NFC East: josh leribeus

Analyzing the Redskins' salary cap

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
Not a lot going on, so it's a good time to catch up on some salary-cap numbers and scenarios. All numbers are from ESPN Stats & Information:

Cap space available: The Redskins have $2,551,306 left against the salary cap. Only three teams have less room against the cap (Detroit, New Orleans and San Diego). The Giants have $6.9 million available, but both Dallas ($10.2 million) and Philadelphia ($20.2 million) are in strong shape. Don’t forget, teams can carry cap space into next season. Also, as of now only the top 51 players count against the cap in the offseason.

[+] EnlargeStephen Bowen
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsThe Redskins would save $5.5 million against the cap if they cut Stephen Bowen after this season.
Cap savings: If the Redskins really wanted to save a few extra dollars, they could always look at right guard Chris Chester. If they cut him, it would save $2.7 million against the cap. But, again, someone has to beat him out. If they felt that confident about someone else they likely would have made a move by now. But they do have some young options here between rookie Spencer Long and third-year players Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis. However, while Long obviously has never played, the other two have limited experience. Tyler Polumbus' release would save $1.5 million, but that means that either rookie Morgan Moses or third-year Tom Compton is ready to start. It’s hard to imagine Moses being at that point and Compton was not there at the end of last season.

Another place that will be interesting is the defensive line. The Redskins kept six at this spot each of the past three seasons. If they only keep that many this year, it means a veteran could be in trouble. They clearly aren’t going to cut Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher or Chris Baker. Also, as long as Stephen Bowen is healthy he’ll stick around.

Yes, the Redskins could have re-worked his deal (which counts $7.02 million against the cap) but they have wisely been reluctant to spread money into the future for players who may only be around another year or so. That’s the case with Bowen. He has one year left on his contract and is coming off microfracture surgery. I don’t care how optimistic you are about him, can you trust he’ll be around and playing at a solid level in two years? No. The way they’ve done things in the past they could ask him to take a pay cut, but they typically did that before this point. Just so you know: Bowen would save $5.5 million against the cap if cut after this season.

So if Bowen sticks, that gives the Redskins four. If they keep six again, that means they’d have room for two among Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston and Clifton Geathers. Here’s the savings for each player: Geathers ($600,000), Golston ($1,005,000), Jenkins ($1,027,184). Nose tackle Chris Neild also would be in trouble. His savings would be $645,000.

Highest paid: Brian Orakpo ($11,455,000) followed by Trent Williams ($10,980,393). By the way, both players will count more against the cap than all the players at five other positions: safeties ($5.1 million), tight ends ($4 million), running backs $5.6 million), quarterback ($7.1 million) and cornerback ($8.6 million).

Lowest-paid starters: Running back Alfred Morris will count $600,775 against the salary cap. Next up: safety Ryan Clark ($635,000) and tight end Jordan Reed ($642,778). Clark’s base salary is $955,000, but he counts less because of the veteran minimum cap benefit.

Thoughts and observations from the Redskins OTA session Thursday (taking a look at big picture things here rather than practice plays made in the spring):

