With training camp starting tomorrow (or today, since it's after midnight), it's time to look at the Redskins' preseason position battles.
There will be several key battles that will help determine how the season turns out, so you can be sure the coaches will not take them lightly, and neither will the media. The attention given to some of these battles over the course of training camp will be covered constantly.
There was some talk about the Redskins signing Michael Vick, and then having him and Jason Campbell battle it out for the starting job. However, Jim Zorn quelled those rumors very quickly. I don't know why signing Vick even came up, because constantly second guessing your franchise QB who has performed reasonably well in the tough NFC East is stupid. Also, Campbell is better than Vick, especially after his extended prison stay.
The rosters cut down to 75 players on September 1st and to 53 on September 5th, so these positions will be set by then.
Veteran Todd Collins and second-year player Colt Brennan will battle for the backup quarterback position.
Collins has completed 369 on passes on 651 attempts for 22 touchdowns and 4335 yards in his NFL career, while Brennan has yet to step on the field. This experience, plus his strong play at the end of the 2007 season and his contract (second year of a three year, $9 million deal), will be the reason Todd Collins wins the job. They didn't pay him all that money to be the third guy on the depth chart.
Incumbent Antwaan Randle El will try and fend off second-year players Devin Thomas and Malcom Kelly and keep his spot as the No. 2 receiver.
The Redskins really need someone to step up in the passing game other than Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, so this battle will be monitored very closely. Randle El has been a bit of a disappointment since being signed prior to the 2006 season, and if he doesn't perform well in camp he may lose the job to the bulky Thomas or the speedy Kelly.
I think Randle El will keep the job, because once again his experience and contract (seven years, $31 million) will prompt the coaches to choose him. I also think he will outperform Thomas and Kelly during camp, but not significantly, leading to the chance that he gets replaced if he performs poorly.
Stephon Heyer, Mike Williams, and Jeremy Bridges will battle it out for the starting spot at right tackle.
Heyer is the local favorite, having gone to nearby Maryland for college. He also seems to be the favorite with the coaches too, as he won the job last year but only started in seven games because of an injury. In his two years with the Skins he has played in 21 games and started 12.
Williams hasn't started since 2005 and is just getting into shape. Bridges is traditionally a guard, so Heyer shouldn't have too much trouble keeping his spot.
Rookie Kevin Barnes fights second-year player Justin Tryon here.
Barnes is another local favorite, having also gone to Maryland. Tryon struggled last year and might not even make the team this year, so Barnes is a pretty safe pick.
Shaun Suisham and Dave Raynor are the two candidates here.
The Redskins are quickly souring on Suisham, who missed 10 kicks last year—an NFL high—and does not have much range. However, Raynor isn't that special either, so this will be a tough battle. Right now they are virtually even, with Suisham maybe having the edge because he's the incumbent so at least they know what they're getting with him, sort of.