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Need to Know: Redskins 2017 draft picks who must step up this season

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins 2017 draft picks who must step up this season

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 13, nine days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Most improved 2017 draft picks

If the Redskins are better this year than they were in 2017 it won’t be all about this year’s draft class or the free agents they signed or even the team have better luck on the injury front. They will rely in part on some of the players they drafted in 2017 to take big steps forward and become big contributors. Here are my five candidates to be this year’s versions of last year’s Matt Ioannidis and Kendall Fuller. 

CB Fabian Moreau—The Redskins let Bashaud Breeland walk and believed they could trade away Fuller in part because they think that Moreau will develop into a solid cornerback. He played just 59 snaps on defense last year with only seven of those coming in the last 11 games of the season so much of their faith is based on projection. 

OLB Ryan Anderson—The team’s second-round pick got some opportunities as a rookie, playing 193 snaps. However, he did not record a sack. He was expected to take some time to develop and although he might be a little behind schedule he should be a regular part of the rotation and a strong contributor this year.

C Chase Roullier—The Redskins traded up to get him in the sixth round last year so they liked what they saw in college. When Spencer Long went out with an injury Roullier stepped in to start in Week 8 and did a good job. He did miss three games with a broken hand he suffered in the Saints game (it should be noted that he finished that game with the broken hand, which was his snapping hand). This year, Roullier will be with the starters from the beginning of OTAs on and he should take a couple of steps forward.  

TE Jeremy Sprinkle—He played 126 snaps last year, but he was the target of just three passes for a player who was the No. 2 tight end for much of the year with Jordan Reed missing extensive time with injuries. I don’t see Sprinkle become a significant part of the passing offense, but he should get more opportunities and improve his blocking ability as well. 

DL Jonathan Allen and S Montae Nicholson—These two players are together because they didn’t seem to be having a problem with the rookie learning curve, but their seasons ended early with injuries. Both now are 100 percent physically (Allen nearly returned late last year) and should be ready to go. Everyone will keep a wary eye on both of them, particularly Nicholson, and just like any other players they could get injured again. But if they can stay healthy they should impact two levels of the defense starting Week 1.

(h/t to Mike Downes on Facebook for the topic suggestion)

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 74
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 88

The Redskins last played a game 133 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 119 days. 

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Packers

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Packers

Here is what you need to know on Wednesday, September 19, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers  

Talking points

The Redskins are taking on the Packers on Sunday and here is a look at what I found out taking a first look at them. 

It’s all about Aaron Rodgers

You can argue about who the best QB in the game is, but you can’t argue that the Packers are a Super Bowl contender with Rodgers and a sub-.500 team without him. No player carries his team to the extent that Rodgers does. We will see what pops up on the injury report regarding Rodgers after that Week 1 knee injury, but it would be foolish to expect anything other than him taking every snap. 

The Packers’ offensive line is a notch below that of the Redskins

They have a pair of quality tackles in LT David Bakhtiari and RT Bryan Bulaga. But they don’t have a Brandon Scherff equivalent on the inside. Between the line and Rodgers’ mobility (which is somewhat in question due to the condition of his knee), they manage to avoid sacks so don’t look for a pass rush that has been struggling to get better against Green Bay. 

Green Bay’s leading rusher is averaging 3.4 yards per carry

Jamaal Williams in the only Packer who is has more than seven rushing attempts. In two games, Green Bay’s 2017 fourth-round pick has 31 carries for 106 yards with a long run of 11. They use converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery as a change of pace back; he has seven carries for 38 yards (5.4 ypc). 

There are solid players on every level of the Packers’ defense

At age 32, Clay Matthews is not the player who made six Pro Bowls and posted double-digit sacks four times from 2009-2015. But it would be inaccurate to say that he’s a shadow of his former self. He has had trouble staying on the field the last couple of years but when he’s healthy, which he is now, he gets pressure. The Redskins wanted to sign DL Sheldon Richardson, a top-notch run stuffer, this offseason but he went to Green Bay. At safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has 12 interceptions in four-plus years in the league, including one off of Kirk Cousins last week. 

Ball control will not be enough

The conventional wisdom when it comes to beating the Packers is to control the ball with runs and short passes and keep Rodgers on the sideline. Well, that formula didn’t work for the Redskins against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Washington had the ball for 33 minutes, but red zone problems doomed them. They will have to score touchdowns to win on Sunday. Since the start of the 2016 season, the Packers have only one loss in a game that Rodgers started and finished where their opponent scored fewer than 30 points. As the fight song goes, the points will have to soar if the Redskins are going to have a chance to hail victory. 

Injuries of note

RB Rob Kelly was put on injured reserve with a toe injury. He is a candidate to return from injured reserve after he misses at least eight games. 

The agenda

Today: Alex Smith press conference 12 noon; Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 4; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 19; Cowboys @ Redskins 32

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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After busy day of transactions, Redskins WR and RB depth charts look quite different

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USA Today Sports

After busy day of transactions, Redskins WR and RB depth charts look quite different

In the NFL regular season, Tuesday marks the quietest day of the week. It's supposed to anyway. For the Redskins heading into Week 3 that was not the case.

The team announced seven roster moves, bolstering the receiving group and making changes to the practice squad. The biggest additions, however, came at wide receiver. 

Through two games, Washington is not getting a lot of production out of the receiver group. That's not all on the players running routes. There are a number of factors, starting with new quarterback Alex Smith getting used to his new weapons, offensive line performance, play calling and the success of the run game. Even given all that context, still, the Redskins wideouts have underperformed as a group. 

Josh Doctson has five catches for 48 yards and Jamison Crowder has five catches for 40 yards. Paul Richardson leads the team with eight catches for 85 yards. 

In Week 1, rookie WRs Trey Quinn and Cam Sims injured their ankles, and both players got put on injured reserve. The team brought in Brian Quick and Jehu Chesson to replace them, and both players primarily functioned as special teamers. 

This week, with another subpar performance from the outside WRs, the Redskins took a different path. Chesson got moved to the practice squad, and the 'Skins added a pair of former first round pick WRs in Michael Floyd and Breshad Perriman. Neither player has a history of playing special teams, and Floyd has logged a 1,000-yard receiving season.

To make roster space, the team cut Chesson and moved him to the practice squad, and put third-year RB Rob Kelley on the injured reserve. Kelley injured his toe in the loss to the Colts and would miss at least a month. 

What does all that mean? Here are the updated RB and WR depth charts:

RB
1) Adrian Peterson
2) Chris Thompson
3) Samaje Perine

Notes: The Redskins now only have three running backs on the roster, though Kapri Bibbs is stashed on the practice squad and Byron Marshall opened the season on the IR. More than likely, all three RBs will be active on Sunday against the Packers.

WR
1) Josh Doctson
2) Paul Richardson
3) Jamison Crowder
4) Maurice Harris
5) Brian Quick
6) Michael Floyd
7) Breshad Perriman

Notes: While the Redskins top three options (Doctson, Richardson, Crowder) remain in the same spots, the rest of the WR position group seems like a big question mark. Harris’ health and availability remain unclear, and that leads to other concerns. Quick knows the offensive system but had just six catches in 11 games in 2017. Floyd has the best resume of any wideout on the roster, but will he be able to perform right away? It seems likely two of these seven WRs will be inactive on game day, but which two?

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