2012 Washington Redskins: Which Injured Players Will Have an Impact in 2012?

Harley QuinnContributor IIIDecember 13, 2011

2012 Washington Redskins: Which Injured Players Will Have an Impact in 2012?

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    This year has been an injury plagued year for the Redskins. Offensive playmakers have fallen to injury, and the same has taken place on the defensive side of the ball.

    Players like LaRon Landry, Jamal Brown and Oshiomogho Atogwe have battled injury all year, and even more have been placed on injured reserve.

    These players saw their season cut short by injury, and their future with the team is now in jeopardy moving forward.

    It will be interesting to see which players will be greeted with open arms next season when they recover, and which players will be shown the exit.

1. Chris Cooley, TE

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    Sadly, injuries have plagued Chris Cooley for the past three years.

    Cooley is not the tight end he once was, and with the emergence of a much younger, physical tight end in Fred Davis, Cooley has taken a backseat at the position.

    Contrary to belief of a lot of Redskins fans, I believe Cooley will be back in Washington in 2012.

    Not because he is a player that the Redskins are necessarily high on, but because keeping him outweighs the benefit they might receive were they to shop him to other teams.

    He still has the tangibles to make the tandem of Fred Davis and himself a feared one, but not the top of the depth chart. I believe he stays because the Redskins are a big fan of two-tight end sets, and Cooley offers them a lot of depth at the position.

    The key will be his health.

2. Kory Lichtensteiger, OG

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    This is an intriguing question.

    Many expect the Redskins to overhaul their offense in 2012, with a lot of emphasis on the offensive line. However, Shanahan is high on Kory Lichtensteiger and for good reason. He is a solid player who has improved during Shanahan's tenure at head coach.

    Lichtensteiger's presence was missed in the games following his loss as the offensive line struggled to open holes for rushers and protect either John Beck or Rex Grossman.

    His return is questionable due to the amount of change that will likely take place this offseason to the Redskins' offense.

    If he stays, he might not be a starter. 

3. Tim Hightower, RB

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    Although set to become a free agent, Tim Hightower is almost guaranteed to return to Washington in 2012.

    He was cranking out a lot of production both in carries and in protection before falling to season-ending injury.

    Hightower had the starting job in D.C. all but locked up, but his injury opened the door for Roy Helu to put some pressure on the coaches. From a production standpoint, Hightower was gaining 3.82 yards per carry to Helu's 4.69 yards per carry.

    I believe the Redskins are happy with the productivity of both of their backs and will likely create a running system similar to Carolina's combination of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.

    Who opens the 2012 season in the Redskins backfield will be an interesting question moving forward, but Hightower is likely to be a part of the team's future. 

4. Jarvis Jenkins, DE

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    Jarvis Jenkins was a bright spot in the Redskins' preseason before falling to season-ending injury in Week 3 of the preseason.

    The coaching staff is very high on Jenkins, and it will make the return of Adam Carriker a questionable one. Carriker has been a productive part of the Redskins' pass rush this year and has been a part of Jim Haslett's scheme for years.

    Jenkins was drafted with the Redskins' second pick and looked like he was on his way to a starting job before he went down.

    Jenkins will return in 2012 and has the chance to pick up right where he left off. He could be the defensive push that the Redskins want on defense to open even more holes for Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan on the outside rushes.

5. Leonard Hankerson, WR

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    Leonard Hankerson was on his way to proving just why the Redskins took him in the third round before falling to injury. He will definitely be back for more in 2012.

    Hankerson took a while to grasp the offense, but once he did he was torching defensive backs for big gains. His last game was against the Miami Dolphins where he had eight catches for 106 yards.

    Hankerson and Santana Moss have yet to line up beside each other in a regular season game, but once they do, the combination could be a good one.  

    He has all the tangibles to become the Redskins' No. 1 receiver, and with the help of Jabar Gaffney and Moss, the Redskins could have their most productive receiving corps in over a decade.  

    I wouldn't be surprised to see the Redskins go after one more receiver in the middle rounds of this year's draft to put the finishing touches on their receiving group.

6. Phillip Buchanon, CB

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    Phillip Buchanon would be lucky to remain a Redskin in 2012.

    He was always just the Redskins' third corner, and with the suspension and injuries, he has not been a part of the team at all in 2011.

    Corner is a position of need for Washington, and I don't think Buchanon is the answer. He came into 2011 with a four-game suspension and has did not return to play a single defensive snap this year.

    The Redskins have had more production from seventh-round practice squad pickup Brandyn Thompson than from Buchanon this year. He will likely be back on the market looking for a new team in 2012.

7. Kedric Golston, DE

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    Kedric Golston will be expendable in 2012.

    Golston was a player that Shanahan needed in 2010 before his defensive overhaul, but was nothing more than a second-string defensive end in 2011.

    With the productivity of Adam Carriker and Stephen Bowen, and the return of rookie Jarvis Jenkins, Golston could be on his way out of Washington next season.

    He is due to become a free agent and his return will depend on whether the coaches believe Stephen Bowen can hold up for all of 2012. Golston is not a bad player and would be a good depth player at the position, but his presence is not needed next year.

    It's hard to say whether Golston will sign with his drafting team, or if they will even offer him a contract.

Conclusion

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    In conclusion, the roster movement for next year depends a lot on the production in the final three weeks of the season. I think a lot can be said about the success of this year's draft class.  

    Rookies such as Roy Helu, Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson and even Dejon Gomes have put pressure on veteran players to hold onto their roster spots. Tim Hightower had the starting job all locked up before Helu took the league by storm.

    Now fantasy owners are scrambling to add Helu to their teams due to the massive amounts of offense he produces.

    This is something that Redskins fans haven't seen and should be very proud of. I can't believe fans that are already asking for Shanahan's head. This team was in some pretty deep water when Shanahan arrived. There was no quick fix for this team. It needed a complete overhaul on both sides of the ball.

    Shanahan has brought that to Washington. The defense is just now starting to take form, and the offense now has some young talent to build on. Whether a player such as Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin III is the answer has yet to be seen, but this team is not far from competing with the other teams in their division.

    Redskins fans just need patience to watch this team and offense finally come together. It's gonna be fun.

    Your comments are appreciated.