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Need to Know: What Redskins could be surprise contributors?

Need to Know: What Redskins could be surprise contributors?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 13, three days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

https://twitter.com/RackEmWillee/status/609399000219914240

Let me take your last question first. I don’t see any surprise starters. I get a lot of questions about the possibility of Martrell Spaight starting over Perry Riley or Jamison Crowder beating out Andre Roberts for the slot receiver role. But it would be highly unusual for fourth- and fifth-round picks to push past established veterans.

So, at least at the start of the year I think the 22 starters will be who the current conventional wisdom say they will be. Certainly things could change in Richmond in July and August but right now it’s hard to see an unexpected leap to the top of the depth chart.

But there almost certainly could be some players who will make unexpected contributions with some solid play. Last year it was veteran Frank Kearse, who went from the roster bubble to recording three sacks, and rookie Bashaud Breeland, who appeared to be a season away from contributing a year ago but ended up starting and making some big plays.

A few months ago it didn’t look like Duke Ihenacho had much of a chance of contributing this year, especially after the team signed Jeron Johnson to start a strong safety. But he has been splitting time with Johnson in OTAs and even if he doesn’t start he could have a role in the defense.

And Josh LeRibeus may have a new life as a backup center. With Chris Chester out the team needs an emergency backup center and LeRibeus, a 2013 third-round pick who seemed destined for bust status, LeRibeus has been working as a fill in with decent results. Here is a good place to insert the no-pads warning; things will get more difficult in July and August and we’ll find out a lot more about LeRibeus and other bubble players then.

I’ll throw one more name out among players who were on the roster last year. I’m hearing that the coaches would like for Chris Thompson to emerge as the third-down back. If he can defy his history and stay healthy he has a very good shot at the role and could be a key player on offense.

Some of the players drafted late this year could make some noise. Spaight should be a special teams standout and CB Tevin Mitchell could be an injury or two away from having a somewhat prominent role.

You have to think that an undrafted free agent or two will make the team. None have really jumped out so far but their big chances will come in camp and in the preseason games. Among the undrafted rookies I’ll be keeping an eye on are TE Devin Mahina and RB Trey Williams.

Timeline

—It’s been 167 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 92 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 3; Redskins training camp starts 47; Preseason opener @ Browns 61

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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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