July 31, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Two-A-Days

Getting ready to walk down to watch the second practice today. But first, my thoughts from the first practice on NFL.com Blog Blitz.

Here's what I'm reading.

Rich Tandler explains the new training camp philosophy under Mike Shanahan. It makes sense. The players practice year round now. They are in shape getting into camp so there's no reason to drive them into the ground.

Chris Cooley on Chris Cooley (and some thoughts on the Redskins as well).

Homer McFanboy's interview with Malcolm Kelly.

Mike Prada over at SB Nation has some good camp nuggets.

Shanahan mentioned that he has historically gone with just two QBs on his final roster. Could it happen this year?

And some more analysis from Redskins Hog Heaven and Anthony Brown. He makes a good point that Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, and Tom Brady should all contracts signed soon in wake of the Sam Bradford deal.

Makes you wonder how much the Redskins will offer McNabb.

Camp Notes From Day Three

-Albert Haynesworth was on the sidelines observing the defense in individual drills. Didn't see him during 11-on-11's. He worked out on his own after practice as has been the norm so far in camp.

-I have been sipping the Larry Johnson Kool-Aid, but while talking with John Pappas from Skinscast he told me that he felt Portis would remain the top RB option for the Redskins. Right after he said it, Portis ripped off a couple of nice runs. He looks quicker, faster, and more focused.

Pappas mentioned that Portis is an all-around back who is a warrior on gameday. I couldn't argue that. He can block, catch, and run. Johnson is having a monster camp, but he can't catch and isn't quite the jack-of-all trades Portis is in the backfield.

-The mood has improved each day at the Park. Mike Shanahan had a 17-minute presser today (his longest of camp) and cracked a few jokes; Chris Cooley was jawing with LaRon Landry after Landry tackled him in 11-on-11's; and special teams coach Danny Smith was his usual vocal self.

-DeAngelo Hall intercepted an errant Donovan McNabb pass, which led to a Hall TD. McNabb missed some throws and wasn't nearly as good as yesterday where the entire offense was clicking.

-Cooley dropped several passes. Not a whole lot to worry about. We've seen his abilities and we know he can catch. Just an off day.

-Ryan Torain continued to impress. He and Johnson sprint an extra 20 yards everytime the play is blown dead on one of their runs.

-Graham Gano entered camp as the lone placekicker on the roster. He kicked for about 15 minutes today from about 45 yards out. He missed just two according to Shanahan. Rich Tandler, Pappas and I estimated that he missed no more than three.

Gano has the leg strength, but it will be the accuracy and mental aspects of the job that will determine if he can be successful in this league.

-It seemed as if every receiver got reps with the first team. Santana Moss is the clear cut number one WR, but behind him it's a logjam. I think Devin Thomas has the right combination of athleticism and experience to be the split end, but we'll see.

-I had a great interview with rookie draft pick Terrence Austin earlier today. Great guy. He runs fantastic routes, learns fast, and returns kicks. He should make the team. I'll post something on him tonight.

More to come later after practice number two.

July 30, 2010

Could Jackson Be An Option For Redskins?

I have long opposed the idea of the Redskins mortgaging away the future in a last ditch effort to fill a need in training camp. This approach failed miserably with Jason Taylor when the 'Skins gave up a pair of draft picks to acquire Taylor in training camp in 2008.

Not only does adding new blood this late potentially destroy the atmosphere in the locker room, but it also can destroy the future if it involves sacrificing draft picks.

Some teams horde picks as if a 10-century shortage of college players is soon to come. The Redskins are not one of those teams. Even in this new regime they have given up picks for Donovan McNabb and Jammal Brown.

So the Redskins' reported interest in San Diego WR Vincent Jackson is not surprising even though they will likely have to give up next year's first round pick in the deal. The Redskins do need receivers, and Jackson is the premiere name floating around the NFL. The Chargers are "opposed" to trading Jackson according to Jason La Canfora, but the Redskins are a team who would be interested in acquiring Jackson.

Jackson is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, and possesses impressive physical characteristics that make him highly coveted. He stands at 6-5, 230, and is an athletic, fast guy. He refused to sign his one-year restricted free-agent tender this offseason and has threatened to sit out the season.

