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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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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!