Breaking Down the Washington Redskins Receiver Battle
New head coach Mike Shanahan has plenty of work ahead of him as this year's version of the Washington Redskins begins to take shape. There are 10 wide receivers in training camp and it is likely that only six of them will be on the 53-man roster by Week One.
The group is being led by new wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Those two together have to find ways for Donovan McNabb to get the ball to the receivers.
While the Redskins have very good tight ends in Chris Cooley,and Fred Davis, Kyle Shanahan likes to stretch the field and is hoping he may have a few diamonds in the rough.
The team parted ways with Antwaan Randle El and Marko Mitchell from a year ago and have brought a mix of veterans and unproven players to compete in training camp. Here is a look at the players vying for those six spots.
Moss is the only player guaranteed a spot on the depth chart. A proven NFL veteran, Moss recorded 70 receptions last season playing for a stagnant offense with an atrocious offensive line.
Jason Campbell and Moss struggled for years to connect on long passes and now he will look to develop a rapport with McNabb similar to what Desean Jackson and Donovan had last season.
Look for Santana to top 1,000 yards receiving this year in Kyle Shanahan's offense. He looked good in the first quarter against the Ravens, and he always looks good when he plays Dallas.
Self proclaimed “showtime,” Devin Thomas has had one successful season of big time football, and that was as a Spartan at Michigan State.
Drafted ahead of Desean Jackson in the 2008 NFL Draft, Thomas has shown flashes of his potential in his two-year NFL career.
Unfortunately flashes are all he has been about. This could be the year where Thomas either becomes a full-time legitimate NFL starter or just another flash in the pan.
In his rookie season, Thomas had an impressive touchdown run on a reverse called by Jim Zorn. Yes, Zorn actually called a play that worked. Then late last season Thomas had his best all around game: Seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned kicks that afternoon in the heartbreaking loss to the eventual champion Saints.
Oh Vinny Cerrato, every time Redskins fans think they have rid themselves of your stupid, YouTube scouting reports and ridiculous approach to player acquisitions we are hit with a good old reality check in the form of Albert Haynesworth, Chad Reinhart, or Malcolm Kelly.
Mr. Kelly has done very little in his professional career. He missed almost all his rookie season after being placed on Injured Reserve. Last year he was active for all 16 games, but only recorded 28 catches. His best game was in the season finale when he had an 84-yard catch and run against San Diego.
This year Kelly has failed to impress anyone. He has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and has yet to really practice at all. If he wants to make the team he will have to heal quickly before the preseason is over.
If he does play he better make things happen or he will be released and become another draft bust for Cerrato’s resume. Did I mention he is 6’4" with long arms and has never fumbled once in his career? He also has never scored a touchdown.
From the Intense Football League, to the Arena League, to the practice squad, to the 53 man roster, it is going to happen for Mr. Armstrong. He has done nothing but impress the fans in the first two preseason games, leading Washington in every receiving statistic so far. He has shown the ability to fight for extra yards, adjust to passes mid-route, and make plays when they are there to be made.
He spent last year on the Skins practice squad, and now is in position to make the final roster. With six grabs for 91 yards and a TD so far this preseason, look for more exciting things from Armstrong this year.
In one preseason game, Brandon Banks made Redskins fans remember what it was like to see an actual punt return form someone besides Santana Moss. For years Antwaan Randle El would catch punts, do a hop skip and a jump, then sit down criss-cross apple sauce before oncoming defenders could tackle him. Yet Zorn continued to let him return punts despite being terrible at them.
Banks took one to the house off Redskins fans' favorite punter Brian Moorman in his first contest at FedEx Field. By doing so, he showed coach Shanahan what he could do: run. Blessed with extraordinary speed, Banks ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, but reports are that he tweaked his hamstring during the run. Banks claims he was clocking around 4.25 consistently in his training leading up to the combine.
Either way he is very fast, and if his 5’7" 149 lb. frame can hold up, look for Shanahan to find a place for this dynamic young Wildcat to make the roster.
Entering his 16th season in the NFL Joey Galloway started training camp listed as a member of the first-team offense. Odds are that he will not likely stay there because he was brought in as a veteran presence to help show all the young receivers how to conduct themselves and hopefully teach them how to grow up.
Galloway has only 20 receptions the past two seasons but had his best years in Tampa Bay, where Bruce Allen was general manager. It is doubtful Galloway has much left in the tank. While many expect him to make the team, getting cut is still not entirely out of the question.
The coaches probably are not expecting Galloway to make a splash in the preseason since he is a proven NFL veteran. At the very least he will serve as a mentor to the younger players.
Receivers coach Keenan McCardell was productive late in his career and he may be envisioning similar performances this year from Galloway.
This could be his last chance to make an NFL team. He is 29 years old, three years removed from his last season playing on Sundays, and is planted firmly on the bubble of the Redskins roster. His age is certainly not helping his case to make the team, but his height at 6’0" is helping him. The Redskins lack size at the receiver position so Williams has an advantage in that respect.
In 2007, he grabbed 55 passes for over 700 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, especially in Tennessee where throwing the ball has never come easily since Steve McNair left.
Williams has looked solid in camp and preseason, but really has not done too much to stand out either. It will be interesting to see if he ends up on the team. My prediction is that he will fall just short, and possibly land on the practice squad.
This seventh-round pick out of UCLA has playmaking ability. He was one of the top return men in college last season and has shown better receiving skills than many anticipated through training camp. A poor man’s Desean Jackson is a good way to think of him, and he played in Jackson's shadow for some time in college.
It may be tough for Austin and Banks to both be on the roster, but if Austin can demonstrate his skills it will be hard for the coaching staff to leave him off the roster. Expect Austin to either be the last receiver on the team or heading for the practice squad.
Bobby Wade, Shay Hodge
He reminds me of Eddie Kennison, hanging around the NFL but never too flashy or too good. Wade has averaged about 35 catches a season, and has been steady through camp and preseason. Not many fans expect him to make the team, and he is a long shot at best.
Hodge is mostly just camp fodder, a 22-year-old rookie from Mississippi with good size (6’2"). However he has failed to make a catch in the preseason and is most likely the last receiver on the depth chart.
Moss, Thomas, Armstrong, Banks, Galloway, and Austin