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2017 Redskins Depth Chart Preview: Defensive line desperate for improvement

2017 Redskins Depth Chart Preview: Defensive line desperate for improvement

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster.

While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp.

They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27.

In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

We’ll start with the defensive line.

2016 final game starters: Chris Baker, Ziggy Hood (NT)

Ricky Jean Francois was the third starter but he started many games on the bench when the Redskins opened up in a nickel defense.

RELATED: UPDATED NFL MOCK DRAFT 7.0

Departures: Francois (released), Baker (free agent), Cullen Jenkins (unsigned), Kedric Golston (unsigned)

Projected 2017 starters: Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Hood (NT)

McClain and McGee came in as free agents. Injuries have hampered them at various times during their careers. Both are coming off career-best seasons so the Redskins hope that the two players are on the upswing.

2017 reserves: A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu, Phil Taylor, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier

Ioannidis was a fifth-round pick last year who didn’t make the 53-man roster and spent two weeks on the practice squad. Lanier took Ioannidis’ spot on the 53 as a development project. He played in four games before a leg injury sent him to injured reserve.

Francis spent time on the practice squad and was on the 53-man roster for one game. Mbu was a Week 6 practice squad signee. Taylor is a former first-round draft pick who hasn’t played since 2015.

Where can the D-line find improvement?

If you have been paying any attention at all you know that the Redskins will need to bolster their defensive line in the draft. Ideally, they would like to add a nose tackle but finding one can be tricky since the need to defend spread offenses in college has brought lighter, quicker linemen into the pipeline. But even adding a young end like Malik McDowell or Caleb Brantley sometime in the first two days of the draft would give a needed talent boost to the group.

Jay Gruden is very high on the potential of Lanier to be a pass rushing presence. He has the most potential of the young players on the line. Last year as an undrafted free agent he was just battling to get a spot on the team. This year as a lock to make it he will be able work on refining his game.

RELATED: A RUN-FIRST PHILOSOPHY?

It seemed like the team gave up on Ioannidis last year, cutting him in the final roster reduction and then putting him on the inactive list for four midseason games, preferring to dress the 35-year-old Jenkins instead. He is in a situation where he needs to improve or he could well get waived and not return.

Locks and Bubble Players

They have carried six or seven DL most of the time the last two seasons. The locks are McGee, McClain, Lanier, and the guy they draft in the first three or four rounds. Hood probably is the fifth lock unless they draft multiple linemen.

That leaves Ioannidis, Francis, Mbu, and Taylor on the bubble competing for one or perhaps two roster spots.

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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NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

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NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

The 2018 NFL schedule will be released at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 19.

The 2018 NFL Season begins on Thursday, Sept. 6 with the Thursday Night Football season-opener. Week 1 commences on Sunday, Sept. 9 with a full slate of games.

But what we still have yet to find out is when each team plays each other. Home and away opponents, plus intra- and inter-conference matchups have already been announced, but the 2018 NFL schedule release will tell us when the teams will play.

The 2018 NFL schedule rumor mill has already started, with reports that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday in Week 1 for the season-opener in a rematch of the NFC championship game. And as it tends to be, that news is incorrect. The Atlanta Falcons will head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Week 1. 

Here is everything we know about the 2018 NFL Schedule:

Redskins 2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

Per out-of-town reports, we have the dates of some of the Redskins games. 

WEEK 1: Redskins at Cardinals. SOURCES: Per NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay, the Redskins' will open the 2018 NFL regular season on the road in Week 1 to take on the Arizona Cardinals.

WEEK 5: Redskins at Saints. NEWS: The Redskins will travel to Louisiana for a early-season Monday Night Football game against the Saints. This would be a rematch of one of the 2017 games of the year. According to WDSU-TV New Orleans.

WEEK 8: Redskins at Giants. NEWS:  The Redskins will visit the New York Giants on Sunday, October 28 with a 1:00 p.m game at MetLife Stadium, according to an early leaked version of the Giants' 2018 schedule.

WEEK 10: Redkins at Buccaneers: NEWS: On Sunday, November 11 the Redskins will travel to Tampa Bay to play the Bucs. This should mark the Redskins' first game against their former star wide receiver, DeSean Jackson. 

WEEK 12: Reskins vs. Cobwoys: SOURCES: Per our JP Finlay, the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, Thursday Nov. 22. Our Rich Tandler notes that the Redskins are the only NFC team still unaccounted for on Thanksgiving on the Cowboys schedule.

WEEK 14: Giants at Redskins. NEWS: The Giants' will visit to Washington will take place on December 9 in what also is a Sunday 1:00 p.m. game, according to the leaked schedule

2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

NEWS: Week 1: Falcons at Eagles. Two days after Eskin's report, numerous media outlets report that the Atlanta Falcons, not the Vikings, wil be heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the 2018 NFL season-opener.

RUMOR: Week 1: Vikings at Eagles. Howard Eskin of Sports Radio WIP reports that a rematch of the NFC Championship Game will serve as the 2018 NFL season-opener with the Vikings heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.

NEWS: Week 6: Seahawks vs. Raiders: The Seahawks and Raiders will head to Tottenham, England for the first game of the 2018 NFL International Series on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 1:00 pm, according the NFL VP of Communications Michael Signora

NEWS: Week 8: Eagles vs. Jaguars: The final game in the London series in 2018 will take place at Wembley Stadium and will feature the defending Super Bowl champions and London's unofficial team, the Jacksonville Jaguars at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 28.

NEWS: Week 7: Titans vs. Chargers: The Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers are the second set of NFL teams to make the trip overseas. The two AFC teams will play at Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 21.

NEWS: Week 12: Chiefs vs. Rams: The NFL returns to Mexico for a Monday Night Football matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams at Estadio Azteca at 8;15 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 19, according the NFL VP of Communications Michael Signora

Redskins 2018 Home Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Carolina Panthers (NFC South)
Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
Atlanta Falcons (NFC South)
Indianapolis Colts (AFC South)
Houston Texans (AFC South)

Redskins 2018 Away Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles 
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
Arizona Cardinals (NFC West)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South)
Tennessee Titans (AFC South)
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)

RELATED: PROJECTING THE REDSKINS' 2018 SCHEDULE

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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back
Georgia

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

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