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OPEN THREAD: New plan to keep Jordan Reed healthy?

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OPEN THREAD: New plan to keep Jordan Reed healthy?

In between talk of a big-time brawl with the Houston Texans, and before he confessed his favorite yoga pose, Redskins coach Jay Gruden provided some very interesting information in his Monday afternoon press conference: The Redskins plan on starting Niles Paul at tight end this fall. Paul worked very hard in his four-year career with Washington to develop from a college receiver to an NFL tight end, and it's good the Redskins brass wants to reward Paul. It is possible, however, that the move to give Paul more reps with the first team offense represents something else entirely.

"He is one of our strongest players. He is self-made," Gruden said of Paul. "He’s a very complete player right now. Hats off to him for putting the work in."

Hats off to Paul indeed, a nice guy and hardworker the Redskins need on the roster. But the honest truth here could be the Redskins want to expose third-year tight end, and elite pass-catcher, Jordan Reed to less blocking, trying to keep him healthy. Right?

"When you are talking about your base offense where you go one fullback, one running back and one tight end where the running game and pass blocking is very important for that guy, Niles has emerged as the starter," Gruden said. "Jordan [Reed] will play a lot in our three-receiver sets, one-tight-end set, obviously. He is probably the starter in that particular group."

MORE REDSKINS: FORBATH'S STRUGGLES A LITTLE PUZZLING 

This is not to suggest Paul has not improved drastically as a pass-catcher. He has. Last season in his first chance at extensive work at the position, Paul registered career highs with 39 catches and more than 500 yards. But Paul received more opportunity because Reed was again injured, a common theme in his two years with the Redskins. Paul's career numbers came with him playing in all 16 games and starting seven. Reed, who started just two games and played in parts of 11, still managed 50 catches for 465 yards. 

"When we go two tight ends it will be Niles and Jordan. We change personnel so often, they will both get a lot of playing time," Gruden said.

Promoting Paul's role could be a deft move by Gruden. The coach knows the talent Reed has, and if less blocking duties are placed on the third-year Gator, perhaps he can get through a full season for the first time in his career. It's also smart for the Redskins to plan on Paul being their horse at tight end, as Reed has played just 20 of 32 games in his career. Paul has also worked hard to add more upper body strength, which will help with more blocking duties.

As the tight end position continues to increase in importance throughout the NFL, the Redskins are well positioned to deploy Paul and Reed this fall. If an increased role for Paul means more games for Reed, it helps even more.

Will the plan work? Can Paul handle the additional reps? Will it keep Reed healthy? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it