Washington Redskins: 5 Players to Watch for at Redskins Training Camp
Breathe easy, folks—the curtain is starting to lift on the 2012 NFL season.
Nothing about this will be easy and, for Mike Shanahan and the rest of his players and staff, Redskins Park will be something of a workshop for the remainder of the summer. That is, all hands are now on deck to try and produce something fearsome and renewed.
There may be a blueprint for the Shanahans to work off of, but the question marks are many and jarring. For five players in particular, the question marks also promise a good deal of intrigue.
Let's take a look at how these five players will create some of the best storylines to come out of the 2012 Washington Redskins training camp.
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Five years and $42.5 million. That's big-time money by most standards. So it's only fair, then, that big results come with the big price tag.
Pierre Garcon nearly crossed the 1,000-yard threshold last year with Curtis Painter under center in Indianapolis. Depending on who you are, that's either an indicator of talent just waiting to explode or someone taking advantage of playing in a vacuum where talent was beyond scarce.
One thing is for sure: Pierre Garcon is the go-to receiver as camp gets under way.
There's already a built-in headline in Garcon arriving with a fat-daddy contract and veteran Santana Moss showing up in shape, trying to preserve his spot as the Redskins' most explosive weapon.
Sure, Garcon and Moss will visibly encourage one another. Under the surface, though, it's all business.
Garcon has the big paycheck, but he's got everything to prove. This is the perfect stage for the 25-year-old receiver to prove he's more than just a "flash in the pan" and can excel as a No. 1 option in a conference like the NFC East.
Should he let up or show signs of giving in to the pressure surrounding him, expect Moss, or youngsters Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson, to step up and impress the coaching staff.
Garcon and Robert Griffin III will be under the microscope, and the surest way for them to get out from under the lens is to vibe early and stay in synch.
For Pierre Garcon, this is the dress rehearsal for the biggest season of his still-young professional career. Here's hoping he takes every rep as seriously as possible.
Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III
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At the risk of sounding obvious...
OK. This one is really, really obvious.
That doesn't make it any less true, though. Every eye in Redskins nation, and the whole of the NFL community, for that matter, is fixed squarely on the shoulders of No. 10.
Up to this point, Waco's favorite son has done everything right. Calm, articulate, unassuming. He's everything the Washington fanbase could possibly want in a nearly-literal Superman.
There is no battle here. No competition between Griffin III and a potential homewrecker looking to steal the spotlight from the reigning Heisman trophy recipient.
It's Griffin III versus a Mt. Everest of expectations.
So far, in what little time has passed since RG3 has been in the capital area, every expectation has been met; some of them, exceeded.
This is Griffin's team.
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have essentially handed over the keys to the Lamborghini and, as far as anyone can tell, have taken the governor off the engine.
We're all waiting with bated breath to see what Robert Griffin III does as the reality of his professional career becomes imminent.
It's August and the first chapter of the Robert Griffin III saga is nearly under way. Here's to the prologue.
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Josh LeRibeus is versatile. Don't believe me? Just look up details about his ability to shed weight.
Good thing, then, that in his first days wearing burgundy and gold LeRibeus can use this trait to play both left guard and center.
Tall order, perhaps. But with Kory Lichtensteiger on the mend from yet another surgical procedure on his injured knee, LeRibeus is in a position to make a name for himself and get on the fast track to being a starter.
All the hype is surrounding RG3 and his new weapons lined up out wide, but the real emphasis (as it always is) exists along the offensive front.
Now tipping the scales at a svelte 310 pounds, LeRibeus could be a regular, athletic feature at the guard spot at least during the early portion of the 2012 season.
This is a good thing, guys. Especially when you consider who is lining up under center from here on out.
As it stands, LeRibeus represents perhaps the best facet of the Redskins recent youth movement. Young, talented, driven offensive linemen protecting DC's quarterback of the future.
LeRibeus better lay off the Tex-Mex and stay focused on footwork and basic blocking schemes at both the center and guard positions.
If his preseason play validates the praise coming out of staff offices in Ashburn, the SMU grad will hear his number called often in 2012.
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In an offseason filled with player arrests for alcohol-related incidents, it's ironic that people forget that Brandon Meriweather was arrested earlier this summer for, well, an alcohol-related incident.
It's certainly underlying the veteran safety's arrival at training camp this week.
Many are wondering if the former All-Pro for the Patriots can keep his head straight while helping caulk some sizable holes in the Redskins secondary.
He's still the favorite, alongside former Buccaneer Tanard Jackson and fellow free-agent signee Madieu Williams.
Factor in Raheem Morris assuming the coaching duties for the secondary this season and you are looking at a deep third that more resembles an island of misfit toys.
It will be interesting to see what Meriweather does, whether it's fending off Williams and Jackson or trying to find his way back to his time at the top while in New England.
For Redskins nation, seeing Meriweather recover some of his old fire would be a welcome sight.
This is the first time since 2003 that either safety position in the Redskins secondary hasn't been patrolled by an All-Pro player.
That, perhaps more than any statistic, is helping to pump some adrenaline into Raheem Morris' secondary unit this season.
Hopefully, Brandon Meriweather is feeling the energy. He could prove himself as an enormous asset to the Redskins throughout training camp and erase many doubts that Washington is without elite talent at safety.
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Captain. Fan Favorite. Funny man.
Chris Cooley has been one of the few consistent offensive weapons for the Redskins for nearly a decade and a fixture in the Northern Virginia community where he has made his home.
Still, time champions all in the NFL and in 2011, it appeared that perhaps Cooley was beginning to lose the battle.
Working against Cooley's resurgence in 2012 is the fact that the Redskins are deeper at the tight end position than perhaps anywhere else on the depth chart.
Fred Davis and Niles Paul are young, ultra-athletic receiving threats who are firmly in the mold of the next-generation tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.
The Shanahans will hold on to Cooley as long as they can purely because he commands such a high level of respect amongst his teammates.
Of course, a great showing at training camp could add to the reasons why job security, at least in the short term, should be warranted.
Tight ends are quickly becoming a quarterback's best friend and, with Robert Griffin III looking to make good friends quickly, Cooley's wealth of experience and football acumen may well make him the Harry to RG3's Lloyd, the Riggs to his Murtaugh, the Watson to his Sherlock, the—
You get it.
Chris Cooley is looking to get back to being in the thick of things and being, as he has been for some time, the most reliable set of hands on the Redskins roster.
Here's hoping Captain Chaos rediscovers his stride.