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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Running back

On the roster: Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, Matt Jones

The numbers: Have six, likely to keep 3-4 on final roster.

Locks: Kelley, Perine, Thompson

A year ago, Kelley was in the long shot category here, the “9th-string” running back (in the words of Jay Gruden) and it looked like a practice squad spot would be a great achievement for him. You all know how the year turned out for the undrafted free agent.  He is likely to be the starter but it remains to be seen how many carries he gets. Take the over on his 2016 total of 168 but predicting 200 might be high, depending on how things develop.

RELATED: The numbers say that Cousin is an "upper tier passer"

Part of those developments that will affect Kelley is how well Perine progresses. The fourth-round rookie was not drafted to sit and learn; they want him to get his hands on the ball. I suspect that his workload will be light early in the season but as they get into November and December Perine could lead the team in rushing some games.

Thompson could be another player who takes carries away from Kelley. The third-down back averaged 5.6 yards on 103 carries over the last two years and Gruden may be tempted to try to get some of that production on first and second downs.

On the bubble: Brown, Marshall

Brown showed some flash in the preseason and he had a 61-yard TD run late in a rout of the Bears. But making to roster or not may not be in his control. It may come down to a numbers game. If they carry four tight ends, running back might be a good spot to shave back a spot to make room. If they carry three TE’s, Brown could stick as the fourth RB.

MORE REDSKINS: True or False: The Redskins will carry four tight ends this year

Marshall battled injuries throughout his career at Georgia and he spent last year on injured reserve. He has some speed and in OTAs he turned heads with some nice bursts off tackle. Still, he’s looking up at four players on the depth chart and four is the maximum the team will carry on the 53. If everyone stays healthy he moves into the long shot category and the 2016 seventh-round pick could be ticketed for a year on the practice squad.

Long shots: Jones

It’s rare that a player suffers a fall like Jones did. He was the unquestioned starter going into last season and in his seven starts he was on pace to gain over 1,000 yards rushing. But fumbles and other issues got him into Gruden’s doghouse and even new agent Drew Rosenhaus is going to be able to do much about it. Absent a serious injury or a suspension players who fall so far and so hard are few and far between.

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line | Defensive line | Outside linebacker | Tight end

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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Top 5: Redskins players and positions to watch vs. Packers

Top 5: Redskins players and positions to watch vs. Packers

The Redskins stumbled out of the gate in their preseason opener after falling to the Baltimore Ravens 23-3. Washington showed very little offense as they struggled to move the ball for most of the game, while the defense suffered some key injuries.

Kirk Cousins and company look to rebound in their second preseason game as they host the Green Bay Packers this Saturday at 7:30 PM. 

CSN's Julie Donaldson and former NFL GM Charley Casserly give their top five players and positions to keep an eye on in the Redskins second preseason game.


Charley Casserly Top 5:

5. Matt Ioannidis: "I like Ioannidis. I thought he played the best of the rest of the defensive lineman. He's a high motor guy, he gives you effort, he's quick."

4. Deshazor Everett: "I thought he played well the other night. I thought he covered well, I thought he was aggressive against the run, he made good tackles."

3. Outside Linebackers: "Hey Preston Smith, this is your opportunity. This is a big year for him because hey, we drafted a guy. Anytime we draft a guy, the pressure is on."

2. Kirk Cousins: "He's got an advantage here. Green Bay is down, two of their top three corners aren't playing. This passing game should be in sync this week."

1. Offensive Line: "This offensive line did not play last week...you got to come out, dominate the line of scrimmage, control the line of scrimmage, and set the tone for the game."

Julie Donaldson's Top 5:

5. Nico Marley: "He has a lot of heart. He's making a name for himself... this guy has more to show for us than just being Bob's grandson, but I want to see can he do it again..."

4. Deshazor Everett: Cc'd: Casserly's comments

3. Samaje Perine: "There were so many expectations for him, he looked a little bit lost. I'm kinda hoping those are just nerves..."

2. Offensive Line: "If Kirk Cousins is going to have any success, or anybody that goes behind him, if that run game is going to have any success then we need to get that o-line in sync."

1. Colt McCoy: "We are one injury away from Coly McCoy taking over this team."

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Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes


Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

Josh Doctson looked like a first-round pick in Richmond, at least, until a hamstring injury knocked him off the Richmond practice fields for a few days. On Thursday, back in Ashburn, Doctson again showed his considerable talents.

Taking the field for 11v11 drills for the first time since he injured his hamstring. Doctson made three catches from QB Kirk Cousins. He showed the same fluidity and smoothness in his routes that he flahes in Richmond. 

Leaving the field, Doctson said he felt good. After practice, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Doctson "looked good." Gruden added the plan is to see how Doctson looks in warmups before the Packers game Saturday (6:30, CSN) night and then the team will decide if the second year wideout will play or not. 

Other notes and observations:

  • In season, the media gets to watch very little of NFL practices, especially in the time leading up to a game. Since Thursday's practice was still technically a training camp session, reporters got to stay and watch as the Redskins prepared for the Packers by running their scout team offense and defense. Cousins and the starting Redskins offense went up against the faux-Packers squad, complete with Dashaun Phillips dressed in a yellow penny playing the role of Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. It was very interesting to watch, and shows that the Redskins will be better prepared for Green Bay this week than they were for Baltimore last week. 
  • Thursday's practice also went much shorter than many of the recent sessions, another sign that the Redskins were treating the Packers game like a normal week. The team skipped the bulk of individual drills, 7v7 and cut down on special teams work. 
  • Deshazor Everett missed the practice session with a personal issue, per Gruden. The coach added that Everett is "okay."
  • Working in drills near the goal line - against the scout team - Cousins looked dialed in. He fired touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Terrelle Pryor.
  • Kendall Fuller has locked up the nickel cornerback role. It also looks like the four down linemen in nickel will start with Jon Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. There will be plenty of changes and rotations among that group though.
  • Gruden announced after practice that Zach Brown and Mason Foster will start at the linebacker spots vs Green Bay. The team showed that duo in drills, which meant Will Compton got pushed to the second team. When that group was on the field, rookie Montae Nicholson tipped a pass at the goal line. Compton came up with it for the INT. 


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