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Need to Know: Is the Redskins’ depth chart at outside linebacker set?

Aug 9, 2016, 5:52 AM EDT

Murphy rush vs. Cowboys USAT

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 9, two days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1:30; Jay Gruden news conference after practice, approx.. 3:30

—The Redskins last played a game 212 days ago. It will be 34 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 10; Final roster cut 25; Cowboys @ Redskins 40

Read and react: Jay Gruden

On if he’s decided how much the starters will play vs. the Falcons:

“Not yet. You know, we’ll play it by ear, see how we do out at practice today and we’ll have a staff meeting tonight and then make a decision.”

I’m not sure what would make Gruden change from having his starting offense go one series if they move the ball and two if they don’t. The starting defense will probably go two series. It’s not like Gruden to go unconventional in situations like this.

On if Trent Murphy, who just moved back to outside linebacker, would focus more on pass rushing that coverage:

“Originally that was our plan. We’re trying to get him going forward more often. He, Preston [Smith], Ryan [Kerrigan] will be our feature ends – Houston Bates. We’ll see what happens with the other guys who are competing for jobs – Willie Jefferson, Lynden Trail, Double E [Ejiro Ederaine] and Shiro Davis, so we’ll see what happens there. But we’ll try to get him going forward more, yes.”

So it looks like the roster spots at OLB are set, with Kerrigan, Smith, Murphy, and Bates. That’s what Gruden just said. If you’re in the “we’ll see what happens” group I think you might want to get used to living on a practice squad salary at best.

On Su’a Cravens’ position

“We’re going to try him at linebacker first. He’s a 20-year-old kid and coming in here he has got to learn one spot first. He needs to learn the defense, so we figured inside linebacker in nickel and dime situations is the spot to teach him the defense first. From there we can branch off, see his skill set, move on and try him at safety – maybe nickel – whatever it is. Right now we feel like the best place for him learning the defense is at linebacker.”

This is for those of you who are worried that the Redskins will want the 6-1, 222 Cravens to play inside linebacker on first down and plug the hole against big running backs. When will be in when the other team is likely to pass and he will cover and occasionally rush. And he could be more of an in-the-box safety than a linebacker. So sit back, relax, and watch how his role evolves and develops.

On if there is a better example for young players than Ryan Kerrigan:

“Not really, no. He’s very humble, number one. Keeps to himself and does exactly what’s asked of him in practice. He practices hard; in fact, we have to pull him back a little bit because he practices so hard and we want to keep him healthy for the 16-week grind. He’s a top-notch guy, on and off the field, character-wise.. He’s what you’re looking for.”

I’m not sure if Kerrigan’s sack numbers will ever quite live up to his contract. But he’s a guy you want to keep around because of this. One of the things that Scot McCloughan emphasizes in building a team is having players around who serve as the blueprint for other young players who come into the program. Kerrigan is worth a bonue over his sack numbers just for that.

Tandler on Twitter Instagram

An hour after practice ended Josh Norman is still signing autographs. #Redskins

A photo posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Aug 9, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    Well ok I guess we have a big edge rusher now… This opens a spot up on D Line as well. Maybe Ziggy makes the 53 now? I guess now we are back to last years OLB. D Line is now the weak link.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 9, 2016 at 6:44 AM

      I don’t believe that Murphy’s return to OLB has turned it to a position of strength; everyone thought that Galette would contribute this season. McCloughan inferred that if he knew Galette would not play this season, he may have picked an OLB in the draft. It’s a difficult position but not impossible to fill when team make roster cuts to 75 and 53. Hopefully Smith finds the form that developed as the season progressed.

      Along the same lines, it’s not as if Murphy no longer being counted as a primary d-lineman suddenly make the d-line weak. It was the weakest position group to begin with and it remains that way. Other week position groups are safety, left guard, center and potentially running back.

      • colorofmyskinz - Aug 9, 2016 at 7:35 AM

        Murphy was above Ziggy on the depth chart. So if Murphy out and Ziggy in then weaker.

        All I am saying is that OLB with Murphy is better than just Kerrigan and Preston.

        DLine down and OLB up.

        • bangkokben - Aug 9, 2016 at 8:53 AM

          You’re missing it. Murphy was the last guy on the DL and still is. Now he’s third OLB. That allows the team to put Cravens where ever. Those other DL Hood, etc. still need to prove that they’re more valuable than a 6th CB.

    • John - Aug 9, 2016 at 10:18 AM

      Who was never much of a rusher to begin with.

    • John - Aug 9, 2016 at 10:20 AM

      DLine is , was and continues to be q weak link. No studs in that group. All role players, aka, just guys.

  2. redskins12thman - Aug 9, 2016 at 6:30 AM

    I believe the OLB group is set for now as much as it is ever “set.” I believe that Jay Gruden and especially Scot McCloughan are always evaluating talent. Jay will consider how they play in the preseason games. I believe they are counting on Bates being an important special teams contributor, and if that is not the case, others have an opportunity to step in. I don’t believe Scot feels his job is ever done. He is always scanning the free agent wire and college ranks with an eye to plays to add to the roster. The years of Vinny Cerrato and Bruce Allen in charge of personnel really set this franchise back.

    • bangkokben - Aug 9, 2016 at 9:55 PM

      Bates is clearly not good enough to be the first guy off the bench — at least at this point in his development but probably always. It’s fine if he is a good special teamer. The team needs those.

  3. garg8050 - Aug 9, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    Gonna be imperative that Francois, Paea, Reyes, and Golston step up. Last year’s problems against the run can’t all be pinned on the d-line, but they certainly were a big part of the problem. Assuming our LBs and Safeties take better angles and tackle better this season, we just need the d-line to force a stalemate at the line of scrimmage. If they’re getting blown off the line of scrimmage again this year, it’s gonna be a long year for the D.

