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Offseason review: Skins counter youth movement, re-sign Fletcher

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Offseason review: Skins counter youth movement, re-sign Fletcher

While the offseason has few weeks to go, its safe to say that offseason personnel and coaching moves are pretty much over. There might be a minor trade or a waiver wire pickup here or there but the cake is mostly baked.So before training camp starts, lets take a look back at the five biggest moves of the offseason. Well count them down in order of how important they were. Earlier, we looked at the hiring of Raheem Morris and the roster decisions made at the start of free agency and the signings of wide receivers Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan. Today we examine the re-signing of London Fletcher.The Redskins are on a youth movement. In 2009 they were the oldest team in the league. By putting a greater emphasis on the draft and by signing free agents who are in their primes they have become younger. When the final cuts are made on Sept. 1 the team should have an average age of about 27, which is near the NFL average.However, they had no interest in going young at one particular position. London Fletcher became a free agent in March but the team had let it be known as early as last season that they wanted to re-sign the 37-year-old Pro Bowl inside linebacker. Fletcher indicated that he would like to return but there were hints that the money would need to be right.For their part, the Redskins were not going to lowball Fletcher but, as has been their practice since Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen arrived in Ashburn in 2010, they werent going to bid against themselves for their services.As the March 13 start of free agency approached, the concern among Redskins fans that the team might not bring back Fletcher started to grow. When the teams salary cap space was chopped by 18 million when the NFL imposed a cap penalty on the team, anxious turned to panic as many wondered if the Redskins would have enough money to get Fletcher back in the fold.Those fears escalated when the Redskins dropped a sizeable contract on wide receiver Pierre Garon and spent some more on receiver Josh Morgan. A Twitter campaign using the hashtag resign59 was launched to try to use popular sentiment to push the Redskins into making a deal with Fletcher.Meanwhile, there seemed to be little panic at Redskins Park or in Fletchers camp. Both sides waited patiently for the market at middle linebacker to be set. There were no reported visits by free agent inside linebackers to the Redskins, with the exception of one by ex-Giant Jonathan Goff not to long before Fletcher eventually agreed to terms. If Fletcher visited another team, it was kept very, very quiet.It took a while for the market to set itself. It wasnt until late March and early April that deals came in for inside linebackers David Hawthorne (Seahawks to Saints for 5 years, 19 million) Stephen Tulloch (staying with the Lions for 525.5) and Curtis Lofton (Falcons to Saints for 527.5).Those other three players are all younger than Fletcher but they dont have his credentials as a three-time Pro Bowl performer (plus several other seasons where he played at a high level but was snubbed) and unquestioned team leader. It seemed reasonable to pay him according to the market set by Hawthorne, Tulloch, and Lofton, which was around 5 million per year.And, ultimately, they did. On April 13, just a few days before the start of the teams offseason workouts, Fletcher announced on his Twitter feed that he was back with the Redskins. One of the least contentious contract disputes in memory came to a close. The deal is for 10.75 million over two years.The Redskins will have Fletcher through the 2013 season after which he presumably will retire. The Redskins drafted his heir apparent, Keenan Robinson, and so a smooth transition could be in the offing.

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Need to Know: Redskins hot topics—Norman wants to bury Beckham feud

Need to Know: Redskins hot topics—Norman wants to bury Beckham feud

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 29, 35 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 209 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 43 days.

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice 3:00; players available after both practices.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 12
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 21
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 57

Hot topics from Redskins camp

RICHMOND—Some news and notes from around Redskins training camp.

—When talking about what happens in camp I frequently forget to mention that they are not in pads yet. That will start tomorrow. Speaking of the defensive line Jay Gruden said, “We’re in day one, day two, we haven’t even put on pads yet so we're giving everybody the opportunity. That’s what it’s all about.” We still talk about and analyze what happens out there. But the significance of it is diminished until the pads go on. Even then, it’s not as significant as preseason games and those, of course, are exponentially less telling that regular season games. Pads go on tomorrow and the first preseason game is in less than two weeks so we’re getting there.

—Josh Norman really wants to put the Odell Beckham Jr. feud in the past. At least that’s what he said. “It’s been in the past until you brought it up,” he said when asked about it. And it was in the past last year until Beckham brought it up. I don’t get the impression that he hates it because he does seem to get under Beckham’s skin and that’s a competitive advantage for Norman. The thing is, this year there is only a two-day media window between the Saints game on Sunday and the first matchup of the year with the Giants on Thanksgiving Day. It may or may not be a topic.

