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Need to Know: Could combine performances of Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds affect Redskins' free agent strategy?

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Need to Know: Could combine performances of Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds affect Redskins' free agent strategy?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 5, 10 days before NFL free agency starts.  

Monday morning five spot

1. For as much as Doug Williams talked about running back being a big area of need for his team, I’m still skeptical that they will pull the trigger on a running back in the first two rounds. Let’s be clear here that I’m not talking about what I would do, but what I think they will do. Me, I’d grab Sony Michel or Rashaad Penny in the second and be done with it. I think that Williams, Bruce Allen and company will look at the depth at the position in the draft and draft one in the fourth, or maybe the third if they trade for a pick. I just don’t think they value the position enough to take one sooner.

2. I’m more skeptical that they will go the free agency route to get a running back. Again, I’m not talking about what I would do. If they asked me, I’d recommend making a run at Isaiah Crowell or Jerick McKinnon. But they aren’t going to ask me. And there is something to be said for waiting until the draft as long as they are able to get an impact back.

3. While I think a lot of fans would be happy with a running back in the first or second round, I think many would flip out with the selection of a wide receiver early. Yes, they took one in the first just two years ago. However, you do need two of them and they are expensive to get in free agency. Ideally, either Maurice Harris or Robert Davis will develop into a legitimate starter. The Redskins can’t rely on the ideal unfolding and need to be sure that they add talent to the position. If they can sign Jordan Matthews or former Alex Smith target Albert Wilson to a reasonable deal perhaps that is the best route to take.

4. The Redskins likely will get a cornerback from somewhere. Jay Gruden said that most teams have five solid cornerbacks. With Kendall Fuller gone and Bashaud Breeland likely to go as a free agent, the Redskins have just four. And among that group only one, Josh Norman, is a proven starter. Quinton Dunbar has done well as a fourth corner and occasional starter and Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey saw very limited action on defense as rookies. They found Breeland in the fourth round in 2014. Perhaps they look there again this year and go after someone like Tarvarus McFadden of Florida State or Kevin Toliver of LSU.

5. Linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds put up some incredible combine performances. What is important is that what they showed in Indianapolis matches what they put on film. They’re not just workout warriors, they are fast, athletic football players. I wonder how much the Redskins will weigh the possibility of one of them being available at pick No. 13 against the contract demands of Zach Brown, who reportedly is looking for nearly $20 million in guaranteed money. While letting Brown go would be a very unpopular move, I think many fans would come around if the Redskins could get one of the two young, athletic linebackers on April 26.

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.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 42
—NFL Draft (4/26) 52
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 188

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

The Justice Department charged Clinton Portis and nine other former NFL players with defrauding a health care program for retired players.

The news broke Thursday morning when the Eastern District of Kentucky alleged that the retired players submitted fraudulent claims for medical equipment costing between $40,000-50,000 to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan. 

Former Redskins cornerback and first-round pick Carlos Rogers is also charged along with Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter and Etric Pruitt. Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell are also expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Portis' attorney Mark Dycio said of the charges (via The Washington Post): "Clinton Portis had no knowledge that his participation in what he believed to be an NFL sanctioned medical reimbursement program was illegal. He is completely taken aback by this indictment and will move forward with the process of clearing his good name and those of his fellow NFL alumni."

According to the indictment, the claims filed between June 2017 and December 2018 totaled $3.9 million and the health care plan paid out more than $3.4 million.

Portis played seven years for the Redskins from 2004 to 2010, rushing for nearly 7,000 yards and 46 touchdowns. He remains a fan favorite and currently works for the Redskins Broadcast Network. 

A Redskins spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

Stay tuned as this is a developing story. 

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The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

No matter how you break it down — by quarter, by month, by time of day, by location, by whether the opponent has an animal mascot or a human mascot — the numbers show that the Redskins have a really ineffective offense. Currently, they're last in the NFL in points per game and yards per game.

They're bad all the time, honestly.

However, they're downright atrocious when it comes to their opening drives.

In Week 1 against the Eagles, the Redskins scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It was fun. The players had fun. The fans had fun. Everybody had fun.

But since then, they haven't notched a single TD on a first drive. In fact, they haven't converted a field goal, either.

Overall, in their 13 game-opening possessions on the year, Washington has that single end zone trip to go along with a missed kick, seven punts, two fumbles and two interceptions (one of which was taken back for a score).

What's the opposite of coming out hot? The 2019 Redskins' offense.

"I'm tired of the slow starts, our guys are, too," Bill Callahan said Wednesday. "That's the goal of the first drive of the game — try to jump ahead, get ahead, find a way to get on the board early. We haven't succeeded at that." 

The issue is registering with Dwayne Haskins, too. So, what can they possibly do to try to improve?

"Just trying to figure out a way we can move the ball early, not getting behind the chains, finding lanes and getting the ball out fast," the quarterback said. "It helps our defense when we come off fast and move the ball down the field and not put them in a tough scenario with having a short field."

Many have complained about the offense's run-first approach being too predictable under Callahan, and that's something that could be plaguing them at the beginning of their contests. Since he took over as interim coach, for example, the offense has run the ball on their first snap in six-of-eight matchups, including four-out-of-five with Haskins under center.

Of course, this is an area where Jay Gruden struggled as well, but his tendencies weren't as obvious. Plus, and yes, this is minutiae now, he did call two play-action shots in Weeks 2 and 4 that schemed up wide-open receivers that Case Keenum simply missed. He was also in charge for that lone touchdown in Philly.

The most obvious explanation for the problem, however, is one that can explain a lot of things this season: an overall lack of talent. As mentioned at the start of the story, it's not like the offense gets into a rhythm at any point, so their numbers will be underwhelming in any situation or sample.

That said, even with an inexperienced and undermanned group, there should be more production than one TD in 13 chances. Callahan told the media that "we put a lot of thought, focus and concentration" into the early-game plan. Clearly, it's not paying off.

In many ways, the Redskins have fallen behind the rest of the NFL over the past few months. The stats above show that, at least in one way, that's literally very true.  

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