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Mandatory minicamp brings new questions and some answers

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USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory minicamp brings new questions and some answers

The voluntary part of the Redskins offseason ended last week. On Tuesday, mandatory minicamp opens and the schedule calls for three straight days of practice in Ashburn. 

The biggest difference, and maybe the only real difference, comes from the mandatory part of things. OTAs are all voluntary, and coaches and players downplay their significance. 

Minicamp, however, is mandatory. If players don't show up, they get fined. 

With that in mind, it seems likely linebacker Zach Brown will be in attendance on Tuesday. Washington head coach Jay Gruden has been clear Brown has been at the facility this offseason, but the tackle machine has not been around for OTA sessions when the media is present. 

Brown will probably face questions about his absence, but in reality, it isn't a big deal. The sessions were voluntary. 

Elsewhere in minicamp, a lot of the drills will look similar to OTAs. The team won't wear pads, the linemen won't hit, and the receivers won't fear any safeties coming over the middle. 

Still, there's value, particularly for skill players. 

On the offensive side of the ball, there are real questions about the wide receiver depth chart. Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson are roster locks, but after that, competition will be intense. Maurice Harris, Robert Davis and Brian Quick all spent time with the Redskins in 2017. Rookie Trey Quinn looks like a player with a strong chance of making the roster and a number of undrafted players could push for spots as well. 

Defensively, the secondary will get more good work during minicamp. As that unfolds, keep an eye on Fabian Moreau, a second-year player that Josh Norman believes could be in line to make a big leap. Veteran Orlando Scandrick and incumbent Quinton Dunbar are all working with the top lines in base and nickel, but maybe Moreau could force momentum towards his chances at training camp.

One other thing to watch - on Tuesday the Redskins will honor the replacement players from their 1987 Super Bowl winning squad. Watch for video of the ceremony on NBC Sports Washington. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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USA Today Sports Images

Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond. 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series