Training Camp Preview

| July 24, 2012 | 3 Comments

It’s that time of year…again. Probably one of the more anticipated training camps in recent memory with the arrival of Robert Griffin III. Every year fans flock to Ashburn itching for some football, anxious to see the newest free agent signings/draft picks & ready to dissect the Redskins Quarterback situation. Last year we had the joy of evaluating Rex Grossman & John Beck while trying to convince ourselves which ridiculed QB was the better option. This year the starting QB has been named before camp, but there are a bunch of new faces & question marks surrounding the rest of the roster.

What to Watch for:

Position battles

Backup QB: Rex Grossman vs Kirk Cousins. My guess here is that Rex will be the backup QB to RG3 to start the season. Kirk will probably get the bulk of backup work during pre-season games because the team knows what Rex can do. But I’m interested in seeing during training camp if Kirk shows the ability to be able to run this offense effectively & minimize turnovers, the latter being something that Rex has shown he can’t do throughout his career.


Starting RB: It’s been mentioned on the podcast that if Tim Hightower is healthy & ready to go, he’s the guy the staff feels more comfortable with starting. The staff views Roy Helu as the change of pace guy, but healthy or not Evan Royster could possibly push Hightower for the starting spot. Shanahan loves competition at every spot & if Royster shows signs of breaking out this training camp, he could be the guy. Another battle to watch amongst this group in which Royster could be lumped into is 3rd RB. The team drafted Alfred Morris, a bowling ball type of running back in the mold of a Michael Turner, could push for a spot if he flashes potential.

WR: Pierre Garcon is entrenched as one starter, & Santana Moss seems to have the slot position locked up, now the question is who’s the other outside starter? We talked to Josh Morgan & he says the team definitely has him lining up on the outside but his biggest competition will be Leonard Hankerson. This will be my favorite battle to watch, Leonard Hankerson showed huge flashes in 2 games that he started last year before going down with injury. This position group all over will have intriguing battles, Aldrick Robinson vs Anthony Armstrong vs Terrence Austin vs Brandon Banks for the final 2 spots will definitely be one to watch. From all I accounts I hear Aldrick Robinson has done nothing but impress in OTA’s. I have to think that him & Anthony Armstrong are the favorites here.

Backup Tight End: Niles Paul has been converted to TE & many think Shanahan sees a young Shannon Sharpe with him. He’s been adjusting well, now the question remains does he move ahead of Chris Cooley on the depth chart? Chris Cooley acknowledges that he has prove he’s the guy he once was to make this team but if Paul looks better the team won’t pay Cooley the money he’s making to be a 3rd string TE.

Offensive Line: Redskins 3rd round pick Josh LeRibeus will be either competing for LG or starting Center. His battle will be against Kory Lichtensteiger who is coming off of a major injury. If KL doesn’t return to previous form, I see LeRibeus winning the battle. RT is the only other position I see that may have a battle. Jammal Brown has been hampered by injuries since coming here & he’s probably been the worst starting lineman because of it. Shanahan talked about how good Brown has looked in OTA’s but I’m skeptical & I think Willie Smith who did a solid job in place of Trent Williams last year could overtake him.

Defensive Line: Strongest position group on the team, Jarvis Jenkins will push Adam Carriker for time on the line. But nothing major as there will be rotations aplenty among the line.

Linebackers: Starting 4 looks intact, battle for depth positions here.

Cornerbacks: Most interested in seeing who emerges as the team’s nickel back. Kevin Barnes, Cedric Griffin & my sleepers Brandyn Thompson & Chase Minnifield will be one to keep a close eye on. Griffin if he can stay healthy figures to be the favorite, but I think Brandyn Thompson can possibly make the Redskins shut the door on Kevin Barnes.

