NFL Nation: Tony Pashos

Raiders add OL Jack Cornell

November, 9, 2013
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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Oakland Raiders signed offensive lineman Jack Cornell to the active roster off the practice squad Saturday in time for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Defensive lineman Brian Sanford was waived in the corresponding roster move.

The Raiders already announced six players were out for the Giants game, including right tackles Matt McCants (toe) and Tony Pashos (hip), and center/left guard Andre Gurode (quad) is questionable, so Cornell potentially adds depth on the offensive line.

Cornell played in the Raiders’ 27-17 victory over the San Diego on Oct. 6.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Tony Sparano once took over a 1-15 team in Miami and had the Dolphins in the playoffs as an 11-5 division champion the next year.

So yeah, the Raiders assistant head coach, who is also Oakland’s offensive line coach, knows all about challenges. But his current situation with the Raiders’ banged-up O-line is a different animal. A wounded one, so to speak.

“This has been the most moving pieces ... that I’ve been around,” Sparano said Wednesday.

“With the amount of injuries and, at times, the way that they’ve happened, it’s been a challenge, but it’s not an excuse. There’s no excuse. From our end, we talk about two things -- we make progress, not excuses, and that’s what we’re doing.”

[+] EnlargeTony Sparano
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsRaiders assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano has had to cope with a rash of injuries to his O-line.
Could you blame Sparano, though, if he at least quietly asked the football gods for a do-over?

It began in training camp when left tackle Jared Veldheer underwent surgery on his left triceps. Then guard Tony Bergstrom, the first pick of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen regime, was lost for the season with a lisfranc injury to his right foot.

“It just trickles down,” Sparano said. “The most that I’ve seen in a long time.”

Guard Lucas Nix dealt with an ankle sprain and Stefen Wisniewski missed two games with a sprained right knee, though he practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring it on Sept. 29 against Washington. Right tackle Tony Pashos, who was signed just before the season opener, has dealt with groin and hip issues and did not practice Wednesday, nor did backup center/left guard Andre Gurode, who is nursing a quad injury.

Rookie second-round draft pick Menelik Watson has been sidelined with calf problems, then knee problems, and then calf problems again. Coach Dennis Allen surmised the Raiders have had Watson for maybe 10 practices total.

“We have not played with the same unit for two weeks in a row since the third quarter of the Jacksonville game,” Sparano said. And that was in Week 2.

It’s all made for a couple of baptisms by fire for rookie guard Lamar Mady and first-year tackle Matt McCants.

“It doesn’t really matter who’s up front because I believe in all of them,” Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. “Some guys may be a little more talented, yes, but I believe in all those guys, and I think they’re going to show this Sunday.”

If nothing else, the extended playing time for Mady and McCants will only help them down the road, even if the 10 sacks the Raiders surrendered in Kansas City was reduced to nine following a league review.

The versatility of his linemen, Sparano said, has been a saving grace. Gurode has the ability to play left guard and center. Brisiel was able to move from right guard to center. Khalif Barnes moved from right tackle to left tackle, and Mady took practice snaps at center.

Doing it all on a game-changing (for the positive) level? Now that’s a different story.

Still, Sparano said he told the linemen in camp that whoever made that initial 53-man roster would see playing time in games. That’s just the nature of the beast.

This beast, though, has been untamed, what with the rash of injuries.

“There’s body blows that go on in our league every single day,” Sparano said. “We just happen to be catching a few body blows right now at the wrong time, and you’ve got to be able to overcome them.

“People that can overcome them the best and the fastest will end up being in the mix at the end of this.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders’ offensive line received a boost Wednesday as center Stefen Wisniewski returned to practice for the first time since he sprained his right knee against Washington on Sept. 29.

Wisniewski
Wisniewski practiced in a limited fashion, but coach Dennis Allen was optimistic Wisniewski could play Sunday against Pittsburgh and give the beleaguered O-line a lift, both physically and mentally.

“I think that’s huge,” Allen said. “I think what he means to our offensive line, the type of player he is, his intelligence level, helps us with a lot of the communication, not only in protective schemes, but also in the run game.

