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As Redskins continue to overhaul defense, how will the pieces fit together?

As Redskins continue to overhaul defense, how will the pieces fit together?

Less than a month into the 2017 league year, the Redskins overhauled their defense from the version that struggled in 2016. Gone are defensive linemen Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-François, and a number of new faces will play in Washington this fall. 

The latest signing could be the biggest impact player, as the 'Skins inked Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown to a one-year deal. Brown's immediate role will bring some question, as Mason Foster remains under contract and restricted free agent Will Compton has been tendered by Washington. Whether it's replacing Compton or Foster, Brown will push for playing time quickly, and seems likely to unseat one of the starters in the middle of the defense. 

Brown made nearly 150 tackles last season, so he deserves to hit the field for Washington. But in front of the linebackers, and behind them, will be new players as well.

Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee will end up starting on the defensive line, likely at the defensive end spots. McGee could end up at nose tackle, but that job could stay with Ziggy Hood, who the 'Skins brought back after a solid 2016 campain. Don't count out Phil Taylor at nose either. A former first-round pick, if Taylor can get healthy, he might push for the job too. 

Behind Brown and the linebackers, expect new players at safety as well. Su'a Cravens has been pegged for a switch from linebacker to safety since the final weeks of his rookie campaign last year. D.J. Swearinger comes to town with every opportunity to start at safety for the 'Skins, and head coach Jay Gruden spoke highly of Swearinger's play last season in Arizona. 

The Redskins defense ranked 28th out of 32 NFL teams in 2016 in yards allowed. Bruce Allen and the front office had to overhaul the unit, and it seems, are well on their way.

The team still has 10 picks in the upcoming draft, and it would be a surprise if more resources were not deployed towards the defensive line. Even with the additions of McClain and McGee, questions remain up front, though team officials are very optimistic about both player's potential. 

With Brown, Cravens, McClain, McGee and Swearinger, the Redskins 2017 defense will look quite different than the 2016. Add in new coordinator Greg Manusky as well as multiple new position coaches, and it's fair to expect some alterations in the defensive scheme and mindset. 

A different defense does not neccesarily mean an improved defense, though Brown's signing suggests the 'Skins are on their way. 

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Phil Taylor has a similar story to Junior Galette, and he could have a bigger impact

Phil Taylor has a similar story to Junior Galette, and he could have a bigger impact

There's a member of the Redskins' front seven who hasn't played in the last two seasons, and yet, the team is relying on him to produce at a crucial position in 2017.

C'mon, you've read enough stories about Junior Galette by now, haven't you? Because while Galette certainly fits the above description, Phil Taylor does, too — and if he stays healthy, he could end up mattering more to Washington's defense than Galette.

Taylor, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2014 and hasn't had a sack since 2013, looks to be the favorite to win the starting nose tackle job for Greg Manusky's defense. He had a promising camp in Richmond, and through two preseason games, has carried that positive play into game action.

On Monday's edition of Training Camp Daily on CSN, Trevor Matich spoke about what he's seen from No. 99 so far.

MORE: FIVE PLAYERS WHO'LL BE TOUGH TO BLOCK FOR 2017 REDSKINS

"He has not only earned that starting position," Matich said (full video above), "he has shown that he might be that missing force in the middle that the Redskins have not had for a long time, and that is a nose guard that can be a plugger against the run and not get pushed around, but who can also be disruptive."

A 3-4 defense without a nose tackle is like that one Jason Bourne movie without Matt Damon: not very good. And that's an issue that Washington's had for a few years now. So while a rejuvenated Galette would do wonders for the all-important pass rush, having an effective Taylor in the middle of everything may be even more necessary to the Redskins' success.

JP Finlay gave one example of how Taylor can impact a matchup.

"If you got Phil Taylor there at nose, that's going to open those gaps up for Jonathan Allen," Finlay said. "And you talk about what could be a pretty dynamic tandem on the defensive line, a position where the Redskins have not had anything close to dynamic for a number of years. What a veteran like Taylor could do for a rookie like that could be special."

The usual caveat for someone with this story is to not get too excited over a small sample. And some would say the Redskins are foolish for putting so much faith in Taylor's ability to stay on the field and do damage on it as well.

But so far, the reviews on Taylor have been quite encouraging. So while his name isn't as big as Galette's or many other members of the defense, his influence will be if he manages to keep developing.

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Inspired by the solar eclipse, here are five players who'll be tough to block for the 2017 Redskins

Inspired by the solar eclipse, here are five players who'll be tough to block for the 2017 Redskins

On Monday, the moon did something that probably made Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan very proud: it blocked the sun.

That's right — matched up one-on-one with one of the most feared things in space, the moon displayed great technique and a solid anchor, and in turn, treated much of the country to a thrilling solar eclipse. Hopefully, guards, tackles and centers of all ages took note of it, too.

In honor of the momentous event, let's take a look at the five most intimidating players who the 2017 Redskins will be forced to block in the upcoming season. The best part of these battles, by the way? They won't require glasses to view them.

MORE: WHAT DOES REED'S RETURN MEAN FOR THE OFFENSE?

5) Danielle Hunter (Vikings)

Hunter's name isn't as recognizable as the rest of the names on this list, but if he has another year like he did in 2016, it soon will be. The Vikings found themselves a gem in the 2015 third-rounder out of LSU, and the Redskins will see him in Week 10. He had 12.5 sacks as an NFL sophomore after six as a rookie.

4) Joey Bosa (Chargers)

A strange contract battle with the Chargers was followed by a hamstring injury during Bosa's rookie year, but neither of those prevented him from showing out in his first pro season. In just 12 games, the Ohio State product racked up 10.5 sacks, and he should easily surpass that total in a full 16-game season. He'll be the Redskins' problem in Week 14.

3) Aaron Donald (Rams)

Donald is currently staging a contract holdout and hasn't appeared at Rams' training camp. Every team on Los Angeles' schedule surely wouldn't mind if that issue carried into the regular season. Donald can wreck games on his own and has averaged 10 sacks a season through his first three years with team. The powerful defensive tackle is slated to face the Redskins in Week 2; perhaps they'll be lucky enough to avoid him.

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2) Khalil Mack (Raiders)

You know you're an elite pass rusher when you record 11 sacks and it's considered a step back. That's the number of takedowns Mack had last season, after 15 the year before. The days of people wondering whether the college competition he faced at Buffalo would hinder his development in the NFL are way behind us. Now, the Burgundy and Gold are left to wonder how they will block him in their Week 3 matchup vs. the Raiders.

1) Von Miller (Broncos)

Miller's been a Pro Bowler in five of the last six seasons and posted 13.5 sacks in 2016 (and that's after not notching one in any of his final four games in the regular season, too). Kirk Cousins, Trent Williams and the rest of the Redskins' offense will have the unenviable task of handling him when the Broncos come to town in Week 16.