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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense better on paper but must prove it on the field

Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense better on paper but must prove it on the field

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 7, 17 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

Welcome to the midpoint of the Redskins offseason. It’s been 126 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 126 days.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 5
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 81

Quick post-draft thoughts on the state of the Redskins

—Although the Washington defense certainly seems to be improved, Jay Gruden warned against irrational exuberance. “You feel like you're better, everybody does at this time,” he said shortly after the draft ended. “It's how we gel as a unit that is the important thing – how they buy into Coach Manusky's scheme and Coach Tomsula's coaching, how they work well together and how they make each other better. That's a challenge that we have.”

—Earlier this week I assessed the chances that each of this year’s 10 draft picks have of making the team. I was not bullish on the chances of fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson sticking around on the 53-man roster. But looking back at how Gruden spoke more in terms of when he is on the roster and not if, perhaps I should take another look. “I think he ran a 4.4 at the Combine, and worst-case he’s going to help out our special teams and that’s important,” said Gruden when asked why they drafted Nicholson. “That’s one of the big three phases so that’s a good add for us.”

—Usually when you ask a player who was just drafted where he wants to play in the NFL, he just says wherever they want line me up. But Chase Roullier, who played by guard and center at Wyoming, was definitive in his preference. “I think I’ll do very well at center,” he said. “Being up there in front of the rest of the offensive line, being able to see that defense and really play to my strengths of being able to see the defense and read things I think will really help me a lot in the NFL.” He got his degree in mechanical engineering from Wyoming so the thinking part of the job shouldn’t be a great challenge for him.

—The Redskins announced the signings of eight undrafted players, bringing their roster up to 90. They can sign more after rookie minicamp next week, or at any time for that matter, but they would have to release a player for each one they sign. I’m interested in what 325-pound NT Ondre Pipkins out of Texas Tech can do as there is plenty of opportunity at his position. The same can be said of FS Fish Smithson, who also has to coolest name. But, honestly, it will be difficult to get a handle on which of these players has a realistic shot at sticking around until getting a look at them in pads in Richmond.

—As of now, the Redskins have seven 2018 draft picks, their own pick in each round. They did not trade for any future picks last week and it doesn’t look like they will get any compensatory picks next year. Yes, even though they lost key players in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Chris Baker, according to Over the Cap the picks that may have come from the loss of those players were cancelled out by signing Terrelle Pryor, Zach Brown, Terrell McClain, and Stacy McGee. This is unofficial but the OTC guys seem to have the NFL’s super-secret formula figured out.

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

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Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

The Redskins signed linebacker Reuben Foster late in the 2018 season after his release from San Francisco amid domestic violence allegations. The signing caused tremendous backlash towards the organization, but in the end, it was supposed to be worth it for what Foster could do on the field. 

Eventually, charges against Foster got dropped and he wasn't suspended by the NFL. Unfortunately for him and for the Redskins, Foster got injured in his first snap of offseason team activities in May 2019, and it was a major injury. 

The scene on the field that day was traumatic as Foster was visibly in intense pain. In the news that emerged after the injury, Foster had torn multiple ligaments in his knee and NBC Sports Washington reported there was nerve damage in the leg as well. 

Now, it seems like there is finally some positive momentum for Foster's injury. His agent Malki Kawa spoke to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: "He's got feeling in his toes, the underside of his foot, the side of his foot. The nerve is starting to fire again."

The alarming part here is that Foster had lost feeling in his toes, and for a long period of time too. Foster's injury happened last May. 

Rehabbing a knee is one thing, football players do that all the time. But nerves operate almost on their own, and some nerve damage is irreperable. 

"He's regaining feeling and power," Kawa said. "It shows the nerve is firing. When he moves his leg upward, he can feel around the ankle and the top part of the foot. That's a new thing. The next 60 days are going to be big as far as getting back to normal."

The Redskins know about scary nerve injuries. Promising rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett sustained nerve damage in his arm in Week 17 of the 2015 season, and never played again. Two years ago, cornerback Quinton Dunbar dealt with a nerve issue in his leg and was basically lost for the year. 

What happens next for Foster will be interesting to watch. 

Kawa said the next 60 days will be important, and that timeline also coincides with more Redskins offseason work. After such a significant injury, it would be premature to make any assumptions about Foster's return to the field, and if/when that happens, his level of play. 

Foster has been seen around the Redskins training facility at times since he was signed in 2018. At various points he was using a scooter and then walking on his own with a significant brace.

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Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Jay Gruden’s absence from football might only last a few months. 

The former Redskins head coach is reportedly interviewing for the Jacksonville Jaguars vacant offensive coordinator position, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Jacksonville parted ways with John DeFlippo last Monday after just one season with the team. 
 

The few times Gruden has spoken since being fired by Washington in October, the former head coach has expressed a strong desire to get back into coaching. Gruden recently told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport he’s been “itching to do something” and “would like an office to go to,” according to Garafolo. 

Interviewing for an offensive coordinator position is not unfamiliar territory for Gruden. He spent the past six years as the head coach in the nation’s capital, but perhaps his most success in the NFL was when the 52-year-old was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Behind the solid play of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Gruden-led offense in Cincinnati resulted in three straight playoff appearances. 

Should be be hired in Jacksonville, Gruden would have some promising pieces to work with. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed plenty of hope in the 12 games he started, and second-year wideout D.J. Chark enjoyed a breakout season in 2019. Additionally, running back Leonard Fournette finished with a career-high 1,152 rushing yards last season. 

Former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and former Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan have reportedly interviewed for the gig as well. 

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