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Need to Know: Redskins' Kelley will be able to focus on finer points, not on making the team

Need to Know: Redskins' Kelley will be able to focus on finer points, not on making the team

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 5, eight days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 40
—Training camp starts (7/27) 52
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 66
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 97

Five pack of OTA observations

I’m back from vacation, catching up on the past week of OTAs. Here are a few things that caught my attention.

—Things will be very different for RB Rob Kelley this year compared to 2016. For one thing, he knows he’s on the team. Jay Gruden joked about him being the “9th string” running back last year. His reps in team drills were few and far between. This year he will get plenty of run with the first team, allowing him to focus on doing his job, not just making the team. Kelley will be able to focus on the finer points, not just getting through practice without doing something that could get him cut. “You become more comfortable at the running back position when you’re not thinking about, ‘Right foot back, left foot stutter step, drop step,’ all of that stuff. ‘Am I aiming at the outside leg of the tackle, inside leg of the tight end? Where am I going?’” said Gruden.

—The same is true for WR Maurice Harris. When Josh Doctson was rested for part of Wednesday’s practice he stepped in with the first team. He will get a lot of extra attention that he didn’t get last year. He should be the primary backup for both Terrelle Pryor and Doctson. This may be getting too far ahead of things but ideally, he will develop to where he could be able to start next year. If the Redskins have a viable alternative to Pryor next year they might be able to avoid the need to give Pryor a huge contract. Harris will get his shot but it’s no sure thing that he will develop into a No. 2 receiver.

RB Chris Thompson and Gruden seem to have quite a mutual admiration society going. They spoke highly of each other last week with Gruden calling the running back “a great human” and “a joy to be around”. Thompson has averaged 5.6 yards per rushing attempt over the past two seasons and he could get the ball in his hands a little more often this year.  

—I saw that the coaches want OLB Ryan Anderson to lose some weight. This means that he is more likely to play in nickel situations than in base defense on first down. They have him listed at 253. He could drop a few and still effectively rush the passer but he might have problems setting the edge on running plays.

—In general, it seems that the players are well prepared. The practice sessions open to the media have been crisp, with mental mistakes at a minimum. I don’t know how much it means, but I suppose it’s better to be sharp and not sloppy at this time of year.

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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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

Starting Tuesday, all 32 NFL teams will have a chance to asses some of the best talents in the upcoming draft at the NFL Combine. However, one of the better safety prospects available will be noticeably absent in Indianapolis.

University of Alabama safety Deionte Thompson will reportedly not participate in combine activities after having surgery on his wrist Friday to mend a torn ligament, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Rapoport did mention that the injury is not believed to have a serious impact long-term. 

Thompson is coming off a junior season at Alabama in which he recorded two interceptions and 78 tackles while earning Consensus All-America honors.

As the draft approaches, the safety is being regarded as one of the better secondary options available for teams. In NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig's latest mock draft, Thompson is projected to go 24th overall to the Oakland Raiders.

Though the projection doesn't have Thompson ending up as a member of the Burgundy and Gold, he is still a realistic option for the Redskins. With a few questions marks in the secondary following the departure of D.J. Swearinger Sr. and the unclear future of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins could very well see Thompson as a viable target at No. 15.

If Thompson's impending recovery time leads to his draft stock falling, there is a slight chance he may even be available in the second round when the Redskins pick at No. 46.

Currently, there is no timetable for his return. Alabama is scheduled to host its Pro Day on March 19, which could be the next time Washington and other teams will get a chance to evaluate Thompson.

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The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

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The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

It's a very small consolation, but on Friday, the Redskins finally picked up their compensatory third-round pick for losing Kirk Cousins in free agency last year.

That's not the only new selection they now have in their arsenal for the 2019 NFL Draft, though.

In addition to that third-rounder, Washington also netted a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, too. The four picks is a bit of a surprise, as most expected the Burgundy and Gold would be awarded with only three.

Bruce Allen has explained in the past how the 'Skins value compensatory picks, which teams receive based on the contracts their own free agents sign with new franchises. Last offseason, the Redskins saw Cousins, Ryan Grant, Spencer Long and Trent Murphy all cash in on the open market.

In total, Washington now has nine picks in the upcoming draft, with two each in the third, fifth and seventh rounds. They traded away their fourth-round spot for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Losing homegrown players like Cousins and Co. is certainly not ideal, but by letting those types of guys depart, the Redskins do set themselves up for more swings in April. 

That part of the strategy has paid off. The next step? Making those picks count. 

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