“Communication is going to be critical against this defense and making sure we can identify where the rushers are coming from. Wiz has done a great job of that for us all year long, so it’s good to have him back out there.”

Wisniewski said he was initially told his injury would be a three-to-four-week deal, so three weeks later, he’s right on schedule. Even if sitting by and watching the line crumble was tough.

“It hurts,” he said. “That San Diego game was a big-time game, nighttime game, those are really fun ones. And that Chief game, I was sitting on my couch, watching on TV, that hurts. So I’m really excited I’ve got a good chance to be back.”

Meanwhile, right tackle Tony Pashos (hip) worked with a trainer on a side field, though center/left guard Andre Gurode (quadriceps) and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were nowhere to be seen.

Here is the Raiders’ full injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring), RT Tony Pashos (hip), LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Limited practice: CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), C Stefen Wisniewski (right knee).
A weekly examination of the Raiders' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 26 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

There is no truth to the rumor that the Raiders’ bye week was favored over the Raiders ... even if Oakland fell two spots in our weekly Power Rankings without playing a game. Such is life for a team that could just as easily be 4-2 or even 5-1 rather than 2-4 and preparing to play host to a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has seemingly righted itself with two straight victories.

This much is true, though: Oakland has not won its first game coming out of a bye since 2002, when the Raiders pummeled Tennessee 52-25 en route to the Super Bowl. Since then? The Raiders have gone 0-10 and lost by an average score of 27-14 in post-bye regular-season games.

Talk about your hangovers. Who comes close to such futility? Per Elias Sports Bureau, the Seahawks are 3-7, while the Bengals, 49ers and Rams are all 3-6-1 in that same time frame coming off a bye.

The Raiders are also hinging many hopes on the health of their offensive line, especially centers Stefen Wisniewski and Andre Gurode and right tackle Tony Pashos. Looking for a positive? Pittsburgh has not won in Oakland since 1995 -- the Steelers lost in the East Bay in 2006 and 2012.

Whither the Raiders' O-line?

October, 21, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- No unit on the Oakland Raiders' roster needed the rest and relaxation afforded by the bye week more than the offensive line.

Consider that center Stefen Wisniewski (knee), center/left guard Andre Gurode (knee), right tackle Tony Pashos (groin/hip) and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were all either out before or knocked out during Oakland's loss at the Kansas City Chiefs last week. And that's not taking into account left tackle Jared Veldheer, who continues to rehab from his left triceps surgery in training camp.

“It was really good,” said left tackle Khalif Barnes, who had to make the switch from the right side at the dawn of the season with the injuries to Veldheer and Watson.

“We needed to get some bodies rested and some guys healed up ... it was a good week for us to sit back and try to get our bodies back, and things of that nature.

“I just know guys are in there busting their tails trying to get healthy and trying to get back. I'm not really sure. I just go by whenever they get back out there.”

In Monday's practice, Wisniewski was working with a trainer on a side field while Gurode, Pashos and Watson were nowhere to be found (Gurode, though, was later walking through the locker room without a noticeable limp).

As such, the first-string makeshift offensive line Monday morning was the unit that finished the 24-7 loss to the Chiefs: LT Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Mike Brisiel, RG Lamar Mady, RT Matt McCants.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he would not speak about injuries until later in the week.

“I'm hopeful we'll get some guys back (on the offensive line),” he said, “but we'll know more on Wednesday.”

Allen also insisted he was fine starting that same line against Pittsburgh.

“You look at the best football teams in the National Football League and they've got depth,” he said. “They've got guys that can go in, when called upon, and they can go in and play well. So the fact that we've had a lot of guys get some experience and get some playing time will help us down the road.”

The Raiders are hoping that guys like Mady and McCants and, perhaps, re-signed practice squad offensive lineman Jason Foster, add such depth.

Coming into camp, the projected offensive line was supposed to look something like this: LT Veldheer, LG Tony Bergstrom (IR and rehabbing LisFranc surgery on foot), C Wisniewski, RG Brisiel, RT Barnes.

