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Redskins Rank No. 2 On's Most Improved Defensive Lines List

Before the Redskins head to Richmond for training camp, check out who all is on the roster position-by-position. Today, it is the defensive linemen.

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Build from the inside to start.

During his first few months as the Washington Redskins' general manager, Scot McCloughan made it a point to strengthen the lines, especially on the defensive side.

As the season nears,'s Bucky Brooks continued his countdown with the five most improved defensive lines, with the Redskins having the second best rebuilt group from 2014 to 2015 in his eyes.

"For the Redskins to make a run at the NFC East title in 2015, the defense must find a way to control the trenches in a division loaded with elite offensive lines," Brooks writes. "To enhance their chances of holding the point, the team added Terrance Knighton in free agency. The 6-foot-3, 331-pounder affectionately known as 'Pot Roast' is a dominant run stopper, exhibiting exceptional strength, power and balance controlling the line of scrimmage against double teams. Knighton's presence at the point of attack will allow Redskins linebackers to run and chase without obstruction, which should allow Washington to boast a top-10 run defense."

Along with Knighton, the Redskins also added free agent veterans Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois to join returners Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse and Jason Hatcher.

Hatcher believes the group will improve on just schematic differences alone.

"First of all, we going up field, we ain't going sideways no more so we can make a play here and there, so I'm excited about that," he said during the offseason. "We're not just holding our blockers, we are the attacker now. So that'll be very good for us. We've got Pot Roast, Bake, we've got a good group of guys up front, so it starts with us. If we can get this train rolling, making plays, creating havoc up-field getting to the quarterback, we'll do good."

As for the linebackers corps, Brooks also foresees a strong pass rush presence from the outside.

"On the edges, the arrivals of free agent Junior Galette and rookie Preston Smith should help the Redskins generate a consistent pass rush in 2015. Galette's signing was viewed as controversial by some observers, due to his questionable off-field antics and falling out with the Saints, but there is no disputing his ability to get to the quarterback. The sixth-year pro has recorded 22 sacks over the past two seasons, displaying outstanding quickness and power off the edge. If he can stay out of trouble and quickly master the scheme, he should team with Ryan Kerrigan to give the Redskins one of the top rushing tandems in the NFC. Kerrigan thrived as the team's DPR (designated pass rusher) without assistance in 2014; he could take his game to another level with more one-on-one opportunities on the horizon," Brooks writes.

The wildcard in this situation: Preston Smith.

"Smith could be the wild card for Washington this year. He has intriguing physical tools, but needs to polish his technique to become a disruptive force off the edge. If he can crack the lineup as a situational rusher by midseason, the Redskins' defense could rank as one of the NFL's biggest surprises this year," Brooks writes.




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