July 11, 2009

Three Weeks Until Camp

The dog days of summer are upon us, but they won't be upon the 'Skins for another three weeks. I'm craving a sports fix right now, but I'm not going to get one until training camp starts.

The MLB All-Star game just doesn't cut it, but two-a-days in 90 degree heat will sure hit the spot.

So here's a little training camp preview from yours truly as Washingtonians get ready for the start of what is hopefully a non-mediocre year for the Redskins.

Position Battles

1. Starting Right Tackle: Stephon Heyer vs. Mike Williams vs. Jeremy Bridges

Prediction: Heyer

2. Starting Strong Side Linebacker: Brian Orakpo vs. Cody Glenn vs. HB Blades (We could throw Alfred Fincher and Robert Henson into the mix too.)

Prediction: Orakpo/Blades

3. Backup Running Back: Ladell Betts vs. Marcus Mason

Prediction: Betts (I hate the fact the 'Skins will most likely keep on an overpaid, underachieving, injury-prone back like Betts on the roster, but for some reason they don't seem to get he is stealing from them. Mason will need another monster preseason to make the team.)

Backup Quarterback: Colt Brennan vs. Todd Collins vs. Chase Daniel

Prediction: Brennan (Daniel will get the axe, Collins will take the number three spot.)

Nickel Cornerback: Fred Smoot vs. Kevin Barnes vs. JT Tryon

Prediction: Barnes

Kicker: Dave Rayner vs. Shaun Suisham

Prediction: Can't we find anybody else??? Suisham

Burning Questions

1. Can the two young receivers, Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly emerge as the possession receivers the 'Skins so desperately need?

Thomas might turn out to be the answer. He came in as a raw prospect, but he has had a year to work himself into NFL shape. He improved over the course of last season and has been reported to look even better through the OTAs. My money is on him. Kelly needs to get healthy or he will never play on a consistent basis.

2. Will a homerun threat surface this year?

Two guys have the potential to be the Redskins' Devin Hester. Anthony Alridge and Dominique Dorsey are both small, quick players who could make an impact. Dorsey was a star returner in the CFL while Alridge received high praise form Mike Shanahan who urged Vinny Cerrato to give him a look. Alridge could be the burner I long to see in DC.
3. Will we see Jim Zorn implement a two-tight end set this year?

Only if second year USC product Fred Davis bounces back from a bad rookie year. Davis started slow his freshman year with the Trojans, but he eventually became the nation's top TE in 2007. Here's hoping that trend translates over to the NFL.

4. Will Colt Brennan make a push for the starting QB job?

He very well could. Jim Zorn is on a short leash as Dan Snyder is caught up in rumors of Bill Cowher and Shanahan as possible head coaches in 2010. So, should Brennan drastically outplay Campbell in the preseason, then the Cult of Colt may have reason to cheer come week one.

Remember however, that Campbell usually plays well in the preseason. He looked sharp in 2007 against the Jags and in 2008 against the Colts and Jets.

5. Where will Brian Orakpo line up on defense?

It appears as if Orakpo will play LB on most rushing downs and line up at DE on passing downs. I don't like this move because it doubles the work Orakpo will have to put in during his rookie year.

He is a natural pass rusher and the 'Skins may be hurting his progression if they throw him at LB. It would be better for the long-term to play Orakpo at DE and suffer through one season of shaky LB play, but Greg Blache seems to think otherwise.

Overall, it should be an interesting camp. I will be attending as many sessions as possible and I can't wait to mingle with all the fans and watch the team get back to work.

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