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Need to Know: Will the Redskins go without a true nose tackle in 2016?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins go without a true nose tackle in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 24, 35 days before the NFL Draft.

I’m changing around the Need to Know format a bit. There may be some more tweaks in the coming days and weeks; your comments are welcome.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 74 days ago. It will be about 171 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 25; 2016 NFL draft 35; Redskins training camp starts 126

Hot topic

It looks like the Redskins just might to into the season without a true nose tackle.

They let Terrance Knighton leave in free agency and he was the only big-body, 3-4 style nose tackle on the roster. They looked at a few in free agency, but either they didn’t like what they saw or the bidding go too high for them.

So now it looks like they might turn to the Redskins longest tenured player to play the position. At least that's what Jay Gruden said yesterday. “But you still need to have a big nose guard in there that can stop the run and Kedric [Golston] can do that,” said Gruden at the owners meetings yesterday. “He’s proven to do that. He’s a 12- to 15-play per game kind of guy. And when you’re in base defense, really you’re looking at about 20 percent of the time nowadays is all you are.”

There are 64 snaps per team in an average game so 20 percent would mean about 13 snaps per game for Golston. That’s just about what he averaged last year.

The big question, so to speak, is his size. He’s not much over 300 pounds and the position typically calls for a player who is at least 40 pounds heavier than that.

Then again, Golston could just be a placeholder. It's possible that they have a draft prospect like Andrew Billings, who could play 3-4 nose tackle and also end in other alignments, in their sights. We will see how it works out.

Fan question of the day

Jay Gruden indicted yesterday that Bruton and Duke Ihenacho will compete for the starting job at strong safety while DeAngelo Hall will be the free safety.

But it’s not as simple as that. Gruden said that all three safeties have the range and in-the-box ability to play either safety position. And he also mentioned that Bruton was a three-time special teams captain in Denver and he will certainly have a role there.

The bottom line here is that we don’t know any of the safeties’ roles at this point. It’s late March, about four months from the start of training camp. They have to take these players through OTAs and training camp to sort out their roles. Bruton and the others, and probably others who are not currently on the roster. I don’t think you can rule out any role for Bruton at this point, from starter to occasional defensive sub and special teams captain.

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

Stat of the day

Alfred Morris averaged 100.8 rushing yards per game in 2012. The only Redskin to average more than in a season that was Larry Brown at 101.3 in 1972, but that stat carries an asterisk. Brown played in just 12 of the 14 scheduled games that season. He was held out of the last two to get him some rest for the playoffs.

In case you missed it

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Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

There continues to be a (ridiculous) debate on whether or not Kirk Cousins can continue to be a successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

In the betting industry, there is not much debate with Cousins being listed with 50/1 odds to win the NFL MVP award this upcoming season from Bovada. Among all the other players listed, he is in a tie for 14th. 

He is coming off back-to-back seasons with seven 300 yard passing games, a team record, and has an abundance of fresh, young wide receivers to compliment his passing style. Last year he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,917, trailing only Drew Brees (5,208) and Matt Ryan (4,944). 

The team may not be poised for a Super Bowl run in 2017-18, but if the team makes a post-season run, who will it be on the back of? Jordan Reed? Rob Kelley? Ryan Kerrigan?

No, it will be Kirk Cousins. 

RELATED: Ex-GM outlines staggering contract for Kirk Cousins

Entering this season at 40-years-old, and defending Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is the overall favorite at 4/1. He is closely followed by Aaron Rodgers, and young quarterbacks Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. 

BOVADA 2017-18 NFL MVP ODDS:

Tom Brady, NE — 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, GB — 7/1
Derek Carr, OAK — 9/1
Dak Prescott, DAL — 12/1
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — 12/1
Russell Wilson, SEA — 12/1
Matt Ryan, ATL — 16/1
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL — 20/1
Drew Brees, NO — 25/1
Andrew Luck, IND — 25/1
Cam Newton, CAR — 25/1
David Johnson, ARI — 33/1
Marcus Mariota, TEN — 33/1
Sam Bradford, MIN — 50/1
Antonio Brown, PIT — 50/1
Kirk Cousins, WAS — 50/1
Julio Jones, ATL — 50/1
Eli Manning, NYG — 50/1
Carson Palmer, ARI — 50/1
Adrian Peterson, NO — 50/1
Philip Rivers, LAC — 50/1
Matt Stafford, DET — 50/1
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG — 66/1
Rob Gronkowski, NE — 66/1
Alex Smith, KC — 66/1
Ryan Tannehill, MIA — 66/1
J.J. Watt, HOU — 66/1
Jameis Winston, TB — 66/1
Blake Bortles, JAX — 100/1
Andy Dalton, CIN — 100/1
Joe Flacco, BAL — 100/1
T.Y. Hilton, IND — 100/1
Marshawn Lynch, OAK — 100/1
LeSean McCoy, BUF — 100/1
Von Miller, DEN — 100/1
DeMarco Murray, TEN — 100/1
Carson Wentz, PHL — 100/1

RELATED: After Derek Carr deal, Cousins' best option may be short-term

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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

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