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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do at running back?

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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do at running back?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 7, 35 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 22
—NFL Draft (4/26) 78
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 214

Answering your questions from social media

If I had to guess right now, I’d say that the Redskins will do nothing at running back. I know that will make a lot of fans mad, but be prepared for it. I think they want to see Perine develop and there still is faith in Rob Kelley. Perhaps they will utilize Chris Thompson a little more on first and second down. But this team just doesn’t invest much at the running back position. They would rather develop a good tandem than have one bell cow runner. If they do add a RB I’d say they’ll go with either a lower-tier free agent or a later-round draft pick.

Brian Mitchell told me that the team’s issues with the running game stem more around attitude than personnel. Perhaps if they can change the mindset a different running back would help. But the attitude has to come first.

The Redskins have seven picks. They traded away their third in the Alex Smith deal and they have an extra seventh. The key to your other question is “by the time the draft rolls around”. We don’t know what they will do in free agency. If they bring back Zach Brown, they are in pretty good shape with him and Mason Foster, but they would need depth. Do they sign a wide receiver in free agency? Do they get a free agent left guard or do they try to find one in the middle rounds of the draft? A lot will have to play out. Ideally, they will have most of their immediate needs take care of and they can draft for positions they will need in 2019 (possibly edge rusher if they can’t re-sign Preston Smith) and 2020 (maybe a Trent Williams replacement to groom).

I have to disagree with the premise in the first part of your question. They have lost one of their top three corners in the Smith trade and they may need to replace free agent Bashaud Breeland. And if they lined up today, their No. 3 wide receiver would be either Maurice Harris or Robert Davis. So those clearly are areas of need the Redskins will try to address in free agency or the draft.

To the second part, drafting strictly for need is a bad idea. You end up reaching and you have a terrible draft. But Charley Casserly told me that in the early rounds, the best available player is guided by what you need. For example, if the top player on the Redskins’ board when their second-round pick comes up is an offensive tackle, they would skip down the board a spot or two to get a player at a position of greater need or perhaps try to trade back. In the fifth, they take the tackle if he has the best grade.

I hate to keep disagreeing with premises here but calling a quarterback who is around for three years a “stopgap” in today’s NFL is just inaccurate. Three years is an eternity in the free agency era. Sure, a young QB who is signed to a six-year deal is preferable but there aren’t any options for that given Cousins’ lack of desire to stay.

That being said, I would think that the Redskins believed that Colt plus a rookie would equal a 5-11 season at best. Maybe you think that’s acceptable for rebuilding, but the organization disagrees. You think there are a lot of visiting fans in FedEx Field now? Imagine if they were 2-9 going into a November game against the Eagles. They might as well just paint the stadium green. Again, you can agree or disagree with a desire to remain competitive but that’s why they did it.

I’ll also add that I think they figured that any quarterback they would want will be gone by pick No. 13. They would have to give up more than they traded away in the Smith deal to move up to get one of them.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Colt McCoy is on crutches, but there isn't yet cause for alarm (VIDEO)

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Colt McCoy is on crutches, but there isn't yet cause for alarm (VIDEO)

UPDATE: Redskins fans got alarmed Sundaywhen quarterback Colt McCoy showed up at an Indy car race on crutches.


McCoy broke his leg in December on the Monday night stage against the Eagles, but was seen a few weeks later walking around the locker room without a limp.

Thus, the crutches seemed alarming.

Later Sunday, news emerged that McCoy had another surgical procedure on his leg, but is expected to be ready when the 'Skins offseason workouts begin.


Colt McCoy broke his leg in December, and a few weeks later was seen in the Redskins locker room moving around without crutches. 

In fact, shortly after his injury, Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that McCoy might have played had the Redskins made the playoffs. 

So it comes at a peculiar moment when McCoy was shown on Sunday moving around with the help of a pair of crutches. 

With Alex Smith expected to miss at least the 2019 season after suffering his own broken leg last fall, some expected McCoy to get a chance at the Redskins top QB spot this fall. 

Then, the team moved to get Case Keenum from Denver in February, which clouded McCoy’s chances. Washington’s top brass explained Keenum and McCoy would battle it out for the QB1 position. 

Now, however, naturally the question comes if the ‘Skins had to acquire Keenum because there was a setback with McCoy’s recovery or another injury popped up. 

Right now, there’s no answer. 

Soon there will be. 

Jay Gruden will talk with the media on Tuesday morning during the NFL League Meetings in Phoenix. While there are plenty of topics to discuss with the Redskins head coach, now McCoy will be high on the list. 

For fans worried by McCoy’s crutches, keep in mind many NFL players get procedures done in the offseason to clean up old injuries or scar tissue. 

It’s March and the Redskins won’t play a game until September. That’s plenty of time. 

Depending on the severity of McCoy’s situation, there could be questions about his availability for offseason workouts or training sessions. 

Another quarterback seems likely to join the Redskins this offseason regardless of McCoy’s availability. 

The team must add a passer on an affordable rookie deal, as neither Keenum or McCoy is under contract beyond this year. Alex Smith is, but it’s not even close to a given he can return by 2020, despite carrying more than $20 million in salary next year. 

Stay tuned. NBC Sports Washington will be on the ground in Phoenix and working to clarify the McCoy situation. 


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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent


2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Looking for a stat to describe the rough season the Redskins receivers had in 2018? Well, there's tons to choose from.

The team's wideouts had the second-fewest catches of 20-plus yards in the league. Antonio Brown had more grabs, yards and touchdowns than Washington's top three targets combined. Josh Doctson led the squad in receiving yards — with a measly 532.

You could easily find plenty more, but those three are all you need to realize that DK Metcalf should absolutely be on the franchise's mind when it comes to their first-round pick this April.

While Metcalf's numbers at Ole Miss won't overly impress you, his athleticism and potential explosiveness as a pro absolutely does. That's why it's no surprise the WR met with the Redskins while at the Combine, as Jay Gruden and Co. are well aware that they must become more dangerous on the outside.

As with any prospect, there are questions with Metcalf. He only had 67 catches in 21 games in school, and while he shredded most of the drills in Indianapolis, his short area agility numbers were worse than Tom Brady. That's not great.

Regardless, he'd instantly become the offense's scariest athlete, and you have to like his chances of at least contributing splash plays early while he learns the nuances of the NFL.

The 'Skins don't just need improvement out wide, however. Jordan Reed was largely ineffective despite playing for much of 2018, Vernon Davis is 35 years old and Jeremy Sprinkle isn't much of a threat in the air at tight end.

Perhaps TJ Hockenson could be their answer. says the Iowa product "is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game." 

One problem the Burgundy and Gold have encountered in recent years is Reed and Davis don't help much as blockers, while Sprinkle won't worry a defense with his hands. Taking Hockenson at pick No. 15 would mean Gruden could finally have a guy who excels in both areas.

It remains to be seen whether Metcalf or Hockenson will last until the Redskins' choice, as they could continue to rise up boards as the draft draws closer. If both or either is there, however, they need to be heavily considered. 

While the offense may have to be run-oriented again in 2019, it still needs more weapons for whoever is under center. They won't be able to grind out 13-play scoring drives every time they need a TD, and grabbing Metcalf or Hockenson would go a long way in introducing a new element to the group.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.