Washington Redskins Training Camp: 5 Early Storylines to Watch
The long wait is finally over. NFL training camps have finally opened.
The Washington Redskins look to continue their success from last season, as they had one of their most exciting seasons in years. With Robert Griffin III at the helm, the Redskins were able to win the difficult NFC East.
They didn't have a first-round pick because of the RG3 trade last year (worth it) and didn't make any big offseason moves, but they managed to stay unnoticed.
Some of these moves could definitely move them from good to great, but the season really depends on RG3.
Here are five early storylines to watch during training camp.
New Man in the Middle: Nick Barnett
For a likely backup, this is one the best moves the Redskins made all offseason.
Nick Barnett is a Super Bowl-winning linebacker with a ton of experience in the 3-4. While Perry Riley will most likely line up next to the immortal London Fletcher, Barnett will be a great guy to have in the locker room.
The former Green Bay Packer won't have a huge role on the team, but that will certainly play in his favor. The questions surrounding Barnett were fair, as he has had a rough past with injuries, but he won't be playing a ton of snaps which will allow him to stay healthy.
Ultimately, this is the type of move that championship-contending teams makes. On or off the field, Barnett will make a positive impact for the 'Skins.
Who Will Step Up at Receiver?
The Redskins have been in receiver purgatory for a long time.
Last season, they tried to change their fate by signing Pierre Garcon in free agency. The oft-injured Garcon only played in 10 games last year after hurting his foot in Week 1.
Garcon is a definitely the No. 1, but which player on the roster has the potential be the No. 2?
Longtime 'Skin Santana Moss will fight for the No. 2 spot, but he is much more effective in the slot. His small stature, speed and willingness to go over the middle makes him the perfect No. 3.
As for the No. 2 receiver, it's a competition between Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson.
Reports from camp, including Mike Jones from The Washington Post, are saying that Robinson has the advantage, as of right now, because of his great rapport with RG3. As long as one of them steps up, Redskins fans will be happy.
Brian Orakpo Is Ready to Dominate
Brian Orakpo has always been a physical specimen, but a torn pectoral muscle kept him out for most of last season.
Many were excited about how Orakpo would fare with Ryan Kerrigan, the opposite outside linebacker, but injuries kept us from seeing their second season together. This year, Orakpo and Kerrigan will finally get the opportunity to play together again.
The Redskins had a decent pass rush last year, and it can only get better. With Orakpo back to full health and the signing of the aforementioned Barnett, the Redskins linebacking core is top class.
As for Orakpo, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, he can't wait for the season to start:
“I feel great, man,” he said. “I kind of got a little rhythm back once [organized team activities] started. . . . I had little butterflies and, you know, worried about if I tweak something here and there or if this move will generate more pain than the other. I got all those butterflies out of the way once we started in OTAs. I’m ready to go.”
Expect a big season from the confident Orakpo. He and Kerrigan could be the best outside linebacking pair in the league next season.
New-Look Secondary Will Step Up
It's not every day that you get to read about a rookie drafted in the sixth round, but with a name like Bacarri Rambo, how could you be disappointed?
The Redskins made it clear, they were revamping their secondary after a slew of offseason moves that will certainly help with their depth. The Redskins have Brandon Meriweather, but due to his injuries and off-the-field issues, he has been a huge disappointment .
Among the moves was taking two rookie free safeties in the draft, Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas. Rambo has already made a big impact in training camp in his short time with the team, as he is already getting first-team repetitions, according to Rich Campbell of The Washington Times.
This is great news for the Redskins organization and Redskins fans alike because they really haven't had a decent free safety since the tragic death of Sean Taylor. Laron Landry attempted to play that center-field role, but could never quite grasp the position.
With their impressive pass rush, Rambo, or whoever wins the competition, will be in a great position to make an impact.
Should RG3 Play?
This is one of the dumbest conversations in sports right now; unfortunately, I'm going to talk about it.
Griffin should play when his knee is fully healthy—not before, not after. The comparisons to Adrian Peterson's recovery are way off base because they are different people.
Peterson healed from torn ACL in about six months, which was way quicker than any human being should. The Redskins can't look at Griffin's recovery time and compare it to AP's because they would run the risk of bringing him back too early.
On the other hand, you simply can't look at the normal recovery time of this sort of knee injury and put that timeline on RG3 because he very well could be ready before that. There is no use in sitting him when he is 100 percent.
What did we learn here? Not much, honestly.
Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen and the rest of the Redskins organization need to listen to RG3 in this case. Griffin can only play when he alone is comfortable with the regular movements that he makes on a daily basis.