8 Players Who Have Turned Heads During Redskins' Offseason Workouts
Offseason workouts have a different flavor for the Washington Redskins this year. Not only is the team coming off of its first division title since 1999, but there are also a number of key players who are shining in workouts while trying to make comebacks from various injuries.
It's too early to say who will end up where on the depth chart, or how much of an impact a certain player will have. The season is months away. But the returns so far have been good this summer, and that's something that all fans can take solace in as the Redskins attempt to defend their NFC East title this year.
Robert Griffin III
Of course Robert Griffin III is turning heads. The very fact that he's ready to play after his cringeworthy injury against Seattle is newsworthy enough. The question now is whether or not he's rushing to get back.
According to reports, Griffin will start cutting very soon. This is the next step in his recovery, as he's already wowed onlookers with his arm strength and speed following what looked like an injury that would take a lot longer to heal.
All eyes are on RGIII, and rightfully so. He's arguably the most important player on the team and one of the primary tools in the fight to win a second consecutive division title. No one will garner as much attention this offseason, and everyone will be watching to see if he'll be ready to play in the season opener.
Richard Crawford had one of the biggest plays of the season in 2012, a 64-yard punt return in overtime to set up the winning field goal against Baltimore and keep the Redskins' playoff hopes alive. He continued to show up during the last weeks of the season and has impressed coaches at workouts.
Crawford has shown progress as a defensive back, which is his primary position. He's in superb shape and is making a name for himself on defense. Mike Shanahan even compared the second-year player to London Fletcher in terms of his work ethic and desire to get better.
Crawford will most likely be the primary punt returner when the season gets under way. His yards-per-return average was somewhat misleading because of his big return against the Ravens, but he still had a superb 13.1-yard average when discounting that play.
This looks like the type of player the Redskins really want to have. He might not be a star, but he's a hardworking contributor who will make a few plays this year to help win some ballgames.
2013 is being labeled a make-or-break season for Leonard Hankerson, the immensely talented third-year wideout from Miami who posted a 380-yard improvement from his rookie season.
Brian Tinsman of Redskins.com reports that Hankerson has been impressive throughout workouts, though he still needs to work on consistency—which is one of the biggest issues holding him back. Hankerson also seems to have something of a chemistry with backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. Their visible rapport from 2012 looks to have carried over into the offseason, a welcome sign for a team that might have to rely on Cousins for a few games next year.
Josh Morgan has also reportedly had a very good showing at workouts, so Hankerson must continue to perform well if he wants to take over the No. 2 spot next to Pierre Garcon. When it's all said and done, we could be looking at one of the more interesting battles of the offseason.
Bacarri Rambo dropped quite a bit in the draft, and the Redskins should be grateful he ended up in burgundy and gold. Rambo has some serious talent and has been showing it off at offseason workouts. The general consensus among coaches seems to be that Rambo (along with his fellow rookies in the secondary) has a long way to go, but he's already made strides and could find his way onto the field quite a bit in 2013.
The Redskins seem set at almost every position save for safety, which means Rambo could get a lot of playing time by default. No doubt his experience as a starter at Georgia will give him a leg up in the NFL, and Jim Haslett says his athleticism will provide a new dimension to a defense that is looking to improve on a stellar 31-turnover performance in 2012.
At the very least, Rambo already looks like an upgrade over the departed and much-maligned Madieu Williams. That's good news for Redskins fans, who probably don't want to be on the edge of their seats in the final two minutes of a game, wondering when the opposition will strike for a long touchdown.
Chase Minnifield hasn't exactly done anything spectacular during workouts thus far, but the simple fact that he's even a participant warrants attention.
Minnifield is coming off of his second knee surgery, a surgery that cost him the entire 2012 season after shining in offseason workouts. He has only participated in a few drills thus far in 2013, but his presence will be welcome on a team that certainly needs depth in the defensive backfield.
Once viewed as a high draft pick, Minnifield fell because of injury concerns. He had his surgery done by Dr. James Andrews and found himself in a position similar to Robert Griffin III. The hope is that he can continue his recovery and provide some depth and playmaking ability.
Early reports indicate that Jarvis Jenkins is both faster and stronger than he was in 2012, welcome news for a defensive line that needs all the help it can get.
The Redskins' front played very well last year, but injuries could strike at any time, and depth is necessary if the team wants to take the next step. Jenkins could develop into a star, but right now his job is to hold down the fort until Adam Carriker gets back. If he performs well enough, he could remain the starter for the rest of the year.
Jenkins played inspired football last season but appeared lost at times. Rest assured he'll be better in 2013, more experienced and ready to live up to his potential.
Alfred Morris doesn't have much to prove in offseason workouts after his spectacular rookie season, but the second-year back looks like all he wants to do is get better and better. Mike Shanahan has heaped praise on Morris, and reports out of camp indicate that he's a little bit faster than he was last year.
History indicates the chances of Morris replicating his 1,600-yard effort in 2013 are slim, but as expected, he doesn't seem to care. With a revolving door expected at the second running back position, Morris might go over 300 carries again. If the offseason workouts are any indication, he'll be ready to shoulder the load.
It's an unfortunate truth, but without Roy Helu's injury, the Redskins may never have discovered the immense talent that Alfred Morris possesses. That being said, the versatile Helu has a chance to redeem himself and take his place as the backup. His skill set is diverse, and his ability to catch passes could add a new dimension to the Redskins' offense.
Helu has looked very strong in his workouts, his first action in several months. This is important because Morris will almost certainly need help after a busy rookie year in which he carried the ball more than 300 times. RGIII will certainly gobble up yards on the ground, but his injury means that he'll likely be doing that less.
Helu could ultimately develop into the third-down back the Redskins have been searching for and could push the offense from one of the league's better units to one of the very best in the NFL.