Safeties: Lots of competition here but this is the one group that really concerns me. Both Safety spots are up for grabs, Tanard Jackson if healthy can be serviceable playing under his coach in Tampa Bay Raheem Morris. I expect him to win the Free Safety job over Madieu Williams. The other safety spot will pit a battle between Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty & DeJon Gomes. Meriweather has been passed around between the Bears & Patriots the last couple of years, has struggled mightily since making 2 consecutive probowls in 2009 & 2010. Reed Doughty is the Redskins version of toast, you cringe when he’s in coverage. Reed is a solid tackler & great special teams player but it’s not comforting when you’re trotting him on the field as your starting safety. Gomes showed some potential last year, he’s solid in the box but I’d like to see improved cover skills from him.

Kickers: Graham Gano vs Neil Rackers. Lot of fans give Gano grief because he’s missed a lot of field goals in his first 2 years. Although last year he missed 10 but 4 of those kicks were blocked due to horrible kick protection. Kickers take some time to get adjusted in the league. Graham is going into his 4th year & as a Redskins fan this is where you hope he turns on that light & become very reliable. Neil Rackers is a seasoned vet who at one point was considered automatic when he played for the Cardinals. He’s played with the Houston Texans the last 2 years & was pretty good for them making 59/68 FGs, that’s an 86% accuracy rate. This will be a great competition as you’ll see what Gano is made of going against a great veteran in Neil Rackers.

Couple of Things I’ll Be Looking For:

1. I want to see how much of the playbook RG3 has been able to grasp as well as how much of a relationship he’s developed with his receivers already.

2. I’m interested in seeing if the defense has learned to defend the bootleg that Kyle Shanahan calls for RG3. A couple of times in OTA’s I heard about RG3 running a bootleg & had free field to run, that’s scary playing against the likes of Cam Newton & Michael Vick.

3. Ready to see if Brian Orakpo takes that next level to be elite. Would love to see him have an array of moves to beat lineman & effectively get to the QB better.

4. Want to see if DeAngelo Hall can get more turnovers with the way Raheem Morris has him playing. You know DeAngelo is susceptible to the big play, but if he’s giving up the big play & not causing turnovers he’s useless.

5. Definitely want to if the offensive line proves that a cohesive unit can be stout. Pretty much the same starting lineman as the previous year but with more depth(hopefully quality depth). RG3 had a terrible line at Baylor, if this line can be formiddable RG3 may be able to surpass expectations in his first year.

It’s almost here, see you at Redskins Park!

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Thanks. Here are my thoughts on the defense Defensive Line: All eyes on Jarvis Jenkins this summer. He was arguably our best DL last summer before getting hurt. Blessing in disguise that he got injured early. I think Carriker, one of the team’s more underappreciated players, remains the starter over Jenkins. At least for now. Either way, whoever isn’t starting of the two will help the depth along the defensive line, which I think is a big concern. Scott’s a journeyman at best who can’t even get invited to Phillip Daniel’s fishing trips. Love Golston’s heart. He’s the anti-Anthony Montgomery (seriously though if Montgomery had Golston’s heart he could have dominated. Instead he’s out of the league. But I digress). The wildcard is Balmer, who the Redskins seem to believe they can turn around like several others before have failed to do. I guess the thinking is it worked with Carriker, why not Balmer? Think Balmer has a much longer road to climb back from though. Linebackers: Bold prediction. The stud of the group this year will be….Perry Riley. I think it will finally all come together for him this year and he’ll be talked about around the league as on the better young ILBs. The talent was there from the start, but he lacked discipline. (As Brandon Banks could tell you). This is as strong a group as we’ve had for any unit in a long time. Big question though-can Orakpo take that next step to elite. If he can, the whole defense improves. Cornerbacks: Really felt a move they should have made this off-season was to add a DB. Would have to loved to have seen a Grimes or Carr here to line up alongside Josh Wilson then move D Hall to the slot or even safety. DeAngelo is the “star” of the secondary but man to man he struggles. He needs to be in position to basically do what he does best, be a “ball hawk” Safety almost seems like the perfect spot for him. Though who really wants DeAngelo to be your last line of defense? I think Kevin Barnes has been one of the more disappointing draft picks in recent years considering where we got him (and that we could have had Jammal Charles for essentially Barnes). He’s slow to the ball and not very instinctive. For someone who reportedly got a 34 on the Wonderlic, he sure doesn’t play smart. Even his interception against the Jaguars that everyone raved about, was just a floater right into his hands. Nothing special really. I think Brandyn Thompson emerges as the surprise nickel, and Cedric Griffin doesn’t make the final roster. Would not be surprised to see Byron Westbrook return though Safeties: First of all, good riddance LaRon Landry. And I think that’s all I’ll say about the safeties.


