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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden's 'most consistent' wide receiver might surprise fans

Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden's 'most consistent' wide receiver might surprise fans

The stats don't show it. Fans might not love it. Jay Gruden and the Redskins coaching staff, however, know the value wide receiver Ryan Grant brings to the team. 

"Hopefully he’ll get more opportunities. He’s our most consistent guy, without a doubt, as a far as being able to lineup everywhere, run the routes exactly how we want them at the right depth coming out of them," Gruden said during minicamp.

Redskins fans can read this a few different ways. Straightforward, Grant works hard and does what the coaches want. Watch enough practices and it's obvious; Grant runs each drill exactly as it's taught, rarely turning a corner early or starting a cut before the proper step. 

Beyond Grant's work ethic and understanding of the route concepts though, Grant can be an example for new wideout Terrelle Pryor and second-year man Josh Doctson. Those two players, along with Jamison Crowder, will likely get the starter's portion of snaps this fall.

Pryor posted 1,000 yards last year in Cleveland, but is still learning the receiver position. Doctson barely played in 2016. Both guys can learn from Grant, who is also an excellent downfield blocker.

And Gruden defnitely thinks Grant could produce in the Redskins offense. 

"That’s the big thing is opportunities. He needs opportunities. You can’t produce very well at wideout if you don’t get opportunities," Gruden said. "Wide receivers moan about that all the time, ‘Throw me the ball.’ And poor Ryan doesn’t moan about it, probably internally he does."

Grant's best season came in 2015 when he had nearly 270 yards receiving on 23 catches. Last year, those numbers slipped big time; he had just nine catches for 76 yards. 

To produce this fall, Grant will need opportunities. None of that will change his consistency on the practice field, and that's why the coaches like him so much.

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Need to Know: The 2017 Redskins—5 reasons for concern

Need to Know: The 2017 Redskins—5 reasons for concern

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 23, 10 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 234 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 18 days.

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Player availability, Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason national TV vs. Bengals (8/27) 4
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 25
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 32

Five reasons for concern

Yesterday we looked at reasons to be optimistic about the 2017 Redskins. Today, here are some potential roadblocks that will keep the team from improving and may cause them to take a few steps back.

Kirk Cousins will have difficulty duplicating his 2016 season—Last year, Cousins became one of 10 quarterbacks to pass for over 4,900 yards in a season. Of those 10 only two, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford, have done it more than once. No, Tom Brady hasn’t done it more than once and neither did Peyton Manning or Dan Marino. If Cousins can’t, the passing game, the strength of the team, won’t be quite as strong.

The defensive line is likely to be only marginally improved—Yes, they drafted Jonathan Allen but they lost Chris Baker. Jim Tomsula is one of the best D-line coaches in the league but so far, the two moderately-expensive free agents the team signed are duds. The line a long-term rebuilding project and anything more than baby steps this year will be a bonus.

The safety position—The Redskins “fixed” this position with a wing and a prayer. In a league where competent safeties are hard to come by, D.J. Swearinger is on his fourth team in five years in the league. How good can he be? And Su’a Cravens is a step slow and he’s missing some vital time while recovering from a knee injury. The position should be an upgrade from last year’s group, which included Donte Whitner and Duke Ihenacho but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a quality unit.

Depth in important spots—I had interior O-line depth on my list as I was starting to draft this post and that was before news of Spencer Long’s injury came out. His place will be taken by Chase Roullier, a sixth-round pick who played one year of center at Wyoming. Next up in the interior line is either Kyle Kalis, an undrafted rookie, or Arie Kouandjio, who hasn’t been able to seriously push for a starting job since he was a fourth-round pick in 2015. And with the D-line starters being questionable it’s hard to have much confidence in the backups.  

The schedule—Yes, often what looks like a daunting game at the start of the year turns out to be not so though when you play it. But there is some history the Redskins will have to deal with, particularly on the road. The Chiefs are 4-1 on Monday nights at home since 2000 and they weren’t a very good team for a good chunk of that time span. The Seahawks are 34-6 at home since 2012. There are other factors as well. Ezekiel Elliott will be back for both games against the Cowboys. That five-game winning streak against the Eagles is bound to end this year. Will they be able to get juiced up for a trip to LA to play in a massive stadium that might be half full? Then another one there to play in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium? There are banana peels everywhere you look.

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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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Starters: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor
Other roster locks: Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier
On the bubble: Matt Ioannidis, A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu

How the defensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: The addition of Allen is a boost but the losses of Chris Baker (free agent) and Ricky Jean Francois (released) can’t be overlooked. Second-year players Lanier and Ioannidis should improve and Hood will be a rotational player instead of a starter, a role better suited to his ability. Andi new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will get the most out of them. The key to improvement will be McClain and McGee. If the two free agents live up to their contracts the line should be better than it was last year. If not, they will struggle again. Slightly better

To the rest of the NFL: But let’s not mistake an improved Redskins D-line for one of the better units in the league. While it’s tough to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 front, it still would be quite a leap for the Redskins to move from the bottom of the pack to the lower middle. Tomsula inherited a multi-year rebuild; one draft pick and a couple of free agents are not going to transform the line into a force. Bottom third

RELATED: 2017 OUTLOOK: WIDE RECEIVER

2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Since I used his name in conjunction with that of Dave Butz above, that has to be Allen. He has both the physical ability and the mental makeup to be a very, very good one.

Most to prove: Nearly every player on the line has something to prove but only Phil Taylor has been out of football for the last two years. He has worked his way up from a brief retirement to a futures contract with the Redskins to a roster long shot to a probable starter. But he still only has 21 preseason snaps under his belt and he has a long way to go before he reestablishes himself as a legitimate NFL player.

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Rookie watch: The only rookie with a realistic shot at making the roster is Allen. His Nick Saban-Alabama background has him well prepared to handle the scrutiny that comes with being a top draft pick and the expectations that come with playing in a place like Washington.

Bottom line: The best-case scenario here is that Taylor anchors the line in the middle, Allen’s learning curve is short, Lanier contributes six sacks in a nickel role, and the rest of the players make up a good rotation. Anything more would be a big bonus. Anything less would be back to being one of the worst defenses against the run.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Phil Taylor:

Well, I’ll tell you, I was in Cincinnati for three years when he was at Cleveland and I know what a force he can be at nose. He was tough to deal with, he really was. We had him for a workout, and I didn’t even know he was on the streets. His knee looked better. He was in good shape. He had a whole offseason and did some good things. I think his body is finally back to where he feels really good. He’s moving around, he’s active, he’s strong, so I like where he is right now. He’s just got to continue to maintain 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.