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Need to Know: Redskins fan questions—Backup plan at center, ILB depth chart

Need to Know: Redskins fan questions—Backup plan at center, ILB depth chart

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 20, seven days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 200 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 52 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 21
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 30
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 44

Answering Redskins fan questions

I also got virtually an identical question from Alan on Facebook so it leads here. Spencer Long is the starter, period, end of story. During the offseason, I asked both Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan about the backup center position. Both expressed hope that sixth-round pick Chase Roullier will be up to speed by the time the season starts. But if he’s not ready, I think they will have to find a veteran. Right now, the best available is Nick Mangold but I doubt he wants to sign up to be a backup. They will be keeping a close eye on the waiver wire for this year’s version of John Sullivan.

I assume you mean training camp. And I suppose you could say the same thing but insert Nate Sudfeld instead of McCoy. In either case, the answer is no. First of all, the team wants to win. They need to get Cousins, to whom they are paying $24 million, ready to play with the first offense. He’s not going to prepare by throwing to Ryan Grant and passing behind a line with Vinston Painter on his blind side. Second, it would be a great way to drive away the rest of the team. They want to win, too. There are about 15 key players who are free agents in 2018. If the Redskins want to retain the quality players in that group they need to try to win in 2017 and let 2018 sort itself out when it gets here. Now, if it’s December and they are 3-11 it’s a different story.

They rotated them around during the offseason program and, as expected, no coach would address who starters might be in May or June. I think the way that it will play out is that Zach Brown will start at Will linebacker and Will Compton will be the Mike. Mason Foster will come in for nickel situations, something he did well last year after Su’a Cravens was injured. Some fans want to see Foster start with Brown but the coaches like to Compton’s football IQ and he is the only one of the three who has experience called defenses. All three will see plenty of action. Really no idea of how they rank but if the D-line is better the group at ILB will be better.

I’ll play along here since John is a longtime Twitter friend. Let’s establish that neither is very likely to happen. Last I looked the Redskins were a 66-1 shot to win the Super Bowl. They might have a better shot than that but no better than about 50-1. The Rams, per Westgate Sporting Book, are 25-1 to win the NFC West. Seattle is the odds-on favorite in that division at 1-4 so they would have to have a down year for the Rams to win it. But I see that happening more easily than the Redskins making the playoffs (that’s very possible) and winning three or four more games on top of that. The Rams have a solid defense and if Jared Goff can generate enough of a threat to open up room for Todd Gurley they could win some games, maybe enough to steal a division title if Seattle has a down year. I just don’t think that the Redskins are there yet.

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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There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

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Redskins Nation

There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

If you find yourself looking for Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, you really just need to find one of them. Odds are, if you locate one, the other two will be close by.

The second-year pro, third-year pro, and fourth-year pro have forged quite a bond on the Redskins' defensive line, which is easily the team's most promising unit going into 2019. The three guys share an appreciation for lifting really heavy weights and dropping opposing quarterbacks. 

As it turns out, that latter love is actually part of the inspiration behind a bet Payne, Allen and Ioannidis have queued up for the 2019 campaign. Payne revealed that while with Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation.

"Me and Jon and Matt got a little competition right now on sacks and tackles," he said with a smile, but he ultimately didn't shed any light on what the competition's compensation will be.

Whatever the trio is playing for, it should be a close race.

Ryan Kerrigan led the 'Skins in sacks in 2018, but Allen (8), Ioannidis (7.5) and Payne (5) were second, third and fourth respectively. In terms of tackles, meanwhile, it went Allen (61), Payne (56) and then Ioannidis (31). 

Allen and Payne saw a ton of snaps last year while Ioannidis was used more in a rotational role, which limited his tackles. He's an insanely productive pass rusher, though, so he can make up some ground in the sacks/tackles bet by keeping that trend going. Any of them are a solid pick if you're trying to project who'll capture their title.

Payne, for one, expects to generate better numbers in his second go-round in the league.

"Of course," he responded when Michael asked if he left some sacks out there as a rookie. "Definitely did. I want to get a couple more."

In the team's offseason practices, he's already noticed that things are "coming easier," so perhaps he'll be able to record those extra takedowns he's looking for.

As mentioned earlier, you can make an easy case for Payne, Allen or Ioannidis to win their competition, but you won't know who that winner is until late December.

One thing you can already say, however? That the QBs and running backs they'll be chasing down are the losers in this thing. That much is already known.

