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Need to Know: Under the radar Redskins storylines

Need to Know: Under the radar Redskins storylines

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 4, 24 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Happy Independence Day!

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. It will be 70 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 11; Preseason opener @ Falcons 38; Final roster cut 61

The Redskins week that was

Some under the radar storylines as we head towards the start of training camp.

Who starts at right DE?—There is plenty of chatter about what they are going to do at nose tackle but Pot Roast Knighton isn’t the only starting D-linemen gone from last year. Jason Hatcher was cut and he doesn’t have a ready replacement. Kendall Reyes took a lot of snaps there during offseason practices that were open to the media. It seems like the team would like Stephen Paea, who signed a four-year, $21 million free agent contract last year, to take control of the job. He could but we won’t know until they put on the Pads down in Richmond.

Who plays nickel cornerback?—It looks like it’s Kendall Fuler’s job to lose but he might lose it. His surgically repaired knee seems to be doing well but we will see how it holds up. Quinton Dunbar had a nice rookie season and he isn’t going to let Fuller move ahead of him on the depth chart without a fight. Dashaun Phillips got some snaps at nickel corner in OTAs and looked pretty good. And veteran Greg Toler isn’t going to fade into the sunset. It will be a fierce competition. Fuller is the favorite but he is by no means a lock.

How many O-linemen will they carry?—They’ve carried as few as eight in recent seasons and there were 10 on the roster last year. One of the determining factors will be who wins the competition at left guard. If it’s Shawn Lauvao then Spencer Long stays around as a reserve. If Long wins then they may not want to keep Lauvao (with his $5 million cap hit) around as a backup. It also will depend on whether they are comfortable with Ty Nsekhe as the lone backup tackle on the 53 or if they want to keep a second one like first-year player Takoby Cofield.

In case you missed it 

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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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