Washington Redskins: 7 Role Players Destined to Improve in 2012
So far this offseason, Washington Redskins fans have heard a lot about the star power that has been brought in to help reinvent the team. Mike Shanahan and his staff have done a good job bringing in talented free agents as well as an exciting rookie class.
However, one of the biggest things to watch during this season is how the role players perform. For some, it may be hard to adjust to the new players brought in, while others may thrive with the help of players like Robert Griffin III.
There are some Redskin role players that will definitely improve this season. Here are seven of them.
CB Josh Wilson
Josh Wilson, a former University of Maryland athlete, had a solid first season with the Redskins after being acquired from the Baltimore Ravens.
Wilson had 62 tackles, 15 passes defended and two interceptions.
Wilson plays with veteran corner DeAngelo Hall, who has a lot of expectations on him as well coming into this year. Hall is known for his playmaking skills, and the Redskins will be looking for a lot of that this year.
If Hall is having a good year, teams will target Wilson's side of the field. The secondary is one of the biggest question marks coming into this year. With the help of new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, that unit should improve.
Look for Wilson's numbers and play to go up from last year.
DE Jarvis Jenkins
This one is a given. Jarvis Jenkins is destined to improve from his rookie season last year, as he tore his ACL during the preseason.
With that being said, Jenkins is expected to play an important role.
A defensive end in the Redskins' 3-4 defense, his two main jobs will be to stuff the run and draw in linemen in order to free up linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
Orakpo and Kerrigan had a great year last year, but with the help of Jenkins, they will have an even bigger year. Look for Jenkins to have a good year as well.
FB Darrel Young
Darrel Young is in a unique position.
The third-year player out of Villanova is the only fullback on the roster this offseason. That alone shows that the Redskins are expecting big things from him this year.
Young had the tough task of replacing veteran and fan favorite Mike Sellers last couple of years. He has performed well, doing a good job lead blocking and protecting quarterback Rex Grossman last year. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 9.7 yards per catch in his limited touches.
However, Young is now tasked with the job of protecting Robert Griffin III.
This will make Young's job a little bit tougher, as Griffin is more mobile. Young will have to pay attention to what his QB is doing, so that he doesn't get in his way or block the wrong direction.
With that being said, Griffin will make Young's job easier for the same reason; he is mobile and can get away from blockers.
Look for Young to step up in during his third season with the Redskins.
LB Perry Riley
A third-year linebacker out of LSU, Perry Riley saw his playing time and numbers increase in his second season. Riley played in all 16 games last year and had 68 tackles with one sack.
The Redskins are high on Riley and see a lot of potential in him. Whether he starts next to captain London Fletcher or comes off the bench, the 'Skins will be expecting a lot from him.
Riley looks like he is the future, as Fletcher is now 37.
Look for Riley's numbers and leadership to improve this season.
RB Tim Hightower
At age 26, Tim Hightower is the oldest running back the Redskins have. He played decently in his first year with the team, rushing for 321 yards and an average of 3.8 yards per carry.
However, Hightower missed 11 games due to injury.
With Hightower's north-south running style and blocking ability, I expect the Redskins to use him as a third-down back. His numbers will increase, especially in the receiving category with the arrival of Robert Griffin III.
TE Chris Cooley
Former Pro Bowler Chris Cooley's production has dropped off significantly, as he missed most of last year due to injury.
The tight end will look to reinvent himself as the No. 2 end behind Fred Davis.
Cooley still averaged over eight yards per catch last year, and the ability is there. Look for him to improve as Robert Griffin III bolsters the offense.
He may not get back to scoring seven touchdowns and recording 800 receiving yards, but he will definitely become a bigger part of the offense again. Cooley has to improve, or he'll find himself on the trading block.
WR Josh Morgan
Josh Morgan is another player that is coming off an injury-shortened season. He had just 15 catches for 220 yards last year for the San Francisco 49ers.
The new Redskins offense will definitely increase his level of play.
It is hard to tell right now if Morgan will be the No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, but either way, he will be a good weapon for Robert Griffin III.
Look for him and Pierre Garcon to add some new firepower to the Redskins passing attack, something that has been lacking in previous years.