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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Outside linebacker

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Outside linebacker

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 started with the defensive line and then looked at the inside linebackers.  Today the focus turns to the outside linebackers.

2016 final game starters: Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan

Smith and Kerrigan both started all 16 games. Kerrigan has now started all 96 games since he was drafted in 2011.   

Departures: None

Projected 2017 starters: Smith, Kerrigan

Kerrigan’s presence is a given. He has four years left on the five-years extension he signed in 2015. Kerrigan made his second Pro Bowl last year with 11 sacks, the second-best total of his career.   

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 7.0

Smith was a model of inconsistency. He was dominant against the Vikings, recording two sacks and getting his first career interception to stop a key Minnesota drive, and against the Bears he blocked a field goal attempt and got a sack. During other games, you rarely heard his name called. He had zero or one tackles in nine games.

2017 reserves: Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, Houston Bates, Lynden Trail

Murphy played about 100 fewer snaps than Smith last year but he had more sacks, QB hits, and hurries. He is likely to miss the first four games of the season due to a PED suspension but an appeal is still pending.

Galette is the wild card in the bunch. He could get double-digit sacks, like he did with the Saints in 2013 and 2014, or he could miss the whole season, like he did the last two years.

MORE REDSKINS: The best picks at No. 17

Trail is huge, 6-7, 270, but still very green. He could benefit from another season on the practice squad although another team could be tempted to sign him away. Bates played just 24 snaps on defense but he was valuable on special teams and he lined up at fullback on occasion as well.

Where can the outside LB’s find improvement?

The Redskins have five picks in the first four rounds and there is a good chance they go with an edge player with one of those picks. The draft has some depth at the position and they could get some immediate production out of someone taken in the third or fourth rounds.

Smith has the highest potential for improvement from within. Even though Greg Manusky have moved up from outside linebackers coach to defensive coordinator he certainly will continue to push Smith as he enters his important third season. And he will no doubt get some tips from respected defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as Smith often will line up in a four-point stance.

As noted, Galette could be a Pro Bowl candidate or he could be totally unproductive. The Redskins probably would be happy with something in between, a half dozen sacks or so.

Locks and bubble players

Kerrigan, Smith, and Galette are locks for the initial 53-man roster. Assuming Murphy’s suspension appeal fails he won’t be on the roster until Week 5.

That would give Trail, Bates, and possibly a draft pick an opening. The Redskins usually keep four but they could go with five if they get someone in the draft. 

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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Kirk Cousins is real nice - and 3 other things we learned from the 49ers game

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Kirk Cousins is real nice - and 3 other things we learned from the 49ers game

Kirk Cousins got mic'd up during the Redskins win over the 49ers last Sunday, and well, it confirmed a few things Washington fans already knew about their quarterback. 

For starters, Cousins is a nice guy. A real nice guy.

On one play, Cousins completes a pass downfield while facing a bit of pressure. As soon as he throws the ball, he starts shouting to his offensive line, "Good pocket! Great pocket!"

He keeps going, "Hey that was you guys. I took forever, I took forever. Hey nice job."

NFL quarterbacks like to thank their offensive lines, but not always immediately, even while the play is going on. Kirk is a nice guy.

Some other things learned from the mic'd up session:

  • Josh Doctson has a nickname. It's "Papa Doc." No idea if that's an 8 Mile reference. 
  • Trent Williams believes Kirk Cousins' shoulder is worth $200 million. And he might be right. 
  • Kirk Cousins wants to stay aggresive. He laid it out to QB coach Kevin O'Connell. Cousins explained during the Redskins early lead:

"Sometimes I get in a weird place, you get a lead like this. Where you start playing conservative, not to lose. It’s smart to do that but it also kinda hinders your ability to just go play."

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Maybe the Redskins aren't as banged up on defense as we thought they were

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Associated Press

Maybe the Redskins aren't as banged up on defense as we thought they were

The Redskins’ defense may not be as banged up as we thought it was.

On Thursday, the first day of serious preparation for their Monday night game in Philadelphia, injured defenders CB Josh Norman (rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), and S Deshazor Everett (hamstring) all practiced on a limited basis.

Norman was inactive against the 49ers after suffering a broken rib against the Chiefs on October 2. Breeland injured his knee against San Francisco. They are the starters, and if they both can play against the 5-1 Eagles it would be a huge boost to the defense.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

It should be noted that both cornerbacks only took part in individual drills, so it is no sure thing that either will be ready to play in Philadelphia. But having them at practice was a good start.

Everett is a reserve safety and a key special teams contributor. His presence in the latter area could be important as the Eagles’ performance on special teams is among the best in the league.

LB Ryan Anderson (back) and S Stefan McClure (knee) both practiced on a limited basis.

Also practicing was S DeAngelo Hall. He has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in 2016. The team now has a 21-day window during which they can activate him. However, he must sit out at least one more game.

On offense, Trent Williams (knee) did not practice. That is not ideal but he was able to play last Sunday after being out of practice all last week.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Jay Gruden announced roster moves that had been reported previously, with K Dustin Hopkins (hip) and DE Jonathan Allen (foot) going on injured reserve. First-year player Nick Rose will handle the place kicking duties and A.J. Francis will take Allen’s roster spot.

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.