Pre-Season Matters for the Redskins

Washington Redskins camp is in full throttle as we near week one of pre-season games. At this point in the process every team has questions and it is not uncommon for those questions to be far from answered. Pre-season games give coaches a chance to evaluate players at game speed and see how they react in certain situations. With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to the District on Friday, I thought it would be fitting to point out position battles that Redskins fans keep a close eye on. Knowing what to look for makes pre-season games more interesting and here are the battles I will be closely observing. Feel free to leave a comment to begin a discussion regarding each position. Lets begin:

Quarterback- Was there any doubt that this would be the first on the list? Everyone seems to believe that Beck will come out of the tunnel on September 11 to face the Giants. Beck’s bold statements during the lockout and high praise from Shanahan have fueled the “In Beck We Trust” campaign. However, Mike Shanahan has not named a starter and I believe he s nowhere near naming one. Beck received most of the first team reps in the beginning because of the lockout and was joined by Rex Grossman a little more then a week ago. It is not clear who will start the Pittsburgh game yet, but my belief is it will be Grossman. Beck strained his groin in practice this past week and may not be ready. Thus, I trust Grossman will get the start and more playing time with the first team offense. Throughout the pre-season watch two aspects of the battle. 1. Beck’s deep ball: Beck has had trouble in camp throwing the deep ball and it has been a problem of his for a while. If he can complete a few deep balls and remain consistent with his short to intermediate passes he will win the position. 2. Rex’s turnovers: This has been Grossman’s Achilles heel. He has performed remarkably well at times, but his turnover problems have plagued him and made him an NFL journeyman. If he does not turnover the ball over then he may sneak in and steal the spotlight. Added bonus? He is Kyle Shanahan’s favorite.

Running Back-I am not going to go position after position so don’t get to excited. I am intrigued by this battle. I believe the Skins have more depth and talent in the backfield then many “experts” believe. Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower, and Roy Helu will make the position exciting again. Torain is believed to be the starter after his somewhat breakout season a year ago. His numbers were impressive and he deserves a chance, but I do not see him winning this job. Tim Hightower was brought over for a reason. He can pass block well, has good quickness, runs hard, and has decent hands. If he solves his fumbling problems then I believe Shanahan has his guy. Add a nice mixture with Helu and I think the Redskins will have a sold 1-2 punch. I am a fan of Torain and many think he will breakout this year, but I don’t see it. He is already injured again and most likely will be set back by injury again during the season. Look for Hightower to establish himself in the pre-season.

Wide Receiver-A quick note on the receivers. Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney are locks. As is Leonard Hankerson. Other than those 3 spots, the position will have great competition. Malcolm Kelly’s injuries will leave him off the roster and Donte Stallworth may get shown the door as well. Look for Niles Paul to surprise and make the roster. I would watch Paul and Kelly closely. Paul has impressed and will get a decent chance. Kelly has all the talent, but unless he gets on the field he will be shown the door and the 2008 draft class will lose another member. Bonus: Anthony Armstrong should continue to improve and help the Skins and I am excited to see how his route running has improved.

Defensive Line-You may ask why this is on the list? Jarvis Jenkins is why. The rookie out of Clemson has really set himself apart in his first training camp. He routinely played with the first team for the first week and impressed coaches. He is not going to start, though he will get a good long look from Shanahan. The line will start Bowen, Coefield, and Carriker, but he will get a chance and I believe he will be a steal in the draft.

Kicker-This should not come as a surprise to Redskins fans. The Redskins have been searching for a kicker for years. Graham Gano has a tremendous leg and talent. His poor kicking last year though has left the door open. He converted only 69% of his kicks a year ago and missed many that were critical. Enter Shayne Graham. Graham was a Pro Bowler in 2005 and should add stiff competition. I believe Shayne Graham will take the job because of his accuracy. If Gano can prove he has improved though and make the kicks that good kickers should make then he will win. It will only be a matter of time before they separate themselves. This writer, however, likes Shayne Graham.

That is a lot to take in. Redskins fans may be wondering why I left off the offense line. The starters there are set and if there is anything to look for then pay attention to depth, or lack thereof. I predict a better season for the Redskins then most ESPN experts and if these battles bring out the best in Shanahan’s players then I will be right. I am not saying playoffs. All I am saying is Shanahan will field a competitive team that will be a lot easier to root for then years past. The pre-season is not well liked and seems long, but it is necessary for the Washington Redskins.


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4 Responses to “Pre-Season Matters for the Redskins”

  1. Ron says:

    Good post. I’m in agreement for the most part.
    Just an observation, though.
    There are at least 3 instances where you use “then” where you should have used “than”.
    Sorry…I mean, once…okay, you were in a hurry, or whatever.
    But 3 times??
    Come on man

  2. […] known for my sleeper WRs and I may have uncovered another – Leonard Hankerson. Redskins Gab believes he has the inside track to beat out Donte Stallworth for a spot on the roster. Mr Hankerson is 6’2 and 205lbs. He is a good size and bit thick. They claim he has decent […]

    • richbrave says:

      HANK didn’t do much last night other than roll around on the ground after being rocked by a solid hit. Unimpressive, and gave all the appearance of a newer model of MALCOLM KELLY.

      NILES PAUL on the other hand showed some serious speed, and seemed more precise on his routes.

  3. Patrick Rice says:

    Hank has all the tools. Hopefully he will not end up like Malcolm Kelly. I have always been high on Kelly but his time is up and I am hoping Hank can fill the void left by both Kelly and Devin Thomas. Paul has been impressive all camp. I am not sure he will make the roster, but I do not see the Redskins letting him get away. A year on the practice squad could be very helpful for him. Regardless, the Skins have a much better receiving core then in years past.