Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 12, 56 days before NFL free agency starts.
—NFL franchise tag deadline 48
—NFL draft 105
—First Sunday of 2017 season 241
Five Redskins backups who could have significant roles in 2017
G Arie Kouandjio—In his second season in the NFL, Kouandjio got two starts and filled in during some other games. He did struggle early in the year but his performance in a late-season start in Philadelphia was better. If he keeps things moving in that direction he could push Shawn Lauvao, who has a $5 million cap number and turns 30 early in the season, for the starting left guard job.
WR Maurice Harris—Even if Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson both leave as free agents, they aren’t going to make Harris one of the top three receivers. But he could be the fourth receiver, a role that would increase his role from the 20 percent of the snaps he played last year to around 40 percent. By the end of the year he had moved past Ryan Grant, playing more snaps in six of the last seven games. There is a big difference between going through the offseason and training camp trying to make the team and going through it all preparing to play a substantial role during the season. If he takes to the added coaching and work with the first team he could benefit considerably.
ILB Martrell Spaight—The second-year player got a little bit of run after the replaced an injured Will Compton for a game and a half. He still has a lot to learn but he does know how to tackle, a skill that was missing on the defense for much of the year. If he can polish his game, particularly against the pass, they might find it hard to keep him off the field.
DL Anthony Lanier—After he made the team as an undrafted rookie he wasn’t active until Week 8 and a leg injury put him on the shelf after Week 12. But it’s telling that the defensive coaches designed a package of plays to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. Look for the new defensive coordinator to try to get the most out of Lanier. As with Harris, Lanier will get the added attention that goes with a player who is trying to improve his game rather than just make the 53.
CB Kendall Fuller—It was an up-and-down year for Fuller, who went from spending the first three games on the game day inactive list to being the primary nickel corner to playing zero and one snap in two key late season games. The organization remains high on the third-round pick out of Virginia Tech. Fuller will get a full offseason after being hampered by a knee injury last year and if he takes advantage the added time he could find himself either starting at cornerback should Bashaud Breeland move to safety (at this point, a possibility but not a likelihood) or play 60 to 70 percent of the snaps as the nickel corner.
Tandler on Twitter
Thanks ESPN for providing me with this very important and timely breaking news. pic.twitter.com/y61rrCnkN3— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) January 11, 2017
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