August 31, 2009

RB Position Battles

The roster is beginning to take shape, but some strong performances last Friday against the Patriots left some spots hotly contested.

With Rock Cartwright out, Devin Thomas impressed at kick returner. Should the 'Skins decide they feel comfortable with Thomas, Cartwright's position on the roster could be in doubt.

Cartwright is solely a special teamer. He doesn't contribute on offense and isn't much of a threat to score when returning kicks. He is a consistent return man, but if the Redskins can find another player who can contribute in multiple areas, Cartwright could be gone.

The 'Skins also need to sort out the running back position. Both Marcus Mason and Anthony Alridge played very well against New England while Ladell Betts remains the number two.

Dominique Dorsey is also in the mix as the 'Skins have used him as both a running back and punt returner, but the strong performance of Alridge hurts his chances.

Alridge rushed for 49 yards on nine carries while Mason saw plenty of time en route to 30 yards and a TD on eight carries. Mason also caught two passes for 23 yards, but suffered some badly bruised ribs late, which could hurt his chances.

Betts didn't get a carry and caught the ball once for 12 yards. He saw limited action after straining his back in the Steelers game.

The running back situation is incredibly murky. Nothing has been suggested as to whether Betts is fighting for the number two RB job, but there has been strong play behind him.

Betts is a back in the mold of Clinton Portis, meaning he isn't much of a change-of-pace back. However, the team has stuck with him despite little production and a big contract.

Mason might have the best resume as a running back among the other three, but he also runs like Portis. He doesn't play special teams well, which is a must for third-string backs and his injured ribs might not allow him to play this week for a final showing.

Alridge is a prototypical third down back. He catches well out of the backfield, is shifty with great speed, and would be a much needed home run threat for the offense. He had a fumbling problem early in training camp, and missed time with a toe injury, but he looked like he hadn't missed a beat Friday night.

Dorsey and Alridge both can return punts, giving them extra value, but Alridge was more impressive on the ground against New England. Dorsey carried the ball five times for 22 yards, marking the second straight week of solid production.

I am uncertain how the 'Skins will play this out. Cartwright might get cut as he can't contribute on the ground even though he's listed as a running back. This will open things up for the third-string RB.

Betts will most likely be locked in as the number two, and I think Alridge might play his way onto the roster. He's explosive and that's something the Redskins badly need. However, the 'Skins like to keep keep things status quo so they could very well stick with Cartwright and Betts.

Mason plays his heart out and runs hard, but since he isn't a change-of-pace and can't contribute on special teams, he has to beat out Betts to make the team. I'm not in charge so I don't see that happening.

August 30, 2009

Redskins Trim Roster Down To 75

The Washington Redskins released linebacker Alfred Fincher and four others, knocking the roster down to 75 players before the final cuts next week force them down to 53.

Fincher was a special teamer last year who saw limited action on defense. He wasn't a standout and the 'Skins just drafted both Cody Glenn and Robert Henson. He had an outside shot to make the team, but it was unlikely seeing how teams rarely release mid-round draft picks in their first season.

OL Devin Clark, WR Marques Hagans, S Michael Grant, and DL Michael Marquardt were also released.

Clark was a reserve last year when the line was decimated by injuries. However, he could only play guard and the 'Skins had been trying to groom him into a tackle this preseason.

Hagans initially impressed in training camp, but a disappointing preseason opener essentially ruined his chances at a WR spot.

Grant and Marquardt were longshots who weren't expected to make the team.


August 25, 2009

Winners And Losers Against Pittsburgh

Sorry for the delay between posts. It's been a busy week as I was getting back into the whole college kid routine.

The Redskins pulled out a close one over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Saturday and there was a lot more to be happy about in comparison to the previous week's game against the Ravens.

Winners

1. Offensive line: The big guys up front looked much better in pass protection. They gave Jason Campbell a good pocket on several throws and surrendered two sacks on 31 dropbacks.

They also were markedly better in opening holes for the ground game (41 total carries for 167 yards, 4.1 YPC). A vast improvement from the Baltimore game.

2. Brian Orakpo: The guy is going to be an instant star. His transition has been seamless and he has terrorized just about everyone he's gone up against.

He had four tackles including a sparkling hit in the backfield on a Steelers RB. The sacks will come very soon. This is looking like the pick of Vinny Cerrato's career.

3. Marko Mitchell: It would be ludicrous to take any other WR for the fifth spot at this point. Mitchell is 6-4, fast, and is producing.