    I was hoping Murphy could help set the edge against the run as a d-line man, but that’s probably not gonna happen now.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 9, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    I guess moving Murphy back makes the most sense with the loss of Galette.

    Here’s hoping he retained his agility with the added weight.
    ~

  5. mtskins - Aug 9, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    Well I guess all the anticipation and discussion of Murphy at DE will have to wait another year. Not a altogether bad as Murphy has previously been pretty good setting the edge against the run which it sounds like some of the other depth players have had trouble developing.

    Nice to read Rich comment on Kerrigan’s intangibles making him worth more than just sack numbers. Also great to see Norman staying to sign autographs an hour after practice for some young fans that clearly endured some rainy weather.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 10, 2016 at 1:12 PM

      Don’t be so sure that the Murphy experiment is over. In many sub packages (which we run most of the time) we use a 4 man front where at least one end is an OLB. So having Murphy as a hybrid OLB/DE is perfect. Just one less player to trot off the field.

      You could have him lined up at one end, Baker and Reyes in the middle, and Kerrigan/Smith on the other side. That’s a respectable front. Then Cravens and Compton rounding out the line. That’s where Cravens is going to shine. He can rush, play the run, become a DB, who knows? Then DHall Deep, Norman and Breeland on the outside, Fuller in the slot and Bruton at SS. I like that defense man. Do a cover 3 with the Norman, Hall, and Breeland, rush 4 and have the rest cover the underneath with Fuller having the option to go deep if the offense takes the slot receiver that way to attack the cover 3. You can still zone blitz and there’s plenty of guys close to cover the run. Having guys like Murphy, Norman, Breeland, Cravens, and probably even Fuller are going to allow us to do a lot.

  6. goback2rfk - Aug 9, 2016 at 10:54 AM

    Report are coming out that Josh Norman has taken an ‘In Season’ TV show job without telling the Redskins.
    Wtf? Are they even allowed to do that? Oh well guess Normans attention will be elsewhere this season. We need Breeland to stay healthy.

    • rtcwon - Aug 9, 2016 at 1:37 PM

      Over react much? Just because Gruden said he didn’t know doesn’t mean no one in the org knew. Besides it is only 10 weeks of pre-recorded segments, in studio only during bye week. No big deal, r-e-l-a-x!

    • ET - Aug 9, 2016 at 2:35 PM

      I saw a tweet (can’t seem to find it now) from someone in the DC sports media that said Norman’s side gig was cleared with the front office, but Gruden didn’t know about it.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 10, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      Seriously man, huge over reaction. A lot of NFL players do stuff like this. I would prefer my players didn’t too, but I’m not going to freak out about it either.

  7. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 9, 2016 at 12:44 PM

    (Austin) Reiter, a center drafted in the seventh round in 2015, had hoped to use a strong offseason and training camp to solidify his future with the team, but it’s still very much in doubt as he has continued to struggle. In 1-on-1 drills, he and Josh LeRibeus are the only two guys that rookie Matt Ioannidis can handily beat.

    The fourth-round* pick out of Temple looks strong and quick versus Reiter. But then he meets his match against veterans Kory Lichtensteiger and Spencer Long. Reiter thus far hasn’t had the strength or quickness to stand out as a solid prospect. We’ll see if things change in games.

    – By Mike Jones August 9 at 11:59 AM

    Doesn’t sound great for Reiter or LeRib. (Or Ionnaides, for that matter. But at least he’s a rookie. * And a 5th round pick.)
    ~

    • ET - Aug 9, 2016 at 1:44 PM

      For all of the Kory naysaying out there (some of it justified), the man knows how to move and make adjustments and think quickly. LeRib and Reiter have the square footage we’re after, but not much else to offer, apparently. LeRibeus’s days are numbered. I’m not sad about that, but I am concerned about a scenario where Kory is injured again.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 9, 2016 at 2:46 PM

        Assuming Lauvao reclaims the left guard spot, I guess Spencer Long’s best route to playing on Sundays is to learn the heck out of that center position and taking over when he gets a chance.
        ~

    • mtskins - Aug 9, 2016 at 3:57 PM

      I’ve been riding the Reiter bandwagon but seems like wheels are coming off fast. Needs a good showing in the preseason game on Thursday. During OTA’s sounded like long was struggling to pick up the Center position, but at least he is holding his own in 1 on 1 drills versus a rookie 5th rounder. It will be interesting who they play at center after the starters come off the field.

      Agree with ET that a scenario where Kory gets injured again is concerning given the early returns from his backups. Hoping for improvement.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 10, 2016 at 12:58 PM

      There was a strange campaign this offseason from a rival blog to basically turn the fans against Kory (on the field, not as a person) and demand a new center. It was bizarre because it so often lacked logic and sense. People were beating the table for a 7th round pick who hadn’t taken a single NFL snap over a seasoned veteran who, truly, finishes about average every year. SEVENTH round pick who never took a snap! All because of the most basic way to evaluate someone, height and weight. A first grader could do that. It’s like nobody ever told them that late round picks don’t usually have very good careers.

      Anything can happen. Reiter could explode and turn into a great player. But decades and decades of data suggests that he will never be an improvement over Kory. Ever. There have been some very, very good undersized centers in this league. It’s not all about size. A massive center is useless if he calls the wrong protection and gets the QB killed. It’s a cerebral position and much harder to evaluate than a glimpse at measurables.

      Kory is a decent center guys. Not great, but plenty good enough. We need to be looking for his replacement as soon as next year because of his age and injury history, but not because of his play. It’s all good.

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