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Gruden tries to balance pros and cons of using a tackle at tight end

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Gruden tries to balance pros and cons of using a tackle at tight end

Jay Gruden would rather not have to use Tom Compton, an offensive tackle by trade, at tight end. The move does improve the blocking along the line but it reduces the number of potential receivers on the field from five to four and it tips the defense that the play is very likely to be a pass.

The Redskins are not in an ideal circumstance at the tight end position. Their top player at the position, Jordan Reed, is their one of their move dangerous and productive receivers. But his run blocking skills, although improved from previous years, leave a lot to be desired. The same can be said of Derek Carrier, who has been sidelined most of the last two games with an ankle injury.

Carrier’s injury isn’t the only one the Redskins have had to deal with at the position. Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen both were knocked out for the year with injuries before it ever started.

“If you want to run the ball, you need a tight end a lot of times,” said Gruden. And not having enough available with the right skill set and all-around tight ends being rare in free agency and in the draft forces Gruden to balance the pros and cons of using a player like Compton and, occasionally, back tackle Ty Nsekhe.

There are other ways of trying to get the job done. “There are some plays we don’t have to have a tight end,” said Gruden. “We can split out the tight end and try to get the box in our favor — count-wise — and try to gut the defense that-a-way, but when we need a tight end at the point of attack, some of the runs that we like to run with the double teams and all that stuff, you need a tight end that can hold it and Tom’s proven that he can do that.”

Another guy who has proven he can block well is fullback Darrel Young. But he didn’t play at all on offense against the Cowboys after playing a season-high 13 snaps the previous week against the Giants.

“We had a couple packages for DY, obviously,” said Gruden when asked about Young’s lack of participation against Dallas. “However, I think we chose with Derek Carrier out, we chose to use the bigger tight ends and use more of the two- and three-tight-end sets as opposed to the one-tight-end-and-one-fullback set, basically was the choice that we had. Basically, we had a couple ready to roll, but really we featured the two tight ends—the big tight end, the little tight end, the one back and three tight ends, two tight ends and one big guy—three big guys we were trying to feature more so and we just didn’t get DY involved.”

It’s hard to argue that the choices that Gruden, Sean McVay, and Bill Callahan did make in the running game have worked very well for the last two months. They are in one of the worst stretched of running game productivity in team history, with an average of less than three yards per carry in seven of their last eight games. This isn’t to say that they should abandon using Compton at tight end but something has to change. 

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

<< Go here to see our ranking of the 2018 Redskins, players 31-53. >>

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

Today we’re starting up the list with the players we ranked from 31-53, Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—Seven of the team’s draft picks, including the pick they made last week.     

—All three specialists.

—The team’s leading rusher from 2017.   

Go here to see our ranking of the 2018 Redskins, players 31-53

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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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. 

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

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

It might be hard to remember now, but there was a week late last season for the Redskins where most informed people considered Kevin O'Connell on his way out. The talented young quarterbacks coach was being pursued by Chip Kelly to be offensive coordinator at UCLA, and the smart money suggested O'Connell would take the job. 

Except he didn't. 

O'Connell decided to stay with the Redskins and continue to work on Jay Gruden's staff. In turn, Washington promoted O'Connell to passing game coordinator, a new title that likely means much more involvement in game-planning. 

Working for Gruden comes with some perks. Sean McVay ran the offense for Gruden for a few seasons and landed a prime head coaching job with the Rams. McVay has plenty of his own talent, but throughout the NFL, Gruden's offense is widely respected. 

How will O'Connell's influence shape things this fall?

Consider that he deserves some credit for Kirk Cousins improved play out of the pocket in 2017. Now combine a coach that schemes plays for QBs on the move with new Washington passer Alex Smith, a strong runner and serious athlete, and this offense could look much more mobile in 2018. 

Gruden still has the final call on gameday, but O'Connell's voice will matter this year, more so than before. Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh retain their roles and prominence in the offensive game-planning, for sure, but as Washington imports more run-pass option plays and QB movement, know that O'Connell is playing his part. 

Things will look different with Alex Smith running the Redskins offense than they did with Kirk Cousins at the helm. 

Just remember, O'Connell didn't turn down a job in Hollywood for no reason. 

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