—The Redskins weren’t the only team that added a tall receiver in the offseason. The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffrey and the Giants brought Brandon Marshall in. Norman says he’d rather cover the big guys. “Tall guys, we’re the same,” said Norman. “It’s just who’s going to go for the ball, who’s going to get the ball. Short guys are quicker. They move in spaces to where you’ve got to touch them, you’ve got reach out. Some things they do, it’s more so of they’re trying to set you up, where those big guys, they’re just going to try to bully you. That’s my game, I enjoy that. Short guys, they [are] crafty”

—I’ll have more on this later but I thought it was interesting that Rob Kelley said that he doesn’t feel much different this year, when he likely going to start at running back and definitely will have a job after the September 2 cuts, than he did last year, when he was fighting just to b on the team. He still must compete. For motivation, he need look no further than the fall from grace experienced by teammate Matt Jones, who went from being the unquestioned starter year ago to being a trade or cut candidate.

—Maurice Harris suffered a strained knee in practice and was seen on the sideline with a wrap around it. Derek Carrier rolled his ankle. Both are day to day (but, then again, aren’t we all?).

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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LIVE Redskins training camp blog, Day 2

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LIVE Redskins training camp blog, Day 2

RICHMOND--The expected rain seems to be holding off as the Redskins get underway here. Follow along as I live blog from the sideline. Come back and refresh often.

—A lot of special teams work in the early going. Seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons is doing a lot and paying attention. He’s a long shot to make the 53 in 2017 but he knows that his future chances hinge on special teams contributions.

—Matt Jones is participating in punt protection drills. That should not be news but I noted when he wasn’t participating in special teams in minicamp so I should note it now when he is. 

—Jamison Crowder was split out wide on one offensive snap but he came in motion and was closer to the normal slot position by the time the ball was snapped. It will be interesting to see how many snaps he takes from a true outside position. 

—If Nate Sudfeld could get rid of the extra stutter step he frequently takes before delivering some of his passes he might be able to develop. But until he gets rid of that is will be difficult for him to go anywhere. 

—Pryor dropped a deep pass in the end zone in a drill without defenders. That’s a matter of focus as much of anything else. 

—And new TE E.J. Bibbs just dropped a short one over the middle. It’s not that hot. 

—Rob Kelley made a nice, one-handed catch near the sideline with a defender right on him. If he improves pass catching he will become a complete back. 

—Matt Hazel made a move at the line and left Josh Norman in the dust on a deep pass that the receiver.

—Now we’re seeing the Pryor we’re supposed to see. He ran an in pattern against Bashaud Breeland and used his size to shield the defender and his catch radius to go up and get the ball.

—Now Zach Pascal gets open deep, leaving Kendall Fuller far behind. He holds on to the pass for the deep completion. 

—Matt Ioannidis, Phil Taylor, and A.J. Francis are left to right on the D-line on the first snap of 11 on 11. 

—Just before Kirk Cousins took a snap, D.J. Swearinger bolted up to the line and blitzed. The run play went the other way and Swearinger chased it all the way across the field. 

—For the second day in a row, a high, wobbly Nate Sudfeld pass into a group of defenders got picked off. Today’s lucky recipient of the gift pick was rookie Josh Holsey. 

—A pass went right through Matt Jones’ hands. Ouch. 

—Josh Doctson almost made a nice diving catch of a pass that Kirk Cousins threw on the move but it took a bounce off the ground while he was trying to gather it in. Good effort. 

—Still no pads today. We won’t see that until Monday. Still more contact than at minicamp. 

—Chris Thompson flashed through an opening off the left side. I think they would like him to run more often but they want to make sure he stays on the field. 

—Niles Paul jumped in front of D.j. Swearinger to make a catch over the middle. Good play but I think that Swearinger would have tried to separate them from the ball if this was a live drill. 

—Josh Holsey made a diving pick of a Colt McCoy pass. It was not clear who was supposed to catch the pass.

—Ryan Grant split Fish Smithson and Deshazor Everett and caught Sudfeild’s on-the-money pass for a long gain. 

—When there is a snap snafu where the referee would announce, “False start on everyone but the center” it is usually the center’s fault. It looked like Spencer Long botched the snap count.

—Cousins gets the “not in my house” finger wag from Fuller after the cornerback knocked down a pass over the middle. 

—McCoy threw another “who was supposed to catch that” pass. Fortunately this one hit the ground. 

—That’s it for today, see you tomorrow, same time, same place.