Washington has 11 receivers on the roster already but the group doesn't really have a number one receiver. Santana Moss is a capable number two, but he doesn't really have the size to consistently beat double teams. Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly have yet to assert themselves while the rest of the group consists of guys who just aren't talented enough to be starters in the NFL at this point in their careers.

Jackson would be an instant upgrade, which is why he's so tempting, but let's be honest: the Redskins can't afford to give up a first rounder for a receiver. And there's no way around it; San Diego expects at least one first round pick in this deal.

It's a tempting move for the Redskins, but next season there will be needs to address and Mike Shanahan is already a third and a fourth round pick in the hole. So why compromise the long-term plan to bring in a temperamental player on such short notice?

The Redskins have been plagued for years by the lack of depth at receiver so adding Jackson could remedy that situation, yet there remains the fact that his addition could create problems as well as solve them. Jackson's attitude in regards to sitting out the season if the Chargers don't offer him a long-term deal is certainly a red-flag in my mind, and of course you don't want to disrupt what appears to be a happy locker room at Redskins Park.

Stay tuned for what could turn into the biggest splash of the summer. Somehow I wouldn't rule it out.

Day Two Links

Here's my postcard from day two of camp on NFL.com's Blog Blitz.

Also, I have a story on the crowded Redskins backfield for Blog Blitz. They will be able to co-exist from what I can see. Oh, and Larry Johnson has been by far the most impressive back.

I'm writing over at Fight For Old DC, covering the 'Skins as well.

Plus, look for a couple columns coming up on Anthony Brown's Hog Heaven. I'll be a guest writer there during preseason.

Trent Williams signed today as you all know. 6-year $60 million, $36.5 Million guaranteed.

Who I'm keeping up with at camp:

Met B Murf aka Homer McFanboy. Hilarious guy. Chatted for the last half of practice. Also caught up with Rich Tandler from Comcast Sports Net. Always a pleasure talking with an elder statesman of Redskins lore.

Also cant say enough about the incredible job Grant Paulsen is doing as the new 'Skins beat reporter for 106.7 the Fan. It's a terrific learning experience watching him work.

Training Camp News: Shanahan Takes Charge

Here are my two stories from day one on NFL.com's Blog Blitz.

The first one tales a look at Mike Shanahan's first official day back on the sidelines. Albert Haynesworth tried to put a damper on it, but I wasn't going to let that happen.

The second is something I'll update daily. Kind of a postcard from camp.

I'm driving up to Ashburn now to cover day two.

Quick Camp Hits

I have some stuff going up exclusively on NFL.com's Blog Blitz powered by Sports Fan Live. I"ll link to that as soon as it comes up.

Here's my quick hits from day one of Redskins training camp.

-William Robinson started at LT in light of the absence of unsigned rookie lineman Trent Williams.

-Speaking of Williams, his deal could be coming very soon.

-Mike Williams has been placed on the reserved non-football illness list.

-Joey Galloway started opposite Santana Moss. Mike Furrey spent his time in the slot as expected and made some good plays.

-Malcolm Kelly looked smooth after he tweaked a hamstring last week in Arizona working out with Donovan McNabb. He didn't expect to participate in practice, but did despite the sloppy field conditions.

-The offense was a bit out-of-sync. McNabb missed some throws as did Rex Grossman. I would imagine it's simply a bit of rust.

-Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston were with the first team defense at DE. The depth the Redskins have at DE is fantastic. Phillip Daniels and Vonnie Holliday are the primary backups, and of course Haynesworth is expected to join them there in the mix as Ma'ake Kemoeatu appears to be the man at the all-important nose tackle position.

-Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive line coach Jacob Burney both conducted a 20-30 minute workout with Haynesworth following practice so he could familiarize himself with the terminology on defense.

-Larry Johnson impressed me. Had decent speed and finished his runs. He is going to see some significant playing time this year from what I can see.

-Loved seeing new WRs coach Keenan McCardell out there. He looks like he could still play.

-DeAngelo Hall was wearing jersey #2.