He has played very well in camp and that has translated into the games. Mitchell caught a three-yard fade from Chase Daniel, using his size to make a great grab along the side of the endzone.

Mitchell had three catches for 21 yards last week and looked impressive on two of them. He displayed sure hands and solid route running. His only mistake was his failure to get across the marker on a third down crossing route.

DJ Hackett has familiarity with Jim Zorn's system, but Mitchell has the tools to be a huge threat. Throw in the fact that Mitchell was just drafted by the team, and he should make the final roster.

4. Marcus Mason/Dominique Dorsey: The battle for the fourth RB spot is red hot. Both Dorsey and Mason had good games against Pittsburgh (Dorsey: 11 carries for 39 yards, Mason 11 carries for 45 yards).

Dorsey also handled some of the punt returning duties and he definitely has the edge over Mason because of his special teams' prowess. Mason is a more complete back, but the fourth-string RB needs to be a solid special-teamer.

I prefer Mason, but the guy doesn't have much room for error considering his challenger.

Losers

1. Jason Campbell: He couldn't lead the team to TD from inside the Steeler's five. That's not exactly a positive. Neither is going 1-7 for 10 yards.

He must get the ball rolling if he wants to enter the season on a positive note. The Giants won't be giving him anytime to adjust.

2. Ladell Betts: I know I hate on him constantly, but seriously the guy isn't worth the big contract.

Betts couldn't pick up a first down on two consecutive short-yardage plays from inside the five, and had just seven yards on four carries. I still think Mason is a better, cheaper option, but for some reason the 'Skins continue to keep Betts on the roster.

3. Colt Brennan: Chase Daniel is rapidly developing a fan base. The Cult of Colt is reeling.

Brennan has tossed INTs in both preseason games while Daniel won the Steelers game with both game-tying and game-winning TD passes.

Ironically, the number three QB spot might be the most debated position on the team. I don't believe Brennan will lose it however.

Daniel will need two more performances like last Saturday's if he wants to make it. Brennan has a year in the system and is a fan favorite.

That's not to say Daniel hasn't impressed, but the guy went undrafted for a reason. I'm not a huge Colt fan, but Daniel didn't distinguish himself in camp and one preseason performance won't get him the job.

Needless to say, despite all the hype, neither QB is going to be a franchise signalcaller.

Overall, the team improved. They went up against another well run organization and proved they have some quality depth on both sides of the ball.

The starters still need to show up before week one, and this week against New England would be a prime time for a break out.

August 19, 2009

Tuesday Evening Quick Hits: Campbell Sharp

Ed Sheahin reported that JC went 10-10 in a full speed, 11-on-11 scrimmage.

Excellent news. Campbell needs to tighten up his game for the coming weeks. It's just preseason, but he has the Patriots after the Steelers, and then the Giants to open up the regular season.

Campbell likely won't play much in the preseason finale vs. the Jaguars so he'll need to impress the next two weeks against two of the better defenses coming into the season.

Coming off the brutal Ravens' game, things don't get easier. I do not want to see a repeat of last year's opener against the G-Men so Campbell better step it up.

Brian Orakpo and JD Skolnitsky became the second pair of rookies to be tied up to the goalposts. Dan Steinberg has the skinny on that here.

Chris Wilson hasn't been getting rave reviews on his transition from DE to LB. But he is putting in the effort.

Wilson has been struggling in coverage, but he is a good pass rusher. It will be interesting to see which backup LBs stay on.

I expect HB Blades to stick around. The rookies, Henson and Glenn, should be on the practice squad at least (I predict Henson makes the final roster, not sure about Glenn). Fincher looked poor at LB last week, but he is a good special-teamer.

The other two don't have much of a prayer in Darrel Young and Robert Thomas.

Matt Terl got a hold of JC for his take on Brett Favre's return.

I like the last question regarding the mentality of Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosefels. I feel like the Favre signing is a slap in the face to them much like the 'Skins pooh-poohed Campbell this offseason.

However, I don't blame the 'Skins for going after Cutler. They tried to make a move in the heart of the offseason. The Vikings are changing the whole team's mentality in camp.

Anyway, I would bet that question definitely hit close to home for Campbell.

Here's another from Terl on today's practice. He mentions that Deangelo Hall, Santana, and Antwaan Randle El were all returning punts.

We have too many good punt returners to just hand the job to Randle El again. That would be incredibly poor coaching. Putting Randle El out there means leaving a bunch of yards on the field and a big swing in field position.

