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It's 'conceivable' de la Puente will get nod for Redskins on Sunday

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It's 'conceivable' de la Puente will get nod for Redskins on Sunday

It’s 'conceivable' that new center Brian de la Puente could start Sunday against the Saints, but the Redskins won’t make a final determination until later this week, Coach Jay Gruden said.

De la Puente was signed Tuesday and practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday.  

“We’re going to throw it at him and see what he can do, see how much he can pick up,” Gruden said. “But again, like [cornerback Will] Blackmon we wanted to bring in a veteran guy who’s played, made the calls, knows the offense a little bit. He’s got to pick up the terminology, which is going to be hard for him.”

The Redskins added de la Puente, 30, to take the roster spot of Kory Lichtensteiger, who was punt on injured reserve/designated to return because of a nagging neck ailment. Lichtensteiger’s replacement the past three weeks, Josh LeRibeus, has struggled in run blocking and with the location of his shotgun snaps.

[De la Puente is] more of a true center,” Gruden said. “LeRibeus has done fine job in substitution of Kory. The snaps are a little awry; we’re trying to work on it and fix that issue. And Spencer Long has never really played center, either. So we wanted to get a true center in here with Kory’s injury, so that’s why we went out and got a veteran guy like de la Puente, and he’s got to pick it up quickly.”

Added Gruden: “[LeRibeus’] blocking has been pretty good in pass protection. In the run game, he’s had his share of issues there. …But the big thing, the biggest concern is the location of the shotgun snaps. They’re all over the place and we messed up a few snap counts, which gave [the Patriots] their only sack.

“We’re not giving up on Josh, but we just want to have more consistent snaps from the shotgun. It doesn’t say that Josh is going to second team. It doesn’t de la Puente is going to start. We just have to get a guy in here with more proven experience at the center position.”

Asked if there’s a chance de la Puente could start against the Saints, Gruden said, “It’s conceivable, yes.”

Meantime, quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke as though he expects de la Puente to be his center against New Orleans.

"We're not going to be as far down the road this Sunday as we will e three Sundays from now," Cousins said. "It takes time. But I'm really impressed with Brian's recall and how quickly he's picking things up."

De la Puente, who has started previously for New Orleans (2011-13) and the Bears (’14), said he’s fully recovered from the ankle injury that cut short his only season in Chicago. He also conceded that it was getting “frustrating” as he waited for an NFL team to give him a call in recent months but said he never lost faith that his phone would ring, eventually.

Earlier this week, it did. And the San Clemente, Calif., native was brought to Redskins Park on Monday for a tryout.  

Asked about his approach to preparing for Sunday, de la Puente said the key is studying the playbook and asking a lot of questions.

“Keeping my head in the playbook, sitting with the coaches, getting with the quarterbacks, talking with the other linemen. ‘What are your tricks? How do you see this,’” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting on the same page as quick as possible. If have to play, I’m going to be prepared as possible.”

Asked if he thinks four days of practice gives him enough time to be fully prepared, he said he thinks it’s possible.

“We’re just going to have to see,” he said. “I just have to keep preparing and I think if they feel comfortable with me, they might let have a shot. But that’s not my call.” 

MORE REDSKINS: Compton, Johnson will see more action on Sunday

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 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.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196

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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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

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