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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Tight end

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Tight end

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Tight end

Training camp opens in about four weeks and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming couple of weeks, 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.

Tight ends

Additions: None
Departures: Niles Paul (UFA to Jacksonville)

Starter:  Jordan Reed
Other roster locks: Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle
On the bubble: None

How the tight ends compare

To the rest of the NFL: Reed is one of the best tight ends in the NFL if . . . You have heard it plenty. Reed's speed and athleticism are unique gifts that few can match. Having Reed available is doubly important because Davis is generally more effective working as a second tight end with Reed also on the field than he does as the lone TE. If Reed is on the field and at full speed for 12 or 14 games the Redskins have one of the better tight end situations in the league. If not, they are well below average.

To the 2017 Redskins: They will miss Niles Paul more for his ability to line up at fullback and play special teams than for his contributions as a receiver (13 receptions for 94 yards). Still, the unit could be vastly improved from last year if Reed plays at least three-quarters of the games (sorry to keep repeating myself) and if Vernon Davis can keep on outrunning Father Time for another season.

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: Sprinkle played in 11 games last year as a rookie and he caught just two passes, one for a touchdown against the Saints. He has nowhere to go but up in terms of production. While he will be counted on mostly as a blocker, a skill he needs to improve, he also needs to be more of a receiving threat. If Sprinkle gets better clearing room for runners and can match Paul’s production and maybe add a few more touchdowns from the red zone, he will be a solid asset.

Most to prove: We’re back to Reed. This year is very important to him personally. In 2019 he will be in the third year of the five-year contract extension he signed in 2016. The guaranteed money will have been paid and the Redskins would save over $6.1 million in cap money if they move on from him. If he suffers through another season like he had in 2017 they might not have any choice but to let him go. Such a move would cost Reed nearly $25 million in uncollected salary.

Rookie watch: The Redskins didn’t draft a tight end and there probably isn’t room for a fourth TE on the 53-man roster. Still, a spot on the practice squad could be important, a potential call-up if Reed struggles to stay on the field. Keep an eye on undrafted free agent Garrett Hudson out of Richmond. Every time you looked up during OTAs he was making a nice catch.

Bottom line: Alex Smith has demonstrated that tight ends can thrive while he is behind center. Travis Kelce and a younger Vernon Davis demonstrated that in Kansas City and San Francisco, respectively. Reed could be a candidate for All-Pro honors at the end of the year or he could be a candidate for the waiver wire. With a stronger defense, the Redskins might be able to get by if Reed misses a lot of time but things would be a whole lot easier if Reed is a factor.  


Jay Gruden on Reed’s condition:

He’s been working hard with the trainers now . . . His attendance has been excellent. His rehab schedule is on track to being ready, and I like where he’s at. His upper body strength is great. I think he’s on track to be there for training camp. We’ll wait and see.

2018 position outlook series

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler.


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10 Days to training camp: How to sort out the defensive line rotation?

10 Days to training camp: How to sort out the defensive line rotation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

On a team with few definitive strengths, the defensive line ranks as easily the best position group on the 2019 Redskins.

The team boasts two first-rounders in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. The team also just paid fourth-year pro Matt Ioannidis, giving him a contract extension to lock him up before free agency next year. After that, this year there are expectations that Tim Settle and Caleb Brantley should play expanded roles.

And in many ways, that has to happen.

Allen and Payne played too much last season, especially early. In a Week 4 win against the Packers, Payne and Allen played more than 90 percent of the Redskins' defensive snaps. In a Week 5 loss to the Saints, both players were on the field for more than 75 percent of the team's snaps.

Keep in mind, too, Payne was a rookie and Allen was in his second NFL season after only playing a handful of games as a rookie. In hindsight, the Redskins needed to deploy more of a rotation along the defensive line in 2018, and in 2019, would be crazy not to.

Payne and Allen both have Pro Bowl potential. Ioannidis has proven elite pass rush potential when he's on the field and needs to be on the field more. Then there are Settle and Brantley, two players that Redskins coaches have praised extensively this offseason.

The best defensive lines have talent and depth. The Redskins definitely have talent. Payne, Allen, and Ioannidis prove that.

The Redskins need to have depth. A fresh defensive line, or even a less beat up defensive line, can make a huge difference in the second half of the season. Jim Tomsula says the Redskins have the talent to go deep in their linemen rotation.
In 2019, the team needs to show it.


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Is it time to re-examine Redskins RB situation after latest Derrius Guice setback? Or is the team safe either way?

Is it time to re-examine Redskins RB situation after latest Derrius Guice setback? Or is the team safe either way?

The Redskins offense struggled to score points in 2018, and heading into 2019, that unit poses the biggest question marks for the organization. 

Of course, the biggest mystery remains who will be the starting quarterback. One position that looked like a strength, however, was running back. 

Now with less than two weeks before training camp opens, news emerged that second-year RB Derrius Guice is dealing with a hamstring injury. On Twitter Guice said not to worry about the hamstring, but players tend to be quite bullish about their own injury prognosis. 

What is known about Guice is that he's dealt with injuries the last three seasons, including 2017 in college at LSU and an ACL tear last year in the preseason. He hasn't taken an NFL snap yet.

There are a few other things to consider too when looking at the Guice file. 

The Redskins re-signed Adrian Peterson to a two-year deal this offseason, securing the veteran as part of their offense. Peterson did not come back thinking he would be a backup, especially as he's chasing down some significant historic NFL records. 

Additionally, the Redskins selected Bryce Love in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Love is coming back from his own knee injury and seems highly unlikely to open training camp on the active roster. 

Still, Love was a star at Stanford. If he can get his knee back to 100 percent, and one source said his ACL tear "was clean," he will be a contributor to the Redskins offense. That might not happen until 2020, but it could happen during the back half of the 2019 season too.

Elsewhere on the roster, Chris Thompson has a very clear role. That isn't changing. 

Then there is Samaje Perine. Repeatedly this offseason, Washington head coach Jay Gruden has gone out of his way to compliment the third-year back out of Oklahoma. 

This is a long way of saying that the Redskins have built themselves plenty of options should Guice continue to deal with injuries. 

It's important to point out that Guice's hamstring might be incredibly minor. It might not impact his availability to start training camp in Richmond. This could all be much ado about nothing. 

But it might not.

Less than a year removed from an ACL tear, and after dealing with multiple surgical setbacks due to infection, now Guice has a hamstring issue. The team brought back Peterson and drafted Love in the time in between. 

Fans love and can't wait to see Guice on the field for the Burgundy and Gold. There is much to be excited about. The Redskins' brass has talked excitedly about Guice too.

But in the NFL, talk is cheap. Actions matter. 

Bruce Allen made moves to ensure his team has options at running back whether Guice opens training camp or not.