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Need to Know: Redskins' Long still 'finding his way' while learning center

Need to Know: Redskins' Long still 'finding his way' while learning center

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 6, 52 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 148 days ago. It will be 98 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 52; Preseason opener @ Falcons 66; Final roster cut to 53, 89

Hot topics from the Redskins week that was

I’m still getting up to speed after being on vacation last week. I have a few thoughts on what Jay Gruden and Joe Barry had to say after last week’s OTA session.

—Gruden was asked about Spencer Long’s progress. “Yeah, at guard you see the improvement quite a bit – just the knowledge and the confidence that all the players get going into their second and third year,” he said. But he added, “Center is a different story – it is brand new to him and he’s finding his way there.” I would not expect to see Long as the team’s starting center anytime soon, and by that I mean in 2016, barring some sort of an emergency.

—Asked about the competition at left guard, Gruden mentioned Long and Shawn Lauvao. “It’s good to have two good guys at that position,” he said. Hmmm, there was no mention of Arie Kouandjio, who seems to be the fan’s choice at the position. You never know what might happen but you may have to wait until at least 2017 to see him lined up as a regular.

—Barry said that they have to have two safeties with the No. 1 defense right now and for the time being those two are DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton but that could be a temporary situation. “Hall and David Bruton are going with the first group, but we’re rolling guys in there,” he said. “Our depth chart is in pencil, it’s not in Sharpie.” So Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon will get their chances; while Hall and Bruton may have the inside track on the starting jobs for now the matter is far from settled.

—Everyone wants to know right now what role Su’a Cravens will play in the defense. Barry said that while he will play the weakside ILB spot for now, they think he can do a lot more. “You can play him at inside backer, you can play him at outside backer and rush him off the edge or drop him into coverage,” he said. “You can play him in the slot in a nickel position and do a bunch of things with him.” But he won’t learn all of those spots immediately. “He’s a new kid coming in, learning the playbook, learning all new terminology,” said Barry. “He’ll be the first one to tell you, the rookie minicamp, it was like we were speaking a different language, which is understandable. It’s hard for young guys at any position to come in and learn the terminology of a new playbook.”

—On the subject of DE Stephen Paea, Barry rattled off some reasons for his disappointing performance in 2015. “I think as I mentioned before, I think anytime that a player changes teams, changes systems as a veteran, there is going to be a little bit of a learning curve both in scheme and terminology and then to add into it that he got banged up, hurt his foot,” he said. Of course, what are reasons to some are excuses to others. Barry forgot to include that the dog may have eaten Paea’s homework. Free agent signings are no sure thing and Paea is going to have to prove on the field that he is ready to perform.

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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.

Want more? Listen up!

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