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Redskins position preview: Nose tackle

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Redskins position preview: Nose tackle

Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart now that the team’s offseason program has concluded. Some battles are straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Sept. 5. So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …

Position: Nose tackle.

On the roster: Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Jerrell Powe, Kedric Golston and Robert Thomas.

Likely to make the 53: Knighton and Baker.

Comment: One of the Redskins’ biggest additions this offseason was the acquisition of Knighton, who was rated as the 12th most effective defensive tackle in the league by ProFootballFocus.com in 2014 but was forced to settle for a one-year, $4 million ‘prove it’ deal. GM Scot McCloughan said he was impressed by Knighton’s decision to bet on himself, adding that he hopes the 28-year-old parlays this season into a longer, more lucrative deal.

Knighton will replace Barry Cofield/Baker as Washington's starting nose tackle this fall.

“We have high expectations for him,” Coach Jay Gruden said earlier this offseason. “When you put him out there on first and second down, it’s going to be hard to run the ball between the tackles. He takes up quite a bit of room in there.”

Speaking of his size, it’s hard to have a conversation about Knighton without mentioning his weight. He’s listed on the Redskins’ roster at 6 foot 3, 331 pounds. But it’s pretty obvious that ‘Pot Roast’ tips the scales at much more than that. In January, a published report said Knighton had been fined $300,000 in recent years for missing weight markers. The Redskins, meantime, have tied $450,000 in bonuses in Knighton’s contract to complying with specific weight clauses, according to ProFootballTalk.com.

There’s been no indication that his weight has been an issue in Washington, but Gruden has indicated on more than one occasion the team will be monitoring it.

“You see how big he is but you don’t realize how quick his first step is, which it really rare for a guy of his size,” Gruden said. “So we’ve just got to continue to monitor what he’s doing out here and making sure we work with him and keep him healthy.”

Battling for a job: Powe, Golston and Thomas.

Comment: The Redskins could opt to use Baker and/or Golston as Knighton’s backup. Baker and Golston can play end and nose and they've spent time working with him at both positions.

Baker, of course, moved from starting left end to starting nose tackle in Week 1 of last season after Cofield suffered a significant injury in Houston. In all, Baker made 12 starts at nose tackle in 2014.

Powe, meantime, was signed June 1 to compete for a job along a crowded D-line. The 28-year-old appeared in 16 games for the Texans last season, starting three, all at nose tackle.

As for Thomas, he spent most of last season on the practice squad after signing with Washington as a college free agent out of Arkansas. Like Powe, he’ll likely face long odds when the Redskins cut down from 11 defensive linemen to six or seven.

Redskins position previews 2015:

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201