  1. Robert Griffin III worked on being more consistent with his mechanics in the offseason and there was a difference. The past two years his base was wider as the Redskins wanted to shorten the stride. He also got into a habit of holding the ball lower, leading to a longer windup when he threw.
  2. But in practice Thursday, Griffin held the ball higher – at the top of the numbers. He also threw with a more narrow base. He likes doing this because he feels more free, giving him the ability to bounce the pocket a little better. Not every quarterback throws with the same base, much like not every hitter uses the same stance at the plate.
  3. [+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
    AP Photo/Richard LipskiRobert Griffin III showed off his new throwing mechanics during practice on Thursday.
    Griffin also was throwing more over the top; less windup. So the ball came out a little quicker. He was not always accurate, but he was not off as much as he was, say, last summer when coming back in training camp. And keep in mind that even as a rookie in practice Griffin would have off days throwing the ball.
  4. Regardless, Griffin’s fundamentals were more consistent than they were during the season. The key will be transferring it to the season when it gets chaotic in the pocket.
  5. His weight transfer was different as well; much more quiet but a definite transfer. Saw it on a deep ball to receiver DeSean Jackson.
  6. Griffin escaped the pocket on one play and looked like he was going to tuck and run. But he pulled up before he crossed the line and hit Pierre Garcon along the sidelines.
  7. Keenan Robinson lined up next to Perry Riley with the No. 1 defense. It’s only May, but it’s still telling when considering that he missed all of last season and part of his rookie year. They also signed Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, who worked with the second team. Adam Hayward also worked some with the second team at inside linebacker.
  8. The linebackers’ versatility will be a huge part of the defense this season, as you would expect. The key is that they now have three outside linebackers – Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy -- who are comfortable with their hands in the dirt, rushing from a two-point stance or dropping into coverage.
  9. Murphy beat Tom Compton during 11-on-11 work with a quick spin move to the inside. For a tall guy, Murphy does a nice job staying low on his spin.
  10. Second-year linebacker Brandon Jenkins was mostly limited to rushing the passer last season, but saw him in coverage some Thursday.
  11. Here are the players I saw returning kicks Thursday: Lache Seastrunk, Chris Thompson, Nick Williams, Andre Roberts and Rashad Ross.
  12. Chris Baker lined up at left end with the starting defense (keep in mind Stephen Bowen can’t work). Chris Neild was in the middle with Barry Cofield sidelined (hernia surgery) and Jason Hatcher was on the right side.
  13. Rookie corner Bashaud Breeland still needs to be less grabby. Saw him tugging Santana Moss’ jersey downfield before the veteran caught the ball. Saw Breeland tugging other jerseys as they broke on a route (after the allotted five yards of contact). Not sure all the receivers quite appreciated his hands.
  14. Breeland was beaten on a double move by receiver Pierre Garcon. One thing Breeland said he needed to do was to keep his eyes on his man. He lost him this time, peeking too long into the backfield and awaiting a throw that wasn’t coming. Instead, it turned into an easy deep completion.
  15. Maurice Hurt worked at right tackle with the third unit. Josh LeRibeus worked at left guard with the second unit.
  16. Jackson’s speed was evident, especially on an end around. He was in traffic as he ran around the end, on the side opposite the media so it was hard to tell who it was at first. But he was moving at a different speed, which was the first clue as to who it was.
  17. Corner Chase Minnifield will get into a lot of tussles this camp – a safe prediction. He nearly got into one with tight end Niles Paul Thursday. Minnifield is physical and feisty and that will never please those running routes in practice. This time, Minnifield was grabbing Paul on the entire route and at the end Paul shoved him. Minnifield bounced up and shoved him back. It didn’t escalate.
  18. Minnifield did pick off a Kirk Cousins pass in zone coverage. Minnifield sank deep on the route and grabbed a pass that was intended for Williams.
  19. It was tough to see running back Chris Thompson’s speed last season, whether in spring, summer or before he was shut down during the season. He was coming off a knee injury. But he’s a year removed from that injury and the speed was more evident. Still worry about his durability, but he looked fast after running with a pass in the open field (during a spring practice).
  20. Safety Tanard Jackson ran with the third defense.
  21. Corner David Amerson looks more comfortable in press coverage and is using his long arms to his advantage when jamming receivers. Saw him do this a couple times, showing good technique and not getting beat in this look. It’s something he needed to work on as a rookie and I’m sure the learning curve will continue. But with his length and speed it’s a necessary tactic for him to learn.


Redskins mailbag: Part 2

May, 17, 2014
May 17
For Part 2 of the Redskins mailbag, we're talking Robert Griffin III and the Hall of Fame (what!?), which offensive alignments the Redskins might favor, defensive sets against Philadelphia, the offensive line and more. Enjoy.
The company they keep suggests they have done it right. Washington is right there with the best teams in the NFL when it comes to holding on to its draft picks. Look at the top six teams when it comes to keeping their own draft picks. You have perennial playoff contenders, Super Bowl participants and league heavyweights.

And then the Redskins.

[+] EnlargeDan Snyder
AP Photo/Manuel Balce CenetaDan Snyder and the Redskins' coaching staff need to focus more on developing the team's draft picks in the future.
It's strange company, indeed. But there they are, right behind Green Bay, Atlanta, San Francisco, Baltimore, Cincinnati and New England. For the most part, it's a who's who of organizations that have done it right.

And then there are the Redskins.

"I don't think we can say we've done well because of our record," Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said.

The numbers spell it out. Washington ranks seventh in the NFL with 28 former draft picks on its roster. In the free-agency era, that has to register as a surprise given the Redskins' reputation. Of course, the salary-cap penalties of the past two offseasons forced them to do business another way.

It's sort of like the "Seinfeld" episode in which Jerry tells a rental car clerk, "See, you know how to take the reservation. You just don't know how to hold the reservation, and that's really the most important part of the reservation."

If the Redskins want to sustain success, they will do more than just draft and retain players; they will improve at developing them.

It's not as if they haven't had success stories. In 2012, they rode two rookies to the playoffs: quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris, a sixth-round pick. Griffin extended plays and ran well, so the Redskins incorporated that into their offense. Morris could plant and cut, so that's what they asked him to do. They've had other success stories, just not enough of them.

Too often the Redskins have relied on outside help to fill holes. This past offseason they needed offensive line help, so they signed a starting guard and added a veteran backup. Two years ago they drafted three linemen, yet none of them project to be in the starting lineup. One of those three, guard Josh LeRibeus, was a third-round pick who was inactive in every game last season.

