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Need to Know: Redskins face personnel turnover on special teams

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Need to Know: Redskins face personnel turnover on special teams

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 6, 22 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 87 days ago. It will be about 158 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 12; 2016 NFL draft 22; Redskins training camp starts 113

Hot topic

The Redskins took a major leap forward in special teams last year. They went from near the bottom in one of the most respected rankings in 2014 into the middle of the pack last year. Like the other units on the team they want to keep improving the kicking game. But due to personnel losses it may be hard to do that.

The two players who led the team in special teams snaps, Darrell Young and Jeron Johnson, will not be back. Kyshoen Jarrett, who averaged 10 special teams snaps per game, is a question mark after suffering an injury that affects strength in his arm. Derek Carrier (103 special teams snaps) also is an injury question mark and Dashon Goldson (109) and Trenton Robinson (99) are not currently on the roster.

These players will be replaced. The team signed David Bruton and Terrance Garvin with the idea that they will play a lot of special teams. Nile Paul, a key contributor since he was drafted in 2011, is returning after missing all of last year with an injury. Others, like Deshazor Everett, will have to step up from minor special teams roles into major ones.

But you never know how changes like this are going to work out. It will be up to Ben Kotwica to make sure that the new players learn the system and buy into it.

Fan question of the day

Today's question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page.

I like it when someone gets right to the point with a question.

The right to the point answer is, there isn’t a whole lot of it. But they may have enough of it on the team right now.

Last year they went with two reserves at tackle, Ty Nsekhe and Tom Compton. The former is still under contract, the latter left as a free agent and joined Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta.

Nsekhe played both left and right tackle last year, filling in when Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, respectively, were sidelined with injuries. He could be the swing tackle again this year and back up both sides. Most of Compton’s snaps came as an additional blocking tight end.

Many teams go with one swing tackle on the roster. If the Redskins want another one, they could look either to the veteran free agent market or perhaps to their practice squad. Takoby Cofield was undrafted out of Duke a year ago but the Redskins paid him the largest allowable signing bonus to sign with them. He spent 2015 on the practice squad and he may be ready to step into a backup role this year.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

In case you missed it

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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.