That's it for today...More to come.

August 18, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon Quick Hits

Yesterday, Deangelo Hall lined up at WR for one drill. Jim Zorn downplayed it, saying it was all in fun.

With his speed, I'm all for sneaking Hall into a formation and taking a shot down the field. A little trickery...

I'm keeping track of the CBS Sportsline Rapid Reports. Redskins correspondent, Ed Sheahin, has done a great job reporting some of the little things with his one-liners. Here's a few from him from today's practices.

"The OL and DL went one-on-one in a pass block/rush drill. DT Albert Haynesworth knocked OL Derrick Dockery into the air three yards back on a bull-rush during the drill."

"In the same one-on-one linemen drill, LB/DE Brian Orakpo beat OL Chris Samuels on two consecutive plays. Samuels finally stuffed Orakpo on the third attempt."

"Rookie CB Kevin Barnes had his best practice of camp thus far. Barnes, who has played tentatively in camp to this point, jumped a curl route and picked off the pass. Later in the 11-on-11 scrimmage, he picked off QB Jason Campbell on his first pass attempt."

Not good to hear about Samuels. I haven't heard a lot of good stuff regarding him so far. It sounds like he's getting beat a ton.

Barnes will get that 4th CB spot if he keeps it up and Justin Tryon can't adjust to live game action.

Mike Williams has lost even more weight. 111 pounds to be exact. That's more than my sister weighs.

Clinton Portis will be suiting up this weekend against the Steelers. That a good move. The offense can't afford to look as bad as it did last year in a week one regular season loss to the Giants. They need to get a little rhythm going so they will have a prayer against that Giants front four.

And finally, Brett Favre is back, this time with the Vikings.

Favre wanted to be in Minnesota so he could exact some revenge upon the Packers. However, he didn't want to be back until after training camp because he's lazy.

Only Brett Favre could want this special treatment and then actually get it. Along with $12 million.

It's sickening to me that the Vikings would take him simply on principle. The guy hamstrung your team the whole offseason an then basically "held out" of training camp and then gets rewarded with a huge payday.

I hope Minnesota goes 5-11. It's all they deserve.

August 16, 2009

Redskins Roster Review: Safeties

One can hardly mention the safety position around the Washington DC area without someone invoking the name of the late Sean Taylor.

Some people will cry, some will recall the excitement he brought, others will think about what could have been.

What could have been was a dynamite safety combo consisting of Taylor and Laron Landry. Each is/was a freak athlete and together they could have formed one of the most feared combinations of today’s NFL.

However, Taylor is gone and Landry is now teaming up with second-year man Chris Horton. Considering the loss of Taylor, things are going fairly well at the safety position.

Landry filled the free safety spot left vacant by Taylor while Horton stepped into the strong safety position.

Landry is no Taylor, but he doesn’t let anything behind him and rarely gives up a big play. Still, the playmaking skills that Taylor dazzled fans with are not yet a staple of Landry’s game.

It is important to note that the coaching staff played Landry thirty yards off the ball for much of the season. That kind of overly-conservative approach hindered Landry from making as much of an impact.

Landry proved he can be an effective safety net (no pun intended), but with his athleticism and strength, he could be making a much greater impact closer to the line of scrimmage. Last year he had just 65 tackles, 11 passes deflections, two INTs and a pair of forced fumbles. That’s below my expectations.

The addition of Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo should bolster an anemic pass rush, which in turn, will allow the secondary to play more aggressively. Greg Blache would be making a big mistake to not take full advantage of his front four and play with a little reckless abandon.

The offense needs every break it can get, and so the defense must play with more tenacity rather than it’s typical bend-but-don’t-break style. Landry could be a turnover machine if Blache lets him play up and freelance a bit.

Horton was one of the steals of the 2008 draft as he quickly made an impact at SS. He was ferocious in run support and reliable against the pass.

In 2008, Horton recorded 76 tackles to go along with three INTs, and was a critical element of the defensive chemistry. He often played in the box, but on passing downs he was far from a liability.

The depth at safety is adequate. Kareem Moore is entering his second year and will back up Landry at FS while Reed Doughty returns from an injury to back up Horton.

Moore showed he can play center field in spot duty last year. He started the final game of the year against San Francisco and played solidly. He isn’t a game-changer, but as a backup he is more than capable.

Doughty has been through some tough times. He injured his back and missed most of 2008. However, Doughty shrugged that off and is back to play some SS in 2009.

