Every season, teams head into training camp with key positions on the line. The Washington Redskins are no strangers to this process. The Redskins have made significant additions to the roster this offseason through the draft and free agency.
For once, the quarterback position is not on the line in Washington. Robert Griffin III will walk into training camp as the starter, with Rex Grossman as the backup, and Kirk Cousins at third string. While quarterback is not up for grabs, many key positions will be.
While the Redskins roster has many established veterans, these three positions are on the line, and the coaches will make their decision based on offseason performance.
Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong are the few receivers who have survived the major overhaul at the receiver position over the years. The Redskins have struggled for many seasons to develop elite talent at the receiver position and now turn to free agency.
Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan received large contracts to come and compete for starting jobs. Add last year's third round selection, Leonard Hankerson, to the mix and you have five quality players competing for two outside positions along with a slot position.
At this point Santana Moss belongs in the slot position, where he has shown success in Shanahan's offense. Garcon has elite deep speed, and a sizable contract to prove it, and will likely earn a starting job. The final starting job will be a toss-up between Hankerson and Morgan. For my money, Hankerson comes out on top.
The Redskins will put plenty of pressure on new receivers coach Ike Hilliard to uncover the best players. I have no doubt that by Week 1, RG3 will have a fearsome group of targets to choose from.
Five years ago, the Washington Redskins safety corps was one of the most feared duos in all of football. With Sean Taylor and Laron Landry, receivers had to worry about whether they would be able to walk after the game was finished. Fast forward to present day, neither remain on the roster.
Reed Doughty remains as the sole surviving veteran after many years of change. Dejon Gomes stays on as a project the Redskins seem intent on developing. The three major contenders, Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, and Madieu Williams join the team through free agency.
This position will be an all-out battle, as the most talented players (Jackson & Meriweather) are new to the team and have off-the-field concerns. Doughty is most familiar with the defense, but is showing his age with each passing season.
Heading into camp there is no clear starter amongst this group, but two will emerge when camps close. If all off-the-field concerns are taken care of, I expect Meriweather and Jackson to be the Week 1 starters. Doughty will likely be the first man off of the bench to fill in for any injuries or suspensions.
Two separate battles will be waged at the tight end position this year in Redskins training camp.
Chris Cooley and Fred Davis will face off to see if the longtime fan favorite can hold off the rising star. Cooley has been the most reliable receiving option in Washington for the last eight seasons. Quarterbacks have come and gone, but Cooley has remained as the safety blanket for every one of them.
Davis on the other hand, seems to have finally put together his freakish physical tools, with the route running and knowledge that are required in the NFL. Last season Davis had a breakout year and was potentially on his way to a Pro Bowl before he was suspended for four games.
Now, these two will battle for the number one tight end position and while my loyalty lies with Cooley, I believe Davis emerges as the number one (if for no other reason than health).
The battle for the third tight end position will be between Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul, who has been converted from receiver to tight end. Paulsen has been a reliable blocking entity and Paul brings receiver skills. The decision will likely come down to how good of a blocker Paul can become. If Paul develops into a reliable blocking tight end, I would expect him to earn the third tight end position.
As always, HTTR!