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Need to Know: Redskins' D-line depth chart is in flux

Need to Know: Redskins' D-line depth chart is in flux

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 28, 10 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

D-line transformation just beginning

In 2011 the Redskins drafted Jarvis Jenkins in the second round and soon after the lockout ended they signed Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield as free agents. Jenkins missed his rookie season with a torn ACL but since 2012 those three players have been mainstays on the defensive line.

Now Bowen and Cofield are gone, released in a move that saved the team some $9.6 million in salary cap space. Jenkins is a pending unrestricted free agent and his future with the team after free agency gets underway on March 10 is far from certain. The same goes for fellow free agent and 2011 draft pick (7th round) Chris Neild. He is a decent backup nose tackle when he’s on the field but he has missed two of the last three seasons with ACL injuries.

With at least two and possibly three linemen from last year gone, the process of building the line back up started on Thursday when the Redskins signed former Scot McCloughan draft pick Ricky Jean Francois. But obviously they will need more than him to replace Bowen, Cofield, and, if he leaves, Jenkins.

The four holdover defensive linemen the Redskins have under contract are Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Frank Kearse. Hatcher is likely to be around this year and Golston might be but neither will around for the long haul. They are temporary placeholders at best.

McCloughan has stated that he will build the Redskins through the draft. Prospects like USC end Leonard Williams and Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton are potential picks for the Redskins with their top draft pick. But immediate help after the first round may be hard to come by. There may be another free agent or two on the way.

It’s impossible to craft a depth chart now because there are too many moving parts. You could start the season tomorrow with Hatcher and Jean Francois at end, Baker at end with Golston and Kearse as backup. Robert Thomas, who was on the practice squad last year, could be the backup nose tackle.

Fortunately the season doesn't start tomorrow. You could get by with a line like that but the goal should be to improve. And the Redskins would be back into a hole again in 2016 with Golston and Hatcher likely gone. Look for more big guys to be added in free agency and the draft to strengthen it for 2015 and beyond.

Timeline

—It’s been 62 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 197 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 10; Redskins offseason workouts start 51; 2015 NFL Draft 61

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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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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