Washington's director of player personnel Scott Campbell said Tuesday that to find players worth developing, you see how much they love football. If a guy struggles with weight issues, that's a concern. LeRibeus had those issues in college and again after his rookie season. He is young, so perhaps he still develops, but he'll do so with constant pressure behind him.

"If you can't develop and want to build through the draft, then you're just sitting there with guys that can't play and they're young," one former Redskins coach said. "It becomes a double-edged sword and you're headed nowhere fast. Then you have to roll the dice in free agency and find a veteran player you hope can bail you out of that situation."

As Allen pointed out Tuesday, the Redskins have won titles multiple ways: from his father's ability to trade draft picks in the 1970s to finding bargain Plan B free agents in the 1980s. But owner Dan Snyder's era has produced seven double-digit loss seasons in the last 11.

The Redskins have drafted 34 players in the past four years: 14 on defense, 20 on offense. Of that group, eight project to be starters in 2014. Another player, tight end Logan Paulsen, went from undrafted in 2011 to starting tight end last year. Fullback Darrel Young switched positions and now is a starter.

The defense really needs to develop its own (the offense is much younger). Washington's D is in transition, with three starters in the secondary 30 or older and four top linemen in that same category. That means, if they want to build success, and then sustain it, they must hope that some of these players develop: Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas at safety and linebacker Keenan Robinson, as a long-term replacement for the retired London Fletcher. They need more youth along the front or for Jarvis Jenkins to blossom in his third playing season.

Two offseason moves could help: the hiring of inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and signing safety Ryan Clark. Olivadotti had a terrific reputation for working with young players in his first go-round with Washington, helping Brian Orakpo as a rookie. If Robinson is healthy -- after tearing a different pectoral muscle in each of his first two seasons -- then he has a shot because of Olivadotti.

As for Clark, maybe at 34 he has nothing left. Pittsburgh didn't think so. But he can still add value in Washington, desperate to solve a longtime hole at safety. Clark, who almost always has been a part of a good secondary, starting in college, can provide more help in getting players from one point in their career to another. He's not afraid to call out players -- star players too -- and let them know what's not acceptable. He'll also guide them just as much. Clark will be as much a coach on the field as anyone.

The Redskins don't have a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, so a lot of their selections this weekend won't provide immediate help. But if the Redskins develop their own, they will build a foundation that they've too often lacked.

Redskins sign Mike McGlynn

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
The Washington Redskins added more depth to their offensive line and, perhaps, sent a message to some of their younger offensive linemen. For the second time this offseason they signed an interior lineman, despite having a number of younger players at guard.

Washington signed offensive lineman Mike McGlynn on Friday, adding a player who has starting experience and can play all three positions.

McGlynn is viewed as someone who can provide depth, more so than as a potential starter. He has started 48 games, including four with the Bengals in 2011 when Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator. By all accounts he struggled at guard this past season with Indianapolis, but fared better when shifted to center. At 325 pounds he’d provide more size inside; one scout said he is not an athletic player -- the Redskins will still use the outside zone runs.

But the Redskins like that he could play anywhere along the line. Also, this should be a clear message to the young guys -- Josh LeRibeus, Maurice Hurt and Adam Gettis -- that they will have zero handed to them in 2014. LeRibeus in particular should have ascended to a starter’s role by now, his third season in the NFL. But based on these moves, Gruden clearly isn’t wowed by what he’s seen of the young guards and, perhaps, LeRibeus in particular. This move should serve as a kick in the pants.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Some highlights from Jay Gruden’s hour-long press gathering at the owners meetings:

1. He’s OK if linebacker Brian Orakpo plays out the season on the franchise tag. Sounds like he and the organization wants to see if his production increases, thanks to the promise of being turned loose more and also having an outside linebackers coach.

2. They will move Shawn Lauvao to left guard and keep Chris Chester at right guard. Gruden did not address Josh LeRibeus, but it’s clear from this move that there’s not a whole lot of confidence in him.

3. He certainly understands the importance of maximizing Robert Griffin III. He’s glad that Griffin needs to be reined in when it comes to his desire to push himself.

4. Gruden said if Griffin isn’t comfortable with the read option, they won’t run it as much. He also said he won’t try to stop him from running out of the pocket. Clearly, though, there’s a balance that needs to be struck. But Gruden wants Griffin to feel comfortable on the field. That’s a big issue.

5. He loves Jordan Reed.

6. Yes, they looked for some bigger linemen, but they want big guys who can move. As has been stated many times, they plan to use the same run-game schemes.

7. He’d like Alfred Morris to be a guy who could catch 20 to 25 passes a season. But he said Morris isn’t a natural pass-catcher; has work to do.

