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Redskins 2017 roster battles: Tight end questions behind Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

Redskins 2017 roster battles: Tight end questions behind Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

The Redskins go into OTAs with competition for jobs and depth chart position at several spots on the field. Over the next week, Redskins insiders Rich Tandler and J.P. Finlay look at how these competitions stand right now and they each make the case for a potential winner.

3rd Tight End

Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are roster locks. Reed is arguably the best pass catching tight end in football, and Davis is much more than a veteran backup. The duo give Jay Gruden a myriad of options in the team's two tight end sets, and create matchup problems for linebackers and safeties.

After Reed and Davis, the depth chart gets interesting. Derek Carrier and Niles Paul both saw action last season but have each been dealing with injuries. Carrier opened the 2016 season on the PUP list, and Paul was sent to IR after a gruesome injury Week 8 in London. 

Washington has only carried three tight ends on its roster for the last several years, which already makes for a logjam at the position. Drafting Jeremy Sprinkle out of Arkansas in the fifth round creates even more competition behind Reed and Davis. Sprinkle is the biggest of the bunch and known for his blocking on the college level, and will carry the cheapest price tag.

And the winner is...

Finlay: Assuming all tight end options make it through training camp healthy, Sprinkle seems to be the leader for the third tight end spot. Why? Money. Paul is due nearly $2 million this fall and has played just eight games over the last two seasons. Carrier will cost just over $1 million on the Redskins books. Sprinkle will likely cost half of Carrier and a quarter of Paul's salary. Of course, if Sprinkle does not seem capable in camp, that could change the dynamic, but don't expect that to happen. The rookie proved a highly effective blocker on a run-first team in the SEC, while also flashing good hands as a receiver. Plus, he's got serious size at 6-foot-5 and 252 lbs. Jay Gruden talked about wanting his team to get bigger, and Sprinkle is bigger than both Carrier and Paul. Remember how often the Redskins like to deploy their three tight end jumbo set, and then imagine Sprinkle running onto the field for the formation. The biggest area where Sprinkle needs to prove himself, and quickly, is on special teams. Paul was a special teams standout when healthy.  

Tandler: I would think long and hard before cutting Niles Paul loose. He has been the heart and soul of the Redskins' special teams since he stepped on the field as a rookie. When he has had the chance, he has been productive as a receiver. In 2014, the last time he was fully healthy for a season, he was Reed's backup and he caught 39 passes for 507 yards despite a three-ring circus (RGIII, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins) at quarterback. And it's not really fair to call him injury prone. He suffered a broken ankle in a pileup during the 2015 preseason and last year he suffered a shoulder injury trying to make a leaping grab in London. 

In the grand scheme of the NFL's $167 million salary cap, the $1.875 savings that would come from moving on from Paul barely qualifies as a drop in the bucket. While I think that the Redskins need to keep Sprinkle, they should carve out a fourth tight end roster spot for Paul. They did it in 2013 when the drafted Reed when Paul, Logan Paulsen, and Fred Davis were already on the roster. Perhaps they could go with one fewer at the running back spot or at wide receiver. One way or another, if Paul is healthy they should be creative and find a way to keep him around. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

Through six weeks of the NFL season, it's clear who the Super Bowl favorites are.

In the AFC, it's, um, well, OK, let's do the NFC first. In the NFC, you have to watch out for — actually, nevermind, this isn't that easy.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Chiefs and Eagles are the only two teams standing at 5-1, but there are quite a few 4-2 squads right behind them, as well as talented 3-win teams who can take any opponent down if they bring their best stuff. That means that as the halfway point approaches, both conferences are still open races.

And those races got a lot more interesting after a fun Week 6. The power rankings look a lot different than they did before the weekend because of Week 6's results, too.

So, click the link above or below to see who's moving up and who's sliding back. Or, in the case of the Browns, who's sliding but staying in the same spot simply because they can't be dropped any further.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

Did you guys know C.J. Beathard is related to former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard?

Of course you do, because that storyline, as well as others like the Vernon Davis fumble(?) and Pierre Garçon penalty have been talked about plenty following the Redskins' 26-24 W over the 49ers on Sunday.

But there are other angles that have been under analyzed from the Week 6 matchup. So as fun as it is to celebrate Chris Thompson's brilliance, put that on hold for a minute and think about these five discussion points.

1) A big recovery by a big man 

One of the most underappreciated plays in football is a fumble recovery by an offensive player. Most of the time, players and fans are just mad that the offense fumbled and ignore the fact that the outcome could've been a whole lot worse.

Do you remember Trent Williams falling on a Chris Thompson fumble early on the Redskins' first drive? Maybe some of you do, but plenty of others probably don't. But because Williams was aware and smothered the ball before a Niner defender could, the Redskins were able to continue their possession and eventually finish it with a touchdown.

MORE: WHERE JONATHAN ALLEN WILL BE MISSED MOST

2) Kirk's questionable decision

Kirk Cousins provided what proved to be the game's deciding points with his fourth quarter read option touchdown. But it was an earlier run that could've been much more important, and not for the right reason.

On Washington's previous possession — which concluded with a 21-yard field goal — Cousins scrambled for an 18-yard gain, but instead of sliding at the end, he decided to take on San Fran safety Jimmie Ward. The two collided and thumped each other pretty hard, and while the QB may have earned some respect, he also said postgame that Williams immediately reminded him that he should've slid instead.

Was it entertaining to watch a signal caller try and run over a safety? Sure. But was it smart? Not at all. The Packers saw their star quarterback come out on the wrong end of a punishing hit Sunday, and the Redskins just as easily could be feeling their pain.

3) Samaje's second effort

Samaje Perine has a long way to go before he becomes the player many hoped he'd be when the Redskins snagged him in April's draft. But it was him traveling a short distance in the fourth quarter against the 49ers that was a crucial yet overlooked play.

Six snaps before Cousins' rushing TD, the rookie barely converted on a third-and-2 by pushing the pile and refusing to be brought down short of the sticks. Again, his first year as a pro hasn't been excellent, but that was one he deserves credit for.

4) A way too powerful punt

The Redskins' execution after recovering that late onsides kick wasn't just bad on offense. Tress Way's touchback was unsightly, too.

Even after Washington took a delay of game penatly to give their punter more room, Way booted his kick well into the end zone instead of forcing the Niners' returner to fair catch or giving his gunners a chance to down it. Next time, Way needs to use a little less club and force the opposing offense to start farther back than their own 20.

RELATED: WHY CAN'T THE REDSKINS HOLD ON TO LEADS?

5) Dunbar delivers

Perhaps because of all the injuries in the secondary, as well as an abundance of other things to chat about, a really strong performance from Quinton Dunbar isn't getting the necessary recognition. 

The visitors threw at Josh Norman's replacement often — 14 instances, to be specific — but he more than held his own, ending the contest as PFF's highest-graded 'Skin. Jay Gruden said earlier in the week Dunbar thinks he can cover "anybody, anywhere, anytime," and for the most part on Sunday, No. 47 did just that.