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Redskins position preview: Nose tackle

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Redskins position preview: Nose tackle

Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart now that the team’s offseason program has concluded. Some battles are straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Sept. 5. So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …

Position: Nose tackle.

On the roster: Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Jerrell Powe, Kedric Golston and Robert Thomas.

Likely to make the 53: Knighton and Baker.

Comment: One of the Redskins’ biggest additions this offseason was the acquisition of Knighton, who was rated as the 12th most effective defensive tackle in the league by ProFootballFocus.com in 2014 but was forced to settle for a one-year, $4 million ‘prove it’ deal. GM Scot McCloughan said he was impressed by Knighton’s decision to bet on himself, adding that he hopes the 28-year-old parlays this season into a longer, more lucrative deal.

Knighton will replace Barry Cofield/Baker as Washington's starting nose tackle this fall.

“We have high expectations for him,” Coach Jay Gruden said earlier this offseason. “When you put him out there on first and second down, it’s going to be hard to run the ball between the tackles. He takes up quite a bit of room in there.”

Speaking of his size, it’s hard to have a conversation about Knighton without mentioning his weight. He’s listed on the Redskins’ roster at 6 foot 3, 331 pounds. But it’s pretty obvious that ‘Pot Roast’ tips the scales at much more than that. In January, a published report said Knighton had been fined $300,000 in recent years for missing weight markers. The Redskins, meantime, have tied $450,000 in bonuses in Knighton’s contract to complying with specific weight clauses, according to ProFootballTalk.com.

There’s been no indication that his weight has been an issue in Washington, but Gruden has indicated on more than one occasion the team will be monitoring it.

“You see how big he is but you don’t realize how quick his first step is, which it really rare for a guy of his size,” Gruden said. “So we’ve just got to continue to monitor what he’s doing out here and making sure we work with him and keep him healthy.”

Battling for a job: Powe, Golston and Thomas.

Comment: The Redskins could opt to use Baker and/or Golston as Knighton’s backup. Baker and Golston can play end and nose and they've spent time working with him at both positions.

Baker, of course, moved from starting left end to starting nose tackle in Week 1 of last season after Cofield suffered a significant injury in Houston. In all, Baker made 12 starts at nose tackle in 2014.

Powe, meantime, was signed June 1 to compete for a job along a crowded D-line. The 28-year-old appeared in 16 games for the Texans last season, starting three, all at nose tackle.

As for Thomas, he spent most of last season on the practice squad after signing with Washington as a college free agent out of Arkansas. Like Powe, he’ll likely face long odds when the Redskins cut down from 11 defensive linemen to six or seven.

Redskins position previews 2015:

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Exploring the different scenarios between the Redskins and Trent Williams

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USA Today Sports

Exploring the different scenarios between the Redskins and Trent Williams

Training camp comes for the Redskins near the end of July, and in mid-June, not much looks overly worrisome. Except for the Trent Williams situation.

As fans well know, Williams missed all of mandatory minicamp amid reports that the seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle was upset with his contract. There are also reports that Williams is upset with the Redskins medical staff, and one report that the former Top 10 pick "vowed" never to return to Washington. 

That's serious stuff.

Jay Gruden rotated between calling Williams the Redskins best player and one of the team's most important players when the coach spoke about the situation during minicamp. Regardless of the exact assessment, Williams is obviously important to the Redskins plans for 2019, and how good the team can possibly become. 

Looking to the fall, there are a few probable outcomes for the Williams situation to end. Here's a look at the possibilities:

  1. Redskins trade Trent Williams - This seems like quite a long shot, but not impossible. Williams has started 119 games in Washington since 2010, but just two playoff games in that time. He's a very valuable player, one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, and could obviously draw interest around the NFL. A trade seems quite unlikely, but if a contending team wanted to move for Williams, he might actually want to go. This doesn't seem likely until closer to Week 1, and it doesn't seem likely anyway. The Redskins won't be able to get close to equitable value for Williams on the trade market. 
  2. Redskins cut Trent Williams - There is zero chance this happens. Zero. ZEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
  3. Redskins make it work with Trent Williams - The reality of pro football doesn't bode great for Williams. He's under contract for two more seasons and the salary structure of the NFL means there isn't much money without game checks. All of that suggests Williams arrives for the Redskins somewhere in mid-August, perhaps after training camp in Richmond but well before Week 1 in Philadelphia. That doesn't mean, however, that the 'Skins couldn't make a goodwill offer to Williams. His deal in 2020 holds barely any guaranteed cash, and perhaps making more of his salary a certainty could help him come back to the fold. 
  4. Trent Williams never returns - This seems highly unlikely, but has been reported. Williams seems very angry at the Redskins medical staff based off his Instagram posts, and if he can't trust the doctors, maybe he can't play for the organization. Williams has made a tremendous amount of money during his NFL career, with nearly $100 million in career earnings, so never say never. 

 

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In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

Bryce Love hopes he'll have the opportunity to carry many footballs in his NFL career. But this past weekend, the running back picked up something that'll be just as, if not more, valuable than the attempts he'll be getting on Sundays.

How's a college diploma from Stanford sound? Pretty solid, right?

Oh, how about a college diploma from Stanford in human biology? Yeah, probably something worth hanging up on the ol' fridge, huh?

Well, that very hard-earned and impressive degree is what Love is now in possession of:

Drafted by the Redskins in late-April and walking across the stage at Stanford in mid-June, Love is doing well for himself recently. He passed up the chance to enter the draft early to ensure he graduated, and now he has.

His college GPA isn't known, but once you find out his high school GPA was 4.5 (that's apparently possible) and add that to the fact that he was able to finish up school out west while also churning up yards for the Cardinal, you can imagine it was very, very good. And if his yards-per-carry average as a pro matches or exceeds it, then the Redskins will be thrilled.

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