8. Gruden is a breath of fresh air. Though there are some things he can’t say, he was as honest as possible without crossing a line.

9. He’s not concerned about Griffin’s knee; wasn’t too deep on him playing without the brace and what it might mean. Why? Because he said the braces are so light these days.

10. He liked watching Chris Thompson at Florida State and seems anxious to work with him. But his durability is a major issue.

11. He said no teams have called about quarterback Kirk Cousins, but added that he wants “two great quarterbacks” because of Griffin’s style of play.

12. Gruden acknowledged he likes to have a lot of plays; apparently he was able to streamline that desire better during his time in Cincinnati. Does not want to overload Griffin, but says the third-year QB can handle a lot.

13. He mentioned the young safeties, but, again, I don’t get a sense that either Bacarri Rambo or Phillip Thomas will be the answer this season. Rambo’s play did not suggest he should be; Thomas’ foot and recovery from the Lisfranc injury makes him a question mark for now.

14. Gruden mentioned Andre Roberts’ versatility as a receiver. I don’t get the sense that the return position is solved by his arrival, however.

15. They're anxious to see Kory Lichtensteiger at center. As for Tyler Polumbus at right tackle, Gruden was a bit complimentary but I don't get the sense they're done looking for another possibility. Or, as they say, "more depth."

Redskins' owners meetings agenda

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Some things to watch for this week at the owners meetings:

1. Compensatory picks. It’s a complicated formula used by the NFL to determine who receives one, but a lot is based on if a team lost more than it gained via free agency the previous year. Or if they lost a high-priced talent. The Redskins' only loss last season was Lorenzo Alexander and they’re not expected to receive one. Here’s a good look at compensatory picks.

2. Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said this week would also provide opportunities for trade talks, another way for Washington to potentially fill some remaining holes (in addition to the draft). They have little desire to trade backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, though that could change if another team made an offer that, right now, no one would expect.

3. It’s also not as if the Redskins have a lot of desirable players another team would want to acquire in a trade. They do have some excess along the offensive line, believe it or not, with a glut of guard/center types. But three of them are unproven (Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis). So it makes little sense to trade for one, unless you're a coach who has worked with them like Cleveland offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. But the Redskins deemed those players not ready even at the end of last season. What would make them desirable enough to make a trade now? The Redskins like Kory Lichtensteiger at center so he’s not going anywhere, and I have a hard time believing Chris Chester could be traded for a draft pick. And with only six draft picks, the Redskins don’t have a lot of ability to maneuver. That is, unless they want more immediate help defensively (Jason Hatcher’s window is probably two years).

4. The Redskins made a number of proposals that will be discussed this week. Among them: moving kickoffs to the 40-yard line; eliminating overtime in the preseason; increasing the practice squad from eight players to 10; having one cut during training camp, going from 90 to 53; increasing the active roster from 46 to 49 on non-Sunday or Monday games (except for Week 1); and using the “designated to return” from injured reserve on more than one player.

5. Jay Gruden meets with reporters Wednesday morning. It’ll be our first chance to talk to the Redskins' coach since free agency began, as well as a number of other issues.

Key dates for the Redskins

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
Some key dates over the next month for the Washington Redskins (and the rest of the NFL):

March 8-11: It used to be that teams could not legally contact players until free agency began. But that was a sham so now they have a legal window to talk to players. The Redskins talked to numerous players during this period last year, but with no room against the cap they didn't sign anyone. It was akin to colleges recruiting players before offering a scholarship. But deals can't be struck during this time. It gives teams and agents a good idea on what to expect when free agency begins. Not everyone likes this format. Teams are sometimes reluctant to say exactly how much they'll pay a player, fearing they're just doing another team's negotiating. This causes teams to be more vague, which, in turn frustrates agents.

[+] EnlargePerry Riley
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesA weak market for inside linebackers should help Perry Riley's leverage in negotiations.
What to watch: Perry Riley's situation. The Redskins and Riley have continued to talk, but no deal appears imminent. The Washington Post reported they're not close. The scouting combine provides agents and teams a chance to talk (even if they're not supposed to) so Riley's side should have a feel for his market. But it'll crystallize more this weekend. If he indeed wants $5.5 million per year, as rumored, that's too much for Washington. In Riley's favor? It's not a strong inside linebacker market, in free agency or the draft.

March 11: Free agency begins at 4 p.m. Teams must be in compliance with the salary cap by 4 p.m. (this is also when the rule of 51 begins and only the top 51 contracts count toward the cap). This won't be an issue at all with Washington. The Redskins will have approximately $30 million in cap space (linebacker Brian Orakpo has not signed his franchise tender; he has until July 15) and plenty of needs. The shopping list includes two safeties, another cornerback, at least one inside linebacker, a defensive lineman and perhaps receiver and an offensive lineman. Other than that, they're all set.

