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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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Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Here is what you need to know on Sunday, August 19, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

A year ago, there was tremendous concern about the Redskins’ rushing game. In their first two preseason games in 2017 when the games were the Redskins’ first-team offense against the other team’s starters on defense, Washington gained 13 yards on 13 carries. In the first halves of those games, which were played mostly with players on both sides who would end up making the roster the total was 21 attempts for 20 yards. 

At the time, the company line was to downplay the problems. 

“I’m just not worried,” said Trent Williams.

“It’s going to take time and it’s going to take plus-one, plus-two, negative-one, then you get a plus-eight. And things to pop. It’s attrition. Nothing’s going to happen just because you want it to.”

As we now know, the Redskins rushing game never really got going. Certainly, injuries to backs Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson and to the entire offensive line contributed heavily to their No. 27 ranking in rushing yards. But a look at the preseason could indicate that the building blocks for an effective rushing game just weren’t in place. 

Things are looking better this year. In two preseason games, the Redskins have rushed for 216 yards. In the first halves of the games, they have 31 attempts for 109 yards. That’s not a great average (3.5 yards per carry) but it is a vast improvement on the sub-one yard per carrying average they had through two games last year. 

Let’s not get carried away here. Preseason numbers aren’t rock-solid indicators by any stretch and even if they were we are looking at a small sample size. Still, the preseason stats are what we have to look at right now. We will see how things develop.  

Bureau of statistics

In 2017 the Redskins averaged 123 rushing yards per game in their first five games. In their last 11 games, they averaged 76 per game. 

On the record

Jay Gruden on the returns of RBs Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine from ankle injuries: "There are no reports really, we'll just wait and see. Every injury is different, and we'll play it by ear and see how long it takes . . . The injury report will come out Week 1 on - when is it, Wednesday? And there you have it."

Comment: Yes, this really was Gruden and not Bill Belichick. The whole organization has been tighter with injury information in general this year. We’re getting a lot of descriptions like “lower leg” rather than ankle or toe. If that’s the way they want to do business that’s fine but be advised as a fan that you are not going to get much information. 

The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:50; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 5 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 13 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 21 days

In case you missed it

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

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

martez_carter_vs_jets.png
Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-AnalysisFive Redskins-Jets observations

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