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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Safeties

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Safeties

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: Safety

On the roster: Su’a Cravens, D. J. Swearinger, Will Blackmon, DeAngelo Hall, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans, Earl Wolff, Fish Smithson.

The numbers: Have nine, will keep five or six.

Last year they carried five safeties on the Week 1 roster. They may carry an extra this year and position Blackmon as a swing cornerback/safety.  

Locks: Cravens, Swearinger, Nicholson, Everett

Cravens moves from nickel linebacker to strong safety in a move that was decided late last year with a different defensive coordinator and secondary coach in charge. This move likely was planned from the moment he was drafted. He should be fine at his new position if he can make up for his pedestrian straight-line speed (4.69 in the 40) with athleticism and anticipation.

It’s not often that a 25-year-old player gets the “journeyman” label but it fits Swearinger as he joins his fourth different team for his fifth NFL season. His teammates have praised him as the intimidator they have lacked on the back end of the defense. He will have to move from being primarily a strong safety to playing primarily free and we will have to see how that transition goes.

Nicholson struggled at times at Michigan State, to the point where many analysts believed that he would go undrafted. On top of that, he missed the offseason program with a shoulder injury. Those normally don’t add up to a player being a roster lock but the Redskins like his athleticism and it’s hard to see them immediately moving on from a fourth-round pick. He may make the 53-man roster but end up inactive on most game days.

Perhaps Everett is not one of the four best safeties on the roster but his value on special teams makes him a must-keep player. He could get some more run at safety this year; he played well when given a chance late last year, making a key interception in the win over the Eagles.

On the bubble: Blackmon, Hall, Evans

This is the numbers game in action. If they keep five safeties it's likely that two of these three will be gone.

Blackmon has the advantage of being able to play either safety or any cornerback spot. They like Hall’s veteran presence but he has missed 31 games due to injuries in the last three years. Evans is the dark horse even though he is only 26 and he has 36 starts at safety, more at the position than any other player on the roster.

Long shots: Wolff, Smithson

Wolff started seven games for the Eagles after they drafted him in the fifth round in 2013 but he has hasn’t played a regular-season snap since 2014. Smithson is an intriguing undrafted rookie who may be a fan favorite in the preseason and end up on the practice squad.

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

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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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.

MORE: KIRK COUSINS ISN'T THRILLED WITH NFL'S APOLOGY FOR MISSED CALL

In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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