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Putting the class of '11 to work

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Putting the class of '11 to work

The Redskins will be brining back all 12 members of the draft class of 2011 this year. Which players will have the same role as they did in 2011, which will have increased responsibilities and which will have diminished roles this year? After OTAs and minicamp, here is how it shakes out:Same workloadOLB Ryan Kerrigan (1056 snaps, 9 sacks in 2011)You cant do much more than he did last year. Kerrigan didnt miss a snap and recorded nine sacks last year. He hit a rookie wall, getting only one sack in the last five games. If he can produce consistently 2012 should be the first of many double-digit sack seasons for Kerrigan.RG Roy Helu Jr. (554 snaps, 151 carries, 640 yards, 2 TDs)Helu had a chance to put a stranglehold on the starting halfback job for this year but he could only get on the field for 11 plays in the past two games. Health issues derailed him during minicamp as well. Based on last year, it looks like he will have some great games in 2012 and he will be a spectator for some games as well.LB Markus White (no defensive snaps in 2011, active and played special teams in two games)Special teams are likely to Whites role again as it will be hard to get three-down players Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo off of the field.NT Chris Neild (163 snaps, 2 sacks)Neild should continue doing what he did last year, giving Barry Cofield an occasional breather. His roster spot is probably safe although Chris Baker could make a run at the job.Increased workloadDE Jarvis Jenkins (on IR all of 2011)He is still recovering from that knee injury but once he gets into football shape it will be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup.WR Leonard Hankerson (126 snaps, 13 receptions, 163 yards)He showed enough in his limited action last year for the organization to have some confidence in his ability but not enough to where they felt they could stand pat at the position. Hankerson should see plenty of playing time and will have a chance to make a big impact.S DeJon Gomes (210 snaps, 19 tackles, 3 QB hurries)We looked at Gomes in some depth in a recent article. The bottom line is that he has a chance to be a starter either this year or next. In any case, he should get more than 210 snaps.TE Niles Paul (164 snaps, 2 receptions)Pauls storyline will be among the most interesting to follow this year as he transitions from wide receiver to being an undersized tight end.RB Evan Royster (158 snaps, 56 carries, 328 yards)Royster came a long way last year. He looked lost in training camp but he finished out the year strong with two 100-yard efforts in the last three games. It is unlikely that he will become the primary back this year but he will get some opportunities as there is likely to be no primary back on the team.WR Aldrick Robinson (did not play in 2011)In minicamp, Robinson has had the look of someone who is ready to make the roster and contribute. He is someone to watch in training camp.Decreased workloadCB Brandyn Thompson (4 snaps in 2011)Thompson has some playmaking ability and that kept him around. But he didnt flash much in the offseason practices and he could end up losing his roster spot to rookies Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford.OL Maurice Hurt (557 snaps, started 8 games)The player who saw the most offensive snaps as a rookie last year could be in danger of not making the team in 2012. He has been playing tackle during the offseason workouts and he will have to beat out Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, and James Lee. Might not make it.

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Las Vegas announced as official 2020 NFL Draft location

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Las Vegas announced as official 2020 NFL Draft location

DALLAS -- The NFL draft is heading to Las Vegas for 2020.

It almost certainly will arrive before the Raiders do.

"We believe the draft will be the kickoff to our inaugural season," said Raiders owner Mark Davis, who is moving the team from Oakland.

The league announced Wednesday at an owners meeting that the city where the Raiders will begin play in September 2020 will host the draft that April.

"Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and will provide a tremendous experience for the NFL and its fans," Davis added.

The NFL began to bring the draft to different cities in 2015, when it was in Chicago. It was held there in 2016, too, then went to Philadelphia in 2017. Last April, the Cowboys hosted it in their stadium in Arlington, Texas, and next year it will be in Nashville.

Other cities in the running for 2020 were Kansas City and Cleveland, which was partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio.

"We remain committed to hosting an NFL draft in Northeast Ohio and will continue to work closely with the NFL to identify the ideal opportunity for our fans, our city and the league," the Browns said in a statement.

"There are many teams and cities across the NFL who are capable of creating an exceptional draft experience for fans, including the Titans and Raiders, and we are still hopeful we may ultimately share that honor in the future."

April 23-25 will be the dates for the Las Vegas draft.

"The events in the draft are going to take place on and around the Las Vegas Strip," said Peter O'Reilly, the league's senior vice president of events. "We'll take advantage of some of the large spaces around the Strip as well as some of the iconic locations that will provide an incredible backdrop for the draft. We're certainly highlighting the Raiders' new stadium that will be just months away from occupying starting the 2020 season."

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'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

There are a ton of positives, from specific examples like what Derrius Guice has been able to do with Redskins supporters since being drafted or more general things like getting the chance to see what your favorite 'Skin is up to on an off day, that have resulted from the growing relationship between players and fans through social media. 

But with that increased connection comes increased volatility. Now, you don't have to be within earshot at a stadium to get on someone wearing Burgundy and Gold for a mistake they made or a loss they participated in. 

It's that second part — the constant criticism that largely goes unseen — that upsets Chris Thompson.

So, while he was responding to a question about Mason Foster's leaked Instagram messages, the running back made sure to comment on life as an athlete on social media overall.

"Dealing with the fans, it's hard because we're all human," Thompson said. "It's real tough when people keep coming at you and saying negative stuff towards you like we're not human beings and we're not supposed to say something at some point."

The veteran, who has distanced himself from things like Instagram and Twitter and has noticed how his mental state has improved because of that distancing, knows that ignoring the negativity is the proper route to take. It's far from the easiest route, though.

"Once you say something back to them it's like, 'Oh, you're not supposed to say anything,'" Thompson explained. "No, we're all human. If you say something, sometimes you should expect a response. And then on the flip side, there are some times we just gotta hold our tongue, and it's really, really, really, really hard sometimes. You don't know how hard it is."

Jonathan Allen is another Redskin who tries to limit his exposure to certain apps and sites these days. The fan interaction is something he enjoys, but in the end, it doesn't take much for those interactions to sour.

"The way I look at it, 99-percent of fans are great," Allen said. "They're supportive of what you do, they're always gonna love the Redskins. But there's gonna be that 1-percent of fans who aren't like that, and those are the fans that are gonna ruin it for everybody and give players the bad image of all the fans."

Thompson told one story of a recent message he got online from someone who blamed him for ruining his fantasy season by missing games due to injury. The 28-year-old couldn't comprehend how someone could write that to him while he's battling through broken ribs on both sides and an ankle issue.

Sadly, it was just one example that stood out among countless others, all of which make up the uglier side of technology in 2018.

"Where is the humanity?" Thompson said. "It sucks because we're not really looked at as humans. We're kind of robots. We're not supposed to have feelings, we're only supposed to show emotion on the field and everything should be about football, football, football."

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