Doughty is almost totally deaf and also had to deal with a family tragedy the past few years. His son, Micah, suffered a kidney failure and needed a transplant to stay alive. Micah is not well, but it was yet another issue Doughty has had to deal with during the past few seasons.

Despite all the hardship, Doughty is tough-as-nails. His pass coverage has dramatically improved during camp, and he has always been good against the run.

Doughty will probably play special teams and fill in for Horton on some passing downs. He will be an emotional leader and rock for the whole defense so his health will be important.

Michael Grant played some CB the other night, but is listed as a safety. Either way, he won’t make the team giving up 64-yard pass plays. Grant tried to jump a route, but missed and the Ravens receiver had plenty of room to operate after that gaffe.

Lendy Holmes is the final safety on the roster. Though a longshot, he played well Thursday night against the Ravens, logging six tackles. Should the ‘Skins want a fifth safety (unlikely), Holmes will be the guy.

Overall Grade: B

This would be higher, but we have yet to see how aggressively Blache will play Landry. The secondary will go as far as Landry carries them. He certainly can’t carry them as far when he’s standing 30 yards off the ball.

Horton and Doughty will combine to form a good SS tandem. Both can play the position well.

If Landry goes down, I doubt Moore would survive for very long. The depth is decent, but unspectacular.


August 15, 2009

Jessica Simpson, Colt Brennan and Jerome Bettis

Jessica Simpson and Colt Brennan have supposedly hit it off.

Simpson received tickets to the Redskins' week one game at the Giants and a Redskins jersey from Brennan in the past month.

This is bad pub for the 'Skins. Tony Romo was the laughingstock of the division because of his relationship with Simpson. Now the tables could be turned all because Brennan couldn't find another blonde celebrity (I mean, they come a dime a dozen).

And with everyone making fun of the NATINALS jersey misspelling, here's another one in the DC area. Ladell Betts's jersey read BETTIS in last night's game against the Ravens.

Believe me, he was anything but the Bus last night.

I'd say it's time for some good news around here.

August 14, 2009

Winners And Losers For Redskins Tonight

Winners

1. Malcolm Kelly: He made a nice grab and didn't drop anything.

2. Antwaan Randle El: Just one catch, but Devin Thomas did turn any heads, meaning Randle El could keep his starting job by default. Hopefully that changes, however.

3. Brian Orakpo: He put pressure on the QB all night and looks to be the relentless pass rusher the 'Skins have long sought.

4. Deangelo Hall: Nice pass defense inside the red zone.

5. Hunter Smith: DC! We have a punter! (45.2 yards per punt)

6. Jeremy Jarmon: This guy appears ahead of the learning curve. He's only been around a month and he rushes the passer well. He also knocked down a swing pass.

Losers

1. Justin Tryon: He was burned to left, right and center. Rough game for this supposedly improved player.

2. Marcus Mason: Just 6 carries for 12 yards. He needs to make the most of his attempts if he wants to make the team. He did make a nice grab for a first down.

3. Kareem Moore: He let Yamon Figurs get behind him on a broken play for a big gain.

4. Alfred Fincher: He was beaten badly by TE LJ Smith on a long pass play downfield.

5. Fred Davis: He fumbled twice. I still believe this guy will be good. He just needs to focus.

6. Devin Thomas: He has the inside track to start at receiver. All he needs is several productive games. He didn't get one tonight (one catch, 12 yards).

Overall, this performance gets an F. The Skins couldn't even determine what kind of cards they have been dealt because the offense couldn't move the ball. Guys like Devin Thomas aren't getting the reps and touches they need.

The offense didn't open up the playbook because they couldn't sustain a drive. This hurts the defense because they were on the field all night.

In addition, the defensive secondary wasn't nearly as aggressive as they should have been. They played too far off their men and that led to some east conversions for the Ravens. Several drops prevented it from being any worse.

On the Ravens first TD, the defense appeared to be in the Cover Two. They have not executed that well ever. Kevin Barnes passed his man off to the safety who failed to pick him up.

The defensive line played very well. They got plenty of pressure on Troy Smith, but Smith's agility saved him from going down several times. Overall, it was an aggressive performance by the D-line.

The rookie LBs had some mixed results. Cody Glenn forced a fumble and Robert Henson nearly had a pick. He defended one pass (but there appeared to be an called pass interference on Henson).

More to come. It doesn't get any easier as the Steelers visit DC on the 22nd.

Redskins Offense: Where Is It?

