Washington Redskins Who've Turned Heads in Offseason Workouts
The NFL's dead period stretches on and every scrap of OTA action takes on greater meaning as fans and experts try to survive summer's football drought. The Washington Redskins have wrapped up two rounds of OTAs thus far, and this year's activities lack the scrutiny of last year's.
It's a good thing that the player-coach drama and backbiting isn't the focus of Washington's offseason activities. It gives the rest of the roster a chance to shine, and there have been a few bright spots thus far.
Even though there are a great many notes, reports and observations made during OTAs, so few of them are actually relevant.
For the Redskins, here are some of the players who have made an impression this offseason.
Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker, Kickers
It's a small thing, but something to note. Kickers Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker took part in a little competition to close out practice last Wednesday.
Mike Jones of The Washington Post notes that the pair attempted three kicks each, including one from 51 yards out, and they were both perfect.
While the kicking game may not be the biggest concern for the Redskins this offseason, seeing that a veteran and a rookie are competing and pushing one another is encouraging. It isn't out of the question for both to make the roster, particularly if Forbath's kickoff length hasn't improved.
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback
It should come as no surprise that this offseason is a different story for Robert Griffin III. He isn't recovering from knee surgery, he isn't adjusting to a bulky knee brace and he isn't battling the media or his head coach.
Instead, this offseason is about refining his mechanics, improving as a player and, arguably most importantly, not being the center of attention.
Granted, the media was responsible for a lot of Griffin's overexposure, scrutinizing every iota of everything he said about Mike Shanahan in particular.
It remains to be seen if his mindset will lead to success, but it is refreshing for a young, talented player to see not only the problem with seasons past, but identify positive change.
Kory Lichtensteiger, Center
The Redskins offensive line was in dire need of upgrading heading into this offseason. They didn't add much in free agency and drafted two project players, but the biggest and best change made is moving left guard Kory Lichtensteiger to center.
Not only does it save the Redskins from having to slowly integrate a new player into their system, but it moves Lichtensteiger to a position he is more of a natural fit for.
Head coach Jay Gruden has praised Lichtensteiger's transition, and according to The Washington Post's Jones, he has looked comfortable at his new position, even bulking up to 300 pounds to better suit the rigors of the center position.
Bashaud Breeland, Cornerback
The Redskins did a solid job improving their secondary this offseason, adding Tracy Porter and Ryan Clark to the mix. By far the most underrated move they made was drafting Clemson's Bashaud Breeland.
While he doesn't jump out at you from an athletic standpoint, and is still a raw prospect, he brings a rangy, physical style of play to the cornerback position.
Early on in OTAs, Breeland got caught grabbing and being too physical with receivers down the field. As practices went on, he improved and was able to maintain physicality without incurring as many infractions for excessive contact.
Breeland's draft stock dropped following a mediocre 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the combine, but by all accounts appears much faster than his recorded time. There is no rush for Breeland to start or battle for time, which means he'll be able to develop at a comfortable pace.
If the Redskins can bring him along in the next couple of years, they might have a deceptively good cornerback duo along with David Amerson.
Keenan Robinson, Inside Linebacker
Perhaps the darling of this offseason, inside linebacker Keenan Robinson has captured the attention of everyone watching the Redskins activities. After suffering torn pectoral muscles in each of his first two seasons, Robinson appears poised to step into the role vacated by the now-retired London Fletcher.
Despite not playing for most of the last two seasons, Robinson is up to speed with all of the terminology on defense and looks strong physically.
Though no one can replace Fletcher's experience or leadership, Robinson is bigger and more athletic than Fletcher, which offers the potential for an expanded role in pass coverage and run support. His physical attributes will make up for the instincts he hasn't had a chance to put on display or hone on the field.
Thus far, Robinson has been taking snaps with the starting defense alongside Perry Riley, beating out veterans Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan who were thought to be viable competitors to succeed Fletcher.