The Washington Redskins now have an extremely crowded wide receiving corps heading into training camp. With the contract agreements for veteran receivers Dante Stallworth and Brandon Stokley, along with a trade acquiring Jabar Gaffney, the returning players will be facing healthy competition in camp.
Did you hear that?! Competition for playing time! No longer is Washington a place for players to get extremely overpaid well into their 30s. Now, they are being brought in to help push a younger group of receivers, three rookies who will need to learn an NFL offense in only a few weeks.
Santana Moss re-signed for three years and returns as the best wideout on the team after pulling in a career-high 93 receptions last season. Anthony Armstrong emerged as a reliable deep threat and leader in the locker room and the team found a true stud return man in the form of Brandon Banks.
With Moss, Armstrong and Banks presumably all making the team, there are only three receiver spots at most available for the opening day roster. Terrance Austin, a second-year player out of UCLA, showed some potential last season and is certainly a wild card in this whole thing. I have no idea or opinion on how his career will pan out.
Malcolm Kelly is dead to me. Moving on.
Welcome to the party Leonard Hankerson! The Hurricane who broke Michael Irvin’s school record for touchdowns in one season is the next Brandon Marshall (I can get a little carried away; it's offseason in Washington). Seriously, every Skins fan thinks he is going to be a stud. He will make the team, strictly based on breaking a record previously belonging to Irvin.
The remaining two receivers drafted in 2011 were Aldrick Robinson (SMU) and Niles Paul (Nebraska). Robinson is another college receiver who owns his school record for touchdowns in a season and has blazing speed, while Paul is a big body who played in a run heavy offense at Nebraska. Honestly, I know very little about these two except that they look good YouTube.
So we are left with four returning players, three draft picks and three veteran/washed up players competing for six spots. Remember last season, when Willie Parker and Larry Johnson were brought in to compete with Ryan Torrain and Keiland Williams? They are both out of the league, while Torrain and Williams made valuable contributions. Expect that same story to develop with the receivers this year.
My prediction for opening day is Moss, Hankerson, Armstrong, Gaffney, Robinson and Banks as returner. Paul and or Austin will end up on the practice squad while Stallworth and Stokley will be returning their playbooks.
I can live with building a core of young receivers, and hoping we find a Pro Bowler or two in the coming years. It is time to develop our own stars, and not time to sign Braylon Edwards or Sidney Rice.
So don’t freak out that the Skins signed a bunch of 30-something receivers, the youth movement has begun and the rookies need veterans to help teach them the intricacies of the NFL.
Now they just a need quarterback, offensive line, kicker and punter. It could be worse—remember Zorn.
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