It's only preseason, but things aren't looking good for the Washington Redskins offense.

I wasn't expecting to see the second coming of the '99 Rams or anything, but it would have been nice to see a little progression and familiarity with the system when the first-teamers were on the field during a 23-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Instead, we were treated to the same lifeless performance that we saw throughout the second half of the 2008 season.

I've seen this movie before and let me tell you: if it isn't an Academy award winner, I don't want to see any reruns.

This performance was anything but Oscar-worthy.

Jason Campbell went through the motions. One-two-three and kick. At least Hunter Smith can actually punt.

The sad thing is that on the opposite side of the field, the Ravens offense (yes the Ravens offense) played as if they had something to prove. Joe Flacco looked crisp in the pocket and threw some strikes.

The running game wasn't special, but it pushed for the extra yards; something the 'Skins didn't do.

Overall, the offenses were polar opposites. The Ravens got open, beat the Redskins off the ball, and showed they wanted to play well.

Washington simply sleepwalked through a quarter and then retreated to the bench.

I don't know if it's a lack of focus, effort, confidence, or skill. This offense just can't move the ball.

Campbell's footwork isn't much better, his release is still too long, and his reads too slow. He takes light years to make basic reads, and his slow release doesn't afford him the kind of time he takes in the pocket.

Neither does poor blocking. The offensive line could have been worse as they gave up three sacks on the night, but they failed to control the line of scrimmage in the rushing game.

Early on, Campbell and Todd Collins faced some pressure, but things really got bad once Colt Brennan came in.

Brennan was chased around the entire second half and had virtually no chance to make an impact. He didn't play well and yet a lot of it was due to poor pass protection.

The Redskins really couldn't open up their playbook as they failed to get many first downs (11). They had the ball for only 24 minutes (compared to the Ravens' 35 minutes), making it difficult to get into any rhythm.

The running game was useless as the offensive line got no push. The ground attack averaged 2.9 yards per carry and Rock Cartwright was the leading rusher with just 24 yards.

Fred Davis fumbled twice and Devin Thomas went back to looking lost. Thomas looked impressive in camp, but he has yet to show much ability in games. He didn't look explosive enough to be much of a threat.

The lone bright spot on offense was Malcolm Kelly. Kelly looks the part lining up out wide. He's lanky and tall, the perfect possession receiver or red zone target. Add in a dazzling fingertip grab for a first down, and it might be time to get excited about his future.

I know it's sad I'm happy about one play by a receiver who has done nothing but sit out with injuries. Laugh all you want, but let me be excited about something.

Jim Zorn called the offensive struggles a "learning experience." I call them "failure to launch." That was a pretty crappy movie just like this offense.

August 13, 2009

Preseason Game One: Redskins-Ravens Preview

The Washington Redskins kick off their 2009 preseason schedule with a trip over the beltway to take on the Baltimore Ravens tonight.

The game will be long over for most fans and players by the ned of the first quarter when the starters retreat to the friendly confines of the bench, but for the coaches and roster longshots, the end of the first quarter is when the real games begin.

The roster currently hovers around 80 players and that number must be trimmed down to 53 by the start of the regular season. So for Keith Eloi, Rob Jackson, and others, this could be the only time they suit up for the 'Skins in 2009.

So what will will I be watching closely tonight?

1. Marcus Mason: So I admit it. I don't like Ladell Betts. He's signed under a $25 million contract and he hasn't been able to rush for four yards a carry since signing it.

Everyone raves about his ability catching passes out of the backfield, but here's his totals since inking the deal:

2007: 21 receptions for 174 yards (10.9 avg.)

2008: 22 receptions for 200 yards (15.4 avg.)

Not absolutely awful, but not worth a $25 million contract. Derrick Ward, Marion Barber, Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook, and Clinton Portis all had more catches and Tashard Choice was just one behind him.

Combine that with just 541 yards rushing for a meager 3.5 yards per carry over the past two years and it's clear there should be a cheaper alternative to Betts.

Enter Marcus Mason.

Mason was last year's preseason rushing leader and this year he'll need to be on top of his game once again. His inability to play special teams cost him last year, but this time around expect a more well-rounded effort.

Mason runs in a style similar to Betts and Portis. He won't blow anyone's doors off, but he is patient with excellent vision. He finds the right holes and runs hard.

I doubt Betts is going anywhere, but if Mason turns heads once again, the coaching staff must consider it.

2. The entire offensive line: This is the number one concern for the team. The starters are old and injury ridden; the backups seem overmatched in camp.

