As OTAs officially begin, teams around the league are welcoming up to 90 players to compete for the 53 spots available on the Week 1 roster.
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have welcomed competition at every position for the Washington Redskins and have taken full advantage of the expanded OTA rosters.
The only spot that has been determined so far is that Robert Griffin III will be the starting quarterback.
Beyond that, there are battles all up and down the depth chart that will certainly make for an entertaining summer.
There are also three 'Skins that are heading into a summer of uncertainty. Two of them may be battling for starting roles, while another is trying to find his spot on the team.
Let’s take a closer look at these players that no one is talking about even though they are in precarious positions at the start of OTAs.
Looking back to the 2009 season, it’s hard to imagine that an undrafted linebacker out of Villanova would end up being the starting fullback for the Redskins' 2011 season.
But Mike Shanahan took a risk converting the former running back turned linebacker into a fullback. So far, Young has made a great transition. His physicality and ability to dissect both sides of the ball have helped him make the switch. It’s clear that Young approaches blocking like a linebacker pursuing the ball-carrier.
However, this summer could prove a trying one for Young. Offseason competition could jeopardize his role as starter.
The team drafted Alfred Morris in the sixth round and the rookie has been taking reps at the fullback position. Neither Morris nor Young has tremendously impressive hands in the receiving game. But Morris’ powerful running ability may add another dimension to the 'Skins' offense that could slide him up the depth chart.
The running back position is starting to get too crowded for Morris to hope that he could make the opening day roster, but fullback may be his niche. Whether the team goes with Young or Morris, the ability to block for RGIII is going to go a long way in determining who gets the starting spot.
Last summer, Young beat out an aging Mike Sellars for the top spot on the depth chart. Does he have it in him to overtake younger competition this time around?
What hasn’t Lorenzo Alexander done for the Redskins since arriving in DC? Alexander is the NFL equivalent of a utility player in baseball. He’s smart enough and athletic enough to play any position asked of him by the organization.
He has played both sides of the ball and has gone from lineman to tight end to linebacker. He’s had to endure a yo-yo diet relative to which position he was playing at the time. But not once has the guy complained or not shown up to do his job.
The former special teams captain was told this offseason that he would be transitioning inside to take the role of backup inside linebacker. This decision was made before the team re-signed London Fletcher, drafted Keenan Robinson and signed free agents Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff. Throw into the mix Perry Riley and the inside linebacker corps is running six deep.
Fletcher, Robinson and Riley have the first three spots locked up inside, leaving Alexander to battle with Goff and Kehl for one spot. Alexander has the tenure that should help him in this competition and has shown his versatility in the past. But Goff has starting middle linebacker experience in the league, even though none of the three has starting experience at inside linebacker in a 3-4.
Much of the competition will come down to Goff’s recovery from his torn ACL and the 'Skins' need at outside linebacker. The team may feel that Alexander would be of better use to the team rotating in for Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan at the outside linebacker spot that he played last season.
Either way, I’ll bet that Alexander’s role on the depth chart changes throughout the summer and comes down to a preseason injury to determine where he plays Week 1.
The ‘what-ifs’ and ‘could-have-beens’ will always surround Jarvis Jenkins. Washington's 2011 second-round pick impressed many of the coaches in training camp last year and showed great progress in picking up the defense. However, a torn ACL would end his preseason and wipe out his entire rookie year.
Now the former Clemson star is back in uniform and participated at full speed in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since the injury. According to the Washington Times, Jenkins says he’s gotten stronger and was able to recover faster because of the self-rehab he did in addition to the prescribed regiment.
If Jenkins is anywhere near the force he was becoming last fall, he will be a monster along the defensive line. At this point, you have to worry about when and where he is going to get reps. With Adam Carriker re-signing to a four-year, $20 million deal and Stephen Bowen in the second year of his five-year, $27.5 million contract, where does Jenkins fit?
If Jenkins isn’t starting, he will undoubtedly be the first defensive end the team substitutes in for either Bowen or Carriker. But could the team possibly let the second-year defensive end overtake either of these vets whom they are paying starters salaries?
When Jenkins proves he is starting caliber, will he be able to take starting reps away from either Carriker or Bowen? If Jenkins is the best defensive lineman on the roster, as many in the organization alluded to last year, he certainly deserves the top slot on the depth chart.
Add into the mix a possible rotation through the nose spot given Jenkins' incredible strength, and DC may end up with a defensive line by committee. Hopefully Jenkins fully recovers and realizes the potential he was working towards last year.
He will have to battle this summer for reps and his spot on the depth chart. The three starters along the defensive line that stand in Jenkins’ way have 13 years and over $60 million left on their contracts.
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