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Looking at the Redskins' three weakest spots and how they can make those positions better


Looking at the Redskins' three weakest spots and how they can make those positions better

Unless you're playing Madden and you mess with the settings so that all trades get accepted and you can acquire any player you want, it's hard to build a team that's stout at every single starting spot.

So, while the Redskins signed Landon Collins in free agency and then pieced together a very impressive draft, they still have holes at key places.

Here are the three biggest ones, as well as what Washington can do to try to fill them.

Tight end

National NFL fans may look at this depth chart featuring Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle and identify it as a position of strength, or at least a position that's well-stocked.

However, Reed is coming off a very quiet (albeit healthy, for once) season, Davis had his issues with drops and penalties and is 35 years old and Sprinkle has shown mild promise but is entering his third year with just seven total grabs.

Jay Gruden's offense needs production from tight ends to be at its best, and unless Davis becomes a cap casualty later this offseason, this is the group he'll likely be rolling with.

How does it get better?: The first step is to get more out of Reed. He'll be 29 by Week 1 but should hopefully have a lot more to give than the 54 catches and two TDs he offered in 2018.

One reason for optimism is that this looks like it'll be his first full, uninterrupted offseason in quite a while. That should help him develop more chemistry with this collection of passers, as he and Alex Smith never clicked.

Beyond Reed, maybe Sprinkle becomes more well-rounded, allowing Gruden to use him equally as a blocker and receiver. Keep an eye on Matt Flanagan and JP Holtz, too, as they were both added to the active roster late last season.

Safety opposite of Collins

In Collins, the Redskins took a massive step in finding a real, long-term solution to their long-standing safety problem. Now the question becomes: Who starts next to him?

There are options on the roster, but none are obvious or particularly promising. Montae Nicholson is the best of the group, but he needs to figure out his off-field life and the organization isn't giving much of an update on his status. Troy Apke, meanwhile, barely played as a rookie while Deshazor Everett is relied on more as a special-teamer.

How does it get better?: Luckily, there are a handful of useful free agent safeties available if the Burgundy and Gold are willing to go in that direction.

Tre Boston will be 27 when 2019 kicks off and he has 10 INTs the past three years. Eric Berry is aging and has dealt with major injuries throughout his career but could represent a flier-type signing. Kurt Coleman is a nine-year veteran who has never played fewer than 12 contests in a campaign.

The team's finances remain dicey, but none of these names would cost too, too much. They all also have more of a track record of performance than the Redskins' current choices.

Left guard

When healthy, Washington's offensive line has reputable starters everywhere... except at left guard.

Moving on from Shawn Lauvao was a step in the right direction, but the 'Skins didn't sign a top-flight free agent or draft a solution on either Day 1 or 2. Shoring up the line will benefit the offense as a whole and especially the running game, but as of now, it's not fully clear how they can accomplish that.

How does it get better?: This one currently boils down to how well Bill Callahan can develop one of Wes Martin, Ereck Flowers or Ross Pierschbacher into a first-stringer. 

Martin may be the favorite, considering he started at left guard for three years at Indiana. Flowers is a lifelong tackle who will attempt to revive his career at the position, while Pierschbacher alternated between all three interior slots at Alabama.

Perhaps the Redskins can wait until June or even after training camp to see if a more established player gets released. But right now, they're going to need to develop one of their own to prevent left guard from becoming a liability yet again.   


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VIDEO: Dwayne Haskins connects with Antonio Brown over and over in offseason workout

VIDEO: Dwayne Haskins connects with Antonio Brown over and over in offseason workout

Redskins fans will devour any video of Dwayne Haskins throwing the ball that they can get their hands on these days. 

But on Wednesday, footage emerged of Haskins throwing bomb after bomb to Antonio Brown. 

Yep. That Antonio Brown.

Haskins has had, and posted about, many offseason workouts the past few months, and most of the time, those workouts have featured teammates like Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon.

On Wednesday, however, the former Steelers, Raiders and Patriots pass catcher was on the same field as the Redskins quarterback. And they made some sweet, sweet (defender-less, pass rush-less) music together:


As seen on Haskins' own Twitter, there were some other notable names in attendance besides Brown. Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, former NFL wideout Chad Johnson and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith all got in some work as well. 

Is this the space where you'll find analysis on whether the Redskins should sign Brown? Nope.

Is this the space where you'll get a critique of Haskins underthrowing the Pro Bowler a time or two? Nah.

But is this the space where you'll see appreciation for one really talented person chucking a ball really high and really far to another talented person? Yes. All of the yeses. 

Those videos are fun, those videos are interesting and those videos are cool. Try not to take too much away from them other than those things, as difficult as that may be.