Tonight will be an important test for the blockers up front. Who will emerge from the backups to provide the depth it appears the 'Skins will desperately need?

Will Montgomery and Devin Clark will be the two I keep an eye on Meanwhile second-year man Chad Rinehart will need to elevate his play as well.

The starters haven't even looked good in camp. Chris Samuels has been beaten handily by Brian Orakpo on numerous occasions; Randy Thomas hasn't been healthy; and right tackle is shaky at best.

If the line fails to show enough progress in the coming weeks, expect the 'Skins to pick up a free agent off the scrap heap. Jon Runyan and Pete Kendall are both veterans who would fare well in limited action.

The offensive line is the only thing that really alarms me about the team. If they can put this concern to bed, the team could very well make a deep play-off push.

I just doubt they'll be able to fix this problem.

3. Chris Wilson: Wilson has struggled switching over the LB position after playing DE last year. He is expected to back up Brian Orakpo, but he has been such a liability in coverage, the 'Skins might have to look for another backup.

Orakpo is supposed to move in to DE on passing downs. That means Wilson is playing LB on passing downs. Unless he's out there to rush the passer from his LB position, I don't know if that's a good move.

If Wilson isn't the answer, the Redskins have two rookie LBs in Robert Henson and Cody Glenn who could compete for time. Alfred Fincher is another possibility.

4. Punt Returner: Marques Hagans, Keith Eloi, Dominique Dorsey and Antwaan Randle El will all be returning punts tonight.

I really believe Hagans is going to make this team and if he does, he will return punts. The Redskins would have to be complete lunatics if they allowed Randle El to return punts again this year.

5. Kicker: This one won't be very exciting. Not only is it the kicking battle, it's also two bad kickers neither of whom should be on an NFL roster.

Shaun Suisham is the incumbent and given that he has done nothing in two years to merit a spot on the team, I am in Dave Rayner's camp. Rayner also was perfect in the intra-squad scrimmage last Saturday while Suisham missed on one.

Game Prediction: I know that it really doesn't matter. Still, Colt Brennan will come in and lead the 'Skins to a late TD.

Redskins: 20-14

August 12, 2009

Hanburger Petition For Nomination To The Pro Football Hall Of Fame

For years, one Redskin has been overlooked by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

That man is none other than 'Skins LB Chris Hanburger.

Picked to nine pro bowls in 14 seasons, Hanburger is one the true Burgundy and Gold greats.

My buddy JW Nix from Bleacher Report wrote this article asking for NFL fans everywhere to sign a petition asking that Hanburger be considered for admittance into Canton.

Nix knows old-time football like none other, so you'd better believe he has the right idea by trying to get Hanburger into the Hall.

I'm asking you to help him out by signing the petition here.

HTTR!

August 10, 2009

Redskins Release 1st Depth Chart

Here it is.

My analysis later...

August 9, 2009

Sunday Night Quick Hits

Redskins Insider has something on Rams' center Jason Brown who accused Albert Haynesworth of tiring easily.

Funny thing is that even if Haynesworth gets tired there are three other solid DTs on the roster. With the trouble Haynesworth causes, it will only make it easier for the guy replacing him when he takes a breather.

Of course it was Hall of Fame weekend which stirs up memories from last year's Skins weekend featuring Art Monk and Darrell Green. Many Congrats to Rod Woodson, Ralph Wilson, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Bob Hayes, and Randall McDaniel.

Smith and Wilson's induction made it a distinctly Buffalo weekend this time around. Thomas and Hayes were inducted posthumously. Thomas was one of my favorite players growing up and I remember his death in a tragic accident.

Speaking of Buffalo I was up there this past week and attended a Bills practice complete with TO.

However, the Trent Edwards seemed content to throw screen passes in the flat. I don't know if he has the arm or playmaking abilities to make it in the NFL.

The o-line is also a concern, but if it can hold up, they have the weapons at receiver to succeed. Not many teams can boast a foursome of TO, Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish, and Josh Reed.

Here's a great news and notes piece off of redskins.com. I know it's early, but it really looks like Brian Orakpo will be a force in the NFL.

The article also brings more bad news about Anthony Alridge. He can't hang onto the ball (5 fumbles in camp according to one source) and he can't stay healthy either. I guess he won't be the long-awaited homerun threat.

Here's an injury update from DC Examiner. It says Thomas didn't play today but I read earlier he did at full speed. Either way, he has shown marked improvement thus far. He needs to be healthy so ARE can move to the slot.