What to watch: How aggressive will the Redskins be? They were forced to be prudent the past two offseasons. But with more cap space, that will change -- but how aggressive will they be? General manager Bruce Allen has done a good job of setting a price for guys and sticking to that figure. But will that change with the desire to rid themselves of last year's 3-13 stench? They need a safety and the best one out there is Buffalo's Jairus Byrd, whose ability to cover deep middle would open up this defensive scheme. Byrd might be too expensive, but he can't be ruled out of course. Also, New York defensive lineman Linval Joseph could be a target among others. Other names to watch: Carolina's Mike Mitchell and Giants' receiver Hakeem Nicks. They also apparently like Houston free-agent linebacker Joe Mays, as much for his special-teams ability. They talked to him during training camp

March 23-26: NFL owners meeting in Orlando, Fla.

What to watch: Will the NFL expand the current playoff format? It's working rather well the way it is, but Redskins coach Jay Gruden will meet with the media for about an hour during this trip. If there's a big free-agent signing I'm sure he'll talk beforehand, but this is always a good chance to delve into other topics.

April 7: Because the Redskins have a new coach, they can begin their offseason workout program. Teams without a new coach must wait two more weeks.

What to watch: For the first two weeks of the offseason workouts, players can't work with their position coaches. They can only do strength and conditioning or rehab. Quarterbacks can throw the ball to receivers, but not against a defense. In the second phase, which lasts three weeks, coaches are allowed to be on the field to provide instruction and run drills. But there's still no offense vs. defense. And in the final phase, there are no individual drills pitting offense vs. defense, but you can do a full-team drill that way. This is also the first time players can wear helmets in the offseason (no pads of any kind however).

The Redskins also get an extra minicamp this spring because they have a new coach and that's what will be more revealing publicly. Last year, for example, you could see Josh LeRibeus did not have a good offseason just by how he looked physically: out of shape. During Washington's minicamps, we'll get a chance to see how Griffin is throwing the ball -- will he be more consistent? The problems he had throwing the ball were evident last summer, so we'll get some clue as to his improvement. There's a long way to go of course, but it will be the first measurement and it will come after he's had a month or two of good training. Will the brace be on?

Analyzing the Redskins young linemen

December, 5, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- Two mornings a week at 6:30, Washington Redskins offensive line coach Chris Foerster brings in the young linemen to the meeting room. They analyze the previous day's practice. Then, after practice, they'll stay on the field an extra 10 minutes or so to work on what they've seen on tape.

The goal is to give them more instruction and push them closer to being game ready. Foerster says they are ready. That doesn't mean they'll play, however. Just that they like where the second-year linemen -- Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Tom Compton -- are headed.

"I've said to them, ‘You guys are all ready to play,'" Foerster said. "They've progressed as far as they can as practice players. There's nothing like game reps. That's when we'll truly know where they are. But if you're preparing a guy to play who never played an NFL game, you'd look at all three and say they're as ready as they're gonna be; time to put your feet to the fire and see where you are."

[+] EnlargeWashington's Josh LeRibeus and Tom Compton
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsJosh LeRibeus, left, and Tom Compton participate in drills during training camp earlier this year.
They'll all likely remain on the sidelines. There's no indication the Redskins are going to make any changes in their offensive line this week -- or, perhaps, for the rest of the season barring injuries.

So if they're ready, then why not?

"We'll play the best players," Shanahan said. "That's coaches [decision]."

As in Mike Shanahan.

In the meantime, here's an update on where the three young players are at according to Foerster:


His offseason was bad and it set the stage for a preseason that began rough as well. LeRibeus, a third-round pick, showed up for spring workouts approximately 30 pounds overweight. Foerster said he would have competed for a starting job had he taken the offseason more serious.

Here's Foerster: "During camp he had to get himself back to where he was a year ago. That took the better part of camp. While he played well in preseason he still wasn't back to the form where he finished the year before. Unfortunately for him he went home for a few months and didn't take care of business. It took all offseason and then he had injuries when he came back so his progress could have been sped up during the offseason and got him back to where he was sooner. Then the offseason he got injured because he was not in shape. It was a vicious cycle for him.

"If he had to play you'd have the same player he was a year ago. You'd like to be better than that because he did get play time last year. He had more chances to develop because he did play last year. From the start of the season to where he is now, I feel good that is at where he left off a year ago."

As with the other two linemen, LeRibeus has improved at understanding the offense and knowing more than just his responsibility. Foerster remains upbeat about LeRibeus. He's no longer focused on center, just the guard spots. Foe

More from Foerster: "Josh has the quickness. He may not be as good in top-end speed as Chris Chester and Kory [Lichtensteiger], but this is a 325-pound guy that has the same quickness. He's not as fast, but he has the size and the power to go with the quickness. Not many guys at that sizes can be quick enough to play in this zone run game and the things we're trying to do. That's his advantage. If he can keep everything else in place, stay in shape and stop on top of things, then that's his strength."


