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The Week That Was: Can the NFL protect players from themselves?

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The Week That Was: Can the NFL protect players from themselves?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 25, four days before the Redskins finish up their preseason against the Bucs.

That Was The Week That Was

—Yeah, it’s dumb for the NFL to fine RG3 $10,000 for wearing an “Operation Patience” T-shirt during warmups before last Monday night’s preseason game. But here’s the thing—if the league doesn’t control what players wear on the field you could see all kinds of shirts with all kinds of messages out there. There could be ads, personal statements, political statements, slogans of highly questionable taste, and the like. The NFL just needs to have a zero-tolerance policy over non-conforming apparel. The players have plenty of time during the week to express themselves.

—The story of London Fletcher’s concussion and him talking about getting his “bell run” has led some to talk about what more the NFL can do to convince players to take head injuries more seriously. But it’s possible that the league has done nearly all it can do. You can’t do much to protect players who don’t want to protect themselves. If you are designing a cruise ship, you can only make the railing around the deck so high. If passengers are determined to climb on it and play around or jump in the ocean there isn’t much you can do. All you can do is take reasonable precautions, i. e. build a railing that prevents anyone from accidentally going overboard, and hope for the best from there.

—I’m not sure that Chris Thompson was ever on the bubble, not even after he fumbled for the second time in two games in the third quarter. But if he was, a pair of events moved him off of it and into the “nearly safe” category. The first was the knee injury that knocked Richard Crawford, who was set to be the team’s top punt returner, out for the season. The second was Thompson’s own 31-yard punt return later in the game. Problem created then problem solved.

—It was good to see Roy Helu Jr. running strong, picking up 70 yards on 13 carries. It was not good to see him still in the game carrying the ball in the third quarter. I’m not sure the “injury prone” label fits him—he didn’t miss a game due to injury in four years at Nebraska—but there’s no sense in tempting fate when he’s obviously ready to play

—Nick Barnett made his Redskins debut after the defensive starters exited the game in the second quarter. If you blinked you missed it; the veteran played just 16 snaps and registered one tackle. Still, he is likely to be on the 53-man roster as experience counts at inside linebacker.

—NFL teams have to cut down to a maximum of 75 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Although we might hear about one or two cuts prior to that time, look to hear about the Redskins’ cuts right near the deadline. Mike Shanahan will sometimes wait until after practice on the cut down date ends before going in and submitting the waiver requests to the league.

In case you missed it

Here are links to all 37 Redskins posts from the past week from here and CSNwashington.com.

Sunday 08.18

Monday 08.19

Tuesday 08.20

Wednesday 08.21

Thursday 08.22

Friday 08.23

Saturday 08.24

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Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

The Redskins interviewed current outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky for their defensive coordinator opening, the team announced yesterday.  

Manusky has a long history with the Redskins organization. He served as outside linebackers coach this past season, and was also linebackers coach back in the 2001 season. In his playing days, Manusky was a Redskins linebacker from 1988 to 1990. 

He has held three separate defensive coordinator positions in his coaching career, including with the San Francisco 49ers (2007-2010), San Diego Chargers (2011) and Indianapolis Colts (2012-2015).

For more on his defensive philosophy and background, check out Rich Tandler's profile of Manusky

The Redskins have confirmed four interviews for the defensive coordinator position: Manusky, Rob Ryan, Gus Bradley and Mike Pettine

MORE REDSKINS: Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

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Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual contenders to go deep into the playoffs. The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart. Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Earlier this week we looked at the offense; today the defense is up. Although there could be a change to a 4-3 base defense in the making depending on who the coordinator is, we’ll line them up in a 3-4 until there is word to the contrary.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

Defensive line

Starters: Chris Baker*, draft pick/free agent X 2
Backups: Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier

It seems that Baker wants to stay and give that the Redskins would be starting their D-line virtually from scratch without him the chances of coming up with a deal seem strong. I will spend the entire 99 days between now and the draft saying that it’s not a given that they will take a defensive lineman, or any defensive player, with their top draft pick. But someone like Malik McDowell of Michigan State sure would fit in well here along with a free agent like Bennie Logan of the Eagles. The organization will be looking for leaps forward from Ioannidis and Lanier.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Outside linebacker

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Lynden Trail

Although nothing is certain until pen is put to paper, the chances of Galette giving it another go after two torn Achilles in two years are strong. Trail and Houston Bates will battle for a fifth spot, if there is one. Given Smith’s inconsistency and the uncertainty of Galette’s health it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft an edge rusher.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Will Compton, free agent
Backups: Martrell Spaight, Mason Foster, draft pick

I’m putting Compton there in dry erase marker, not in Sharpie. They love his leadership and work ethic but he must make more plays. I have a free agent starting beside him because it’s a tough position for a rookie to learn. But if they spend a high draft pick that player could jump into a starting job quickly.  Foster moves into the nickel role that he performed well after Su’a Cravens went out with an injury. Steven Daniels, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent the year on injured reserve, could push Spaight for a job.

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar
Backups: Kendall Fuller (nickel), Tharold Simon, free agent/draft pick

This could go in a lot of different directions. The only spot set in stone is Norman’s. I have Bashaud Breeland moving to safety, which is something of a speculative hot take. If they make that move, they could spend a high draft pick or substantial free agent money on a corner or they could stay in-house with Dunbar or Fuller. Simon could make the team and contribute or he could be cut.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Safety

Starters: Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, draft pick

Safeties are hard to find. In college, potentially good safeties gravitate towards cornerback, where the NFL money is better. If a good one hits the free agent market, the laws of supply and demand push the price up beyond the value of the position. For those reasons, the Redskins might try Breeland at safety. Some in the organization have believed for a couple of years that safety is his best position. Cravens announced that he would be moving to safety so that change is firm. Duke Ihenacho, who is a free agent, could be back but I think he moves along. Blackmon is a good veteran reserve who can play nickel also. Even though he made a key interception when forced into duty against the Eagles, it still seems that they don’t trust Everett at safety and perhaps a mid-round pick will replace him.

Specialists: LS Nick Sundberg*, P Tress Way, PK Dustin Hopkins

I predict that Sundberg will be the first of the team’s pending free agents to agree to a contract. Hopkins may get some camp competition but it is unlikely to be of more than the token variety.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.