7 Things We Learned from Washington Redskins Training Camp So Far
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Hallelujah, football is back!
From free-agent signings to surprise showcases, from ghost stories to quarterback recoveries, here's seven things we've learned from Redskins training camp in Richmond, Virginia, so far.
Adding Much Needed Depth at LB
Losing linebacker Keenan Robinson to a torn pectoral muscle didn't appear to make a large enough blip on most fans' radars.
Perhaps because Robinson enters just his second season and serves in a reserve role, fans are unsure what it is their team is actually losing. But when your starting inside linebacker is 38 years old, having a decent insurance policy can be just as valuable as the starter himself.
And for that reason, the Redskins worked out 10-year veteran Nick Barnett and eventually signed him to a one-year deal last Wednesday, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
Barnett was a first-round pick by the Packers in 2003, spending the first eight years of his career in Green Bay. He then signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2011, starting all 32 games the past two seasons before being released last February.
According to Jones' report, Barnett chose the Redskins over other potential suitors because he liked defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's system, which was similar to the one he worked in during his eight years in Green Bay.
Redskins linebackers coach Bob Slowik also served as Barnett’s defensive coordinator with the Packers in 2004.
Only time will tell, but I think this move will end up being a valuable one for the Redskins. Assuming he can fully recover from recent arthroscopic surgery and stem cell treatments on his right knee, Barnett can contribute both on and off the field.
Keep an Eye on Aldrick Robinson
It's one thing to have those in attendance tell us who looks good in practice.
It's another when you ask the starting quarterback who's standing out the most so far.
I think he has stepped his game up to the next level. He is a guy that we definitely have to get on the field a lot more. Very dynamic, very fast. The one thing he has really improved is his consistency catching the ball, especially in traffic. I think he can attest to that and you can see it out there in practice. He has just looked phenomenal. He is probably the guy that has impressed me the most, but a lot of guys out here are doing a great job.
After being drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, Robinson spent his first season on the Redskins practice squad. Last year he was a part of the Redskins' 53-man roster, appearing in 15 games, starting two and hauling in 11 catches for 237 yards and three scores.
Robinson isn't only important for this season, but for the future as well. Although he should be primarily used as a speedy field-stretcher in 2013, veteran Santana Moss is in the final year of his contract and Robinson has the opportunity to convince coaches this season that he's ready to step up.
Where's Chris Thompson?
When the Redskins drafted Florida State running back Chris Thompson in the fifth round last April, fans were excited to see what made him such an intriguing prospect to Mike Shanahan.
Before Monday, however, Thompson was nowhere to be found.
Recovering from a torn ACL suffered early last season, Thompson was held out of practice for an entire week, as the team works to stay cautious and maintain an efficient workload on the 5'7", 192-pound back, according to Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post.
“I haven’t been practicing every day throughout training camp," Thompson said on Monday. "That’s just the coaches decision on how many consecutive days I’ll go, if I’ll go every day. So far I haven’t. Just so the coaches make sure not to put too heavy of a load [on me]."
There's nothing wrong with cautious, but rookies can't afford to miss crucial learning periods throughout training camp. It'll be interesting to monitor Thompson's activity as we approach opening week against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
Whether he's participating in practice or not, Thompson needs to become the sponge—soaking up any and all knowledge he can from veterans, learning the offense and getting the most out of walk-throughs.
Trent Williams' Wrist
It may not look too bad in the above picture, but left tackle Trent Williams' wrist is a concern.
According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Williams fell on his left wrist during an 11-on-11 drill last Tuesday. He has had the same wrist heavily wrapped since the beginning of camp, appearing more like a mix between a billy club and a horse hoof.
"I just fell on it," Williams said. "It’s cool, though. It’s really nothing. I just stung it a little bit.”
While that may sound a bit reassuring, remember that this is considered a re-injury. Williams noted that wrist pain is nothing new, saying he first hurt it “like a year-and-a-half ago.”
Williams proved himself to be a top-10 left tackle last season, and he's certainly not a guy the Redskins can afford to lose. You'd like to take him at his word and sweep it under the rug, but reports of Williams visibly in pain when being treated on the sidelines is a terrifying sign.
Shanahan also didn't sound all that sure, according to Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports.
"He’s had it wrapped since he’s come into camp," Shanahan said. "It’s been sore. He’s been dealing with it for a while but hopefully it’s not too serious."
Keep a close eye on this moving forward.
Brandon Meriweather's Slow Recovery
This may be a slight overreaction by yours truly, but safety Brandon Meriweather's slow recovery from knee surgery is another medical red flag at camp.
On the other hand, maybe coaches have adopted an extremely cautious approach since watching Robert Griffin III crumble at the end of last season.
"They just told me to slow down,” Meriweather said, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “They wanted me to slow down and not push it.”
Maske also reports that Shanahan will continue to operate under a wait-and-see approach with Meriweather's activity level.
"I’ll evaluate him in the drill work," Shanahan said. "What we don’t want to do is push a guy too hard and set him back."
Meriweather returned to practice on Monday, according to Rich Campbell of the Washington Times.
As an expected starter, monitoring how Meriweather's knee feels throughout the rest of the week should be a telling sign.
Loyalty Presides at Right Tackle
Well before training camp or OTAs even began, you could find me banging the table for Tom Compton to take over duties at right tackle, replacing veteran Tyler Polumbus.
But according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, Polumbus appears to be the favorite at the right tackle position, receiving participation with the first-team unit.
Meanwhile, Tony Pashos—the veteran lineman signed by the Redskins this past spring after missing an entire year of football—gets his looks with the second-team.
Compton appears to be the No. 2 left tackle behind starter Trent Williams.
As critical as I was of Polumbus and his play last season, the Redskins didn't seem to notice much by way of the fourth-best offense in the league.
If coaches believe in him and feel that he can correct his pass protection miscues from a year ago, Polumbus is going to be the guy on the right side. He knows the system, coaches are familiar with him and returning an offensive line is good for consistency and continuity.
You didn't think you'd get through an entire Redskins piece without some RG3 stuff, did ya?
As Shanahan and the Redskins remain cautious about pulling Griffin back into football activities, the quarterback is anxious and champing at the bit to get his reps.
"I'm ready to move on," Griffin said, according to John Keim of ESPN. "There's only so much you can do in 7-on-7."
While that's true, I believe it's most important to stay the course when it comes to Griffin's recovery. Having him healthy on September 9 isn't so much the goal as keeping him healthy for the next 10 years is.
"Do everything the coaches ask me to do and show them my rhythm and timing is there and show them I can play," Griffin added. "At the end of the day they have to play me Week 1 if I do everything they ask me to do."
Does that sound the least bit awkward to anyone else? The Redskins "have" to play him?
Any sports fan can appreciate and admire Griffin's work ethic, passion and dedication. Let's just hope he's not zealous to a fault.
[ For more on this issue, be sure to checkout my full gab here ]