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Need to Know: 5 reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season

Need to Know: 5 reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 22, 32 days before the Redskins start training camp.

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After their 3-13 debacle in 2013 the Redskins got a new coach and some new key players, giving them some reasons to be optimistic about their prospects for 2014. Here are five reasons for them to be optimistic.

Improved pass rush—Between the addition of Jason Hatcher and a more aggressive scheme on defense, the Redskins should be able to get more heat on the quarterback this year. That should not only improve their sack total (36 in 2013, tied for 21st in the NFL), it should lead to quarterbacks throwing the ball up for grabs.

Improved special teams—New special teams coach Ben Kotwica is smart and experienced and it appears that teams will be more of an emphasis this year. But the main reason to think that the kicking units will get better is that they have nowhere to go but up.

Strong rushing game—The Redskins were fifth in the NFL in rushing yards last year and with Alfred Morris returning, they should be able to move the ball on the ground. Will Jay Gruden get too pass happy? That seems unlikely, as the Bengals were in the top 10 in rushing attempts two out of the three years he was calling plays as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

A healthy and prepared Robert Griffin III—The 2012 rookie of the year did not really have a shot at repeating his debut season performance. The knee injury he suffered in the playoffs robbed him of preparation time on the field in the spring and summer and the bulky brace he had to wear hampered his mobility on the field in the fall. With full preparation time and full speed, Griffin will be much better this year than last.

A deep receiving threat—The addition of DeSean Jackson adds a dimension that the receiving corps hasn’t had in years. If things work out on the field as they do on paper (not always a given), Jackson should make big plays for the offense while helping create some wide open spaces for other pass catchers on other plays.

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Timeline

—It’s been 175 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 77 days until they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Training camp 32; Preseason opener vs. Patriots 46; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 84

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

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USA Today Sports Images

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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USA TODAY Sports

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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