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Need to Know: Redskins starting defense nearly set after Goldson deal

Need to Know: Redskins starting defense nearly set after Goldson deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 4, 26 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Redskins’ 2015 starting defense is mostly set

There could be some changes if jobs are truly open to competition or if there is a surprise draft pick but for the most part the Redskins’ 2015 starting defense is set with the possible exception of one position.

When the Redskins open the season, which will happen on September 13 assuming they start with a Sunday game, Terrance Knighton will be lined up at nose tackle, flanked by Jason Hatcher on the right side and Stephen Paea on the left. Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois will get plenty of snaps in the rotation.

At left outside linebacker will be Ryan Kerrigan. Keenan Robinson is set at the Mike inside linebacker spot and Perry Riley is likely to be the Jack, unless Will Compton, who played well when Riley was out injured last year, can push him out. If the Redskins don’t draft an edge rusher in the first round later this month Trent Murphy will be the right outside linebacker. And even if they do take, say, Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley, Murphy could still start for the first month or so of the season while the rookie gets his feet under him.

The Redskins finally got the last piece of the defensive puzzle yesterday with the Dashon Goldson trade. He will start at free safety with Jeron Johnson at strong. The cornerbacks will be Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland with DeAngelo Hall and/or David Amerson coming in for nickel and dime situation.

A few quick thoughts on this group:

—Goldson did not play well in his two years with the Bucs and Johnson has one NFL start on his ledger. Safety will still be a weak spot in the defense.

—For that reason, the defensive front needs to get pressure on the quarterback and pile up some sacks. Paea will need to match the six he got last year, Hatcher needs to be near the double-digit total that earned him his contract, Kerrigan needs to have another big year and the right side needs to chip in with a dozen or so. It’s a tall order but the chances of it happening are better than those of the safeties holding up if quarterbacks have all day to throw against them.

—This doesn’t look like a bad defense on paper but the depth is suspect (some depth will come via the draft) and it’s likely that there will need to be some more retooling in 2016. They will have to re-sign Kerrigan, Knighton, and Robinson and probably replace Goldson, Hatcher, and possibly Hall.

Timeline

—It’s been 97 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 162 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 16; 2015 NFL Draft 26; Redskins training camp starts 117

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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