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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Running back

On the roster: Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, Matt Jones

The numbers: Have six, likely to keep 3-4 on final roster.

Locks: Kelley, Perine, Thompson

A year ago, Kelley was in the long shot category here, the “9th-string” running back (in the words of Jay Gruden) and it looked like a practice squad spot would be a great achievement for him. You all know how the year turned out for the undrafted free agent.  He is likely to be the starter but it remains to be seen how many carries he gets. Take the over on his 2016 total of 168 but predicting 200 might be high, depending on how things develop.

RELATED: The numbers say that Cousin is an "upper tier passer"

Part of those developments that will affect Kelley is how well Perine progresses. The fourth-round rookie was not drafted to sit and learn; they want him to get his hands on the ball. I suspect that his workload will be light early in the season but as they get into November and December Perine could lead the team in rushing some games.

Thompson could be another player who takes carries away from Kelley. The third-down back averaged 5.6 yards on 103 carries over the last two years and Gruden may be tempted to try to get some of that production on first and second downs.

On the bubble: Brown, Marshall

Brown showed some flash in the preseason and he had a 61-yard TD run late in a rout of the Bears. But making to roster or not may not be in his control. It may come down to a numbers game. If they carry four tight ends, running back might be a good spot to shave back a spot to make room. If they carry three TE’s, Brown could stick as the fourth RB.

MORE REDSKINS: True or False: The Redskins will carry four tight ends this year

Marshall battled injuries throughout his career at Georgia and he spent last year on injured reserve. He has some speed and in OTAs he turned heads with some nice bursts off tackle. Still, he’s looking up at four players on the depth chart and four is the maximum the team will carry on the 53. If everyone stays healthy he moves into the long shot category and the 2016 seventh-round pick could be ticketed for a year on the practice squad.

Long shots: Jones

It’s rare that a player suffers a fall like Jones did. He was the unquestioned starter going into last season and in his seven starts he was on pace to gain over 1,000 yards rushing. But fumbles and other issues got him into Gruden’s doghouse and even new agent Drew Rosenhaus is going to be able to do much about it. Absent a serious injury or a suspension players who fall so far and so hard are few and far between.

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line | Defensive line | Outside linebacker | Tight end

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 23, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles, 8:30 pm, ESPN

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 13
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 31

Final report on injures of note:
Out
: CB Josh Norman (rib),
Questionable: OT Trent Williams (knee)CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle),
See the full injury report and analysis here

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The first time these teams met, both scored defensive touchdowns. Ryan Kerrigan got the first Redskins points on the board with a pick six of Carson Wentz in the second quarter. With a minute and a half left, Fletcher Cox wrapped up the game for his team with a 20-yard return of a very controversial fumble. The difference tonight could well be a defensive or special teams score.

—In that game, the Redskins never let the Eagles get any sort of running game going. The Eagles rushed for 54 yards, the second-lowest total for a Washington opponent this year. And they had 24 attempts (2.4 yards per) so it wasn’t as though they didn’t try. The Redskins could use another strong effort against the run this time as well.

—I examined third downs in the first look at this game a few days ago. Since then, this was bought to my attention.

Third downs could be a fatal flaw for the Redskins. The Eagles’ ability to convert third and long situations was a key to them being able to survive without much of a running game in the opener. The Redskins need to hold the Eagles to 40 percent or less on all third downs and to 25 percent or less on third and long. And they will have to do it without Josh Norman, their best defensive back.

—In the first meeting, the matchup of the Redskins’ offensive line and the Eagles’ defensive front went decidedly in Philly’s direction. Washington rushed for just 64 yards and Kirk Cousins was sacked four times. There were plenty of concerns about the line, especially RT Morgan Moses, who gave up two sacks, and RG Brandon Scherff, who gave up four total pressures. Those two and the unit as a whole have been better since that game. The Redskins’ front will need to win that battle this time around.

Prediction: A Week 7 game is not really a must-win when you have a winning record. There is a lot of season left to be played. But if the Redskins are going to take the next step and stay in the thick of things for the ideal playoff seeding, they need to take this one. This year in the NFL, just when everyone thinks they have things figured out something happens to flip the script. Everyone now figures that the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and perhaps the best in the NFL. They are ripe for an upset.

Redskins 24, Eagles 20

Season prediction record: 2-3

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.

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

PHILADELPHIA — Arguably the Redskins best player, all of the NFL knows that Trent Williams can still play at a high level while dealing with injury. 

How long Williams can play though injury seems the more important question though as reports emerged the left tackle will need knee surgery at some point. That could come in the next few weeks, or as Redskins fans hope, perhaps at the end of the season.

Currently playing with a torn medial patella-femoral ligament in his right knee, the six-time Pro Bowler has not practiced since sustaining the injury three weeks ago in Kansas City. He was able to gut out a strong performance last week against the 49ers, and is expected to do the same Monday night against the Eagles.

One factor that might be pushing Williams to play with such a damaged right leg is that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe is also out after having surgery on his core muscles. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS FOR EVERY GAME THUS FAR

Nsekhe is expected back relatively soon, but the timeline remains murky. When he can come back, perhaps Williams will reconsider his options. 

Surgery for the torn MPFL will leave Williams with a five or six-month recovery. 

It's obvious the Redskins' offense is best with Williams on the field. Nsekhe, however, proved a capable backup last season when Williams served a four-game suspension. 

Without Nsekhe, the Redskins would go to veteran T.J. Clemmings should Williams be unable to play. Nsekhe has not played since a Week 3 win over Oakland. The Redskins added Clemmings to the roster in early September, after their fourth preseason game. He spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. 

For now, the Redskins will continue to hope Williams can play through the pain.

"Trent is a tough guy, so we will see how it works, see how feels tomorrow and go from there," Jay Gruden said of Williams on Saturday. 

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