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.
—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.
Tandler on Twitter
If you need an explanation go to the Deadspin post:
I’ll take things you never thought you would hear the Florida football head coach say, even when it was Steve Spurrier for $500, Alex. https://t.co/ULJlUhstvG— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) May 9, 2017
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