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Looking at the Redskins' roster locks going into OTAs

Looking at the Redskins' roster locks going into OTAs

The Redskins have the league maximum 90 players on their roster and a lot of what goes on between now and the season opener against the Steelers will be about finding out who will be on the final 53-man roster. There is plenty of talk from Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan about competition. But how much competition is there really? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start tomorrow let’s take a look with the caveat that injuries and a truly surprising performance could change the picture for a few players.

Right now, it looks like these players are locks to make the final roster:

Offense (18)

QB (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
RB (2): Matt Jones, Chris Thompson
WR (5): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder
TE (3): Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis
OL (6): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio

Nate Sudfeld will be the third quarterback but the team might try to carry him on the practice squad rather than on the 53. Keith Marshall has to overcome a history of injuries to make it. I could have included Rashad Ross among the receiver locks but he will need to show improvement in his ability as an NFL receiver and be more than just a fast guy. Shawn Lauvao is on the bubble due to his high salary cap number ($5 million) and the injuries to his lower extremities that likely will keep him out all of the offseason and perhaps training camp. You have to consider Ty Nsekhe a solid favorite to beat out Takoby Cofield for the backup tackle job but not quite a lock. Some might see Lichtensteiger as being on the bubble but I think he stays around as a guard/center reserve even if he loses his starting job.

The Redskins are likely to keep 25 offensive players so there are seven jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.

Defense (21)

DL (6): Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Matt Ioannidis, Trent Murphy, Kendall Reyes
LB (7): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Mason Foster, Su’a Cravens
DB (8): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, David Bruton, Will Blackmon

I’m tempted to add Kedric Golston as a lock on the defensive line since he is the ultimate survivor but I’m not convinced that they will keep more than six on the D-line. As discussed here, there will be a huge battle for the remaining one or two inside linebacker spots. They kept 10 defensive backs last year but they have some versatility this year so they may carry only nine in 2016.

There are likely to be 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves four spots open.

The three specialists on the roster, kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress Way, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.

That makes a total of 42 locks so 11 jobs are up for grabs. Who is in contention for those 11 spots? We’ll take a look tomorrow.

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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

The Redskins have not had a very good year when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback. They have 31 sacks for the season, 17th in the NFL.

They had a then-NFL best 32-game streak with at least one sack came to an end in Week 10 against the Vikings.

Ryan Kerrigan is doing well with 9.0 sacks to his credit. Preston Smith has five but only a half since Week 6. Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen were forming a solid interior pass rush tandem early in the year but Allen went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury and Ioannidis suffered a broken hand that limited his playing time and effectiveness.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

But the cure to the Redskins’ pass-rushing ills just may be coming to town on Sunday in the form of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Cardinals have given up 44 sacks on the season; that’s 31st in the NFL.

Things have gotten worse in the last couple of weeks, with Gabbert going down a combined 15 times against the Rams and Titans.

If you think that the Cardinals may have hit rock bottom, consider that two starters, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Earl Watford, won’t be playing due to injuries.

Will Holden, a rookie fifth-round pick, will start at left tackle and Evan Boehm, who lost his job to Watford earlier this season, will be the right guard.

Of course, the Redskins have to go out and make it happen. The entire Cowboys offense was slumping until they met the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. They can’t be a haven for a struggling unit once again.

In any case, it is an opportunity that is in front of the Redskins. It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

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.

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

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.

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