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Washington's remaining holes include defensive line, running back

The Redskins could use a big contribution from defensive lineman Stephen Paea this coming season. AP Photo/David Richard

The Washington Redskins added help throughout the roster -- in some cases with prominent starters (Josh Norman) or future ones (first-round draft pick Josh Doctson).

But they still have remaining holes. Keep in mind it’s early May and after this point last season the Redskins added: linebacker Junior Galette, kicker Dustin Hopkins, cornerback Will Blackmon, linebacker Mason Foster and running back Pierre Thomas -- and all but Thomas are back. In other words, quality players become available at various times of the year, so the Redskins will still have opportunities to improve their roster.

Still, they have a few soft spots on the roster. Here’s a look at their remaining holes:

Defensive line: The Redskins drafted one defensive lineman, Matt Ioannidis, in the fourth round. And he’s more of an end in the base package and a tackle in their nickel, someone who should help, but not someone who fills their main hole: A run-stuffing nose. But if Ioannidis shows he can help defend the run out of the nickel, as they hope, then he'll help. Entering the draft, it was clear Washington would not draft a receiver in the first and would focus hard on the line. The way the draft unfolded, though, steered the Redskins in a different direction. Nothing wrong with that, but it does leave the Redskins in need of what they wanted: More youth up front. It would help if Trent Murphy makes a smooth transition from linebacker to end and becomes a quality player, but how long will that take? And they really need end Stephen Paea to play like the player they hoped he would be when signing him away from Chicago, giving fellow end Chris Baker more help. And they need players such as Ziggy Hood or Kendall Reyes to show they can still play and for Kedric Golston to be a factor. The defensive issues last season were not limited to the line, but it was an area they wanted to improve. Have they? We'll find out in September.

Center: Kory Lichtensteiger remains the starter, and the early word is that his strength is fine after the nerve damage last season. That’s key, especially for an undersized player. Though Lichtensteiger can’t offer size -- and that’s how his issues result -- he does give the Redskins smarts at a position where that’s needed, and he does work well to block linebackers. Josh LeRibeus remains the top backup, but the Redskins will work Spencer Long at the position in the spring. As of now, it’s Lichtensteiger’s job. The Redskins did want to upgrade center, but they didn’t feel the need to force a move, either.

Running back: The Redskins still need to add another one to pair with Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and seventh-round pick Keith Marshall. Thomas remains an option, though when that might happen is anyone’s guess. Last offseason, Thomas waited to sign a deal (in part because some teams felt he wanted too much money). So, as of now, the sense is that Thomas will wait to see how things develop in camp in terms of injuries, here or elsewhere, and then pick a spot. But the Redskins likely will continue to look for another back. Jones might be able to handle a full load, but there is no proof as of yet. Doesn’t mean he can’t, but it does mean it’s a question that must be answered.

Safety: They do have options here, and it could be interesting to watch how it develops. David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho will compete for the starting strong safety spot with DeAngelo Hall at free safety (as always, I remind you: the players must be able to handle both spots). They drafted Su'a Cravens, but his role will be more in the nickel and dime as a linebacker, even though he is listed as a safety. Kyshoen Jarrett remains a question mark because of his nerve damage. They also can use cornerbacks Will Blackmon and DeShazor Everett at safety, but it’s unknown how either will handle the position. And general manager Scot McCloughan said there’s still a chance Dashon Goldson is re-signed. If the Redskins pass rush improves with Galette and if the cornerback play is solid, then the safety play should greatly benefit.