He works at both guard spots after sticking primarily to right guard in his first two training camps. Foerster wanted him, and the others, to get proficient at one position before asking them to learn another.

Foerster loves how Gettis, a former fifth-rounder, can anchor. He has strong legs, which help him overcome weighing only 292 pounds. Gettis did a much better job this summer at blocking the linebackers in the run game.

Foerster: "He's really worked hard. He came into camp and had a great offseason, got a lot more reps in camp. His pass pro always has been good and he had to improve his run game and he did a great job improving that in the offseason and preseason. It's coming off the ball, his understanding of where he's going to run and his angles. He got to the second level on blocks; those were his issues and he's done a much better job."


After spending his first two summers at left tackle, Compton started working on the right side after the final roster was set. Now he takes an equal amount of reps at both spots. Foerster said it would have been difficult for Compton to play the right side early in the season.

The big issue they worked on in the offseason was strength. Compton, a former sixth-round pick, struggled on counter moves because he lacked the strength to re-direct defenders. Therefore, when they'd cut back inside, he had created no gap and they had an instant edge.

Foerster: "Tom had a long way and strength was number one. You couldn't begin to teach him on technique because his strength was so poor. Once he'd get to the point of contact he couldn't maintain a block. Now he's to the point where his strength is very good. He worked hard and is diligent on his technique, going against [Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan] also helps him out. His thing now is honing his technique and becoming a technically sound person. As a tackle you have no room for error. Every guy has something they can fix and how disciplined are you to fix that? Tom has a lot more holes than others who have played in the league but he continues to work and do those things."

Looking at the Redskins' young players

December, 4, 2013
The Washington Redskins should not start playing young guys just because they’re out of playoff contention. I’m with coach Mike Shanahan on this one: You can do more harm than good by taking that philosophy.

This isn’t baseball where you have September call-ups that you can give at-bats. If you play a guy, say, along the offensive line who isn’t ready, then your quarterback could be in jeopardy. It makes no sense. Not every young guy projects to being part of the roster in the future, either.

Some young guys are just on the roster because of injuries to others. And just because fans or media want to see a guy doesn’t matter; the coaches analyze every practice tape and have a good sense of what players can do or what they know. Others can see athleticism or talent, but it’s often what you know and are capable of learning that makes the difference.

Some young players -- I’m looking at guys who are rookies, first- or second-year players -- already are getting time: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, Chris Baker, Aldrick Robinson (technically his second year because he spent almost all of his rookie year on the practice squad), Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson.

Here’s a look at the young guys who aren’t getting a lot of time right now and whether or not they should:

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
David Richard/USA TODAY SportsKirk Cousins has attempted only nine passes this season.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins: The coaches like him a lot, but he should only play if Griffin gets hurt. That is, unless you don’t think Griffin is the future. I don’t think that’s the case. If they do play Cousins, then you'll get to enjoy an entire offseason of you know what. What about drumming up trade value? Personally, I'd hang onto him another year; keep him as long as possible for insurance purposes. If you like him, why rush a trade? I have a hard time seeing anyone trade a high pick for Cousins based on his first two years, but as they say, it only takes one.

Wide receiver Lance Lewis: He shouldn’t play more than he is; he’s still relatively raw and needs more time to develop in practice and in the offseason.

Wide receiver Josh Bellamy: Recently signed off the practice squad. Not ready.

Wide receiver Nick Williams: I could see him being a factor in the future, depending on who’s coaching. With Santana Moss likely in his final four games in Washington, I’d continue to work Williams into the lineup as the Redskins have been doing.

Left guard Josh LeRibeus: He’s a young lineman and former third-round draft pick. That should add up to playing time in a lost season. But after a disastrous offseason and poor showing in the preseason, there’s nothing to suggest he should be playing. Which is not a good sign. He needs a strong offseason.

Right guard Adam Gettis: I’d love to see him get some snaps. At 292 pounds, the undersized Gettis has excellent lower body strength, which somehow allows him to anchor despite getting moved back in protection. He was an improved run-blocker this summer. Chris Chester has not played as well as last season. Still, I'd be careful here. If there’s a coaching change, I’m not sure either player would return: Chester because he’ll turn 31 in January and Gettis because he’s smaller and would not fit every system.

Offensive tackle Tom Compton: Another guy I’d like to see get some snaps. Tyler Polumbus has been better than last year but has had issues recently and certainly shouldn’t have a stronghold on the position. Compton looked better this summer than as a rookie and, ideally, in Year 3 he’d be ready to become a contributor. Regardless, the Redskins need to upgrade the line.

