Washington Redskins: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After OTAs
While too much stock can't be placed on the non-contact practices that comprise NFL teams' organized team activities, the new coaching staff and the various players coming back from injury makes the Washington Redskins' OTAs one to watch.
Starting anew with head coach Jay Gruden's coaching staff, which players will seize the opportunity to make names for themselves?
Let's find out. Here are five players whose stock is on the rise after OTAs.
QB Robert Griffin III
While Robert Griffin III's waning mobility and Washington's porous offensive line played a part in the beating he took under center last season, his flawed passing mechanics also played an integral role.
As John Keim of ESPN.com noted, Griffin had a longer windup when he threw the ball last season, lengthening the time it took for him to release the ball.
Utilizing a more over-the-top throwing motion in OTAs, according to Keim, Griffin had a quicker release and threw more accurately from the pocket.
Then there's Griffin's surgically repaired knee. Free of the balky knee brace, Griffin was more spry and had an extra pep his step in practices.
No longer rehabbing in isolation, another takeaway for Griffin is the interaction he's having with teammates.
As everyone knows, last year I was rehabbing and getting ready for the season, and now I get to go out there and be with the guys. That’s the most important part: to be with your teammates. That’s what I’ve had a chance to do. I thoroughly enjoy it, and hopefully they have, too.
An important development amid reports last season that there was a rift between Griffin and his teammates, Griffin is taking the onus to become a better leader.
Minus the internal bickering, with the opposing team as the lone adversary, this development can only aid the team in its quest to return to the postseason.
S Phillip Thomas
Pegged by general manager Bruce Allen as a potential starter prior to a season-ending injury last preseason, Phillip Thomas found himself on the second-team defense, behind Brandon Meriweather, during the team's OTA sessions.
As disastrous as the team's safety play was last season, this is a victory in itself.
Washington didn't address the safety position in the draft, and Ryan Clark and the recently reinstated Tanard Jackson were the lone reinforcements brought in via free agency.
While you'd expect rust to be an issue for Thomas after such a long layoff, according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post, Thomas didn't miss a beat.
"Thomas moved around just fine and had one of the highlights of the day as he made a diving catch for an interception off Colt McCoy," Jones said.
With Clark and Meriweather just signed to one-year deals, the 2014 season looks to be an apprenticeship for Thomas, with 2015 being the year in which he can finally enter the starting lineup.
TE Jordan Reed
Despite being limited by injury in his inaugural NFL season, Jordan Reed still managed to finish the year as the team's second-leading receiver.
In just nine games, Reed registered 45 receptions, 499 yards and three touchdowns.
While you may think that the Redskins' acquisitions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts will drop Reed on the team's receiving hierarchy, their arrival actually could lead to an uptick in production for Reed, provided he stays healthy.
In an interview with Comcast SportsNet's Rich Tandler, Gruden hinted as much.
"If people want to crowd DeSean or crowd Pierre, he’s a guy that is very much needed in the passing game, so we just got to keep him healthy and get him going,” he said.
Relaying to Mark Maske of The Washington Post that he's symptom-free of the concussion that ended his rookie season, Reed is poised to have a breakout 2014 season.
LB Keenan Robinson
Another player who's recovering from injury, Keenan Robinson's ascent into the starting lineup—for now, anyway—has to be the most surprising.
Entering his third NFL season, Robinson has only played in 11 games. Yet, according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post, there was Robinson, lining up with the first-team defense in OTAs.
In light of the free agents (Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton and Adam Hayward) Washington brought in to fill London Fletcher's vacated spot, it's clear that Robinson has made headway in convincing the new coaching regime that he's ready to start.
This is most evident in the comment Coach Gruden made to Jones:
"We have high hopes for Keenan and we love the progress he’s making," he said. "Just from a short period of time, he’s one of the guys on the field that stands out. We’ll say, ‘Is that Keenan again?’ He’s doing a great job, so the big thing is keep him healthy."
The most athletic of the Redskins inside linebackers, Robinson very well could be the team's best option to cover opposing tight ends and backs, as it's certainly not Perry Riley's area of expertise.
CB David Amerson
Tasked with replacing the departed Josh Wilson, David Amerson entered the offseason needing to better utilize his size, namely in press coverage.
According to Keim of ESPN.com, Amerson showcased his improvement on this front during OTAs.
"Corner David Amerson looks more comfortable in press coverage and is using his long arms to his advantage when jamming receivers. Saw him do this a couple times, showing good technique and not getting beat in this look."
With Washington bolstering its pass rush this offseason, if Amerson can harness his physical ability and disrupt the timing between the quarterback and receiver via press coverage, the team would be hard-pressed to again finish with the 20th-ranked pass defense.