Instead…

“We've kind of been doing it all year long with guys rotating and playing different spots but it's real tough when you do it at the center position,” Barnes said. “Especially when you have both centers go down. It's tough because you don't really work with that center on different types of timings, silent counts. But Mike [Brisiel] went in there and did a great job for [being] thrown into the fire.

“We've been trained … that one guy goes down, the next guy steps up. That stuff happens in the league every week to every team so it ain't just us. When it happens, you have to be able to step up and get it done.”
KANSAS CITY -- The Oakland Raiders' battered offensive line has taken another blow as right tackle Tony Pashos, who missed last week’s game with a groin injury, left the game against Kansas City at halftime with the same issue.

His return was doubtful and he was replaced by Matt McCants, Oakland’s last active offensive lineman.

Earlier, right guard Mike Brisiel moved over to center to replace Andre Gurode, who suffered a left knee injury. Gurode, who is now in street clothes on the sideline, will not return to the game.

Gurode was starting at center for the second week in a row for the injured Stefen Wisniewski, who has a sprained right knee.

Lamar Mady was at right guard.
With their offensive line wracked by injuries and ensuing questions, the Raiders on Saturday signed offensive lineman Jack Cornell to the active roster off the practice squad and waived guard Antoine McClain in the corresponding roster move.

Center Stefen Wisniewski (right knee) is doubtful to play for Oakland Sunday night against San Diego while right tackle Tony Pashos (groin) is questionable, as is rookie tackle Menelik Watson, who just finished his first week of practice after undergoing knee surgery prior to the season opener. Watson was seeing reps at right tackle in practice Friday after moving to left tackle in the wake of Jared Veldheer’s triceps surgery late in training camp.

The 6-feet-6, 320-pound Cornell, who spent the 2012 season on Baltimore’s practice squad as an undrafted rookie free agent, is more of a tackle than a guard.

If Wisniewski cannot play against the Chargers, Andre Gurode will start at center and either Lamar Mady or former starter Lucas Nix, who is questionable with an ankle injury, will go at left guard for Oakland.

Raiders' O-line a pleasant surprise

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
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ALAMEDA, Calif. – Khalif Barnes let out with a spirited, if somewhat off-key, rendition of “Reunited” in the Raiders' locker room Wednesday. And yes, he felt so good.

Why not? With so much shuffling and duct-tape work on Oakland’s offensive line last week, what was supposed to be a glaring weakness for the Raiders in their season opener at Indianapolis actually turned out to be a strength.

[+] EnlargeRaiders offensive line protects Terrelle Pryor
AP Photo/AJ MastThe Raiders had to do some shuffling on the offensive line, but the group did well to protect quarterback Terrelle Pryor from the Colts.
This after Barnes made the move from right tackle to left tackle and Tony Pashos, signed the Monday before, started at right tackle. The moves were necessitated with injuries to starting left tackle Jared Veldheer and his replacement, rookie Menelik Watson.

Go ahead, call Barnes and Pashos the Raiders’ Peaches and Herb. Just don’t try to assign specific labels. Because really, it’s a team effort being the last line of defense on either side. And no, Barnes was not shocked at how relatively well the O-line protected Terrelle Pryor.

“No, not surprised,” he said. “It’s the next-man mentality. Plus, me and Tony, we’ve done that before. We did that in Jacksonville ... against the same guys, but with [Dwight] Freeney. They had two scoops of trouble before – [Robert] Mathis and Freeney. They’re just dogs at pass-rushing.

“When you’ve been in that situation before, you kind of know how to handle adversity.”

Sure, Pryor’s ability to extend plays with his scrambling and a game plan that called mostly for quick-strike passing helped the O-line. But keep in mind, the last time Barnes and Pashos worked together was in 2008 -- for the Jaguars, who just so happen to be this weekend’s opponent.

Cue Peaches … or Herb. Whoever. Because according to Pro Football Focus, Pashos did not allow a single pressure on Pryor, who became just the seventh quarterback since the 1970 merger to pass for at least 200 yards and rush for 100 in the same game.

“We could have done some things better, too,” Pashos said. “Everybody came away from that game thinking so.

“The coaches, [offensive-line coach] Tony Sparano, they put in overtime to get us ready. It’s really a testament to them. People were talking it was all the way up to right before the game … It’s all hands on deck in those situations.”

