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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Cornerback

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Cornerback

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

So far we’ve look at the defensive line, outside linebackers, and inside linebackers. Today the focus turns to cornerbacks.

2016 final game starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland

Norman started all 16 games while Breeland started 14. They tied for the team lead in interceptions with three each.    

Departures: Greg Toler (unsigned)

Toler played 256 snaps as a nickel corner. He got more playing time as they lost faith in Kendall Fuller at various times during the season. But at other times he went for multiple games without seeing a single snap on defense. He could still be back as he has not signed elsewhere.

Projected 2017 starters: Norman, Breeland

The Redskins probably wanted more big plays out of Norman in return for their five-year, $75 million contract but they weren’t asking for their money back, either. He was by far their best pass defender, allowing a passer rating of just 74.3 when quarterbacks threw in his direction.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 8.0

Breeland played well at times. He was mismatched when he frequently was left with No. 1 receivers like Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant. The passer rating when throwing to him was 91.4, which is a little above the NFL average.

2017 reserves: Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Dashaun Phillips

Fuller had an up-and-down rookie season. He was inactive early in the season, took over for Phillips at nickel corner in Week 4, and held the job until later in the season, when he played very sparingly. Dunbar also spent some time when he seemed to be in the doghouse as the team struggled to find the right combination.

MORE REDSKINS: Team announces preseason opponents

Phillips started two games early and spent chunks of the rest of the season inactive, on the practice squad, and even off the roster for one game.

Where can the cornerbacks find improvement?

This is a strong draft for cornerbacks and it would not be surprising to see the Redskins take one somewhere along the line. However, unless they go corner in the first or second round a draft pick is unlikely to bring immediate improvement to the unit.

Both starters can get better. Norman dropped some potential interceptions that were in his hands that could have been game changers. If he can hold on to a few more of those his impact would increase immensely. Breeland could take a step up in his contract year.

The player who has the most potential for improvement is Fuller. He was seen as a first-round talent who got pushed back to the third due to a knee injury. That injury slowed down his offseason and preseason development and it showed when the games started to count. If he can take the next step this year the Redskins could have a very solid nickel corner.

Locks and bubble players

Norman, Breeland, and Fuller are locks. Dunbar is close to being one but he could get pushed off.

The Redskins are likely to carry five corners so as of right now, Phillips is the fifth. But a draft pick could easily push him off of the 53-man roster.  

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

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Wait, what? Report says Bill Belichick 'inquired' about coaching the Redskins

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Wait, what? Report says Bill Belichick 'inquired' about coaching the Redskins

Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. He's won six Super Bowl titles and made the playoffs every year in the last decade. Other coaches were great - Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs among a few - but nobody is Belichick. 

That's what makes a recent report out of Boston so near impossible to believe. 

Belichick checked in on coaching in Washington? The Redskins? 

Those are valid points, I guess. Belichick spent much of his young life in Annapolis and has great affinity for that area. He's talked about that openly. 

The timeline also makes some sense. Many reports out of New England in 2017 showed a power struggle between Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft about what to do with legendary quarterback Tom Brady as then backup Patriots QB Jimmy Garropolo got closer to free agency. New England wouldn't be able to keep both, and there has been speculation that Belichick wanted to keep the younger passer. 

Eventually, Garropolo got traded to the 49ers, for a surprisingly low return, and New England went to two more Super Bowls, winning last year. 

This year, however, marked the first real time the Patriots looked mortal. Brady's completion percentage dipped to 60.8 percent, his lowest since 2013, and he threw fewer passing yards than any 16-game season since 2010. Now, Brady is a free agent and for the first time ever the possibility of playing somewhere else seems real, even if only somewhat realistic.

Still, Belichick coaching the Redskins seems like the longest of shots. Checking on a job - looking at financial considerations or asking about parameters - and actually taking a job can be two very different things. 

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3 critical takeaways from Jack Del Rio's first media session as Redskins defensive coordinator

3 critical takeaways from Jack Del Rio's first media session as Redskins defensive coordinator

Jack Del Rio spoke to the Washington media on Wednesday, his first public session with reporters since being named Redskins defensive coordinator on Jan. 2.

While the conference call came more than two weeks after the team's announcement, it was certainly worth the wait.

Here are the three most critical takeaways from what Del Rio discussed.

1) He has no interest in discussing potential

At one point in the call, Del Rio was given the chance to set expectations for his group and explain what kind of potential he sees. It was the kind of question he could've easily answered, using glowing adjectives and praising many players.

But he didn't go that route. In fact, he went the opposite direction of that route

"It’s interesting to me that so much is made this time of year with thoughts on potential," Del Rio said. "Potential really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really amount to much. To me, it’s more about what we can get done and the work that we’re willing to put in and the idea that, ‘Look, we’re going to become a respected unit, OK?’"

That might've been the most compelling response from the longtime coach, and it's a mindset that people like Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Landon Collins will surely appreciate.  

2) Teaching matters quite a bit to him

During one explanation, Del Rio brought up current Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Why? To illustrate how someone can grow and improve with the proper coaching.

Woodyard was with the Broncos when Del Rio took over as defensive coordinator, and according to Del Rio, people told him not to worry too much about the linebacker. Woodyard was merely a special teamer who "wasn't going to amount to much."

Del Rio dismissed that advice, instead focusing on bettering Woodyard's fundamentals, which in turn would help his confidence spike. That former Denver special teamer was recently on the field for Tennessee's playoff win in Baltimore and is now one victory away from a Super Bowl.

That's just one example that sticks out to Del Rio and proves how necessary it is to assist in the continuous enhancement of a pro's skills.

"For us, we are going to look to teach and develop," he said. "To me, we have players here that are maybe considered in a specific light and they will have the chance to change that."

3) He absolutely wants Ron Rivera's input

Del Rio and Rivera are both former NFL linebackers who seem to share a lot of the same ideologies about what they want in a scheme and in their guys. For that reason, he is more than willing to get input from Rivera on the 2020 defense's plan.

"It’s an inclusive process," Del Rio said. "[Rivera] wanted to be sure that I knew, ‘Hey look, you’re going to call it. It’s your defense’. I said, ‘Hey coach, I’d love to have you in there any time you have to be in there with us.’ It’s our staff. We’re going to work together. The first thing I said to the defensive staff at our very first meeting, ‘This is not me. It’s not about what I want. It’s about what we are, what we’re going to become.’"

Between Del Rio and Rivera, the franchise now has two leaders who each can point to plenty of past successes in building defenses. The thought of that pair working together and applying what they know in Washington should have fans feeling very pleased.

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