Updating Redskins' Key Position Battles Halfway Through Training Camp
But as we all know, the NFL preseason isn't about the score or the win. It's about the development of your roster. The progress of your team. The deterioration. The injuries. And the battle for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Here's an update on the Redskins' position battles following the team's first preseason game.
There may be a lot of preseason football left to go, but I think my ship with second-year man Tom Compton taking over the right tackle spot has sailed.
Since starting Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams re-injured his wrist, Compton has become that much more valuable to the Redskins' offensive line.
And further increasing his worth, Compton also appears to be one of the more versatile linemen on the team.
According to Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post, Compton slid over to left guard during practice last Monday in order to back up starter Kory Lichtensteiger after Josh LeRibeus hyperextended his left knee.
“I played both (tackle positions) in college, so I’ve had experience, being able to switch back and forth,” Compton said after Tuesday's practice. “I think my experience playing both, it's not as hard for me to switch. I think it just comes down to be able to be in that stance. And being able to use the footwork the way you want to.”
Compton's first role is backing up Williams on the left side. In emergency situations, Shanahan then has Compton in his back pocket, knowing he can put him anywhere for spot duty.
Meanwhile, veteran Tyler Polumbus appears to be holding down the starting right tackle spot, with fellow veteran Tony Pashos backing him up.
There will be a ton of people who grill rookie safety Bacarri Rambo for the way he was juked out of his cleats in a one-on-one situation with Chris Johnson last week. But I'd be willing to bet that not even the best safety in the league would have an easy play in that situation.
Truth is, Rambo still presents the best skill set to start at safety for the Redskins come Week 1.
Did he make a few mistakes in his first ever NFL game? Sure. But it's not the end of the world. That's why the games are played. Rambo is a knowledgeable football player who will learn from his play. The more experience early on, the better and more well-prepared he'll be.
Fellow rookie Phillip Thomas started alongside Rambo in the absence of regular starter Brandon Meriweather. Unfortunately, Thomas suffered a mid-foot sprain during the first quarter of the game, according to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington.
Although we'll likely see more at the position as camp moves forward (health permitting), it still looks like Meriweather/Rambo is the tandem to beat.
Not that his job is in any sort of danger, but it was nice to see Joshua Morgan on the field following offseason ankle surgery. He appears to have regained his explosiveness, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a faster No. 15 this season.
Meanwhile, Leonard Hankerson's team-leading four catches went for 38 yards and a touchdown—a decent opening stat line for a receiver looking to put everything together in his third year.
Aldrick Robinson also seems to be a likely candidate for the final roster, but it won't be easy. He needs to improve his blocking, and I think everyone would like to see a more consistent pair of hands.
Not to be forgotten is my personal favorite, Lance Lewis. His playing time should increase throughout the final three preseason games, and I expect him to step up. He finished last week's game with one catch for 10 yards.
Despite his two catches for 33 yards, veteran Donte Stallworth suffered a strained hamstring in the game, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Don't be surprised if he misses decent time.
Updating my roster predictions, my receivers look something like: Garcon, Hankerson, Morgan, Moss, Robinson and Lewis.
Taking the night off in Tennessee, running back Alfred Morris watched from the sidelines as a couple familiar names battled it out for the No. 2 spot.
Roy Helu Jr. returns this year after missing a majority of last season to injury. His combination of speed, explosiveness, pass catching and pass protection make him the early favorite to win the job and come in on third down.
Meanwhile, Evan Royster returns after receiving less than 25 carries last season. Although his running style fits Washington's system, Royster will need to show out in order to prove that he can give more than just a smooth stride and big frame.
Helu Jr. rushed for 57 yards on 13 carries against the Titans, often times reminding coaches of the speedy burst they grew accustomed to during Helu's rookie year when he led the team with 640 yards.
Putting up similar numbers, Royster finished the game with 14 carries for 62 yards.
Rookies Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison did not play.
Shanahan discussed the situation with The Washington Post:
"I was really impressed,” Shanahan said. “It was nice to see Roy do a good job. I thought he handled himself well. I thought Royster did a great job when he was in there. I’ve got to take a look at film, but my initial thoughts were I’m very impressed with both.”
While the battle may grow a bit more between Helu Jr. and Royster, my favorite remains Helu.
Not only does Helu offer more in terms of skill set, but the preseason playing time will change amongst the backfield once Thompson and Jamison join the mix, ultimately making things harder on a rather vanilla Evan Royster.
No, no and no.
After finishing the game 5-of-8 for 31 yards and another 33 yards and a score on the ground, Pat White seemed to be the most popular athlete in DC. A quarterback controversy of some sort was in full swing.
But before anyone gets too out of control, remember that we're talking about the third-string quarterback position. Remember that this quarterback has a minimal chance of seeing the field at all this season. And remember that White was out of football for three years for a reason.
Perhaps we'll see more in upcoming preseason games, but White seems to limit the offense in terms of run and pass. When he's in the game, it's a run-option format, as his passing ability is severely lacking.
When it comes to the third-string job—despite my strong dislike for his play on the field—Rex Grossman remains the Redskins' best option.
Not only does Grossman have the confidence of his teammates (still a modern mystery), but he also has a full understanding of the offense, having been with Kyle Shanahan for so many years.
Although Grossman may not be the guy you want slinging the ball around down three in the fourth quarter, his tips and advice by way of valuable experience go a long way for young quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.