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Nick Sundberg thinks NFL should be cautious, follow MLB and NHL's lead in preparing for 2020 season

Nick Sundberg thinks NFL should be cautious, follow MLB and NHL's lead in preparing for 2020 season

As the NFL continues to work toward creating a plan that allows the 2020 season to start in a safe and effective way amid the coronavirus pandemic, numerous players, coaches and league officials are tasked with brainstorming the best possible solution. Among them is Washington Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg, as the special teams veteran is the team's player representative for the National Football League Players Association.

With the calendar turning to June and OTAs and other training sessions delayed, the pressure to make a decision on how teams can work together in person continues to rise. Sundberg understands the concerns but believes the best option at this point is to not rush into anything.

“I think to be cautious is the biggest thing. I don’t want to rush into anything," Sundberg told the Redskins Talk Podcast. "Especially since we have time on our side right now, we’re not missing games today, we’re months away from that.”

Sundberg is correct in saying that time is a valuable resource for the NFL right now. Unlike other professional leagues, each passing day isn't a delay of the regular season or playoffs. Leagues like the NHL and MLB are itching to get back and salvage lost seasons, football isn't there just yet as game action isn't in jeopardy until August.

Therefore, Sundberg thinks the best course of action at the current moment is to observe what the other leagues do in the coming months. They'll be back to work first, and the NFL should see how things play out and learn from successes and failures. 

From there, the NFL would have a clearer picture of what could really happen when football returns. If the results are positive, the league can follow suit. If not, it will be up to Sundberg and company to re-work the policies done by others to create more progress in the future.

“If it were me leading our approach, I would create a blueprint from the MLB and the NHL. I would wait to see what they do and see what works and what doesn’t," Sundberg said. "Compare and contrast the two leagues on how they went about the situation of getting teams in the facilities, how they went about practice, who was allowed in the building, how they went about games.”

“I would try and model, take what they do and make it better if we can. Unless they just roll out a perfect plan, then that’s our blueprint," Sundberg added.

Besides examining policies put in place, Sundberg understands the importance of looking at numbers and trends. It's one thing to see how the other leagues go about having players and staff together on and off the field, but it's another to see what the virus does in that situation. 

"Track data over a month, month and a half, six weeks," Sundberg said. "Let’s see how many players contracted, how many coaches, how many front office and staff members and that sort of thing.”


Real-time studies based on what happens when other sports return will largely dictate what the NFL can do, but Sundberg also understands that football isn't the same as other sports. When training camp begins, rosters are a lot larger than what baseball and hockey teams carry. Certain measures may be effective for those groups of players, but what happens when a full football franchise needs to be accounted for?

Additionally, contact is a necessary element of the game. At some point, teams are going to need to run drills where players block and hit each other and it won't be able to be avoided. How does the league prepare for that level of closeness? These are all things that Sundberg and others in the Players Association have to consider when laying the groundwork.

“For us, it’s so interesting because we have 90 guys on the roster right now and we have such a big organization, you know," Sundberg said. "You can’t have 10 guys over there, 10 guys over there, 10 guys over there. You can spread out on the fields, but at some point we have to come and do some one-on-ones. Guys are going to be breathing in each other’s faces.” 

Safety for players, staff and others involved in football operations is essential, but it's not the only factor that goes into decision-making. As recent negotiations in the MLB have shown, contracts and payments will determine how the season plays out. The NFL is no different.

As Sundberg explains, NFL players are typically paid in season, as game checks and incentives make up their contract. That isn't necessarily a concern right now as the belief is that all games will be played, but there are other stipulations in tentative plans that Sundberg and other players don't agree with.

“Some of the things I’ve heard I haven’t fallen in love with," Sundberg said.

Specifically, a proposed idea on how to handle players who contracted coronavirus was not a procedure he was a fan of. During the podcast, he noted that there was a suggestion that those with the virus would be played on a two-week disabled list, rather than the Injured Reserve. However, coronavirus would be viewed as a non-football injury. In that instance, teams would not be obligated to pay the players who ended up on the list due to coronavirus.

Clearly, that wasn't something the players were going to go for.

“There’s no way a player could get the virus at work and then you say it’s a non-football injury, right?" Sundberg explained.

The long snapper's insight into how the NFL is handling the unclear future of the 2020 season has shown that a lot still needs to be done, but only time will tell how that happens. Other leagues will potentially return soon, and that can help the professional football league in its efforts to come up with the best course of action. However, tough football-specific decisions will still be on the table.

The stress and uncertainty of the time can be a lot, but it's not something Sundberg is shying away from. He was elected to help do what's best for his team and other players around the league, and he's looking forward to fulfilling that promise.

“I think there’s a lot of work that needs to happen moving forward before we even get to the point of stepping on the field for a game," Sundberg said. "But I’m kind of looking forward to cyphering through it all and seeing some of the creative things that guys that are put in place to do that have come up with.” 

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