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Need to Know: Five things to watch at Redskins Park including a Plan B for Meriweather

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Need to Know: Five things to watch at Redskins Park including a Plan B for Meriweather

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 23, three days before the Redskins wrap up the preseason against the Bucs.

Nickel coverage

Here are five things I’ll be watching this week at Redskins Park and in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Bucs:

Clarity at running back—The Redskins had four players who are vying for one or two roster spots when training camp started and nothing has changed. In fact, the picture has grown more muddled by Evan Royster changing from being an afterthought to a real contender with some strong play and with Chris Thompson’s ankle injury dropping his stock.

The kicking competition—It appears that Zack Hocker missed the sweet spot on a couple of kickoff attempts, sending one short and another squibbing down the field. For his part, Kai Forbath booted a mediocre kickoff in the late going that was returned to near midfield. It still seems like Hocker is ahead but is he up by enough to make Jay Gruden and company comfortable jettisoning the tested (but kickoff-challenged) Forbath?

QB controversy buzz—There is not really a quarterback controversy but Joe Theismann’s comments do ramp up the rhetoric. Does this become a national “thing” with media asking the players about it?

A Plan B for Meriweather—It would not be surprising at all if strong safety Brandon Meriweather is suspended for at least the season opener and perhaps longer after he delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Ravens WR Torrey Smith last night. Will they start Phillip Thomas, who has worked more at strong safety but hasn’t played much in the preseason due to a hamstring injury? Or will it be Bacarri Rambo, who is more of a free safety?

Injury recoveries—It appears that Stephen Bowen and Leonard Hankerson will start the season the PUP list but we don’t know that for certain. The trickier injuries are to inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who has a high ankle sprain, and Morgan Moses, who has a sprained MCL. If it looks like they will be out for a while, extra bodies at their positions may need to be carried on the  53.

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice and player availability, times TBA

—It’s been 239 days since the Redskins played a game; in 13 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Final cuts 5; Home opener vs. Jaguars 20; Redskins @ Eagles 27

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 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 Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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