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Redskins OTA to-do list: Offensive line

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Redskins OTA to-do list: Offensive line

The busy portion of free agency is completed. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview. The 90-man offseason roster has been filled out, 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 his team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Offensive line to-do list

El-Bashir: To me, the two boldest moves of the offseason were aimed directly at improving the Redskins’ subpar offensive line—the addition of Bill Callahan and the selection of Brandon Scherff. But the work is not done. I’m fine with the left side of the line, though it would be wise for GM Scot McCloughan to ink three-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams to a long term extension before the questions begin. I’m also okay with Kory Lichtensteiger at center. His veteran savvy will be enough as he adapts to Callahan’s system. The right side? Well, that’s where I anticipates some issues. Sure, Scherff is an instant upgrade at right tackle. But he’s also a rookie who’s switching sides. There will be growing pains, particularly early. The starting right guard, meanwhile, should be Spencer Long, a 2014 third rounder. But is he ready? Chris Chester, 32, and his $4.8 million cap number are still on the roster for a reason. The good news is Gruden has a few months to sort it all out. The bad news is that, a year later, it’s still a potential problem.  

Tandler: Top draft pick Brandon Scherff comes in with a ton of physical ability and a great attitude and work ethic but he has plenty of work to do. Like most top college linemen who were able to dominate their opponents without using great technique, Scherff will need to improve his fundamentals. We saw him doing this with Bill Callahan during the rookie minicamp and he will undoubtedly continue to spend extra time on the field with the new offensive line coach throughout OTAs. Scherff can work on his footwork, hand placement, and other technical matters during the non-contact OTA period. Then when they put the pads on in Richmond he will be prepared to go up against Ryan Kerrigan on a daily basis.

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VIDEO: Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis return to Redskins OTAs

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VIDEO: Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis return to Redskins OTAs

Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis were among those absent at Monday's open Redskins OTAs session, and both absences were surprising considering each player's somewhat unsteady spot on the roster.

Nicholson's second year with the Redskins was a struggle both on and off the field, while Davis is often mentioned as someone who might be in line for a contract restructuring or even a release. 

However, thanks to a video that the Redskins posted on Instagram, it's now clear that the safety and the tight end have since returned to Ashburn to work with their fellow teammates:

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8️⃣5️⃣ putting in the work

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It's an especially encouraging development for Nicholson, who should be doing whatever he can to get back in the good graces of the coaching staff. Whatever the reason for his absence was on Monday, it's a good sign to see that he didn't stay away too long. 

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Most OTAs absences don't matter, but Montae Nicholson's absence sure stands out

Most OTAs absences don't matter, but Montae Nicholson's absence sure stands out

Most of the time, if you're getting upset about an NFL player skipping voluntary OTAs, you're doing life wrong.

But if you're a Redskins fan who's a bit puzzled by Montae Nicholson not showing up to the early sessions of Washington's offseason workouts, you have a right to be.

Nicholson wasn't in Ashburn on Monday, a practice that was open to the media. There's been no indication that he's reported to the 'Skins since, either (UPDATE: Here's a video proving he has since returned, which is an encouraging sign). 

Now, this isn't a situation worth really freaking out about. Again, OTAs are voluntary, and it's totally possible Nicholson was working out somewhere else and feels that's how he'll be best prepared for 2019. 

Still, though, assuming he had nothing else serious going on, it's a questionable choice by the defensive back. And, according to Jay Gruden, it was a questionable choice he made on his own.

"Correct," Gruden answered Monday when asked if Nicholson skipping was based on the 23-year-old's decision. Gruden said earlier in his presser that he was "not really surprised" by it.

Perhaps the coach is telling the truth and he wasn't surprised. You can bet he was definitely annoyed by it, however.

Nicholson isn't an established player like Trent Williams or Josh Norman, other guys who weren't there when the Burgundy and Gold started this phase of the NFL calendar. He's a third-year safety with 22 up-and-down games to his name.

Not only that, he's just a week or so removed from the news that December assault charges against him were dropped due to a lack of evidence. You'd think someone who just learned that would be eager to get in front of Gruden and his coaching staff and try to repair his image.

After all, much of the same coaching staff who preferred to keep Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the lineup over Nicholson, even as Clinton-Dix struggled following his arrival, remains in charge.  

The starting spot opposite of Landon Collins is wide open, and of the options on the roster, Nicholson is the most talented. He also would fit nicely next to Collins, considering he's got the speed and ability in coverage when he's healthy and mentally right.

Speaking of Collins, he attended OTAs, despite the fact that he wasn't able to participate as he continues to rehab a shoulder injury. Yet there he was, involved and roaming the sidelines, encouraging his teammates and coaching up the younger DBs on various techniques and details.

One of those DBs Collins should've been coaching up is Nicholson, yet Nicholson was nowhere to be found. Plenty more reps await Nicholson over the coming months, but the fact that he wasn't there to claim the first helping of them is not the best way to start his path back into the starting lineup.

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