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Redskins Training Camp: Top Roster Battles
- Updated: July 29, 2015
Top Roster Battles
The Washington Redskins will open training camp in Richmond this Thursday, July 30. It will be the first time the team has seen action on the field since mini-camp practices weeks ago. It’s the first chance for everyone to see just how improved this Redskins team is over its 2014 counterpart. New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan brought in several players this offseason, and the team appears poised to improve in head coach Jay Gruden’s second season.
With all the additions the offseason brought comes competition across the board, something that should be viewed as a positive for this young team. That competition will add drama, in terms of who will start, to several key positions for the Redskins this year.
One of the main goals of this offseason was to strengthen the trenches along both fronts. If you want to be successful in the NFL, it has to start up-front. The defensive line is perhaps the most changed position set from a year ago. Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, and Jarvis Jenkins are gone…Ricky Jean-Francois, Stephen Paea and Terrance “Pot-Roast” Knighton are here.
The starters appear set along the defensive front with Paea and Jason Hatcher at defensive end, and Knighton at nose tackle. Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse, Corey Crawford and Travian Robertson round out the field.
One of the top roster battles this summer is at outside linebacker, where the teams last two second-round picks, Trent Murphy and Preston Smith, will battle it out. It appears Murphy has the upper hand after a good offseason. Smith is not in the NFL to play the part of a backup though, he gives the Redskins the versatility to play both end and linebacker. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out. Ryan Kerrigan owns the other outside linebacker spot, and no one is even a close second.
Inside linebacker is a position that’s set. Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson will anchor the inside for a second straight year. Will Compton, Adam Heyward, and rookie Martrell Spaight will play backup roles, all three will be getting playing time on special teams.
There will be a position battle at strong safety this year between Duke Ihenacho and Jeron Johnson. Johnson came over from Seattle this offseason with expectations to start, Ihenacho has stated that it won’t be that easy. The Redskins have a new starter at free safety as former Buc/49er Dashon Goldston will take over a position that’s been in flux for years. Former 4th-round pick Phillip Thomas will battle with Kyshoen Jarrett, Akeem Davis and Trenton Robinson for backup/special teams duties.
The Redskins added former 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver to the secondary this offseason. Culliver will line up at number one corner this year. It’s still unknown just who will start opposite of him. Bashaud Breeland is coming off a decent rookie campaign, and veteran DeAngelo Hall is coming back from an Achilles injury that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. David Amerson, who is coming off a horrible 2014, is also in the mix with rookie Tevin Mitchell, Justin Rogers, and Trey Wolfe, who will compete for backup/special teams roles.
The starter is set here, but you could debate that if Robert Griffin III doesn’t show improvement early on that, he could have two guys breathing down his neck. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy will open camp battling each other for the backup role. Many members of the media have tried to openly suggest that the Redskins will have an open competition for the starting job…which is not true. What is true, you ask? Truth is Griffin controls his own destiny and would have to fail horribly in camp to lose his job. Not to mention neither Cousins nor McCoy has shown the abilities to deliver a “knock-out blow” to Griffin’s job.
This is THE make or break year for RGIII, and some feel Gruden could have an itchy trigger finger that favors one of the other QBs….Only time will tell.
Alfred Morris is the man in Washington, and that’s not changing this year. The real question is who is the teams backup? Matt Jones, Silas Redd Jr., Chris Thompson, Trey Williams and Mack Brown will battle it out for the backup role. Jones appears to be in the driver seat at the moment thanks to his size and pass-catching ability.
The top two spots are set as DeSean Jackson, and Pierre Garçon make up one of the NFL’s best duos. The real question this year is how much pressure will second-year hopeful Ryan Grant, and rookie Jamison Crowder put on Andre Roberts in the slot?
The position the Redskins arguably need to improve the most has the same faces from a year ago. Jordan Reed and Niles Paul appear to be the top candidates to start, with Logan Paulsen also in the mix. Reed has had issues with injuries since college, his health is a major key this year as he enters camp gimpy for the second straight year. Paul added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason as he looks to improve on his major weakness, which is blocking.
The offensive line seems set at this point, barring any injuries. The right side will feature two new starters as Brandon Scherff takes over at tackle and Spencer Long at guard. The rest of the line should be the same as last season with LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, and center Kory Lightensteiger. Third-year vet Tom Compton, Morgan Moses and offseason additions Willie Smith, Takoby Cofield and Tye Nsekhe will battle it out for the swing tackle role. While Josh LeRibeus and rookie Arie Kouandjio battle it out for backup guard duties.
The Redskins signed place-kicker Ty Long (rookie from Alabama-Birmingham) to compete with Kai Forbath. The addition of Jamison Crowder means the team will likely see a new punt returner. On kickoff returns, Andre Roberts, Rashad Ross, Collin Lockett, Tony Jones, Kyshoen Jarrett and Chris Thompson will battle it out for the right to be the return man. The Redskins have no competition for long-snapper Nick Sundberg or punter Tress Way.
The special teams unit will likely see a major overhaul this season as several new players, including many of the rookies, will be looking to contribute to a unit that has found itself at the bottom of the league for several years.
Redskins Training Camp: Top Roster Battles