Washington Redskins: 5 Players Who Will Raise Their Stock in 2013
The Washington Redskins head into the 2013 NFL season with a lot of hype and expectations. While a list of players fuels the core of the team, a number of role players are looking to contribute as well.
Some of those players are household names, and others have maybe never been heard of before. A player may only be given one shot to make a name for himself. That opportunity must be taken full advantage of before it's too late.
The Redskins' first preseason game comes on August 8 against the Tennessee Titans. That's the first chance players will get to show coaches and football fans everywhere just what they can do. Before long, the team will be cut down to 53 men, making up the opening day roster.
The season is young and filled with unknowns as August is just now getting underway. In a span of five or six months, look for these faces to up the ante and take their games to new heights. They may be difficult to find now, but before long, all NFL teams will have an eye on them.
Kai Forbath, Kicker
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As if his stock wasn't already on a steep climb following last season, Kai Forbath enters Year 2 to prove his consistency as a franchise kicker.
Rewind to a year ago, and Forbath is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He hits 5-of-5 field goals in the preseason (including a long of 55 yards) but is released as Connor Barth won the starting gig.
Fast forward to early October, and the Redskins give him a call and sign him to replace struggling veteran Billy Cundiff. It was perhaps the best personnel decision the front office made all season.
Forbath goes on to make his first 17 field goal attempts (an NFL record) including going 12-for-12 from beyond 40 yards. If that isn't enough to become a household name, this season could be just what he needs.
The former UCLA standout and Lou Groza Award Winner (best kicker in college football) looks to continue his 2012 performance with an encore. The team has a new special teams coordinator but returns the same long snapper and holder as last year.
The spot is his, and there isn't any competition in camp to take it away from him unlike last season. Reports continue to pour out citing his excellence in camp during 11-on-11's, so chances of a repeat season look high for the third-year man.
Richard Crawford, Cornerback
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The Redskins are one secondary injury from disaster. However, if there's one person who can come out of nowhere and make a difference, it's Richard Crawford.
The 22-year-old enters his second season in the NFL out of Southern Methodist. In his rookie season, he played in just 10 games but showed major potential with a huge clutch factor.
On the first offensive drive for the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the year, he pulled down an interception to get the ball rolling. Weeks before that, he returned a punt from the Baltimore Ravens and took it 64 yards, setting up the game-winning field goal in overtime.
Now, Crawford is taking his second-year experience to the next level. Despite being drafted in the seventh round just one year ago, he's fighting for the opportunity to start on this defense.
Where he's most valuable to this team is not with the starting 22 players. He has a leg up on competition for the starting punt returner job. Rookie Skye Dawson looks to provide the toughest challenge for the spot.
With little depth at cornerback and Brandon Banks no longer with the team, Crawford has the opportunity and the tools to take a big step forward in 2013.
Aldrick Robinson, Wide Receiver
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Aldrick Robinson made some of the biggest plays the Washington Redskins had all season in 2012. However, take a step back and look at his numbers. He had all of 11 receptions last year, a statistic that wouldn't get most players three years in the NFL.
He still resides in Washington, though, and he looks to increase his role substantially this coming season. The biggest thing he needs to add to his repertoire is consistency.
He was the long-ball threat for the team last season. He had a catch of 49 yards and 68 yards in back-to-back weeks before not catching a single pass for the final five games of the season.
He had an average of 21.5 yards per reception and three touchdowns, but with just two games with two or more receptions, Robinson has to find a place in this offense.
Santana Moss is entering the final year of his contract, and it seems as if the 34-year-old won't be brought back next season. Robinson possesses a very similar playing style as Moss, so he could be the man to fill the void in the years moving forward.
Is it a contract year for Robinson? No, but he must play as if it is one. The sixth-round draft pick has no room for error at this point in his career.
Chris Baker, Defensive Lineman
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No, Albert Haynesworth is not back with the Redskins. A new No. 92 is about to make a name for himself in a Redskins uniform.
Just a couple weeks ago, it looked as if Chris Baker may not even make the 53-man roster. It doesn't take long in football for a player to go from nothing to a potential first-game starter.
He'll play at defensive end despite being a nose tackle last year. According to the Washington Times, Baker says the outside is a place where he can succeed.
I like playing end. I’m playing very comfortable at end. I feel like I could pass rush pretty good, and it helps that I could play end and be able to play nickel and a lot more positions.
He didn't accomplish a single sack last season, but not many Redskins defensive linemen did. The team ranked 23rd in the league with just 32 sacks. Defensive linemen made up for just 3.5 sacks from that total number.
In a 3-4 system, his role is to fill gaps and take up multiple offensive linemen. Standing at 6'2'', 333 pounds, he can do just that.
Kirk Cousins, Quarterback
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Kirk Cousins was drafted by the Washington Redskins strictly based on value. Entering his second year in the league behind a fragile quarterback, he has the chance to show teams he can start for anyone.
Cousins lacks what all others on this list possess: a shot to compete and start above the competition. Everyone knows that when Robert Griffin III is healthy, he'll be playing. The trick to that statement is just when and how often will Griffin be healthy enough to play?
One thing is for sure: Cousins will get his time in the Redskins' four preseason games. Head coach Mike Shanahan has already made it clear that Griffin will sit until the regular season begins. This will give Cousins parts of training camp and game time to roll with the starting unit.
Once September hits, Cousins will do nothing but prepare as if he is named the starter each and every week. He must understand that at any moment his name could be called just as it was against the Baltimore Ravens. If he's ready, Cousins could do enough to land himself in another uniform for the 2014 season.
For now, he's a member of the Washington Redskins. NFL.com lists him as the best backup quarterback in the league. He showed that in just three appearances last season. Expect more field time for the former Spartan during his sophomore campaign.