Well done. My thoughts below on the offense. (maybe later I’ll comment on defense) Backup QB: Kirk is definitely the 3rd string guy for this year at least. I don’t expect him to necessarily even be given a substantial portion of the playbook to run. For that reason, he’ll probably be one of the pre-season MVPs. Simple offense against simple defenses=monster numbers. I want to see RG3 (like everyone else of course). Particularly I want to see how much of his athletic abilities they utilize this summer, and how much they hold back. Fine line between not giving away too much before the season starts, and making sure you get some practice of the play in before it counts. Starting RB: People fell in love with Helu last year, and understandably so, but he’s not suited to be the man for a 16 game season. Hightower, as you say, will start the season but don’t be surprised if Royster is the starter by season’s end. Helu will get enough touches to make plays and keep defenses honest. Hopefully Morris flashes enough for a practice squad spot, but not enough that someone takes him WR: Morgan vs. Hankerson is one of the more underrated camp battles heading into this season. Think it could be like Hightower/Royster where Morgan starts the season but Hankerson finishes it. Their injury statuses will of course factor in. The real story in this position battle though is the battle for the final two spots. You had to figure Redskins had plans for Robinson in 2012 when they didn’t let another team claim him off the practice squad at the end of 2012. And people who would know have reinforced that belief over the offseason. Barring a poor preseason (read: fumbling like he did last summer), he probably gets that 5th/6th spot. Brandon Banks is likely the odd man out if Robinson makes it. Especially after Mike Shanahan told him he better play some WR too if he wants to make it. Granted, he hasn’t been given many opportunities but I’ve never seen anything in his play to lead me to believe Banks can be truly effective WR against NFL defenses. So really it comes down to Terrence Austin or Anthony Armstrong. Love AA, and I know the staff loves how hard he works and the time he puts in after practice to get better. But effort shouldn’t necessarily be a substitute for talent. And Austin has more talent. And upside. People forget that AA isn’t a young buck. He’s pushing 30 (maybe 29) and as far as route running he really hasn’t shown much versatility other than running deep and saving McNabb on his underthrows. Plus Austin adds a special teams threat, which is where a #5/6 WR will see most of his action. Many people believe that Keenan McArdell impeded the progress of the young WRs, with Austin being the most obvious example. This summer, TA will have to prove that’s true. Backup Tight End: Fans may not like it, but it’s probably time to cut the cord with Cooley. Especially if Paul can show he’s got the TE position down. The concern is Davis, but no one works harder than him and the staff loves him. His “laziness” is really lazy reporting from those who still hold onto the “he slept through his alarm” news from 3 years ago. Davis and Paul are the future. Cooley gave us 7 strong years and he was a welcome, comical distraction off the field while the team underperformed on the field. He’s solid, but solid won’t cut it anymore. Better to let a guy go a year too soon than hold on to him a year too long. Offensive Line: Agree that LeRibeus vs Lichtensteiger is the battle to watch. I think LeRibeus “wins” it because Foerster and the Redskins staff would rather have the veteran as the backup. I think it would be easier for the rookie to focus on simply being the starting LG and knowing every Sunday he’s going out there to play that position than having to be ready to play any position along the interior at any point. This is a case where I see being the starter easier on a rookie than being a backup.


Great detailed response TTM. Really excited about watching that Morgan, Hankerson battle, I hope Hankerson wins it, plus it would show his hip 100%% healed, but you really can't go wrong with either of the two.That WR group as a whole will be the most intriguing battle to watch this training camp. Really anxious to see what Aldrick Robinson brings to the table & if Terrence Austin is ready not just be known as a "great practice player"

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