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Need to Know: Numbers game on Redskins O-line is taking shape

Need to Know: Numbers game on Redskins O-line is taking shape

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 25, 10 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 11:55; Player availability and Jay Gruden and Sean McVay press conferences after practice, approx. 1:30

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 227 days ago. It will be 19 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 25; Browns @ Redskins 39; Redskins @ Ravens 46

Numbers game on O-line taking shape

Along the with the rest of the NFL, the Redskins have about a week and a half to get their roster cut down to 53 players. One of the areas where the number of players can vary greatly is on the offensive line.

In recent years the Redskins have carried as few as eight offensive linemen on the final 53 and as many as 10. How many will they carry this year? Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

There are seven locks to make it. Four starters are set with LT Trent Williams, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, and RT Morgan Moses. Two players, Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao, are competing for the starting left guard spot. One will start, the other will be on the roster as a reserve. Ty Nsekhe is the top reserve tackle.

Beyond that group it gets tricky. They could keep 10 on the roster and choose three from the following group:

—T Takoby Cofield, who has been promising at times in the preseason but who also has had his share of struggles. Jay Gruden said that he has played every line position except center and that could mean he’s being groomed for a utility role.

G Arie Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick last year. He was kept on the 53 as a rookie even though he didn’t play. Although the coaches like his tough mindset he doesn’t seem to have progressed much in the last year.

C/G Josh LeRibeus played center last year when Lichtensteiger was out with an injury. He still has problems with shotgun snaps.

C Austin Reiter is a dark horse to make it. He was a seventh-round pick in 2015 and he has rarely worked with any group above the third team.

The factor that could put a crimp in the hopes of LeRibeus and/or Reiter to make the 53 is the fact that Long has been working at the center position ever since OTAs. Should Lichtensteiger go out it looks like Long would be the first choice to replace him. If Long wins the left guard position then he would move over and Lauvao would slide in at left guard.

There usually are one or two spots reserved for developmental players like Kouandjio last year and Long and Moses the year before. But by the second year the team was comfortable starting the latter pair of players. Would they be good with Kouandjio starting a game this year if needed? If not, how long will they give him to develop?

Cofield was an undrafted free agent and he spent his rookie 2015 season on the practice squad. Will they be OK with having Nsekhe as the only backup tackle on the roster? Perhaps in an emergency Scherff could move out to tackle but that is not something they would want to do in the long term or even for more than a game or two.

Of course the offensive line numbers are not created in a vacuum. Other needs on offense will affect how many linemen they keep. They may want to keep four running backs, four tight ends, and three quarterbacks. That would make it hard to carry 10 on the line.

The way things are shaping up now it looks like they will keep Cofield or Kouandjio as the eighth lineman and keep the other one if they go with nine. Since keeping 10 seems very unlikely LeRibeus and Reiter are probably on the outside looking in.

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 23, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles, 8:30 pm, ESPN

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 13
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 31

Final report on injures of note:
Out
: CB Josh Norman (rib),
Questionable: OT Trent Williams (knee)CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle),
See the full injury report and analysis here

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The first time these teams met, both scored defensive touchdowns. Ryan Kerrigan got the first Redskins points on the board with a pick six of Carson Wentz in the second quarter. With a minute and a half left, Fletcher Cox wrapped up the game for his team with a 20-yard return of a very controversial fumble. The difference tonight could well be a defensive or special teams score.

—In that game, the Redskins never let the Eagles get any sort of running game going. The Eagles rushed for 54 yards, the second-lowest total for a Washington opponent this year. And they had 24 attempts (2.4 yards per) so it wasn’t as though they didn’t try. The Redskins could use another strong effort against the run this time as well.

—I examined third downs in the first look at this game a few days ago. Since then, this was bought to my attention.

Third downs could be a fatal flaw for the Redskins. The Eagles’ ability to convert third and long situations was a key to them being able to survive without much of a running game in the opener. The Redskins need to hold the Eagles to 40 percent or less on all third downs and to 25 percent or less on third and long. And they will have to do it without Josh Norman, their best defensive back.

—In the first meeting, the matchup of the Redskins’ offensive line and the Eagles’ defensive front went decidedly in Philly’s direction. Washington rushed for just 64 yards and Kirk Cousins was sacked four times. There were plenty of concerns about the line, especially RT Morgan Moses, who gave up two sacks, and RG Brandon Scherff, who gave up four total pressures. Those two and the unit as a whole have been better since that game. The Redskins’ front will need to win that battle this time around.

Prediction: A Week 7 game is not really a must-win when you have a winning record. There is a lot of season left to be played. But if the Redskins are going to take the next step and stay in the thick of things for the ideal playoff seeding, they need to take this one. This year in the NFL, just when everyone thinks they have things figured out something happens to flip the script. Everyone now figures that the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and perhaps the best in the NFL. They are ripe for an upset.

Redskins 24, Eagles 20

Season prediction record: 2-3

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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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

PHILADELPHIA — Arguably the Redskins best player, all of the NFL knows that Trent Williams can still play at a high level while dealing with injury. 

How long Williams can play though injury seems the more important question though as reports emerged the left tackle will need knee surgery at some point. That could come in the next few weeks, or as Redskins fans hope, perhaps at the end of the season.

Currently playing with a torn medial patella-femoral ligament in his right knee, the six-time Pro Bowler has not practiced since sustaining the injury three weeks ago in Kansas City. He was able to gut out a strong performance last week against the 49ers, and is expected to do the same Monday night against the Eagles.

One factor that might be pushing Williams to play with such a damaged right leg is that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe is also out after having surgery on his core muscles. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS FOR EVERY GAME THUS FAR

Nsekhe is expected back relatively soon, but the timeline remains murky. When he can come back, perhaps Williams will reconsider his options. 

Surgery for the torn MPFL will leave Williams with a five or six-month recovery. 

It's obvious the Redskins' offense is best with Williams on the field. Nsekhe, however, proved a capable backup last season when Williams served a four-game suspension. 

Without Nsekhe, the Redskins would go to veteran T.J. Clemmings should Williams be unable to play. Nsekhe has not played since a Week 3 win over Oakland. The Redskins added Clemmings to the roster in early September, after their fourth preseason game. He spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. 

For now, the Redskins will continue to hope Williams can play through the pain.

"Trent is a tough guy, so we will see how it works, see how feels tomorrow and go from there," Jay Gruden said of Williams on Saturday. 

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