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Redskins' depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

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Redskins' depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

After a busy free agency period, a draft in which 10 new players were added and the acquisition of 13 undrafted college players, the Redskins look much different than they did last December. So in the coming weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the revamped roster, position-by-position, as offseason activities ramp up and depth charts come into focus.

Position: Interior offensive line

On the roster: Shawn Lauvao, Chris Chester, Spencer Long, Josh LeRibeus, Arie Kouandjio, Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Larsen, Austin Reiter  

Likely to make the 53: Lauvao, Long, Kouandjio, Lichtensteiger

Comment: After struggling at times last year as a free-agent acquisition, the Redskins hope that Lauvao will be more effective this season with their emphasis on power blocking. He will start at left guard next to Lichtensteiger at center. At times last year Lichtensteiger was the team’s best offensive lineman. He may not be the ideal size that Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan would like in a center but replacing him is something that will be considered down the road.

Long, a third-round pick a year ago, has a shot at winning the starting job at right guard. He had a chance to do that last year but Chester was able to fend him off. Kouandjio enters the mix as a fourth-round pick this year and if he can clean up his technique in a hurry he could be in the mix to start if Long can’t grab the spot.   

Battling for a job: Chester, Larsen, LeRibeus, Reiter

Comment: Chester has three strikes against him—his age (32), his salary cap number ($4.8 million), and the fact that he’s more suited to zone blocking than he is to the power scheme that Gruden and Callahan are going to emphasize. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s out. It would be unwise to underestimate the survival skills of the wily nine-year veteran. It’s probably all or nothing for Chester. If he doesn’t hang on to his job as the starter it seems unlikely that he will stay around as a backup when releasing him would save $4 million in cap space.

The organization gave a very strong signal that LeRibeus was not necessarily a part of their future plans when they paid Lauvao $17 million over four years rather than giving their 2012 third-round pick a shot at starting.

Larsen is a player to keep an eye on. It was surprising that he went undrafted last year after earning all-conference honors at Utah State and participating both in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. He was signed by the Dolphins but he was cut at the end of camp and didn’t catch on anywhere. At 6-4, 315 he is closer to the ideal size that the organization wants on the offensive line than is Lichtensteiger. He seems to be a long shot to make the 53-man roster but if he doesn’t he’s a likely practice squad developmental project.

At 6-3, 296, Reiter is listed as a center who is just an inch taller than Lichtensteiger and the same weight. He is a smaller player from a smaller conference (South Florida of the AAC) and the last player the team picked in a draft that featured bigger players from power conferences. We will see how he fits in. 

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

The Redskins landed two players on the Pro Bowl roster in left tackle Trent Williams and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. This marks the seventh and fourth Pro Bowl honors for the players, respectively. 

Williams has been named to the past seven Pro Bowls, a remarkable feat, and joins Ken Houston as the only Washington players to make seven straight Pro Bowls. He trails only Charley Taylor (8) and Chris Hanburger (9) in total Pro Bowl selections.

After a two-sack performance last Sunday in Jacksonville moved him into second all-time on the Redskins sack list, Kerrigan got named to his fourth Pro Bowl and third straight selection. He has 11 sacks on the season, his third straight year with double-digit sacks. 

Beyond Kerrigan and Williams, five other Redskins players were named alternates to the Pro Bowl: D.J. Swearinger, Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Tress Way, and Adrian Peterson. 

Many thought Swearinger or Way would make the Pro Bowl for the first time in their careers, but both players came up just short. Things look good for Swearinger to make it to Orlando, as Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl squad but will miss the game with an injury. 

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How Kirk Cousins' next two games will directly impact the Redskins' playoff chances

How Kirk Cousins' next two games will directly impact the Redskins' playoff chances

A week after it felt borderline irresponsible to talk about the Redskins' 2018 playoff chances, it now feels completely necessary. 

Sure, you can make a pretty easy argument that this team doesn't look like a postseason team. But the fact of the matter is they're in a position to possibly become one in a handful of days.

And who's going to have a lot of say in whether the 'Skins do advance beyond Week 17? Kirk Cousins, because DUH.

Thanks to Dallas' Week 15 loss, Washington isn't out of the division hunt yet. However, their far more likely path to the playoffs is via the wild card, a spot that Cousins and the Vikings currently occupy.

To take that spot, the 'Skins really need to win out (they could still take the sixth seed by finishing 8-8, but that would take a lot more help). That means, first and foremost, Josh Johnson has to lead the Burgundy and Gold to victories over the Titans and the Eagles, which would have them finish the year at 9-7.

If that happens, the Redskins will then only require one Minnesota loss in the next two weeks to steal the second wild card. The Vikings square off with the Lions and Bears to wrap up their schedule, with the former happening in Detroit and the latter taking place in Minneapolis. 

The Eagles are also a factor in all of this, but Jay Gruden's squad could make them less of one by beating them in the 2018 finale.

Earlier this season, when everything was going right for the Redskins, it looked like a January showdown between Cousins' former franchise and his current one could happen. Now, though, the two squads are vying for the same position. 

So, it's really simple, 'Skins supporters — root for your guys to win two more and root against Cousins as well. This time around, No. 8 coming up short down the stretch would really benefit Washington.

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