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Need to Know: How will the Redskins handle the logjam at outside linebacker?

Need to Know: How will the Redskins handle the logjam at outside linebacker?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 10, 14 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.


It’s been 129 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 123 days.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 2
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 14
—Training camp starts (7/27) 78

How will the Redskins handle a logjam at outside linebacker?

Let’s take these two related questions to look at the whole inside-outside linebacker question here.

From everything I have heard, second-round pick Ryan Anderson is going to be an outside linebacker. In a conference call shortly after he was drafted, Anderson declared, “I'm going to be the best outside linebacker in the game.” Apparently, it would be news to him if the Redskins planned on putting him on the inside.

Many fans have drawn the conclusions that Anderson can play inside because of his size. Jay Gruden didn’t directly say that Anderson is an outside LB but he did say that his weight, 253 pounds at the combine, would not be an impediment to him playing outside. “If he's playing outside, nobody runs outside,” said Gruden shortly after the team took Anderson with the 49th pick in the draft. “He's great at setting that edge.”

To be sure, the coaches could get him out of the field, run him through some drills and scrimmages, and decide that he might be suited to lining up on the inside. And it’s possible that he will occasionally line up inside in certain blitz packages in nickel situations. But a look with Anderson on the inside when the Redskins are in their base 3-4 defense currently is not in the plans.

That leaves a logjam at outside linebacker. The Redskins have Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, and Anderson. All are first- or second-round picks except Galette and he had double-digit sacks in each of the last two seasons he played.

The Redskins carried four outside linebackers most of last year with Houston Bates joining Smith, Kerrigan, and Murphy. The addition of Anderson and the return of Galette from injury will put Bates on the bubble.

That still leaves the Redskins with five OLBs. Murphy will be suspended the first four weeks of the season so they will carry the other four in Weeks 1-4. When Murphy returns, they will add him to the 53-man roster. But, as Brandon notes, that’s not what is in doubt. Will they be able to keep all five on the game-day 46-man roster?

I believe they will find a way to put all five in uniform. Special teams will be the key. If all OLBs with the exceptions of Kerrigan and possibly Galette, can contribute on special teams the coaches can make it happen. Last year, inside linebacker Terence Garvin was active 16 games and played special teams almost exclusively (58 snaps on defense). The fifth outside linebacker could take the roster spot and the game-day active spot vacated by Garvin, who was not re-signed.

And what if an OLB is not enthusiastic about playing special teams? He could then find himself on the inactive list. It’s a different position, but ask RB Matt Jones about it.

It should be noted here that the Week 5 game that we’re talking about here will be played on October 5, a little less than five months from now. A lot can happen between now and then. In particular, while Galette appears to be on track to recover from the Achilles injury he suffered last July, I would not be placing any big futures bets on his health when October rolls around.

But if he can play, fitting five edge rushers on to the 46-man roster will be a good problem for Gruden and Greg Manusky to have.  

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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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.


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Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Darnell Savage was the third NFL draft prospect profiled in our series ‘I Am the Prospect

Darnell Savage has been getting a lot of buzz since the Packers traded up to the 21st overall pick to select him in the 2019 NFL Draft, and his teammates are on board.

The Maryland star was one of the draft's biggest risers, and it was well warranted.

The Packers' Instagram account posted a video of Savage Wednesday, and his teammate Davante Adams chimed in.

“The boy gonna be special,” Adams wrote.

View this post on Instagram

BORN READY. #MondayMotivation #GoPackGo

A post shared by Green Bay Packers (@packers) on

“He’s going to be that guy — I can tell," Adams said, via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "We definitely got a steal." “I know we got him early, but I still think that he could have gone even earlier just based on what he’s doing out there. He plays like a vet, he knows how to practice, and he’s smart, man.

Savage will face the Redskins in Week 14 when the Burgundy and Gold head up to Lambeau Field on December 8 for the matchup against the Packers.