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Projecting the Redskins' 53-man roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins' 53-man roster—Defense

The Redskins are heading into the final phases of their offseason program. OTAs get underway next week, minicamp unfolds in the middle of next month and it’s off to training camp. While there is a long way to go, it’s not too early to project what the 53-man roster will look like when the final cuts are made on September 2.

I projected the offense yesterday; here’s the defense:

RELATED: How will the Redskins' back split carries?

Players new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also underlined.

Defensive line (6)

Starters: Jonathan Allen, Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee (NT)
Backups: Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis

McGee isn’t an ideal nose tackle but I don’t see room on the roster for Phil Taylor. Hood and Ioannidis both can back up at NT. This looks like an improved group but it could use another player with Allen’s impact.

Inside linebacker (4)

Starters: Will Compton, Zach Brown
Backups: Mason Foster, Martrell Spaight

Compton calls the defenses, although he may come off the field in favor of Foster in nickel situations. They carried a fifth ILB last year for special teams so someone will have to pick up the slack from another position.  

Outside linebackers (4)

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Ryan Anderson, Junior Galette

Trent Murphy is suspended for the first four games so a tough numbers decision is put off until Week 5.

Cornerbacks (6)

Starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Josh Holsey, Fabian Moreau

Moreau is not a sure bet to be on the opening 53; if there is any setback in his rehab from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during his pro day he could start the season on the PUP list. Holsey had his share of injury problems during his career at Auburn (tore his left ACL twice) and he has a lot to prove.

MORE REDSKINS: Tandler's rookie camp practice observations

Safety (5)

Starters: D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens

Backups: DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett

The starters are set while the reserves are very tentative. The coaches talked up Hall in March but they drafted Montae Nicholson in April. There have to be concerns about Hall’s ability to stay on the field. Everett is more of a special teams player; Josh Evans is a better safety and he could get the nod. Perhaps they could go with one fewer cornerback and keep a sixth safety since Blackmon can fill in at corner if needed.

Specialists:

LS Nick Sundberg, K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way

Some want a challenger for Hopkins to be brought in but it’s hard to see him not being the kicker Week 1 even if they sign competition.

Last three on: Everett, Holsey, Ioannidis

Last three cut: Evans, Nicholson, Taylor

Defensive breakdown: 25 players, four rookies, total of eight new to the organization.

Full roster breakdown: 25 offense, 25 defense, three specialists. Eight rookies, total of 14 new to the Redskins. Six new starters (five on defense, one on offense).

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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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 19, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 13
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (11/23) 24
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 40

Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

—Before the game, I confidently told someone on Twitter that Ryan Grant would get about as many targets (6) against the Rams as he did against the Eagles. But as it turned out, Grant was targeted just twice. The second time was on the game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes. A big difference between this week and last was that Kirk Cousins attempted just 27 passes against LA compared to 40 vs. the Eagles. That led to fewer opportunities for receivers and Grant was one of those who saw his chances drop the most.

—Cousins started well and finished strong but he didn’t do much in the middle. It seems that he was rolling along well until he misfired on a fade pattern to Josh Doctson and then on another throw to Chris Thompson. That ended a goal to go opportunity in a situation where a touchdown would have given the Redskins a commanding 17-0 lead. The next time the Redskins had the ball Cousins was sacked on his first passing attempt and he fumbled a snap a little later. In the third quarter and early in the fourth he completed some passes but many of them were for a minimal gain. To his credit, he didn’t panic and force a turnover. And, of course, he came through on the final drive, completing three of three passes for 42 yards including the 11-yard game winner to Grant.

—During the week leading up to the game, Jay Gruden emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback. It didn’t play out as well as I’m sure Gruden would have liked. They got two sacks of Jared Goff, one by Preston Smith and one by Ryan Kerrigan, both in the Rams’ possession late in the first half. They pressured Goff on other occasions but overall their pass rush possibly was not as good as it was against the Eagles. Then, they at least got to Carson Wentz even though they had issues bringing him down. Too often, Goff had plenty of time to operate and that helped keep the Rams in the game until near the end.

—Chris Thompson has been the Redskins’ offensive MVP so far. He has improved each year and yesterday he was at his peak. What you really had to like on the 61-yard touchdown run on the draw play was his patience. He was almost standing still as he took the handoff from Cousins as he carried out the pass-blocking fake and chose his path for when he got the ball. He said that the play was designed for him to go one way but his read took him someplace else. It took him to the end zone for the second time that game.

—One surprise early in the game was that Montae Nicholson started at strong safety in place of DeShazor Everett. Nicholson made no glaring errors before he left the game with an AC joint sprain. The depth chart here apparently is set after the team announced that Su'a Cravens, the starter until he left the team to contemplate retirement, will not return 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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NFL Power Rankings: Serious contenders already starting to emerge

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NFL Power Rankings: Serious contenders already starting to emerge

The NFL season is already one-eighth of the way done. That's a bit sad, isn't it?

Playing two games in professional football is roughly equivalent to playing 10 in the NBA or 20 in MLB. That means two things: 1) The season flies by, and 2) Contenders begin proving themselves early.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

This year is no exception. So far, those trending toward the top of CSN's rankings have looked dominant, and figure to be in the hunt all season long. Those at the bottom, meanwhile? Hey, it's never too early to start doing some draft prep.

Wondering where your team is (and how far Dallas fell, because that's something everyone enjoys)? Check out the link above or below.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS