If Tanard Jackson returns to practice Thursday as expected, then the competition at safety can finally begin in earnest.Jackson missed the three days of training camp with a calf muscle strain, then sat out the next three days because of a CBA-mandated acclimation period.It definitely didnt help, he said of the delay. But its a long camp; we still have a lot competition left. My opportunity will come.Jackson is expected to challenge Madieu Williams for the starting free safety job. Brandon Meriweather, meanwhile, is expected to start at strong safety, while DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty appear to be battling for backup duty.Jackson said he can play both safety positions, but acknowledged hes more comfortable playing free.The native of Silver Spring began camp on the physically unable to perform list because of the ailing calf muscle. He said he was cleared by team doctors Sunday but couldnt join practice immediately because of a provision in the CBA that prohibits contact drills and pads during a players first three days in camp.Ive been patient these past three days, he said. I didnt know about the acclimation thing in the new CBA. I guess its a good thing because it protects us.Jackson joined the Redskins in April following his release by Tampa Bay, where he missed the majority of the 2010 season after being suspended by the NFL for a second violation of the leagues substance abuse policy. He was reinstated seven games into the 2011 season but had surgery on his shoulder in January. The Bucs cut him in April when he a failed physical exam.The hard-hitting 27-year-old didnt stay unemployed long. Secondary Coach Raheem Morris Jacksons head coach in Tampa Bay quickly reached out to the safety, who, in 2009, posted career highs in tackles (71) and interceptions (5) in 12 games.In 56 career games all with the Bucs Jackson has 239 tackles, 10 interceptions and a sack.As soon as I got released, I was on the phone with Raheem and Coach Jim Haslett, in less than 30 minutes, Jackson said.But if he wants to remain with his hometown team and reward Morris faith in him hes got to make up for lost time.And quickly.I dont have to overdo it, he said. But Im anxious to get out there. Im ready to go now.
Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.
Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected.
A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.
According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches.
Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.
Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.
The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.
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The Redskins are going to build a new stadium. That is certain.
Where that stadium will be remains unclear.
Washington team president Bruce Allen spoke on Monday and explained that the team is ahead of schedule in terms of a new stadium.
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The team's lease expires at FedEx Field in 2027, and Allen expects the team to move into a new "jewel" of a stadium.
Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are all in play for the new facility. Currently, the team plays in Maryland but practices in Virginia.
The Redskins greatest success came when the team played in Washington at famed RFK Stadium.
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