Especially when Pryor is scrambling around, tiring out not only the defense but, presumably, his own linemen.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t matter who’s back there, you can’t have your clock in your head when you’re blocking a guy. You’ve got to block a guy until you hear a whistle.

“Now, do you have to be a little more conscious of where a guy might go? Maybe. But it all goes back to finishing blocks and not having a time clock in your head.”

Barnes’ partner agreed.

“I think in general, an O-lineman doesn’t have an egg timer on his plays,” Pashos said. “You just listen for whistles or crowd noise, really. You’ve got to stay on your guy. If those guys are making plays, you’ve got to do your job.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Raiders signed offensive tackle Matt McCants off their practice squad Saturday and placed left tackle Jared Veldheer on the reserve/injured-designated to return list in the corresponding roster move.

With Veldheer undergoing surgery on his left triceps in training camp and rookie Menelik Watson injuring a knee in practice Wednesday, the Raiders had only two healthy tackles entering this weekend’s season opener against the Colts in Khalif Barnes and Tony Pashos.

Barnes will move from right tackle to start on the left side and Pashos, who was signed Monday, will start at right tackle.

The 6-foot-5, 309-pound McCants was a sixth-round draft choice of the New York Giants in 2012 out of Alabama-Birmingham, where he was primarily a left tackle and spent most of last season on the Giants’ practice squad. He was waived by the Giants on Aug. 31 and signed to the Raiders’ practice squad on Monday.

Raiders add more O-line depth

September, 2, 2013
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The Oakland Raiders continue to try to improve a weak offensive line.

The team announced it has signed veteran tackle Tony Pashos. The team cut Alex Barron to make room for Pashos. Barron struggled in the preseason.

Pashos, an 11-year veteran, was cut by Washington on Saturday. He didn't play last year. Pashos is being brought in for depth purposes.

The right tackle is currently the only backup tackle on the roster. Pashos does bring experience, starting 67 games in his career. Oakland also added Antoine McClain off waivers from Baltimore on Sunday as it tries to improve a thin unit.

Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Sio Moore is back at practice and should play at Indianapolis on Sunday. However, tight end David Ausberry is still out with a shoulder injury. His status for the opener is murky.

Washington Redskins cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: Keeping four quarterbacks with back-from-the-dead Pat White making the roster. Anyone who saw White throw early in spring workouts would not have predicted this scenario. But White, who has been out of the NFL the past three seasons, improved throughout the summer and the coaches genuinely liked what they saw. One coach predicted earlier in the week that he would be on someone’s roster. White showed he can still run and mastered the slant routes and digs. He still needs to work on finesse throws and prove he can make throws into tight windows over the middle, but his improvement was noticeable.

However, keeping four is still a lot. But with Kirk Cousins nursing a sprained right foot and with Robert Griffin III not having played in the preseason, the Redskins might just keep White around for the first couple of games. They have roster exemptions for end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson, both suspended for the first four games, so they could make this sort of move. If Griffin and Cousins both stay healthy, it’s hard to see this being a long-term situation. Still, White made big strides after a rough start.

The Redskins also opted to keep running back Evan Royster, who perhaps saved his job with a strong preseason finale at Tampa Bay. He's one of five running backs along with speedy rookie Chris Thompson.

Gone, but not yet forgotten: The Redskins would like to re-sign a number of their released players to the practice squad, including Chase Minnifield, Nick Williams, Tevita Stevens, Will Compton and tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, among others. Minnifield’s release was a surprise, given how the coaches talked about him during camp and his physical style in press coverage -- and with the loss of corner Richard Crawford. But the coaches liked corner Jerome Murphy’s physical style as well – and his special teams ability. Williams is an intriguing prospect as a slot receiver and punt returner. Ogbeuhi is a raw prospect who needs to spend a year or two on the practice squad.

Safety DeJon Gomes, a fifth-round pick in 2011 and opening day starter in 2012, did not progress in coverage. Though he was better in the box, the Redskins have Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty ahead of him at strong safety. And they opted for Jose Gumbs, signed right before camp, as a swing safety.

