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Redskins OTA to-do list: Defensive line

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Redskins OTA to-do list: Defensive line

The busy portion of free agency is completed. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview. The 90-man offseason roster is full, as well. Now comes the difficult part for second-year head coach Jay Gruden: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin next Tuesday, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going examine the top items on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the Redskins for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today: the defensive line

Tandler: The list is long on a unit that has three new members in Stephen Paea, Terrance Knighton, and Ricky Jean Francois plus a high draft pick, Preston Smith, who will jump in along the line is certain situations. On top of that, new defensive coordinator Joe Barry is installing a more aggressive scheme that will have the linemen attacking gaps instead of controlling them. The line will be going from what was a supporting role under Jim Haslett, clogging up blockers so that the linebackers could make plays, to a playmaking role that gets into the backfield and disrupts. It all adds up to a group of players learning different reads and different techniques while learning to play together.

El-Bashir: As Tandler said, developing chemistry is going to be key. There’s a new position coach, too, in Robb Akey. Another item that must be checked off in the coming months is depth and, more specifically, figuring out who best provides it. The Redskins kept seven defensive linemen last season, but just six after final cuts in 2013. Barring an unexpected upset, the first five aren’t too hard to figure out—Paea, Hatcher, Knighton, Baker and Jean-Francois. After that, you’ve got versatile veteran Kedric Golston and Frank Kearse (3 sacks in 2014) as well as hopefuls Travian Robertston, Corey Crawford, Robert Thomas and Daryl Waud battling for one or two jobs, depending on how the roster shakes out. Keep in mind, reserves play a good amount on the defensive line. In fact, Kearse took 268 snaps in 2014 (Jarvis Jenkins, now with the Bears, saw a team-leading 552) and Golston played 182. So the last couple of spots are not insignificant roles.

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Updated Redskins offensive depth chart after Jamison Crowder's MRI, plus Trey Quinn news

Updated Redskins offensive depth chart after Jamison Crowder's MRI, plus Trey Quinn news

Nothing comes simple in the NFL, and for the Redskins offense, nothing comes easy either. The unit struggles to score, and the injuries continue to pile up on that side of the ball too. 

With a red-hot Texans team coming to FedEx Field this Sunday, the Washington offense will again be undermanned. 

Jay Gruden already ruled out six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams for this week's matchup against Houston, and the coach said there was a "pretty good chance" Chris Thompson would miss the game as well. 

Expect the Redskins to roll out the same offensive line that played for most of the win against Tampa:

LT: Ty Nsekhe
LG: Jonathan Cooper
C: Chase Roullier
RG: Tony Bergstrom
RT: Morgan Moses

Just because the same starting five will take the field against Houston doesn't mean there hasn't been more upheaval on the Redskins offensive line. Rookie tackle Geron Christian injured his knee in temporary work against Tampa and is now out for the season. That means the Redskins third tackle for Houston will be Austin Howard, who was signed last week. 

More importantly, it means right now the Redskins are living on the edge. Literally. With Williams already ruled out, Washington only has three tackles on the roster for Sunday, and both Nsekhe and Moses were limited in Wednesday's practice and are playing through a number of injuries. 

While things seem one injury away from a dire situation on the O-line, the situation seems more fluid at wide receiver.

Rookie wide receiver Trey Quinn got moved to the active roster on Wednesday after news came out of another MRI for Jamison Crowder.

Quinn was injured in the season opener in Arizona and moved to injured reserve. He's missed the last eight games but could give the passing game a boost, especially because it sounds like Crowder will miss his sixth straight game.

Gruden revealed that Crowder had another MRI on his ankle "to make sure that we’re not putting too much work on him right now, make sure he gets healed. We don’t think it’s that far away but we do probably need to take a little more time."

Asked if Crowder could eventually land on the IR, ending his season, Gruden said, "we hope not."

Not having Thompson and Crowder are two huge losses for QB Alex Smith. Kapri Bibbs has been a solid stand-in for Thompson, but it's not the same. Quinn now has a chance to help in place of Crowder, and in turn, let Maurice Harris get back to working in outside. 

For Sunday's game against Houston, Josh Doctson will start and play the X receiver position. If Quinn can get up to speed quickly and work in the slot WR role on Sunday, then Harris will lineup opposite Doctson at the Z position. 

If there is any good news, or at least stable news, Alex Smith, Adrian Peterson, and Jordan Reed all seem healthy. In fact, Reed wasn't on Wednesday's injury report at all, and Peterson said he's beginning to "feel all the way healthy."

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Titans rising, shake-up in Top 10

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 NFL Power Rankings: Titans rising, shake-up in Top 10

The most surprising outcome from Week 10 in the NFL season was the Tennessee Titans 34-10 thrashing of the New England Patriots.

How far did New England fall? How high did the Patriots rise?

CLICK HERE FOR THE WEEK 11 POWER RANKINGS

Despite missing three starting offensive lineman and several other key contributors due to injury, the Redskins got back in the win column with a 16-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a two game lead in the NFC East, their stock rose a tad.

Coming off their bye week, the Eagles fell to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. How were each of their rankings affected?

The Saints won their eighth straight, while the Steelers won their fifth straight. Where do these two rank in the Top 5?

CLICK HERE FOR THE WEEK 11 POWER RANKINGS

The battle for No. 32 is perhaps more interesting than the battle for No. 1, but the Raiders stay in control of the bottom spot for now.

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