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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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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.