Five Roster Longshots Who Have A Shot

Every year in training camp there will always be those unknown players who pop out at the coaching staff due to their strong work ethic and consistent performance.

That has held true at Redskins Park this year as several players have emerged to contend for roster spots.

1. Will Montgomery: He is competing for a utility position along the offensive line and has a great shot at making the roster. Washington needs young, up-and-coming blockers to freshen up the offensive line. Montgomery is just what the doctor ordered.

Coaches have raved about his strong play and his versatility. Montgomery can play center and guard and has held his own against first teamers.

With Jeremy Bridges going down today with a sprained ankle, the odds are even higher that Montgomery sticks around for the long haul.

2. Marques Hagans: Hagans was QB/WR from UVA who was a major longshot coming into camp. However, his kick returning abilities help his case. Add to that the fact Hagans has grabbed nearly everything thrown his way, and he is making a serious run.

Hagans is buried beneath four WRs (Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Santana Moss, and Antwaan Randle El) who are all assured of spots on the roster. Marko Mitchell was taken in the seventh round and has speed. Being a draftee gives him the inside track, but Hagans has impressed.

It will most likely come down to which one will provide the best special teams performance. However, given the injuries that have plagued Moss, Thomas, and Kelly, the ‘Skins may need Hagans down the stretch.

3. Reed Doughty: So Doughty isn’t exactly a longshot as he was in position to backup Chris Horton at SS, but he was coming off a season-ending injury and there have been questions regarding his ability in coverage.

Those question are long gone as Doughty has put together a great camp. He has three picks already and Jim Zorn is liking what he sees. Enough to give him this vote of confidence:

“I see him being a real part of our special teams and I think he’s going to be in a supportive role [on defense], but he’s going to work his way onto the field. I have confidence in him when he’s out there, no question.”

There you have it. Barring an injury, Doughty will make the final roster.

4. Marcus Mason: Mason has been quiet this camp, but his real time to shine is during the preseason. Last year, he was the NFL preseason rushing leader, but still failed to make the team due to his inability to contribute on special teams.

Colt Brennan had nothing but praise for Mason who he played with last preseason. “He’s a natural football player,” he said, “I can’t tell you how many times in the preseason last year it was so nice to have him, because he would make good plays, make good runs. You only get so many chances when you’re young, and you’ve got a running back like that, gaining extra yards, picking up first downs for you, doing the little things.”

This year Mason has developed his kick coverage skills and should also get some reps at RB during the preseason. The main thing working against him is the presence of five other backs on the roster in Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, and Anthony Alridge, and Dominique Dorsey.

5. Edwin Williams: The undrafted center out of Maryland is third on the depth chart behind Casey Rabach and Will Montgomery, but Montgomery could very well be lining up at guard, leaving the number two center spot up for grabs.

Williams is a smart, hard worker who was all-ACC last year with the Terps. ”Over the summer he did a great job of weightlifting and … I’ll tell you what, he’s a smart kid. He comprehends a lot between what’s good and what’s bad. I think in the long range he’s going to be a good football player,” said offensive line coach Joe Bugel.

Williams didn’t miss a game his senior year and helped pave the way for an 1100 yard rusher. With Casey Rabach aging, Williams might be the perfect player to groom for the starting center spot.

August 8, 2009

Redskins Roster Review: Cornerbacks

As training camp continues on, I have several more positions to cover to finish off the roster review.

Corner is shaping up to be one of the better positions on the team from top to bottom.

Carlos Rogers and and Deangelo Hall return to man the starting spots while Fred Smoot, Justin Tryon, and Kevin Barnes will provide support.

Rogers came into his own last season as a great cover corner. He drew plenty of criticism for some shaky hands as he dropped several interceptions last season, but he is still the best cover CB on the team.

Shawn Springs departed for New England, and though he was great in man coverage, he couldn’t stay healthy. Rogers brings similar coverage skills to the table and thus far has improved his hands.

Hall isn’t quite the man corner Rogers is, but makes up for it with his playmaking ability. Hall will get beat underneath as he plays soft on his receiver.

Hall’s speed protects him against the deep ball and allows him to gamble. He has a nose for the ball, and can jump routes incredibly well. He will provide the takewaways the ‘Skins lacked last year.

Smoot appears to be in control of the nickel corner position. He is a nine year vet who will fit nicely into the third CB slot.

