Redskins: 3 Players who should be roster locks after Tampa Bay game
Nose tackle Phil Taylor was lost for the year during Sunday’s game against the Bengals, leaving Washington looking for a big body up front. Struggling against the run was been an issue for this defense last season. Taylor was looking to be an answer to that problem.
Leaving a massive hole in the front seven, Washington is forced to find a new man to stuff run lanes with short notice. A.J. Francis showed Thursday, he may be that man. The 6-foot-5, 330 pound lineman racked up 3 tackles and was able to use strength to stand strong in the center of the defensive line filling rushing lanes.
First round pick Jonathan Allen appears to be a potential cornerstone piece along the defensive line and should help stop the run this upcoming season. Francis could find himself lined up next to the rookie defensive end and be heavily relied on to plug the middle, allowing Allen and the other ends to penetrate the backfield and shut down opposing running backs and pressure quarterbacks. Francis’ big body is an asset that Washington can’t afford to let go with the loss of Taylor and should be kept around for that reason.
Francis isn’t going to be an All-Pro but, what he brings in terms of size will help the front seven, and should allow for fewer conversions on the ground, an area where Washington was dreadful last year.
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Francis would be just another roster cut had Taylor stayed healthy, but was able to make the most of an opportunity he needed. With a spot open and Ondre Pipkins, another nose tackle looking to fill Taylor’s spot, being cut it would appear Francis is safe from getting bad news by Saturday’s deadline. Expect Francis to be a rotational piece in the middle with Ziggy Hood and newly acquired Stacy McGee getting the majority of reps at nose tackle in Week 1.