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Need to Know: How safe are the Redskins' Riley and Lauvao?

Need to Know: How safe are the Redskins' Riley and Lauvao?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 9, four days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 120 days ago. It will be 126 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 4; OTAs start 15; Redskins training camp starts 81

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The Redskins have two players who may be reserves this season who have salaries of $4 million.

One of them is inside linebacker Perry Riley. He will battle Will Compton and Mason Foster for the two starting inside linebacker jobs. If it looks like he will win the starting job he has had from the middle of the 2011 season until he sustained a foot injury last year then nothing will change.

But if it looks like he is going to be a reserve the team might ask him to cut his pay by 50 percent or more. If they are going to do that, however, they need to be prepared to release him if he balks. Do they want to go into the season with Terence Garvin, who played mostly special teams in his three seasons with the Steelers, first-year player Martrell Spaight and rookie Steven Daniels as the backups at inside linebacker.

The situation is different with the other $4 million man, Shawn Lauvao. For one thing, he is injured. At least he still was ailing at the end of last season when he recovering from surgery on both of his feet. Based on that hard to see him ready for OTAs and the PUP list for the start of training camp is not out of the question.

The big difference here is that left guard is a fairly deep position. Spencer Long started 13 games after Lauvao got injured last year. Arie Kouandjio spent the 2015 season on the 53-man roster and it’s possible that he could win the job outright or at least be able to hold his own if called upon. While you can argue that a healthy Lauvao is the best option at left guard they have viable alternatives if he’s not there.

The point here is that it’s not just a numbers game with the salary cap. A team can’t just say that it won’t pay a backup at a relatively low-value position (which is what guard and ILB are) $4 million. It depends on what the alternatives are. In Riley’s case there are few alternatives and that gets him some security. There is some depth at Lauvao’s spot and that could put him in danger.

Stat of the day

Avoiding throwing interceptions is a key to the Redskins’ success. The fewest interceptions they have thrown in a season since 1990 is eight, in 2012. They won the NFC East. Their second-lowest interception total is 11, and they have done it five times. They made the playoffs in 1990, 2005, 2007, and 2015. In 1996 they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs on tiebreakers.

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.

Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.

Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return. 

Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games. 

The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury. 

MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond. 

The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.

Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it. 

  1. Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come. 
  2. Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions. 
  3. Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-

We didn't spend last week playing checkers.

News & Notes:

  • Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
  • The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed. 
  • D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
  • Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week. 
  • Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.

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