July 14, 2010

The 2010 Redskins Training Camp Preview (Part 1)

So I'm breaking the training camp preview into sections. Not sure how many there will be, I'll just go until the well dries up.

After all we have 15 days until camp and unless the 'Skins sign TO, trade for Vincent Jackson, or Albert Haynesworth does something positive for the community, there is nothing else to talk about.

Thus far, I am doing position battles, breakout players, players on the hot seat, and the final roster predictions, which will be updated several times throughout camp.

Any other ideas, please comment and let me know.

We'll start with position battles.

#2 WR spot-Devin Thomas vs. Malcolm Kelly

Kelly won the job last year going into the season, but lost his spot to Thomas after five unproductive weeks in which he caught just seven passes.

Thomas didn't fare much better as he snagged 21 passes over the next nine games before missing the final two with an injury. However in week 13 vs. New Orleans, Thomas caught seven passes for 100 yards and a pair of TDs.

Going into this season, the job is once again up for grabs. Kelly has the frame to be a top-flight receiver, but he has lacked physicality and doesn't make the most of his size. He has sure hands and runs good routes. He is smooth over the middle, but lacks top end speed.

Thomas isn't as fluid, but he is scrappy and has decent size (6-2, 215). His hands are reliable, but he will drop a pass. His best game came when he was moved around the field in different formations and sent in motion. Thomas isn't a dynamic player, but if he can overcome the recurring hamstring injuries which have plagued him throughout his career, then he could turn out to be a steady presence at the number two receiver spot.

Prediction: Thomas

Kelly has the better physical tools, but he has never shown an ability to assert himself. If he can get some confidence in camp, Thomas might be regulated to number three. For now though, Thomas is the pick.

Strong side LB-Lorenzo Alexander vs. Andre Carter

This one will interesting. With the 'Skins switching to a 3-4 defense, they know Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher will be starting in two of the LB spots. The other two are a bit unknown.

Rocky McIntosh has always played on the outside, but he has solid cover skills and might not be explosive enough to play on the outside. That would make him a candidate for ILB.

That leaves the OLB for Alexander and Carter. Carter didn't fare well the last time he played LB in a 3-4, but this 3-4 scheme has been easier to learn than the previous one according to him. Still, Carter may be too stiff to do anything but rush from the OLB position.

That brings us to Alexander. He has played offensive line, defensive line and special teams since coming to the Redskins, and now he is reportedly impressing coaches with his abilities at OLB.

Prediction: Alexander

Alexander may be the dark horse candidate to win the OLB job if McIntosh does move to ILB (I expect that to happen). It is a shame that a good guy like Carter doesn't fit the 3-4 very well, but he can still make an impact as a hybrid rusher.

Starting RB-Larry Johnson vs. Clinton Portis

Willie Parker has faded back early on in this race so the battle should be between Johnson and Portis.

Portis has the inside track as the incumbent, but he is coming off an injury that ended his season early. He reported to camp out of shape in 2009, but with Shanahan at the helm, Portis is once again taking his job seriously as he has dropped over 10 pounds this offseason.

That puts the pressure on Johnson the challenger. Johnson has been the most impressive in the team's mini-camps. He will need to continue his strong showings if he wants to knock off Portis.

Prediction: Johnson

Portis just doesn't have much tread left on the tires. He has over 2,100 carries on his career while Johnson has just over 1,400. That wouldn't matter except for the fact that it shows.

Portis may be in better shape this year, but he hasn't displayed much speed or quickness for the past year and a half. Portis can still be an effective runner in a limited role, but Johnson has more size and strength at this stage in each back's career.

DE-Vonnie Holliday vs. Kedric Golston vs. Phillip Daniels vs. Adam Carriker

All of this changes if Albert Haynesworth plays at DE instead of nose tackle. Then one of these players could be fighting for their jobs.

Carriker is built to play DE in a 3-4, but injuries are a concern. Holliday brings a veteran presence with 3-4 experience. Golston is moving from DT to DE, which will be difficult while Daniels comes back for another year with the 'Skins.

Prediction: Daniels, Golston

Daniels holds up well at the point of attack and will command attention. He is better at filling the gaps rather than shooting them so DE in a 3-4 works for him.

Golston is a big guy who can penetrate, but also knows how stay at home. He has been with the organization for all five of his season and is a solid hustle player. Carriker is dealing with injuries and Holliday isn't going to have the legs to be an everydown player and so Golston gets the nod.

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