He is physical against the run despite his poor tackling form, and is adequate in coverage. He won’t stop any elite WRs, but he should matchup well enough against receivers in the slot.

Tryon is a bit of a question mark. He entered the league last year talking a big game only to hardly see the field all season.

He was terrible last preseason, getting burned routinely, but this year appears to be much improved. His small stature (5-9, 183) is working against him, but he has the speed and athleticism to be a pesky CB.

Meanwhile Kevin Barnes was drafted in the third round this year out of Maryland. The former Terp has a reputation stemming from a big hit laid on a Cal RB last year. The hit was so hard, the RB literally lost his lunch and Barnes became a YouTube sensation.

Barnes accumulated 85 tackles, 14 asses defended, and six interceptions during his collegiate career and should transition smoothly to the pros. He has the height at 6-1, but he might need to put on a few pounds to matchup against big WRs.

Byron Westbrook is trying to make the team yet again after two straight years on the practice squad. Westbrook has athleticism, but the numbers are working against him. He will need a strong preseason to overtake Tryon or Barnes, and even that will unlikely save him as the ‘Skins will not cut draft picks.

Doug Dutch is the final CB on the roster. He’s an undrafted rookie out of Michigan who was a solid special teamer with the Wolverines.

Overall Grade: A-

It’s not often teams get two CBs that compliment each other so well. Hall and Rogers are a dynamite one-two punch and each one makes up for the other’s deficiencies.

Hall has his question marks considering he mailed it in with the Raiders last year before coming here, but he appears to have really found his niche in DC. The ‘Skins overpaid for him, but he should still be a vital part of the secondary if all goes well.

Rogers is underrated and may actually get his due this season which is his contract year while the depth is nothing to complain about. Smoot is a solid vet and the two youngsters behind him are oozing with potential.

Not much to complain about at CB.


August 7, 2009

Hammy Issues

If you have followed the Skins much the past year you'll have noticed a disturbing trend.

WR's hamstrings cannot stay healthy.

Devin Thomas spent his rookie camp watching from the sidelines nursing an injured hammy. He then proceeded to struggle with it for the entire season.

This offseason, Thomas appeared to be ready as he showed a good grasp of the offense and some improved route running up through this week.

Then disaster struck earlier this week as Thomas reinjured his hamstring during a rainy practice.

Santana Moss also tweaked his hamstring, something he hasn't been a stranger to in the past three seasons or so.

Hamstring injuries can hamper a WR's entire season even though they might suit up and play.

Moss can attest to this as his production drastically dropped last year after his injury in the Detroit game. His '07 campaign was also marred from recurring hamstring issues.

Im no trainer, but all I can say is that these guys might be able to avoid this problem by hitting the weight room to work on those hammies.

The hamstring is connected to the quadriceps. If the quad gets too strong it can pull too heavily on the hamstring. Muscle imbalance between the quad and hamstring can lead to a pulled hamstring.

So these guys may not be putting in the right techniques in the weight room. Then again another reason can from lack of stretching.

Either way, pulled hamstrings can be avoided. And quite frankly I'd like to see some healthy receivers this year.

August 1, 2009

Defensive Notes From Redskins’ Training Camp

Albert Haynesworth didn’t disappoint in his second day of camp as he disrupted several plays in the backfield. Jim Zorn noted his impact and it seems as if Haynesworth is here to play rather than sit back and collect his check.

Andre Carter burst around the edge once on Chris Samuels, but stayed quiet for the most part.

Robert Henson played very well in coverage in both individual drills and the 11-on-11s. He intercepted a pass Chris Cooley bobbled and made several other fine defensive stops. If the ‘Skins can get one of the draftees at LB on the field early, things will be looking good depth-wise.

Laron Landry was quiet, but there was talk from the media on how Greg Blache should consider moving him up closer to the box given the improved pass rush. Landry played off as much as 30 yards from the ball last year, but the addition of Haynesworth should allow him to be more of a ballhawk this year.

Reed Doughty struggled in coverage. The guy works his tail off, but he is coming off a back injury and lacks the athleticism to cover receivers. However, he fits the SS position well because Blache often uses that position as an extra man in the box. Doughty should backup Chris Horton.

Carlos Rogers continues to impress against the pass. He came away with a nice pick today along the sideline while Deangelo Hall made a big hit over the middle on another play.

London Fletcher lost a step on a Clinton Portis corner route in the individual drills, and still managed to recover and break up the pass. He has great determination and speed. He’ll only get better with Haynesworth taking up the extra blocker in front.