December 30, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) celebrates with Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen (82) after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 28-18. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Redskins are coming off their first division title since 1999, and appear to be favorites to win the division yet again depending on the health of Robert Griffin III.
This of course hasn’t been done since the Philadelphia Eagles during the 03/04 seasons, which has led some to also believe it won’t happen with the Redskins. If there’s one thing Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan have been able to do during their short times in Washington, it’s winning and breaking bad streaks.
In order to do this however the Redskins will need to have the best players from top to bottom on their roster (which shouldn’t be too hard with the depth on the team).
Heading into Training Camp there are a lot of positions to look at for not only battles, but possible new starters.
Right away fans should be expecting Phillip Thomas to be starting at free safety as there’s not much competition there for him. Had Tanard Jackson not been suspended by the NFL, Thomas might have had a battle on his hands, but for now he should win it with ease.
Baccari Rambo will probably find himself in a losing battle with veteran strong safety Brandon Meriweather who showed us a brief taste of what he can bring to the table against the Philadelphia Eagles last year. If he can’t stay away from the injury bug, Rambo could find himself starting week one.
July 30, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins defensive back Brandon Meriweather (31) walks to the field during training camp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
If Tanard Jackson is reinstated by the league, and the Redskins do intend to welcome him back with “open arms,” it would seem like the talks of DeAngelo Hall at free safety might be a reach, causing a competition between him and David Amerson. After Hall’s terrific play the second half of the season last year, and Amerson’s reputation coming out of NC State, both should fit nicely as the starter.
Wilson did have a down season compared to Hall, but throughout his time in the NFL he’s been a more dependable and consistent player than Hall has, which is why you would assume the battle would be between Hall and Amerson, rather than Amerson and Wilson. After all they didn’t cut or restructure Wilson’s contract because they didn’t want him here.
Defensive line could be another interesting battle with Adam Carriker sidelined with an injury that doesn’t appear too bright for the 29 year old. Jarvis Jenkins was coming into his role last season and could be the starter this season depending on battles. Stephen Bowen saw a drop in his performance, as did Barry Cofield (though his pass rush was great).
The team will need their big bodies to plug up run lanes for running backs again this season if they want to retain their Top Five defensive rank against the rush from last year.
May 5, 2013; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) catches the ball during warm ups prior to rookie minicamp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Tight end could also be an interesting battle with Fred Davis’ injury, along with Jordan Reed, who dare I say it reminds a lot of people of Aaron Hernandez’s playing ability (and nothing more). Niles Paul is coming into his second season as a tight end, after a season which needless to say wasn’t all that great. Barring any surprises from Paul, Reed could push Davis out-of-the-way depending on his (Davis) recovery.
Offensive line shouldn’t see too much of a mix up, but Josh LeRibeus could make a push for the starting role after his play against Seattle. His problem of course is beating out a player like Kory Lichtensteiger who just re-signed with the Redskins for four season. Unless Lichtensteiger or someone else gets injured, odds are he won’t see much playing time in 2013. He could however show Shanahan that he’s ready in case another play has a down season.
There will be a lot of battle elsewhere, especially at WR and LB, but it doesn’t seem likely that there will be too many shakeups within the roster. Though you could see a younger Aldrick Robinson pushing Santana Moss out of his way.
All in all, this might be the Redskins best training camp in over a decade. The team appears to be healthy minus a player or two, and the depth is enough to win them another NFC East title. The question however is can they stay healthy, and more importantly win down the stretch with an extremely tough schedule.