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Jay Gruden looking for Redskins DE Anthony Lanier to take a second-year jump

Jay Gruden looking for Redskins DE Anthony Lanier to take a second-year jump

When we look at if a team will improve from year to year we often make the mistake of focusing on players brought in from the outside. Who did they sign? Who did they draft? That ignores the fact that teams often make their greatest strides through improvement from the players they already have on their rosters. In particular, players often made great leaps from their rookie seasons to their second years and that improvement can make a team better without adding a new player.

One of the players the Redskins are hoping can make that leap is defensive end Anthony Lanier.

“We’re really, really excited about Anthony Lanier,” coach Jay Gruden said during the NFL meetings in Phoenix this week.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

A double “really” from the head coach warrants a closer look. Nobody was particularly excited last year when the Redskins signed Lanier as an undrafted free agent out of Alabama A&M. While there was some buzz about him during the offseason program and in training camp he was thought to be a practice squad candidate at best. It was a major surprise when he made the 53-man roster in September. The team cut defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, a fifth-round draft pick, and used the roster spot for Lanier.

“We didn’t want to risk losing a big defensive lineman that has some pass rush ability,” Gruden said last September on the decision to keep Lanier. “We’re going to try to keep him here to develop him.”

Lanier’s development came along slowly. He was inactive the first seven weeks of the season before taking the field for the game against the Bengals in London. Over the next three games he played 48 snaps, most of them in nickel situations. He got three QB pressures and recovered a fumble. While he didn’t have a huge impact, he was showing that he could learn on the job.

He played a few snaps in the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas before he got kicked in the leg, causing an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

The early end to his season did not prevent Lanier from making a big impression on Gruden.

MORE REDSKINS: Will the Redskins get a shot at drafting LB Reuben Foster?

“We do one on ones almost every day,” said Gruden. “That’s one drill that I watch diligently every day. One on one pass rush so I get to see how our offensive line is doing, that’s how games are won in my opinion. He was a guy who was most difficult for our guys to block. He was not a very natural rusher, either, he was just doing it on pure power, length.

“I think the more he works coming out of his stance, getting off on the snap count, hand usage, all these things that [new defensive line] coach [Jim] Tomsula will work with him, he’s got a chance to be really, really good.”

Another double “really” from the coach. It’s unrealistic to expect huge production out of Lanier, who still will be learning on the job. But if he can stay on the field and pick up four to six sacks and draw some attention away from edge rushers Ryan Kerrigan, Junior Galette, and Preston Smith he could be quite an asset.

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 @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Mark Sanchez makes the jump to ESPN after surviving Josh Norman's Broadcasting Bootcamp

Mark Sanchez makes the jump to ESPN after surviving Josh Norman's Broadcasting Bootcamp

In case you haven't heard, eight-year NFL veteran Mark Sanchez called it a career on Tuesday. He'll move on to television, working with ESPN as a college football analyst.

Former Redskins teammate, albeit briefly, Josh Norman shared his congratulations on Twitter.

According to our records, this is the first Josh Norman Broadcasting Bootcamp attendee to make the jump to ESPN. He is also the only attendee according to our records.

Last season Sanchez played two games in Washington before he suffered a season-ending injury. 

As comical as it was at times to see 'the Sanchize' on the field, he's due to be as entertaining in the booth. As evidenced in the video he has no issue poking fun at himself. Moving to college football goes back to where he had a majority of his success on the gridiron. 


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Redskins365 Episode 2: This Is Where I Wanted To Be

Redskins365 Episode 2: This Is Where I Wanted To Be

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season.

In Episode 2 titled "This Is Where I Wanted To Be" the focus in on the players, both new and old.

When free agency opened up during the 2019 offseason the biggest splash the Redskins made was the acquisition of safety Landon Collins. Heading over from a divisional rival, Collins as well as other members of the organization break down the signing and his fit within the team. The safety also shares his story about receiving a Sean Taylor jersey and what it means to join the team his idol played on.

The episode also touches on other free agent signings Ereck Flowers and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as well as the trade for quarterback Case Keenum. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on the newest member of the QB room and explains how he'll fit in with Colt McCoy.

Speaking of McCoy, the show then takes a detour to Austin, Texas. There, McCoy reflects on his time at the University of Texas as well as his up and down NFL career that included a season-ending injury just a season ago.

From one Big 12 star to another, the episode concludes with a spotlight on Adrian Peterson. After a whirlwind first season in Washington, AP is back for more. The always-dependable runner shares his thoughts on his first season and explains how he deals with expectations.