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Redskins-Bucs preview: Plenty of players with lots to prove

Redskins-Bucs preview: Plenty of players with lots to prove

What: Redskins vs. Buccaneers
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet, NBC 4Robert Griffin IIIand the Redskins other starters are not expected to touch the field once tonights preseason finale against the Buccaneers kicks off.But if you think that makes the game meaningless, just askDezmon Briscoehow hes approaching it. For players like him, the contest represents their best chance of snagging a job in the NFL this season. Play well, earn a job. Struggle, get cut Friday, when teams must pare rosters from 75 to the regular season maximum of 53.So dont tell Briscoe tonight doesnt mean anything.Keep reading for a little more on Briscoes tenuous grasp on one of the final wide receiver jobs and a few other positions the crew atwww.csnwashington.comwill be keeping tabs on.1) Against the Bears and Colts, Briscoe used his 6 foot 2, 210-pound frame and sure-handedness to haul in a combined five receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns and leave an impression on the coaches, as well.Against the Bucs, though, Briscoe must show he can excel on special teams, too. He said he expects to line up on kickoff, kick return, punt and punt rush teams. He started as the off-returner last season in Tampa Bay.A strong showing on teams could be the edge Briscoe needs to beat outAnthony Armstrong,Brandon BanksandTerrence AustinandAldrick Robinson. Those five are battling for what appears to be two final spots at wide receiver.Im looking forward to showing the coordinators what I can do, Briscoe said. Going into my third year, Ive realized that special teams is a huge, huge priority for people in the situation Im in. I have to go out there and prove that I can play special teams.2) It will be interesting to see how CoachMike Shanahanhandles his running backs. If rookie Alfred Morris watches from the sidelines with the other first team players, does that mean he's claimed the starter's job? Last week's107-yard performance against the Colts clinched his spot on the 53-man roster.But how much will Tim Hightower play? The veteran returned from a 10-month layoff due to a knee injury Saturday, but carried the ball only five times (for a total of 28 yards) and was sore Monday. What aboutEvan Royster? He was sidelined with a minor knee injury last Saturday but said this week he hopes to play.The status ofRoy Helu Jr.(two sore Achilles tendons) remains unclear.More and more, it appears Shanahan will keep four running backs. The question now is who starts and how playing time will be divided among the other three. We ought to have some answers later.3) The team jettisoned two cornerbacks on Monday, waivingMorgan Trent(injury settlement) and tradingKevin Barnesto the Lions for a conditional draft pick.That leaves the team with seven corner backs and as many as five spots to fill.DeAngelo Hall,Josh WilsonandCedric Griffinwill be three of them. But who are the others? Seventh-round draft pickRichard Crawfordhas enjoyed a strong camp. But what aboutBrandyn Thompson,David JonesandTravon Bellamy?Thompson, Jones and Bellamy have 60 minutes to make a strong closing argument for the final spot.4) The kicking competition betweenGraham GanoandNeil Rackersnever gained much traction this preseason. Now the job belongs toBilly Cundiff, who no doubt will seek to make a strong first impression.Cundiff, long snapperNick Sundberg, holderSav Roccaand the rest of the field goal unithave had exactly one practice to get on the same page. Will it be a seamless integration, or does the unit need a little polish?The bright side for us is after this game, weve got nine practice days until we play New Orleans, said Sundberg, who added that he worked with Cundiff previously in Baltimore.I know how he works, he knows how I work, so I think it will be a quicker transition than we originally thought.

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins be interested in C Mangold, RB Murray?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins be interested in C Mangold, RB Murray?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 27, 2 days before the March 1 NFL franchise tag deadline.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/2) 3
—Start of NFL free agency (3/9) 10
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 49
—NFL Draft (4/27) 59
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 195

Monday morning Redskins musings as free agency approaches

1. It appears that the Raiders are going to let Latavius Murray, who rushed for over 1,800 yards combined in the last two seasons, test free agency.

I’d be surprised if the Redskins showed any interest. I’m not sure that they will be jumping into the RB free agent pool, at least not into the deep (expensive) end of it. They might draft a back to compete with Rob Kelley, Matt Jones, and Mack Brown. Chris Thompson will remain the third-down back.

2. Do you wonder why the Redskins have been reluctant to draft a safety?

Eventually, someone will need to figure out the safety position in the NFL. With all the spread offenses that safeties face in college the safeties have become more like additional corner. Also, the better defensive backs in college want to be cornerbacks because it pays better in the pros. The pool coming out is generally small to begin with and then it shrinks even further for each team due to the scheme factors that Farrar discusses. Su'a Cravens could be the solution to one safety spot for the Redskins but they continue to be in search of someone to pair with him. 

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

3. The Jets allowed C Nick Mangold to announce his own release. He was one of the best centers of the past decade; Mangold went to seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro twice. But I don’t see him being of interest to the Redskins. They are happy with Spencer Long and even if they weren’t, Mangold is 33 and he missed half of last season with an ankle injury. Those factors likely will make the Redskins steer clear.

4. Maybe some fans don’t care if they are getting information from the team through the media at the combine. Or at the Senior Bowl. Or anywhere. And it is the team’s option to have someone available or not during most of the offseason (a press conference prior to the draft is mandatory). But they are missing out on a chance to give their side of the story.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

5. We have another D-lineman signed as the Panthers retained DE Mario Addison.

Addison, who was with the Redskins for five games in 2012, also had six and 6.5 sacks the previous two year, not bad for a guy who has started just one game in the last three seasons. That average of just over $7 million per year sets another data point for the Redskins to use to try to retain Chris Baker. Addison is a 4-3 end while Baker is a 3-4 end so it’s not an apples to apples comparison but it will help figuring out what a reasonable contract is. Without seeing the details, it looks like Addison gave the Panthers something of a hometown discount as that’s a good price for a guy who was half a sack away from double digits.

In case you missed it

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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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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