Linebacker Brandon Jenkins: For now he’s just a pass-rusher and there are others clearly better than him. He has work to do in the offseason.

Safety Jose Gumbs: Future special-teamer. I don’t see any reason he should be playing right now.

Corner Chase Minnifield: He shouldn’t be playing ahead of the other corners and really needs to be better on special teams. Even if they clean house at this position, I wouldn’t see him as anything more than a guy fighting for a roster spot in 2014. I love his attitude and physical style, but he needs to show he can play a variety of coverages. He’s a smaller press corner. Another offseason of work with no knee issues should help him.

Safety Trenton Robinson: Special-teamer. He’s gotten some snaps, but there’s nothing to suggest he should be muscling his way into more time.

Shanahan: Young players must earn time

December, 2, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins season turned bad long ago. Mike Shanahan doesn't want to make it worse -- which is what he says playing young players just for the sake of it would do.

That means the coaches will continue to play the best players and not just those who are the youngest, in the hope that they develop.

At 3-9, the Redskins have been eliminated from playoff contention. In truth, they were never really in it given their poor and inconsistent play all season. The other reality is that many young players already have played, with the notable exception of the backup offensive linemen: guard Josh LeRibeus, guard Adam Gettis and tackle Tom Compton.

But a losing record and only four games remaining does not equal opportunity for every young player.

“If two guys were very, very close you may go in that direction,” Shanahan said. “It all depends on the competition. Players know when you're playing for the future. Players know that your job is to play the best players that give you the best chance to win. If you want to see a team turn on you, just go start playing younger players and start playing for the future.”

The Redskins have used a number of first- or second-year players already this season. They've used young players in the secondary, at quarterback and running back. Gettis, LeRibeus and Compton have spent the year as backups, though Compton has entered in short yardage or goal-line situations.

Shanahan would not say whether or not any of those three would get more time, even as parts of the line struggle.

“There are a number of guys that are very close,” Shanahan said. “Are they there yet? If you're going to put a guy in that's close, you're not playing your best player, then what you've told your team is you are evaluating these young guys and you really don't care about the game. What you do care about is the future. If you want to lose a team, that's the first thing to do. Now, if that person warrants a chance to play because it's very, very close in competition that's a different story."

The Redskins coaches see the young players in practice and, if they're on the scout team, they'll get to watch them work against starters. It gives them a good sense of a players' ability.

"Just because a guy is on the practice squad or because you're out of the playoff race doesn't mean somebody is going to be elevated just to see what he can do in a game," Shanahan said. "The best players are going to play and they've got to earn the right."

Jordan Reed, Darrel Young inactive

December, 1, 2013
The Washington Redskins expected tight end Jordan Reed to play Sunday night against the New York Giants, but a pregame headache will sideline the rookie for a second consecutive game. Earlier in the day, a team official told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Reed would play. But after warming up the Redskins decided he would be inactive.

Fullback Darrel Young also will be inactive for a second consecutive game because of a hamstring injury. Young expressed optimism throughout the week that he would play. Compounding matters at this position is that tight end Niles Paul will be inactive after missing three practices this week with an undisclosed illness.

Paul served as Young's replacement last week, but now when the Redskins need a fullback they'll have to use one of the two tight ends active Sunday night: Logan Paulsen or Fred Davis. They'll also miss Paul and Young on special teams. However, it will be a good chance for Davis to show what he can still do. The problem is, quarterback Robert Griffin III had developed a strong level of trust in Reed, especially on third down.

The other Redskins inactives: quarterback Rex Grossman, cornerback Chase Minnifield, linebacker Brandon Jenkins and guard Josh LeRibeus.

The Giants' inactives: quarterback Ryan Nassib, cornerback Corey Webster, running back Brandon Jacobs, cornerback Trumaine McBride, tight end Adrien Robinson, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and offensive lineman Stephen Goodin. Also, James Brewer will start at left guard for Kevin Boothe, who shifts to center to replace injured Jim Cordle. With McBride and Webster out, Jayron Hosley will start at corner.

Josh Morgan inactive for Redskins

November, 17, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Redskins hoped wide receiver Josh Morgan could develop into a solid No. 2 receiver. Then they hoped he could fill in as a kick and punt returner. But Morgan hasn't accomplished any of that and, Sunday, he was made inactive.
The Redskins placed Morgan on their seven-man inactive list for their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Morgan, in the final year of his contract, had not made an impact at receiver or as a returner. The latter isn't surprising because Morgan had not returned punts in the NFL -- and only returned seven while at Virginia Tech. Morgan was surpassed as the starting Z receiver by third-year Leonard Hankerson, who is not a big playmaker but has been more productive than Morgan.

This also means undrafted rookie free agent Nick Williams will return punts in his NFL debut. He was signed off the practice squad during the week. Williams returned four punts for a touchdown in college.

