Early Observations from Washington Redskins Training Camp
It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year. Preseason expectations are set, hourly reports are coming out of every facility and predictions are fluctuating throughout the NFL.
The same goes for the Washington Redskins, as they embark on repeating their division title but are definitely flying under-the-radar in the grand scheme of things.
Despite the enormous media presence Robert Griffin III brings, that’s exactly what Mike Shanahan and his coaching staff want; a relatively quiet training camp while not letting any distractions disrupt the team from achieving its goal.
Following are some early observations thus far.
Robert Griffin III Is Moving, but Cautiously
It’s certainly impossible to write about the Redskins without including their franchise player. The organization as a whole, fans and Robert Griffin III himself are hoping that he’s on a similar path to what Adrian Peterson experienced last season.
On the other hand, everyone involved is making sure this is going at a steady and prudent pace, according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post.
Griffin has been participating in seven-on-seven drills while working on his timing with his receivers. He’s shown flashes of his superior athleticism while in Richmond, but don’t expect to see much until opening kickoff.
What Griffin needs to do between now and Week 1 on Monday Night Football is to get his feet wet again. They will have to figure out what he’s comfortable with and if that means he’s not ready for the first game of the season, then so be it.
The Secondary Will Look Different
Seven players were selected to the Redskins in April’s draft and there might not be another rookie who has stuck out more than sixth-round pick Bacarri Rambo. (Quick poll: Cooler Redskins name, Rock Cartwright or Bacarri Rambo? I vote Rambo.)
Rambo (man, I love saying that) has been penciled in as the team’s starting free safety since day one.
Now has Rambo been starting by default? Or has he simply played up to his potential thus far? It was off-the-field issues that caused him to slip in the draft initially.
While I love the fact that Rambo is gaining valuable experience during practice, his true test is going to be during the preseason.
In addition to that, it’s Brandon Meriweather’s job to lose at strong safety. He’s clearly their best option if he can remain healthy with fellow safeties Reed Doughty and Jordan Pugh filling in.
The third cornerback role is still up for grabs it appears. David Amerson will be given plenty of reps, as will Richard Crawford and E.J. Biggers.
Lastly, it’s nice to read that Chase Minnifield is coming along. He’s a physical corner who has shown flashes of his talent, but he is still going through the rookie growing pains.
Brian Orakpo Is Ready
The former Texas Longhorn is on a mission. He knows he can be one of the best pass-rushers in the league, and the Redskins know it too. However, he hasn’t gotten it done yet.
Coming off a torn pectoral muscle, Brian Orakpo is angry. He needs to be.
He’s in a contract year, and the Redskins have patiently waited for a reliable pass rush, which is one of the reasons why they switched to the 3-4 defensive scheme in the first place.
If Orakpo and his counterpart Ryan Kerrigan (as well as the occasional Rob Jackson) can generate a consistent pass rush without having to blitz, this will enable the secondary to make plays thus making this team well-balanced with an already successful offense.
Defensive Line Is Now Shaky
Prior to the start of training camp, it was thought that the Redskins have three starting quality defensive ends. Now that’s been reduced to one (Stephen Bowen).
Adam Carriker’s quad injury continues to haunt him, and he’s predictably going to miss a substantial portion of the season (if not all 16 games).
When Carriker is healthy, he’s a versatile player who can generate a pass rush while still being a force against the run.
Now that this is two straight injury-riddled seasons, Carriker’s tenure in Washington is very much in doubt.
Days later, Jarvis Jenkins is suspended for the first four games. Just as he was turning the corner as a starting defensive end, he will now have to wait a month before he can see the field.
So what turned out to be one of the more promising depth charts is now worrisome. Kedric Golston appears to be the next man up—which is fine considering his experience and knowledge of the defense—but he's not on the same talent level as Carriker and Jenkins.
The Wide Receivers Are Up and Down
Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson are both in their third year. Despite Hankerson being drafted earlier and earning higher collegiate accolades, it’s been Robinson who has shown more so far throughout training camp this year.
On the other hand, Hankerson is a frustrating player and only because he has a very high ceiling. Of course, statistically, he has far surpassed Robinson.
It seems that he has all the tools to be a successful NFL receiver, yet he’s still wildly inconsistent—from his dropped passes to his erratic route running.
While I consider both to be locks to make the roster (more Hankerson than Robinson), it’s Hankerson who has the most to lose.
The Read-Option Is Still in the Playbook
I can assume that defensive coaches throughout the NFL spent the entire offseason trying to devise a plan to stop the read-option offense that was successfully used in Washington, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.
Even with the devastating injury to Robert Griffin III, the Redskins are sticking with what works, even if that means Kirk Cousins will be behind center.
I’m not really sure what to make of it either. The 2012 offense was not used in the preseason last year.
Is Mike Shanahan using this as a scare tactic? Is he keeping this in his back pocket if needed? Or is he running his system regardless of who is the quarterback?