7/27) 62
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 76

A top 10 team? Or No. 22?

Former Cowboys VP and current SiriusXM commentator and NFL.com writer Gill Brandt did a list of his top 10 NFL teams in terms of talent. At the top of the list was the consensus pick for the best team in the league, the New England Patriots. Also on the list were some of the regulars on lists like this one—the Steelers, Falcons, Cowboys, etc.

But the team at No. 10 on the list was something of a surprise. Since it’s being mentioned here you’ve probably figured out that it’s the Washington Redskins.

Brandt points out that they have a significant number of quality players in what should be the prime seasons of their careers, which he says, “portends good things”.

Judging talent is always subjective, especially when you don’t know how new players who arrived as free agents or draft picks will fit in. But good players are good players. Do the Redskins really have enough of them to stack up as a top-10 team?

One way to gauge this is to try to figure out how many of a team’s players could start for at least half of the other teams in the NFL. That is subjective but that’s what we do here so here we go.

On the offensive line, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses could start for most teams. Of the skill players, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, and Jamison Crowder are on the list.

Defense is a little trickier since not all the players in the front seven would be scheme fits everywhere. But I think it’s safe to say that most teams could find some way to utilize Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, and Zach Brown as starters. Josh Norman is probably the only member of the secondary who would qualify here although with as weak as the safety position is around the league you could make a case for D.J. Swearinger.

Not counting the safety, that makes a total of 10 who start for at least 16 teams, just less than half of the starters. There are some who could make it there is they take some steps towards reaching their potential. Brandy mentions Josh Doctson and Preston Smith. I would add Spencer Long and, if healthy, Junior Galette.

On the other side of the coin, where are the Redskins clearly below average? Left guard is the weak spot on the O-line. While the running backs aren’t awful I’m not sure many teams would trade their group for Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson. Despite the addition of Allen, the D-line remains suspect.

It is interesting to note that the Redskins are one of three NFC East teams on Brandy’s list; the Cowboys are fifth and the Giants are sixth.

You can look at the strong and weak points of the Redskins and write almost any 2017 storyline you want to. Peter King of The MMQB has his doubts about Pryor and Doctson being able to adequately compensate for the free agency losses of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson and his power ranking have Washington at 22nd.

Two respected analysts, two very different views of how the Redskins stack up in 2017. We have a little more than 100 days before we start to find out who’s right.

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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