The Redskins also placed offensive lineman Maurice Hurt on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The tough cut? Receiver Dez Briscoe. According to a league source, Briscoe would have made the roster had he not injured his shoulder in the preseason finale.

What's next: The Redskins next big moves will occur after Week 4 when Jenkins and Jackson return from their four-game suspensions. At that point end Phillip Merling could be in trouble, along with, possibly White, simply because it would be unusual to keep four quarterbacks all season.

The Redskins lack experienced depth along the offensive line and could always use more help at safety. So if anyone intriguing clears waivers, the Redskins would be interested. They also retain the rights to suspended safety Tanard Jackson, who is now eligible for reinstatement. However, it could take a while for the NFL to grant his return -- if they give it to him at all.

Redskins cuts: RB: Keiland Williams, Jawan Jamison, RB Tristan Davis (from exempt/left squad list). WR: Skye Dawson, Nick Williams, Lance Lewis, Dez Briscoe (designated as injured). OL: Tevita Stevens, Tony Pashos, Kevin Matthews, Xavier Nixon. TE: Emmanuel Ogbuehi. DL: Chigo Anunoby, Dominique Hamilton, Ron Brace. DB: DeJon Gomes, Chase Minnifield LB: Vic So’oto, Will Compton, Marvin Burdette.

Redskins vs. Bills: What to watch

August, 23, 2013
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Here's what I'll be watching when the Redskins host the Bills at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday in the third preseason game for both teams:

  1. The pace of Buffalo’s offense. I wrote about this Friday morning, but Buffalo likes to use a fast-paced attack, something the Redskins’ season-opening opponent, Philadelphia, does as well. How will the Redskins handle this? What will the Redskins do if caught in a personnel grouping that isn’t the best for what Buffalo’s offense has on the field? Because the starters will play only 15-20 snaps, it will provide only a small test -- the pace can take its toll over the course of a game -- but it will be a help nonetheless.
  2. Safety Bacarri Rambo’s progression. I’d play him more than the other starters, or at least in the final preseason game, just to give him more chances to tackle in the open field. He clearly needs the work. He might end up starting, but he still has yet to truly win the position. At this point he’s in there by default. He has a lot of skills to offer, but if this area doesn’t improve it’ll cause big problems.
  3. Corner Josh Wilson. He’ll make his preseason debut after sitting out the first two games while his surgically repaired shoulder continued to heal. Wilson remains the starter, ahead of rookie David Amerson. But Wilson is not coming off his best season and was asked to take a pay cut in the offseason -- so it’s not as if he’s firmly entrenched at this position. He’s much more knowledgeable about the defense than Amerson and, with a rookie safety, that matters. The Redskins can’t afford a lot of defensive backs learning on the go, though Amerson has looked good at times. But Wilson still needs to play well.
  4. [+] EnlargeBacarri Rambo
    AP Photo/Wade PayneRookie safety Bacarri Rambo (29) needs more work on his open-field tackling to avoid headaches later.
    Backup running backs. There’s no doubt who the top two players are at this position (Alfred Morris and Roy Helu -- but you really didn't need me to tell you that, did you?). Is Evan Royster in any danger? The problem is, the rookies have yet to show that they deserve a roster spot. Chris Thompson has flash, but he’s barely done anything in practice, let alone a game, in part because of injuries. Coaches are big on players being available; can they rely on Thompson in this area? His speed is intriguing (and speed is why Mike Shanahan, among others, initially fell in love with Brandon Banks in 2010). So it matters. But based on performance Thompson still needs to prove he belongs. I like Jawan Jamison’s running style, but the same applies to him. Royster is an average runner, so he’s no lock. Keiland Williams is a good special-teams player, but not much help from scrimmage.
  5. Veteran backups. Specifically linebacker Nick Barnett and receiver Donte' Stallworth. Barnett, the ex-Bill, isn’t worried about any sort of revenge; rather, he needs to show that he can still play at a certain level. This will be his first chance to do so. The Redskins have a pressing need for inside linebacker depth, and having a former starter who is familiar with this defense would help. As for Stallworth, he’ll make it only if the Redskins keep six wideouts. He’s played special teams sparingly in his career, but will have to show he can help there to stick around. And stay healthy. Lingering injuries never help aging vets.
  6. Right tackle. If Bills defensive end Mario Williams plays -- he went two series in the opener and did not see time last week -- then Redskins right tackle Tyler Polumbus will have a good game to measure any progress. Polumbus did not have a strong game last week. Nobody else has taken first-team reps at right tackle. But along with watching Polumbus, I want to keep an eye on veteran Tony Pashos. He’s Washington's most aggressive right tackle when it comes to using his hands, but what does he have left? The Redskins likely would need to keep nine linemen for him to make the roster. And Tom Compton is still working on the left side, but he’s coming off a strong game.
  7. Nose tackle Chris Neild. With Barry Cofield sidelined by a fractured bone in his right hand, Neild will get a chance to work against the Bills’ starting line. He’s not in danger of being cut, but this is a good opportunity to face quality blockers.
  8. Rookie tight end Jordan Reed. He struggled as a blocker last week, mostly, it appeared, because of inconsistent technique. He was not overpowered, which is a good sign for him. But he does need to help in this area. Reed also dropped a ball last week; I’d like to see him get a chance to display his athleticism.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What are the three key camp issues facing each NFC East team?