Also inactive for Washington: quarterback Rex Grossman, guard Josh LeRibeus, safety Jose Gumbs, linebacker Brandon Jenkins, tight end Fred Davis and nose tackle Chris Neild. Jenkins was active in the first game against Philadelphia as the Redskins wanted more speed in their rush

For the Eagles, the inactives are quarterback Michael Vick, safety Earl Wolff, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, linebacker Jake Knott, receiver Damaris Johnson and tackle Dennis Kelly. Banged-up left tackle Jason Peters will start.

Bacarri Rambo, Jose Gumbs to start

October, 27, 2013
DENVER -- The Washington Redskins opted for inexperience at safety -- not that they had much of a choice.

Jose Gumbs will start at strong safety and Bacarri Rambo will start at free safety, a youthful and inexperienced combination against one of the NFL's all-time best quarterbacks in Peyton Manning. Reed Doughty (concussion) and Brandon Meriweather (suspension) are out.

The Redskins could have opted for E.J. Biggers to start at free safety, in essence giving the Redskins four cornerbacks on the field. But that's not the best alternative either, though in passing situations his speed would help.

Rambo, a rookie sixth-round pick, started the first two games of the season, but was benched in part because of his tackling, then was inactive the past three games because of his inability to stand out on special teams. One thing he did well during training camp and when he started is not get beat deep. That will be an important factor Sunday.

Gumbs, a first-year player, has played nine career snaps, but has shown the ability to hit. However, this game will also be as much about discipline and making sure to play the right coverages.

The Redskins will start Jarvis Jenkins at left end, moving Kedric Golston into a reserve role. Jenkins played the past two weeks as a backup following his four-game drug suspension. His ability to collapse the pocket will be pivotal.

Meanwhile, tight end Fred Davis is a healthy inactive for a second consecutive game. The Redskins keep Niles Paul active for his special teams play. Their other inactives: quarterback Rex Grossman, guard Josh LeRibeus, running back Chris Thompson, linebacker Brandon Jenkins and nose tackle Chris Neild.

Redskins roster battle: Offensive line

August, 28, 2013
Taking a look at the key ongoing battles for Washington Redskins roster spots. Today we check in on the offensive line:

Projected number: This is a little like the NCAA basketball tournament projections, except that you can't see me moving names around on my whiteboard. Considering I don't own a whiteboard, you're not missing much. As of now, I'm projecting eight players make the cut here.

Locks: LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus. No surprises considering this was the starting line last year and has been the starting line throughout training camp. There was no real challenge to Polumbus, despite two veterans being signed in the offseason. Besides, Polumbus would be a lock as a swing tackle if nothing else.

[+] EnlargeTom Compton, Josh LeRibeus
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsTackle Tom Compton, right, looks much improved over 2012, while guard Josh LeRibeus, left, has rebounded after a bad start to camp.
Looking good: T Tom Compton, G Josh LeRibeus, G Adam Gettis. Both Compton and Gettis have progressed a great deal compared to this time last season; I really like Compton's development. He’s much stronger and is more able to control blocks in both the run and pass game. He had his best game versus Pittsburgh, blocking rookie first-round pick Jarvis Jones. The more Compton develops, the more I could see him challenging Polumbus someday. Gettis has improved in the run game, an area in which he struggled last year. He blocks with an attitude and is stronger than expected given that he’s a smaller guard. He has a knack for anchoring in pass protection despite getting stood up. I would love to have seen him against starters, but he did his job against the backups. LeRibeus improved in the past two games after a really bad opener, which followed a bad offseason in which the coaches were unhappy with his conditioning. But he was a third-round pick last season, and they liked how he played in relief of Lichtensteiger during the playoff loss to Seattle.

On the bubble: T Tony Pashos, C Kevin Matthews, G/T Maurice Hurt. Really, the only guy who might be kept from this category is Pashos. Hurt likely will open on the physically unable to perform list, so he’ll stick around. If I had to pick right now, I’d probably keep Pashos off the list. I like parts of his game: He’s aggressive with his hands, much more than the other tackles. He’s strong. But I did not see him moving as well as the other tackles, a byproduct perhaps of his ankle issues from 2011. If the Redskins feel Compton has progressed that much, then they have a backup right tackle (it’s not as hard of an adjustment going from left to right). This would leave them without a veteran backup, which could be an issue. They kept Sean Locklear two years ago and Jordan Black last year. It’s a leap of faith with the youngsters, and that could be Pashos' best hope. He has improved after missing all of last season, but I'm not sure it will be enough. They could keep a one-position player if there was no alternative, but with Compton's ascension, I think they have one. Really, the decision to keep Pashos could come down to whether or not they keep six receivers and/or five running backs. These coaches like skill players.