Nose tackle 'an option' for Redskins rookie Matt Ioannidis?

Matt Ioannidis may help address the Redskins' concerns at nose tackle.

The Washington Redskins have made a number of commendable offseason moves, highlighted by the acquisition of the top available cornerback on the market in Josh Norman. But lingering questions remain; perhaps most notably at the nose tackle position after letting Terrance Knighton walk in free agency.

The Redskins refrained from making any big moves in the draft or free agency to address Pot Roast's vacant post. They signed veteran Ziggy Hood in January and re-signed their longest-tenured player, 33-year-old Kedric Golston, to a one-year deal.

Golston is currently slotted as the team's starting nose tackle, but his age and relative lack of size at the position give rise to concerns. Hood, meanwhile, provides some insurance at the position but isn't likely to see many snaps on Sundays. Several rostered linemen such as Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-Francois, who are better suited at defensive end, are capable of shifting over in a pinch.

"I'd like to think that a majority of those guys on the defensive line can handle each of those spots," defensive line coach Robb Akey said. "Some are going to do it a little bit better than others."
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What about fifth-round draft pick Matt Ioannidis? Could the defensive end from Temple shift over to help fill the void?

"Yes, he can," Akey said. "That is an option for him, so we're giving him an opportunity to show that, and we've also got to put him in some other situations and see what's going to fit him the best, too."

It sounds like the Redskins are, justifiably, content to let Ioannidis flower into the best player he can be at whatever position that may be. At the moment, he's in the earliest stages of his career, and his NFL identity is far from established.

"He's a little quiet, but he's a rookie," Baker replied when asked about Ioannidis' on-field persona. "His head is spinning and he's just trying to learn the plays."

Baker added that Ioannidis has "done a good job being where [he's] supposed to be and really taking coaching." Ultimately, though, any rookie provides more questions than answers. The Redskins got by without a true nose tackle in Knighton for the majority of snaps last season, and perhaps they can do it over the course of an entire season. The good news is that we won't have to wait long to find out as the offseason approaches its merciful end. 

Dan Roth is a Breaking Burgundy contributor who also covers high school sports for The Washington Post. Follow Dan on Twitter @ByDanRoth.

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