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Three little-known Redskins who could make things interesting at training camp

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Three little-known Redskins who could make things interesting at training camp

Ah, NFL training camps. They're where every handoff always results in a first down, safe from refs who can ruin things with one piece of yellow cloth and home to roster sleepers.

This story, though, is devoted solely to the third item on that list.

JP Finlay came up with his post-minicamp Redskins roster projection earlier this week and has said he's already extremely confident in roughly 49 of his 53 picks. What can really throw off those kinds of projections, though, is the emergence of little-known players at training camp.

Now, trying to find the next Rob Kelley or Quinton Dunbar or Cam Sims can come off as foolish, considering Washington will bring 90 players to Richmond in late July. However, using observations from offseason practices so far and clues from what coaches are saying can narrow the list of potential preseason difference makers.

So, here are three Redskins who seem like they could seriously shake things up when the Burgundy and Gold reconvene for the summer grind.

Jeremy Reaves

When he's asked to critique a certain position group, Jay Gruden often does this thing where he lists every player in that group, from starter to backup to fringe option. It's hard to discern the times when he's doing that just to be polite from the times when he's doing that because each name truly is relevant.

Jeremy Reaves' name, however, has come up twice at two very different points of the spring and early summer.

Here's Gruden from after the draft, when he was asked about what the Redskins have at safety.

"We still have Montae [Nicholson]. We obviously drafted [Troy] Apke last year, which is a pretty good option. We have [Jeremy] Reaves here in the building. He's doing some good things, did some great things at the end of the year on practice squad. And Deshazor [Everett] and Landon [Collins]. So, we have five pretty good safeties."

Here's Gruden a month and a half later, after the team's last open OTA session, again addressing that secondary spot.

"Apke is doing well. It has been good to see him get a lot of these reps and work. Obviously, last year he did not get a whole lot with his hamstring, so he is progressing nicely. Everett also has picked up the slack. He has done a very good job. Reaves, he made some big plays out there today. So, those guys are taking advantage of their time."

With Collins, Nicholson, Everett and Apke, the defense should be set on the back end. Those four all feel quite locked in.

Yet Nicholson is coming off of an unpredictable second year as a pro, while Apke couldn't get healthy at all in 2018 after a hamstring issue. Perhaps Reaves, who Gruden also called an "upcoming talent" last December, can pick up the slack if either of those DBs drop off.

Sure, the path won't be easy for Reaves, but one thing's for sure: It's better to be brought up by the head coach than not, and he's being brought up relatively frequently.

Craig Reynolds

Craig Reynolds is an undrafted rookie running back who played for the Golden Bears in college.

No, not the California Golden Bears. The Kutztown Golden Bears. Yes, that's a real school, and yes, it's fine if you've never heard of it.

Reynolds could be the longest longshot of the three players on this list, but guys like Kelley, Mack Brown and Marcus Mason have come from a similar level of anonymity to take fall snaps in the 'Skins backfield.

If you look at the RB depth chart, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are making the 53 barring anything crazy. Bryce Love will probably hit the PUP, but he's in the franchise's plans, too.

That means Reynolds will have to compete with the likes of the quite popular Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall, but he should see plenty of action late in preseason games. He averaged more than 150 total yards per game last year at school — indeed, it was Division II, that's a very fair counterpoint — but it feels like the chances to make impressions on Gruden and Randy Jordan in precious live action will be there. It's not like Peterson or Thompson will be used that much, anyway.

Plus, if Perine starts fumbling again or Marshall gets injured as he did in 2018, Reynolds could see those chances grow. He just has to seize every one that comes his way.

Donald Parham

Tight end feels like another position that should be simple. Jordan Reed is the star, Vernon Davis is still around despite a somewhat heavy contract and Jeremy Sprinkle is entering Year 3. If Davis or Sprinkle face any competition, you'd expect it to come from the likes of Matt Flanagan or JP Holtz.

You shouldn't ignore Daniel Parham, however. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to.

Parham signed with the 'Skins on June 7, and the 6-foot-8(!) pass catcher was on the receiving end of more than a few passes once he got going. Not surprisingly, he made the most plays in red zone situations, giving QBs like Dwayne Haskins a very appealing target to throw to. 

The Stetson product probably won't add much of anything as a blocker. Remember that Gruden doesn't like using one-dimensional tight ends, so that could hurt him. Going off that, some scouting services even think he'd be best served lining up consistently in the slot. 

Regardless, you just don't see many people at his size running downfield routes, and his potential is noticeable. A few preseason highlights on jump balls could help him stick around past August. 

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