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Can the Redskins D-line win its matchup against the Rams?


Can the Redskins D-line win its matchup against the Rams?

Much of the focus at FedEx Field on Sunday will be on the Rams’ defensive line, perhaps the best in the game end to end, going against the Redskins’ offensive line, a group that got off to a pretty good start against the Dolphins but still has a lot to prove.

But the game could be decided by the other two sets of linemen on the field. The Redskins brought in three free agents and spend some major draft capital to try to bolster their defensive front while St. Louis will start two rookies on their offensive line. If the Redskins can stop the running game and put some pressure on Nick Foles they will have a much better chance preventing an 0-2 start to their season.

The rookies are left guard Jamon Brown, a 6-4, 330-lb. third-round pick out of Louisville and second-round right tackle Rob Havenstein, 6-7, 332 out of Wisconsin. The center is Tim Barnes, who has been with the Rams since 2011 but will be making just his sixth start. At left guard is Rodger Saffold, a 2010 second-round pick who didn’t work out after three years at left tackle.

Greg Robinson, the left tackle, has an indirect connection to the Redskins. The Rams picked him second overall in 2014 with the pick that was Washington’s final installment on the trade for Robert Griffin III. Robinson struggled early on last year but he has settled in nicely.

Nick Foles was sacked just twice by the Seahawks in Week 1 with only one of those coming at the hands of a lineman. The Rams rushed for just 76 yards on 26 attempts (2.9 yards per carry) but they scored two rushing touchdowns. The also should have starting running back Tre Mason back for this game after he missed the opener with a hamstring injury. It’s also possible that top draft pick Todd Gurley will get some carries for the Rams. 

There are a few matchups to watch here. Jason Hatcher had perhaps his best game with the Redskins in Week 1, recording four tackles, a sack, and batting down a pass. He also should get partial credit for the Redskins’ only takeaway of the game. Hatcher had both of his hands on Ryan Tannehill, forcing the QB to spin out of the sack. But he spun right into Preston Smith, who got the sack and strip. Saffold will be responsible for blocking Hatcher most of the day.

The rookie Havenstein will have a handful with Ryan Kerrigan. He had half a sack, two hurries and batted down a pass against the Dolphins.

The key to the battles in the trenches may be whether or not nose tackle Terrance Knighton will be able to play. The massive Knighton missed practice on Wednesday with a rib injury. If he can’t go the line is significantly weaker. It’s not that Chris Baker is not capable of filling in but few in the NFL have Knighton’s combination of size and athletic ability.

It seems almost certain that the Rams’ D-line will make some plays. Chances are that the Redskins will only be able to survive that if Hatcher, Smith, Kerrigan, Knighton, and company can make some good things happen on their own.  

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price


Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 


Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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