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Is the left tackle position still important?

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Is the left tackle position still important?

The first draft pick Mike Shanahan made with the Redskins was left tackle Trent Williams. The Redskins took the Oklahoma product with the fourth pick of the 2010 draft.Williams was not necessarily the best player available to the Redskins with that pick but he was, in the eyes of Shanahan, the best left tackle available. The organization knew that he would command a hefty salary, given his position in the draft in what turned out to be the last year of the old system of crazy rookie deals.Williams signed a six-year, 60 million deal. His salary spikes at 11 million this year and then dips to 5 million this year, 7.25 million in 2014 and 10.25 million in 2015.Under the traditional way of thinking in the NFL, the salaries are worth it if Williams plays at even an above-average level. Left tackle is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of an NFL franchise. Bill Parcells called the position a part of his holy trinity of building a team, along with quarterback and left cornerback.But times may be changing. The left tackle position may not be as valuable as it used to be.Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports flat out said it in an article: The left tackles importance is decreasing.Left tackle has become like lighter fluid ad an barbecue, Cole wrote. You could use it, but you can get by without it.The reasoning is that todays passing attacks feature quarterbacks who either get rid of the ball quickly or are mobile enough to scramble away from pressure coming from his blind side. Cole points out that of the top four scoring teams in the NFL last year, the Packers, Saints, Patriots, and Lions, only Detroit had first-round pick at left tackle. That was Jeff Backus, who is much closer to average than elite.Cole goes into more detail on the subject in his interesting piece but lets bring this back to Williams and the Redskins. If the importance of Williams position is diminished can the team afford to continue to have him as one of the highest paid player on the team?They dont have much choice but to keep him this year despite the salary and his 13.5 million total cap hit. Assuming that he is at least competent it makes sense to keep him around at his 5 million salary in 2013. But should they keep him after that if the importance of the position continues to lessen while his salary escalates in seasons where the cap is expected to remain essentially flat. Robert Griffin III comes into play in making these decisions. Griffin could be just the kind of quarterback who is helping to make the left tackle position less important. We know about his mobility and his ability to scramble away from trouble could mean that the Redskins could be just fine with an average left tackle with a cap hit of several million dollars per year instead of the eight-figure cap hits that Williams commands.The change in the rookie contract system means that the contracts of Griffin and Williams both will expire after the 2015 season. It would be difficult to give both of them large deals. If Griffin even comes close to meeting expectations, the potential either-or decision would be easy. The QB would get the big bucks and the left tackle would either have to settle for less or go elsewhere.Then again, if the importance of the position has indeed diminished perhaps Williams wont command a big salary elsewhere and things will be worked out.This is all a few years down the road but for now its worth considering that the Redskins may be paying premium dollars for a position that should not command them.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email here and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.Days until: Rookies report 27; training camp 37; preseason opener @ Bills 51; Redskins @ Saints 82; home opener vs. Bengals 96

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Moses, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.