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Need to Know: Will the Redskins' Preston Smith start at OLB?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins' Preston Smith start at OLB?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 26, 34 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

Today’s question is from Twitter:

The short answer is that it’s not very likely. But the other answer is that it doesn’t really matter.

If I had $100 in casino chips to bet on who will be lined up at right outside linebacker for the first snap against the Dolphins, I would put $95 on Trent Murphy, last year’s second-round pick, and the other $5 on Preston Smith, this year’s second rounder.

Why? Murphy has eight NFL starts and 595 NFL snaps under his best while Smith has none of either. During OTAs and minicamp this year, Murphy has done nothing that would warrant him losing his starting job. He has gotten bigger and, presumably, stronger and he during OTAs and minicamp he seemed to be more comfortable and confident in his second season of lining up at linebacker (he was an end at Stanford).

Meanwhile, Smith has look liked someone who has a lot to learn. And that is exactly what you should expect from a rookie second-round pick who is just starting the process of converting from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. He has the physical tools needed to be successful but, as I noted in this post from last week, it will take him some time to get up to speed.

But here’s why who starts doesn’t really matter a whole lot. If you are the second-team right guard, you don’t play unless someone gets injured. Backup quarterbacks wait around until there is a five-alarm emergency of some sort. As a backup OLB, Smith will play a substantial number of snaps.

Last year Murphy did not start the first six games of the season; he was behind Brian Orakpo on the depth chart. But he still played about 30 snaps per game on defense, rotating in with some packages including some where he lined up as a lineman with his hand in the dirt. He relieved Orakpo, played alongside him in nickel situations, and occasionally relieved Ryan Kerrigan (although he takes off very few snaps).

Smith is likely to have a similar role this year. His length will help him in the trenches and he will be able to learn how to pass rush from both a two-point stance and from a down position.

And we’ll see what happens from there. My $100 bet discussed above is only in play for the opener. If Smith catches on quickly and proves to be a better option than Murphy he could be starting and Murphy could be the one coming off of the bench.

The real competition for the starting job could come in 2016 after Smith has a season under his belt. Although we have a long way to go, Smith's realistic chance at getting a starting job starts next year.

Timeline

—It’s been 180 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 79 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 34; Preseason opener @ Browns 48; final cuts 71

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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In case you missed it

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

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USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

Through 11 weeks, the NFL's playoff picture is far from clear. But one thing is: The NFC is the superior conference. 

And that's not just because Nathan Peterman plays in the AFC.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

In this week's rankings, seven teams in the top 10 come from the NFC. The middle and back-end of the rankings even out, but at the top, one side of the league is stronger than the other.

The bottom line is that a few deserving squads in the NFC will miss out on the postseason. Meanwhile, in the opposite conference, a couple of mediocre ones will be playing in January.

To see who lands where overall in the post-Week 11 breakdown, click the link above or below. You know who No. 32 is, but there was plenty of movement in the other 31 spots.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

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Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today Sports Images

Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Redskins enter Week 12 against the Giants on Thanksgiving looking for a lot of thanks. 

The Redskins were up by 15 points with less than 5 minutes to go against the Saints in Week 11. Despite being major underdogs, they thought they had the win in hand.

Then, as D.C. fans have witnessed all too often, everything fell apart.

Even after their terrific Week 9 win in Seattle, the Redskins still probably needed to split the next two against the Vikings and Saints.

It seemed like they had done exactly that, right up until Drew Brees reminded everyone why he's one of the greatest passers in NFL history.

The loss was doubly painful, as everybody's favorite breakout star Chris Thompson suffered a fractured fibula and will undergo season-ending surgery. Thompson has been one of the few bright spots on offense this season, and his loss will be felt by a team clinging to its playoff hopes.

Despite seeing yet another key cog go down with an injury this season, the team will look to bounce back against one of their NFC East rivals. The Giants have been one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, but are coming off a 12-9 win over a quality Chiefs squad, so the Redskins will have to show up ready to play.

On a short week against a division rival, anything can happen. Every game matters, but this is as much of a must-win for the Redskins as it gets. It's Thanksgiving night, and the Redskins will have the stage all to themselves. 

Before the Week 12 Redskins-Giants matchup, here's a preview of everything you need to know, including game time, TV channel and live-stream info.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

WEEK 12 Redskins vs. Giants

Who: New York Giants at Washington Redskins

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

What: Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season

When: Thursday, November 23, 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Live Stream: Fubo.TV: Online with no cableTV: fuboTV (Try for free)

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Betting Odds: According to OddsShark.com, the Washington Redskins are 7.5-point favorites against the New York Giants.

Washington Redskins 2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1 (Sun. 9/10): 30-17 loss vs. Eagles (0-1)

Week 2 (Sun. 9/17): 27-20 win at Rams (1-1)

Week 3 (Sun. 9/24): 27-10 win vs. Raiders (2-1)

Week 4 (Mon. 10/2): 29-20 loss at Chiefs (2-2)

Week 5 (Sun. 10/8): BYE WEEK

Week 6 (Sun. 10/15): 26-24 win vs. 49ers (3-2)

Week 7 (Mon. 10/23): 34-24 loss at Eagles (3-3)

Week 8 (Sun. 10/29): 33-19 loss vs. Cowboys (3-4)

Week 9 (Sun. 11/5): 17-14 win at Seahawks (4-4)

Week 10 (Sun. 11/12): 38-30 loss vs. Vikings (4-5)

Week 11 (Sun. 11/29): 34-31 OT loss at Saints (4-6)

Week 12 (Thurs. 11/23): vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Thurs. 11/30): at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. 

Week 14 (Sun. 12/10): at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. 

Week 15 (Sun. 12/17): vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. 

Week 16 (Sun. 12/24): vs. Denver Broncos, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17 (Sun. 12/31): at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. 

MORE REDSKINS: WEEKLY MVP'S ON REDSKINS OFFENSE AND DEFENSE