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Improved defensive line may lead to position shifts for Redskins


Improved defensive line may lead to position shifts for Redskins

Scot McCloughan signed Stephen Paea away from the Bears to step in and play nose tackle for the Redskins this fall.

McCloughan's motivation to add Paea became clear as the Washington GM focused on improving a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league. Paea had the size and experience, and last season recorded a career high six sacks.

When Broncos nose tackle Terrance Knighton became available later in free agency, the Redskins pursuit seemed more of a fantasy than a reality. As things progressed, it became clear Knighton could actually land in D.C., and then it happened.

While the improvement on the Redskins defensive line with Paea and Knighton is obvious, it also creates a bit of a logjam at the nose tackle position. Paea showed well in 2014, but Knighton is a star at the position, he even has national commercials that poke fun at his "Pot roast" nickname.

So what will happen with the two men? Paea doesn't seem concerned.

"It's gonna be a big plus for our D-line," Paea said. "I'm excited for our scheme, our defense."

The NFL's best defenses have a deep defensive line, and by bringing in Paea and Knighton, not to mention Ricky Jean Francois, the Skins should be much deeper and better up front. Position wise, the suspicion would be Paea and incumbent starter Jason Hatcher line up at the tackle spots with Knighton in the middle, but the Skins have already shown some different looks during OTAs.

"It's just a scheme. When we go sub, we still have the package where I play nose," Paea explained. "Or I'm with TK [Knighton] and he plays nose. I like it, versatility like that."

New defensive coordinator Joe Barry has made clear he will play to his units strengths, and maximizing reps for his best players would be in that vein.

"We are very multiple," Barry said. "We’re going to give you a bunch of different looks."

The sheer bulk of Knighton would be a difficult matchup for any offensive lineman in a one-on-one battle, and that should be accelerated as Pot Roast moves around the defensive line.

"Terrance is more athletic than most people thing," Paea said. "I don't know how much he weighs but that's a big man right there."

At nose tackle, Knighton usually gets double teamed by the center and guard, or the guard at least chips down on Knighton. Lined up across the tackle or in the guard/tackle gap, doubling is trickier with a pass rusher coming from the edge.

"He's not just taking double teams, he can get to the quarterback," Paea said of Knighton.

With more talent up front, it's hard to imagine the Redskins defensive line will not improve. The unit will need to for Washington to become a better team in 2015. 

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' offensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Associated Press

Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' offensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 19, 38 days before the NFL draft.  

Free agency notes and nuggets

Looking at the 2018 depth chart—offense

The Redskins are likely to make a few more free agent acquisitions and there is the draft, but the depth chart is beginning to settle in. Let’s take a look at where the offensive side of the ball stands now. The defense is up tomorrow

Quarterback: Alex Smith
Backups: Colt McCoy

The only question here is if the Redskins will draft a late-round project quarterback to develop as the backup. McCoy is in the last year of his contract and he may not be back in 2019.

Running back: Samaje Perine
Backups: Chris Thompson, Rob Kelley, draft pick

This is an area to watch. Thompson could end up being the only carryover if they get a draft pick who can start and decide to keep 2017 late-season addition Kapri Bibbs or if they find another veteran. They also could go with only three running backs.

Wide receivers: Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder
Backups: Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick

They may not carry six, so Harris, Davis, and Quick might battle it out for two spots. It’s possible that they will put a draft pick into the mix as well.

MORE REDSKINS: The Redskins week that was

Tight end: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

As of right now, this appears to be one of the few position groups you can write in with a Sharpie. If the Redskins are going to be better in 2018, a lot of the improvement will have to come from improvement of 2017 draft picks like Sprinkle. If he can develop into a solid blocker and a moderate receiving threat he will be an asset.

Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Arie Kouandjio, C Chase Roullier RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Backups: T Ty Nsekhe, G/T Tyler Catalina, G Kyle Kalis, T T.J. Clemmings

Kouandjio is a placeholder at left guard for the moment. He was solid pass blocking but struggled in run blocking in six starts in injury fill-in duty. I think that if they bring in another interior O-lineman in free agency or in the draft, Roullier will remain at center. I think Jay Gruden likes the way he is developing there and wants to continue.

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.

Tandler on Twitter


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 28
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 130
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 174

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Pernell McPhee reportedly on visit with Redskins


Pernell McPhee reportedly on visit with Redskins

NFL free agency doesn't care about your brackets. 

While you were watching UMBC, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee is currently on a visit with the Redskins:

Pernell, 29, was drafted in 2011 out of Mississppi State by the Baltimore Ravens. He played there for three years before spending the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears. 

Pernell has 182 career tackles and 31 career sacks.