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Need to Know: Which Redskins could rise up the depth chart in 2015?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins could rise up the depth chart in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 3, seven days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

We’re going back to the NTK format we’ve been using since last month. Every day 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.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

Let’s revive an tradition here on Need to Know and look at five backups and practice squad players who could have prominent roles in 2015. Of course, a lot of this could depend on who the team acquires in free agency and in the draft:

G Spencer Long—Starting with the one who has been talked about the most. It’s still uncertain if Chris Chester will be on the team much longer or, if he is, if he will be the unchallenged starter. Long is his likely successor and many would like to see that happen sooner rather than later.

S Phillip Thomas—Right now he is the only player on the roster with a substantial number of NFL snaps at strong safety. Both the free agent group and the draft class are weak at the position so Thomas could get at least a chance to compete for the starting job.

NT Robert Thomas—He was on the practice squad last year. With Barry Cofield gone and Chris Neild a free agent, Thomas could move up into the backup nose tackle spot. At 6-3, 325 he has the classic nose tackle build and he looked good in spots as a rookie in training camp.

RB’s Chris Thompson/Silas Redd—I’m putting them together here because I’m not sure if there are roles for both of them even though they are different kinds of backs. But if Roy Helu one could step into a more prominent role. Redd needs to overcome fumbling problems and Thompson needs to avoid the injury butg.

OLB Jackson Jeffcoat—He was inconsistent but flashed some when he got some snaps late in the year. Jeffcoat, who starred at Texas as a senior in 2013, is a candidate to take the next step and take a regular role on defense and contribute on special teams.

Timeline

—It’s been 65 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 194 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 7; Redskins offseason workouts start 48; 2015 NFL Draft 58

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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In case you missed it

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Five observations from the Redskins' rain-soaked win over the Packers

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USA TODAY Sports

Five observations from the Redskins' rain-soaked win over the Packers

LANDOVER, Md. — Entering Week 3, it was unsure which Redskins team would show up: the team that dismantled the Cardinals in Week 1 on the road, or the team that fell to the Colts by multiple scores in their home opener a week ago.

On Sunday, the Redskins looked a lot more like the team from week 1.

Behind a solid running game led by Adrian Peterson's two touchdowns and a strong defensive performance, the Redskins defeated the Packers 31-17 on Sunday. 

Here are Rich Tandler's observations from Week 3.

1. They got off to a great start and kept going

If the Redskins were going to win this game they knew they would have to stick with the Packers score for score and score touchdowns, not field goals. They did what the doctor ordered, getting in the end zone on two of their first three possession.

The first one was a quick strike with Alex Smith throwing a 46-yard TD to Paul Richardson to cap a four-play drive. The next one took 10 plays and it ended on a two-yard Adrian Peterson touchdown run. That made it 14-0.

The Redskins kept their foot on the gas, driving to two more touchdowns before halftime to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room. It was exactly what they needed coming off a flat loss as favorites last week. 

2. Alex Smith shows he can throw deep

During the week there were plenty of fans and members of the media pointing out that Alex Smith wasn’t throwing the ball deep, that he had returned to being the check-down, game manager he was for most of his career. But he limbered up his arm on the first series with the 46-yard touchdown bomb to.

In the second quarter he went deep down the right sideline to Vernon Davis for a 50-yard game. He finished the day 12 for 20 with 220 yards and 2 TDs. Smith also ran for 20 yards.

Smith had an interception due to a miscommunication with Jordan Reed. All in all, a better day for Smith. 

3. The defense was strong early and late

The Redskins defense was good early, when the Redskins were in the process of building a 21-3 lead. And they were good in the fourth quarter when they held the Packers to a three and out from deep in their own territory.

It should be noted that the did benefit from a dropped deep pass on third down that would have given the Packers the first down and excellent field position. With a little over five minutes left, they got a takeaway to put the Redskins in great position to win.

After a short completion, Fabian Moreau stripped the ball away and Josh Norman recovered at the Packers 46. 

4. Peterson gets back on track 

There was talk that Adrian Peterson all of a sudden aged from Week 1, when he gained 96 yards, to Week 2, when he picked up 20 yards on 11 carries. Today he was back on the ball. He had a 41-yard run in the second quarter. But his best runs were when the Redskins were trying to kill the clock and he tore off gains of 17, two, and seven yards.

He again looked like a viable NFL running back as he ran for 120 yards on 19 carries. 

5. The bye is ahead

The Redskins are going into their ridiculously early bye week on a high note. They have played well twice, and they didn’t show up for the one in between.

They will have a long, tough road ahead of them. The team will go into it knowing that they can compete with one of the best teams in the league with the best player in the league and come out on top. When they return two weeks from tomorrow, they will face another one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Drew Brees.

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How the Redskins capitalized off Clay Matthews being a marked man

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How the Redskins capitalized off Clay Matthews being a marked man

The Packers' Week 2 tie with the Vikings was due in large part to the controversial penalty called against Clay Matthews.

Late in the fourth quarter, Matthews sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The sack should have sucked all the life out of the Vikings' frantic comeback. but instead, referees threw a flag on Matthews for roughing the passer. The penalty never should have been thrown. Matthews' hit was violent, but not illegal.

The Vikings would go on to tie the game, and it would stay that way following a scoreless overtime.

On Sunday, in Week 3, Redskins rookie lineman Daron Payne recorded his first NFL sack, drilling Aaron Rodgers with a monstrous hit.

As our Trevor Matich pointed out, it was very similar to Matthews' hit. Luckily, the referees kept the penalty flags in their pockets.

And as if that were not enough, on the very next series, Matthews was flagged for roughing the passer on Alex Smith.

Like in Week 2, it probably should not have been flagged.

Referees are stuck between a rock and a hard place. But it's clear that Matthews' actions are impacting referee judgment. That is playing into the hands of the Redskins. The NFL agrees that the Matthews' hit on Smith was illegal. 

Redskins fans will take that to the bank, whether or not it should have been called.

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