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The 53: OL starters look set, battles for reserve spots

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The 53: OL starters look set, battles for reserve spots

The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the following five weeks they will undergo the process of cutting their 90-man roster down to 53. Which players will get those coveted spots and which will join the ranks of the unemployed? Over the next couple of weeks well go through position by position and try to predict what decisions Mike Shanahan and company will make.So far weve covered the running backs, tight ends, quarterbacks, and wide receivers (see below for breakdowns). Today, its the offensive lineThere are 16 offensive linemen on the roster, the Redskins will keep nine.In: Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton
Out: Erik Cook, Grant Garner, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Nevin McCaskill, James Lee, Nick MartinezChanges from 2011: OT Sean Locklear left as free agent (signed with NY Giants); Lee signed as a free agent, LeRibeus, Compton, Gettis selected in draft.BreakdownThere are many out in Redskins Nation who are undoubtedly disappointed that it appears that the same five players who started the season opener on the offensive line last year will do the same this year. It appears that the only thing that will prevent that from happening is a setback in the recovery of Kory Lichtensteigers injured knee.But the Redskins were 3-1 with that unit before things fell apart. And after the 10-sack Week 8 debacle in Toronto against the Bills things gelled for the reserves. The Redskins gave up an average of just two sacks a game in the last nine games of the season.The pressure is on Williams to become a star. At the other tackle, the pressure is on Brown to stay healthy and stay on the field. If he cant Smith or maybe even Compton could take his job as the year goes on. Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, and Chester arent threats to make the Pro Bowl but as long as they can plug up the middle on pass plays and get out to the next level on the stretch play they will be more than adequate.It appears that two of the backup spots are set with Smith and Polumbus. Smith made the team as an undrafted rookie last year and started the last three games of the season at left tackle after Williams was suspended. He was far from dominant but he did show some promise. Polumbus started games at both left guard and right tackle last year and he is a valuable backup.It seems like LeRibeus, the second player the Redskins drafted after RG3, quickly became a favorite of the coaches by diving in and learning both center and guard. Mike Shanahan has stressed versatility with his linemen and LeRibeus should earn a spot if he can master all three interior line spots, or at least become competent enough to fill in.Compton is in on a hunch and by default as much as anything else. Hurt has been moved back to tackle after starting eight games at guard last year and he will need to show substantial improvement to get a roster spot. The same goes for Cook, who started two games at center. While it would be a mistake to completely write off either one of them, the Redskins may just want to start fresh and work with Compton.If Compton demonstrates reasonable competence and potential it is hard to see him not staying over the 27-year-old James Lee, although the veteran does bring some experience as a starter with him. Compton would really have to fall on his face for the Redskins to keep Lee over him.And it wouldnt be a total shock for Gettis to make it over any of those four. He also is learning both guard and center and they could figure that they are set with Polumbus and Smith as the backup tackles and choose to develop him.If Cook and Hurt do not make it, neither is eligible for the practice squad. Compton and Gettis are eligible along with McCaskill, Martinez, and Garner. The practice squad is probably the most that the latter three can hope for.Projections to date (click for details and breakdown):Running backsIn: Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon CreerTight endsIn: Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau RelifordWide receiversIn: Anthony Armstrong, Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
Out: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Darius Hanks, Brian Hernandez, Lance Lewis, Samuel KirklandQuarterbacksIn: Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan Crompton

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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10 Questions in 10 Days: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

10 Questions in 10 Days: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No rookie draft pick excited the Redskins fan base like Derrius Guice since Robert Griffin III came to Washington back in 2012. That's a fact. 

Guice slipped during the draft to near the end of the second round, a position much too late for a player with his talent. Rumors emerged that he had character issues, but in the months since April's selection, they seem unfounded. In quick time, Guice has emerged as a Redskins fan favorite and has performed plenty of charitable acts.

So, moving past the erroneous off-field questions, it's time to manage expectations for what Guice can do on the field. 

DJ Swearinger recently said he expects Guice to make the Pro Bowl and rush for more than 1,000 yards. As a rookie. (Listen here)

That's not unheard of, last year rookie Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rush yards. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliott did the same thing. Rookie running backs can step in and produce right away in the NFL, unlike some positions that usually bring more of a learning curve. 

Can Guice do that?

The first and most important questions will be health and durability. Guice dealt with lingering knee injuries last year at LSU, and the Redskins will need him fully healthy. A 1,000-yard season is not unrealistic if Guice plays a full 16-game season. It would require rushing for about 65 yards-per-game. 

The bigger key is opportunities. 

How many carries will Guice log in 2018? Early on in the season, Guice might still be learning pass protection in the Redskins scheme, and Jay Gruden will not tolerate missed assignments that result in big hits on QB Alex Smith.

If Guice can lock in on blitz pickup, 200 carries seems reasonable. Remember that Chris Thompson will still be a featured part of the Redskins offense, and Rob Kelley will get chances too. 

Last season, Samaje Perine led all rushers with 175 carries. He didn't do much with the chances, averaging just 3.4 yards-per-carry. Kelley had 62 carries before injuries shut his season down after parts of seven games. 

Combine Perine and Kelley's carries, and then things start to get interesting. With 230 carries, at an average of 4 yards a pop, Guice starts to approach 1,000 yards.

One problem with extrapolating too much data from last season is the crazy amount of variables. Late in the year, with Perine largely ineffective and a very beat up offensive line, the Redskins simply couldn't produce on the ground. In their last five games of 2017, the Redskins never rushed for more than 100 yards. They averaged just 60 yards-per-game on the ground during that stretch, including a season low 31 rush yards against Arizona in December. 

The line can't be that beat up again, right?

Guice has to be able to deliver more than Perine, right?

If the answers to those questions are yes, then a 1,000-yard season seems possible for Guice in 2018. 

One misnomer from the Redskins 2017 campaign emerged that Washington simply did not run the ball well or enough. In fact, early in the year when the Redskins looked like a possible playoff team, they ran the ball quite well. In three of the first four games, Washington went over 100 yards on the ground, including 229 rush yards in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Guice might get to 1,000 yards in 2018. It's no sure thing, and there are plenty of variables, but it's possible. That hasn't happened in Washington since Alfred Morris, and would be a very welcome sight. 

The rookie runner has invigorated the Redskins faithful, and that's before he even steps on the field. If Guice can produce, the fans will go crazy.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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