DALLAS COWBOYS

Offense: Running game
Dallas averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per rush in 2012. In turn, the Cowboys too often got away from their run game and became too reliant on Tony Romo and this very good passing attack. The offensive line was mostly to blame for the ground struggles, but at least Dallas did use a first-round pick on Travis Frederick to improve the interior of the line. But DeMarco Murray is increasingly difficult to count on, having missed nine of 32 games in his two NFL seasons. Murray’s yards per attempt also dropped from 5.5 to 4.1 in his second season.

Defense: Scheme change
New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is a smart man and surely will not rely on his usual Tampa 2 scheme as some might speculate. Still, after investing so heavily in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne as man-to-man corners, Dallas now -- just one year later -- will ask these two to operate much more out of their comfort zone. It will be interesting to see what percentage of man coverage Dallas plays this season.

Wild card: The linebackers
If Dallas does move to a predominant Tampa 2 scheme, two players who should benefit a great deal are Sean Lee in the middle and Bruce Carter at the Will linebacker spot. Both have outstanding range and playmaking skills. Lee could flourish much like Brian Urlacher did in his prime as an outstanding coverage linebacker, while Carter could have a Derrick Brooks-type impact as a run-and-hit defender.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Offense: Plenty to like
Few seem to be talking about it, but I expect the Giants’ offense to produce an awful lot of points this season. With the addition of Justin Pugh, the offensive line should be upgraded. My only slight concern is at tight end, where Martellus Bennett's blocking will be missed. New starter Brandon Myers really isn't even comparable in that department. I am expecting a breakout season from running back David Wilson, with Andre Brown acting as a superb complement. Wide receiver Rueben Randle also should take monumental steps forward in his second season, and I have little doubt that Eli Manning is still an exceptional quarterback. What’s not to like?

Defense: Back seven
While I am extremely high on the Giants’ offense and think the defensive line will be improved, the back seven of this defense is worrisome. This just might be the worst group of linebackers in the NFL, and I expect Kenny Phillips to be missed at safety. Certainly the Giants have been successful defensively by dedicating resources to the defensive line, but this is a bit ridiculous.

Wild card: Defensive line
Can this deep and talented front make up for all the concerns behind it? I have my doubts, but that isn’t a knock on this front four. Potentially, the Giants should go four deep at end and six deep at tackle with high-end talent. That is pretty amazing and should allow this group to constantly have fresh, hungry players on the field. Also, Jason Pierre-Paul should be healthier than he was a year ago, which is frightening.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Offense: Jason Peters
Before his Achilles injury, I thought Peters was the best offensive lineman in the NFL. He missed the entire 2012 season, a year in which the Eagles’ offensive line was simply horrible. Other injuries certainly factored into that ineptitude, but getting Peters back in the form we saw pre-injury would go a long way to making this a potentially excellent unit, especially with the addition of Lane Johnson. But therein lies the question: What kind of movement skills will we see from the 31-year-old Peters, a tight end in college who once possessed exceptional quickness, balance and agility?

