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Redskins position preview: Right outside linebacker

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Redskins position preview: Right outside linebacker

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: Right outside linebacker.

On the roster: Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Trevardo Williams and Jackson Jeffcoat.

Likely to make the 53: Murphy, Smith and Williams.

Comment: Ryan Kerrigan is entrenched as the starting left outside linebacker, but with Brian Orakpo off to Tennessee, the Redskins must settle on a right-side starter.

Based on OTAs and minicamp, that key position battle will be waged between Murphy and Smith, the Redskins’ second round draft picks in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Murphy made eight starts last season as Orakpo’s injury replacement and showed incremental improvement, racking up a modest 2.5 sacks and 15 quarterback pressures, according to ProFootballFocus.com. As a result, he’s got a significant edge in experience. He’s also enjoyed a strong spring and has bulked up to 267 pounds after weighing 258 as a rookie.

Smith, meantime, began OTAs as a second stringer but progressed quickly and finished the offseason program working with the first team (as Kerrigan recovered from a knee scope). When the Redskins used the 38th overall pick to select him out of Mississippi State, the initial speculation was that he would eventually challenge Murphy for the starting spot across from Kerrigan. And nothing that's happened in recent weeks suggests anything has changed.

Battling for a job: Williams and Jeffcoat.

Comment: The battle for backup duty could also be a tight one, assuming Kerrigan, Murphy and Smith remain healthy. The Redskins kept four outside linebackers last season, and there’s no reason to believe that's going to change.

That, obviously, leaves Williams and Jeffcoat battling for a single opening. Jeffcoat had a more productive 2014 campaign, recording a sack and an interception in limited playing time. In OTAs, however, Williams worked ahead of him early on, getting some first time reps alongside Murphy while Smith got up to speed.

As far as backup battles go, this could be a good one.   

MORE REDSKINS: SKINS LOW EXPECTATIONS

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How's the knee? Trent Williams looks beyond ready in workout videos

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USA TODAY Sports

How's the knee? Trent Williams looks beyond ready in workout videos

Trent Williams went under the knife for his first-ever knee surgery about seven months ago.

Plenty of Redskins fans worried that the Pro Bowl left tackle might not be ready to go when the 2018 season starts.

Worry no more. 

Yes, that is Williams working out with veteran running back Adrian Peterson. And by the looks of it, Williams' knee looks just fine. 

Williams tore his right patella tendon last fall, but continued to play through the pain while the Redskins chances of a playoff bid remained. Once that window got firmly closed after an ugly Thursday night loss in Dallas, Williams contemplated sitting out, but other injuries on the line had already decimated the Redskins. Eventually, Williams shut down his season after a blowout loss in Los Angeles to open December. 

This offseason, Williams got the knee repaired. Washington coach Jay Gruden said repeatedly during the offseason that he expected Williams ready to go for training camp, and the workout videos suggest that to be the case.

This is great news for the Redskins offense, and for new quarterback Alex Smith. Expect Washington to be cautious with Williams, particularly in the early going of training camp in Richmond, but like Trent tweeted, "the walk says it all."

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

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Various sources

Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp.

Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins.

No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-31>>

Today we’re starting up the list with the players we ranked from 31-53, Here are some of the players in our latest update:

— Seven of the team’s draft picks, including the pick they made last week.     

— All three specialists.

— The team’s leading rusher from 2017.   

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-31>> 

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