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Need to Know: How many new starters on the Redskins' offensive line?

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Need to Know: How many new starters on the Redskins' offensive line?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 10, 81 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

It's Sunday so I'm going to empty out the mailbag and answer some that don't require long answers. Let's get started with the Quick Hits:

 

Although I wouldn’t expect the Redskins to discuss their Plan B at quarterback should they not renew Griffin’s contract I have to think that it has been discussed internally. And if they decide to withdraw Griffin’s option and not negotiate another deal with him, it’s back on the QB carousel. I’d have to think that after taking a quick breather after the 2015 draft the personnel department will start work on 2016 draft–eligible quarterbacks like Cardale Jones of Ohio State and Connor Cook of Michigan State. They will look at potential free agents but that list usually resembles the proverbial waiver wire from hell. In short, if they need a quarterback they will have to keep on trying until they find one.

There’s no question about Culliver; his contract and his ability have him locked into a starting job, possibly following the opposition’s No. 1 receiver from side to side. Breeland was good enough last year to warrant having the first crack at the other starting job. DeAngelo Hall is not going to get cut but you can’t rule out him starting the season on the PUP list (yes, we’ve seen him do a backflip but backpedaling and cutting are a different deal). I have heard that Amerson realizes that he needs to take preparation more seriously so he could be the nickel corner. I’m not sure where Tracy Porter and Tevin Mitchel fit in, we’ll have to see how it plays out in the preseason.

I got a similar question from @deseanparker20, his centering on Phillip Thomas so we’ll combine them there with a quick look at the safety spot. As of right now Jeron Johnson and Dashon Goldson are the starting strong and free safeties, respectively. If Thomas is going to challenge for a spot it will be at strong. He got a few starts last year after Brandon Meriweather’s season ended early with an injury. Thomas was spotty at best and they brought in Johnson as a free agent. Certainly Thomas should have a shot at the job. Johnson signed a relatively modest deal, appropriate for a player with one career start in four years in the league. It is unclear who will back up Goldson and there doesn’t appear to be a succession plan in place for the 31-year-old whose salary balloons to $7 million next year. We will see if Goldson’s eventual replacement surfaces this year or if it will wait until 2016.

I suppose anything is possible, James, but an 80 percent turnover of the starters on the offensive line doesn’t seem very likely. Trent Williams and Shawn Lauvao are locked in on the left side. Yes, Lauvao wasn’t very good for a good chunk of last year but he did get better as the year went on and power blocking is more suited to his strengths. It’s likely that Kory Lichtensteiger is safe even though he’s not an ideal fit in the revamped scheme. On the right side, one change is certain, as Brandon Scherff will start at right tackle. Although I’m not ruling out the possibility that Chris Chester holds on to his right guard job, I think the chances are pretty good that Spencer Long can push past him on the depth chart. So, the chances are that there will be two new starters not four. As they say, James, half a loaf is better than none.

Timeline

—It’s been 133 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 126 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 38; Redskins training camp starts 81; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 137

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!