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Matt Ioannidis’ hand brings encouragement for Redskins

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Matt Ioannidis’ hand brings encouragement for Redskins

There was an encouraging sighting at practice at Redskins Park on Thursday: Matt Ioannidis’ left hand.

The second-year defensive lineman was off to a very strong start this year before suffering a broken hand in Week 8 against the Cowboys. He was out of the lineup for the next two games and since then he has been practicing and playing with his left hand in a large, club-like cast.

On Thursday, he practiced with less protection on the injured hand, a setup that allowed him to use both of his hands. Those are important assets when it comes to shedding blocks and making effective pass-rush moves.

MORE REDSKINS: PLAYER ONE-LINERS, DEFENSIVE EDITION

“It restricts him a little bit,” Jay Gruden said when asked about the effect that the cast had on Ioannidis’ effectiveness. “I think he would have had a sack last week, actually. He escaped on his cast hand, which he couldn’t grab any cloth, so it does have an impact without a doubt. I’d be lying if it didn’t, but I think he’s been gutting it out and doing the best he can with what he has to work with and he’s been playing effectively. Just not quite as good as he would without it.”

His sack numbers bear out that assessment. With two usable hands, he had 3.5 sacks in the first five games of the season. Since then, he has played in five games without a sack.

Ioannidis’ injury, along with the loss of first-round pick Jonathan Allen to a foot injury, have had ripple effects through the defense. Edge rusher Preston Smith had 4.5 sacks in the first five games and just a half sack since then.

RELATED: NFL MOCK DRAFT

“Probably a little bit,” said Gruden on the effect that the loss of the strong interior pass rush had on the edge rushers. “Jonathan and Matt, Matt has missed some time and then he is playing with that club, so a little bit. That internal pass rush is hard to replace, quite frankly.”

The Redskins will need all of the pass rush they can muster against the Chargers. Philip Rivers is not a mobile quarterback but he has been sacked only 13 times this year. If a less-encumbered Ioannidis can pick up his game, Smith and Ryan Kerrigan could disrupt the comfortable pocket in which Rovers has been able to operate.

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

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp last year, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. I looked at the offense earlier, the defense is up today.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory, if you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.  

Defense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Jonathan Allen (26)
Changes from last prediction: Removed Josh Norman (33)

Allen was already playing well and getting better when a Week 6 Lisfranc injury ended his rookie season. He will continue to improve.

Norman will be a free agent in 2021. He still could be an effective contributor in Washington or elsewhere but his days as a blue-chip player likely will be over.

MORE REDSKINS: WHAT CAN THE REDSKINS LEARN FROM THE PLAYOFFS?

This is a pretty thin group of blue-chip defenders and even Allen has question marks until he puts at least two fully healthy seasons on his NFL resume.

Solid starters: Ryan Kerrigan (33), D. J. Swearinger (30), Kendall Fuller (26), Preston Smith (28), Matt Ioannidis (27), Anthony Lanier (28)
Changes: Added Fuller, Smith, Ioannidis, Lanier, removed Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland, Ryan Anderson (27), Zach Brown (31)

Age obviously could be an issue with Kerrigan and Swearinger. Kerrigan’s career has the look of one of a player who can still play well into his mid-30’s but you never know. Swearinger will just be hitting football middle age, but the high-speed hits delivered by safeties tend to shorten careers.

The others will just be hitting the primes of their careers in 2021. Ioannidis should continue to improve and Lanier needs to play better against the run to be a starter. If Smith can perform at his highest level consistently, he could edge up towards blue-chip territory.

RELATED: NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0

Cravens is unlikely to return after his rocky departure a week before the 2017 season. The chances are very good that Breeland will be gone in free agency in March. We really didn’t see enough from Anderson to figure out anything about his future, and while it’s possible that Brown will re-sign, I don’t see him still being here in 2021.

Potential starters: Trent Murphy (31), Quinton Dunbar (29), Fabian Moreau (27), Montae Nicholson (25)
Changes: Added Dunbar, Moreau, Nicholson, moved up Smith, Fuller, removed Mason Foster (32), Will Compton (31)

The most potential in this group comes from Nicholson and Moreau. Nicholson was headed to being in the “solid starters” group before his season was cut short with a concussion. He doesn’t have a bad injury history, as he missed just one game in his last two seasons at Michigan State, so there is reason to believe that he can stay healthy. Moreau has speed and a physical style and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting before the 2018 season is over.

If Preston Smith leaves as a free agent, Murphy could start on the edge. It seems likely that Dunbar will still be around and he could be a starter or a reserve.

There is one other group of players that is hard to classify based on a small sample size. We didn’t see enough out of rookies Anderson, Josh Holsey, Josh Harvey-Clemons to plot a career arc for them with any degree of reliability. Deshazor Everett will be 29 in 2021, and although right now he seems to be a special team player and spot starter, he could catch on and become a starter.

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

 

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Need to Know: Five possible Redskins free agent targets

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Need to Know: Five possible Redskins free agent targets

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 18, 55 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 47
—NFL Draft (4/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 234

Five possible Redskins free agent signings

Yesterday, we took an early look at how the Redskins might improve themselves in the first round of the draft. Free agency is just 55 days away so let’s look at five possible Redskins premium free agent signings.

QB Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings)—The Vikings have one of those “good problems to have” at quarterback. If Case Keenum leads them to the Super Bowl, they might have to hold on to him and let the 25-year-old former first-round pick walk. He didn’t put up huge numbers in his two years as the starter but the Vikings didn’t ask him to do much. He’s a pocket passer with mobility and it would be interesting to see what Jay Gruden could do with him. The devastating knee injury that cost him most of the last two seasons is, of course, a major concern and it would have to be examined closely before any major commitment.

WR Jordan Matthews (Bills)—He struggled some in 2017 after the Bills acquired him from the Eagles. He spent the last five games on injured reserve with a knee injury. But when he was healthy for his first three seasons with the Eagles, he averaged 75 receptions for almost 900 yards and six touchdowns per season. The injury could help the Redskins get a quality receiver at a discounted price.

G Jonathan Cooper (Cowboys)—The seventh overall pick of the 2013 draft has had problems getting a foothold in the NFL. He has spent two years with the Cardinals and two in Dallas. Injuries have hurt him as well. But he is young (27) and if he’s healthy he could be a good alternative to some of the more expensive options to fill the left guard spot.

DL Bennie Logan (Chiefs)—The Redskins wanted to sign him away from the Eagles a year ago but they couldn’t get a deal done. Logan went to the Chiefs on a one-year deal so he’s set to be a free agent again at age 28. He’s just the sort of nose tackle that Jim Tomsula likes (more athletic than heavy) and he could play on other downs as well. The Redskins have the same hole at nose tackle that they had a year ago and making another run at Logan is a no-brainer.

ILB Jon Bostic (Colts)—Logan was a second-round pick of the Bears in 2013 and if he signs with a new team in 2018 it will be his fourth in six NFL seasons. He is more solid than spectacular but the Redskins might just need someone who can play if they lose Zach Brown and/or Mason Foster and Will Compton to free agency.

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

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