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Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 27, 31 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 21
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 46
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 58
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 110
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 158

Redskins starters quick hitters—defense

DE Stacy McGee—He had his best season last year despite missing seven games with a lingering ankle injury. McGee had just half a sack and no forced fumbled in his first three seasons. Last year he got 2.5 sacks and two FF’s. Improving with experience or turning it on for a contract year? We’ll see.

DE Terrell McClain—The Redskins will be his fifth NFL team in seven seasons, an unusual career path for a one-time third-round pick. Like McGee, in 2016 he exceeded his previous career totals in sacks and forced fumbles.

NT Phil Taylor—Yes, he’s the starter if the season began today. Taylor got off to a nice start after the Browns make him a first-round pick in 2011, starting 16 games and registering four sacks as a rookie. But injuries have taken their toll and he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. He is far from certain to play in 2017, either, if the Redskins can get a good nose tackle candidate in the draft.

ILB Will Compton—Compton is a defensive captain and while he doesn’t make a ton of big plays, his interception in London likely prevented a loss to the Bengals. Still, the Redskins gave him the minimum restricted free agent tender, a sign that they think they could recover if another team signed him away.

ILB Mason Foster—Should the Redskins draft an ILB who can start early, Foster likely will go back into the nickel linebacker role he assumed when Su’a Cravens was out injured.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Although his income has jumped up to eight-figure territory he still drives the same Chevy SUV he’s had for several years. That sort of attitude will serve him well as his career goes on.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

OLB Preston Smith—The third year is huge for Smith, who has had flashes of dominance followed by weeks of near invisibility. If we see the Smith who showed up against the Vikings more often he could be in line for a big contract extension. But if he’s a no-show too often, edge rusher will appear at the top of the Redskins’ needs list in 2018.

CB Josh Norman—Hopefully, Greg Manusky will have Norman on the other team’s No. 1 receiver from the first snap of Week 1 on. The Redskins were 0-2 before Joe Barry started having Norman shadow and that had them behind the eight ball all year.

CB Bashaud Breeland—He always has a “it’s me vs. the world and all the haters” type of mentality, which is good for a cornerback. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a contract year.

SS Su’a Cravens—Some are skeptical that he has the coverage skills to be a quality strong safety. We won’t really know until he does it.

FS D.J. Swearinger—There also is skepticism regarding the free agent signee. Can he play free safety after playing strong for most of his career? He did it some in Arizona last year but we’ll have to see if his aggressive style will work while being the last line of defense week in and week 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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NFL players react to news that Andrew Luck is retiring

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NFL players react to news that Andrew Luck is retiring

NFL players took to Twitter on Saturday to send well-wishes to Andrew Luck after news broke that he is retiring from the NFL. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Luck was 'mentally worn out' after years of battling injuries. Luck confirmed the news in an emotional press conference on Saturday night.

"Andrew luck I understand you 100% brotha," wrote Dez Bryant. "... take your time ... I wish you the best."

Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins reacted to the news with emojis.

Former player turned ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho posted video of Colts fans booing Luck as he walked into the locker room. "Coach always said, 'the pats on the back eventually turn into stabs,'" he wrote.  

"That's bad to boo that man," added former Redskins player Chris Baker.

Former Ravens and current Carolina player Torrey Smith tweeted that anyone in the sport understands.

Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton wrote he was "shook."

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Falcons safety Keanu Neal says no 'ill intent' for big hit on Jordan Reed

Falcons safety Keanu Neal says no 'ill intent' for big hit on Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed took a major blow to the head in the Redskins third preseason game in Atlanta, and the blow eventually landed Washington's stud tight end in the NFL's concussion protocol. 

Falcons safety Keanu Neal delivered the hit, and while it was clearly illegal and resulted in a penalty on the field, he took to Twitter to defend his play. 

It's hard to judge intent under the incredible speed that plays happen during pro football. When a player goes in for a tackle, ball carriers can also move, and plays that look dirty in slow motion can look reasonable in full speed. Still, it's undeniable that Reed took a major shot in the helmet from Neal, and it definitely seemed unnecessary. And it's not a secret that Reed has dealt with serious head injuries throughout his NFL career. 

There has been no update on Reed's condition beyond that he's in the NFL concussion protocol. Reed also stayed in the game after the big hit from Neal before his concussion symptoms showed up at halftime. 

Neal is a fifth-year safety out of the University of Florida. He missed most of the 2018 season with an ACL injury. Reed also attended the University of Florida.

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