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Need to Know: The Redskins' strongest and weakest positions

Need to Know: The Redskins' strongest and weakest positions

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 5, eight days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Best and worst position groups on the 2015 Redskins

The Redskins have not yet quite set the 53-man roster yet but we still have a pretty good idea of who will be on it. Let’s take a look at where the Redskins are strongest and weakest on each side of the ball.

Offense

Strongest: The running backs are a strong, versatile group. Alfred Morris has three seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing under his belt, Matt Jones has one of the most talked about rookie backs during the preseason and it looks like Chris Thompson is finally healthy and running with both speed and, unexpectedly, power. And Darrel Young is solid blocking fullback who can catch passes out of the backfield.

Weakest: It’s hard to overlook the issues at quarterback. Kirk Cousins will start but he has a lot to prove in regards to cutting down on interceptions. Colt McCoy is a journeyman who has never consistently been able to lead an offense to points. And the trials and tribulations of Robert Griffin III are well known to anyone reading this.

Defense

Strongest: Even after losing Junior Galette to a season-ending Achilles injury, the linebacker group looks pretty strong. Ryan Kerrigan is the team’s best player on defense and Keenan Robinson could be the second best. Opposite Kerrigan, second-round picks Preston Smith and Trent Murphy will compete for playing time; one or both could be very effective. And while fans love to complain about Perry Riley’s coverage issues, there are many worse inside linebackers in the league.

Weakest: The Redskins added two veteran safeties, drafted one, and got Duke Ihenacho back after he missed most of 2014 with an injury. But the unit may not be much better than the one that struggled last year. The last time we saw Dashon Goldson he was trying to chase down Steve Smith of the Ravens and failing to do so. Ihenacho can force the run well but he needs to work on coverage. In Seattle, Jeron Johnson backed up Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas but he has been injured during camp and did not stand out in any way against the Jaguars’ backups on Thursday. Add in a shaky cornerback group and you have to hope that the line and linebackers are able to get a pass rush.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability; Final roster cuts due 4 p.m.

—It’s been 251 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 8 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 15; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 19

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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