Defense: Cole, Graham and Curry
By all accounts, the Eagles are going to be a predominant 3-4 defense under Chip Kelly. But Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry are prototypical 4-3 defensive ends. Cole and Graham, who somewhat quietly played exceptional football during the second half of the 2012 season, are listed as outside linebackers in this 3-4, and Curry is listed at defensive end. It will be a shame if these three players are misused, and it will be interesting to see their role when camp opens.

Wild card: All new secondary
The Eagles' starting cornerbacks greatly underachieved last year, and the safety play was just terrible. The new Philadelphia regime completely revamped the back end of the defense, and it looks as though the Eagles will have four new starters in the secondary. Philadelphia had an inordinate number of mental errors last season; while it might take some time for this group to jell, it should be improved in that capacity as well as in its overall play.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Offense: Right tackle woes
Robert Griffin III’s immense abilities and Mike Shanahan’s scheme masked a major deficiency at right tackle in 2012. The scheme won’t change and Griffin will have even better on-the-field awareness in his second season -- even if he isn’t as mobile while recovering from injury -- but Washington certainly realized this area of concern and brought in Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood to compete with Tyler Polumbus. My fear is that none of the three is the answer.

Defense: O-Sack-Po?
Much like Peters for the Eagles, Brian Orakpo will be under a microscope when camp opens, as all eyes will be watching to see if he still has his same explosive movement skills post-injury. Far and away Washington’s best pass-rusher, Orakpo and his edge presence were missed in a big way last season, and the Redskins were forced to blitz, exposing their weak secondary, much more than what would have been ideal.

Wild card: New DBs
Again much like in Philadelphia, the Redskins put many of their limited offseason resources into improving a poor secondary. A healthy Orakpo’s pass rush certainly will help, but the Redskins could see as many as three rookies -- David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo -- playing prominent roles in their secondary early in the season. Rookie cover men rarely enter the league without their share of growing pains.
PHOENIX -- The Washington Redskins used the same five starting offensive linemen for 16 of their 17 games last year, and they believe that continuity was a key to the success of the league-best run game. So even though they spent last week picking up potential fallback options like Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle, they wanted 2012 starter Tyler Polumbus back all along. Monday, Polumbus tweeted that he was re-signing with Washington. John Keim reports it's a two-year deal.

It's a good move for the Redskins, whose cap problems prevent them from playing in the deep end of the free-agent tackle pool with guys like Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer. Polumbus was something of a surprise as he turned into a reliable starter in place of the perpetually injured Jammal Brown. And while he's not perfect, if you can't upgrade, why not bring back a guy who's been successful in your system?

As we've mentioned a few times here, the Redskins did go 10-6 and win the NFC East last year, so holding together their 2012 roster isn't a terrible idea on its face. To this point, cornerback DeAngelo Hall and reserve linebacker/special teamer Lorenzo Alexander are the only players they wanted to keep and haven't been able to keep. Tight end Fred Davis remains a free agent they're hoping to re-sign.
So the Washington Redskins have signed Jeremy Trueblood, an offensive tackle formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Redskins fans want to know who he is and why. He's a guy who was once thought to have some promise but didn't end up being a great player in Tampa. He turns 30 in May, is 6-foot-8 and was benched during the season last year due to ineffectiveness.

Trueblood
What? That doesn't sound like the final piece for a Super Bowl run? Hey, this is reality, Redskins fans. Due to the league-imposed salary cap penalties, the Redskins are bargain shoppers right now. And as Rich Campbell writes here, the plan at right tackle appears to be to create competition and see what emerges. Trueblood joins recently signed veteran Tony Pashos and 2012 sixth-round pick Tom Compton as internal options to fill the position played by free agent Tyler Polumbus in 2012.

I know they like Compton, but obviously he may not be ready to be a starter right away in 2013. So they bring in a couple of veterans they like who can either push him or push each other to be worthy of the starting job by Week 1. I wouldn't get my hopes up about any bigger-name offensive linemen making their way to Washington this offseason.

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