I'll get the other articles linked when I can. Tomorrow night more quick hits and Andre Carter will be on the 'Skins Talk "Hot Seat."

July 29, 2010

Five Guys I'll Be Watching At Camp

I'll be at training camp tomorrow. This will be a huge time for 'Skins Talk. I have credentials for my work on Sports Fan Live, but I'll be providing some nuggets on here too.

Here's five guys I can't wait to watch in camp.

1. Donovan McNabb

It's a no-brainer. The buzz is going to to revolve around two players: McNabb and Albert Haynesworth. It's that way for a reason. McNabb is the biggest thing to hit the Redskins in forever while Haynesworth has been the story all offseason.

Obviously, McNabb will need protection to be productive, but the ultimate question is how much he'll help the WRs improve.

No offense to Jason Campbell, but he just couldn't take charge and make his receivers better. McNabb can do that. I'm interested to watch his interactions with them and see how much guys like Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas can improve under him.

2. Albert Haynesworth

He may be with the second team for now, but I predict he'll be in shape and move up with the first team within the week.

But where will he play. The 'Skins seem to have confidence that Ma'ake Kemoeatu can play at NT, meaning Haynesworth might be used primarily as a DE in the new 3-4 defense.

Either way I expect him to be a force this season so long as he cooperates with Mike Shanahan. If each side can maintain a mutual respect for one another, Haynesworth might be a beloved figure by the end of the year in DC.

Hard to imagine I know, but if Haynesworth plays to his potential, the Redskins defense will be in the top ten in the NFL. And fans won't say boo to that.

3. Ryan Torain

This one is from left field. I have yet to see Torain play yet I have a feeling he's going to make a push for a roster spot.

Willie Parker has reportedly lost his edge, and with Brian Westbrook still unsigned, Torain might be able to play his way onto the roster as a third-string RB.

Torain was drafted by Shanahan in 2008 by Denver in the fifth round out of Arizona State University. Torain played in two games in 2008 before tearing his ACL in his first start against Cleveland.

Torain was released by the Broncos in August of 2009 and then signed by the Redskins in April after Shanahan took over.

Shanahan also brought over G Korey Lichtensteiger after Denver and Minnesota released him. Both Lichtensteiger and Torain were Shanahan draftees who Josh McDaniels let go after he took over for Shanny in Denver.

Both bear watching considering Shanahan is clearly interested in seeing what they can bring to the table. Torain ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the combine.

4. Lorenzo Alexander

Alexander could very well beat out Andre Carter for the starting OLB spot opposite Brian Orakpo. Alexander has played numerous positions during his four-year stint as a Redskin including all along the defensive line, offensive line and special teams.

Alexander has excelled at all of them and now coaches are thrilled with his performance during the offseason workouts. Alexander wouldn't seem like a good fit at the OLB position especially in coverage, but so far so good.

I want to see if he possesses the athleticism necessary to rush the passer and cover tight ends. Alexander is a big guy, but he has lost around 25 pounds and coaches are loving him.

Add to this that Carter really isn't great fit as a multi-dimensional OLB (great hustle and straightline speed, but not so sure about his change of direction abilities), and Alexander might be the guy.

5. Kareem Moore

Moore was starting at FS during the mini-camps. That's a big story considering he has started just twice during his two-year career.

Moore is most remembered for this gaffe in a game last year vs. New Orleans, but he does have decent range and is probably the most qualified safety on the roster to play centerfield. Still, he has some competition from experienced veteran Reed Doughty.

Doughty is better in a backup role, but if coaches discover that Moore can't handle a starting role, Doughty is a viable option.

Personally, I like Moore and if he can show he understand the new defensive schemes, I believe he has the athleticism to be the starting FS opposite LaRon Landry.

More to come tomorrow. I'll be tweeting throughout camp from @dcship6.

July 28, 2010

Williams, Rogers Still Unsigned

Going into camp tomorrow, the Washington Redskins have two loose ends to tie off before they will have a complete 82 man roster.

First round pick Trent Williams, the tackle from Oklahoma, has yet to sign a deal. He fired his agent a few weeks ago, but expressed desire to make it to camp on time.

Williams would be wise to get everything shored away as he needs to prepare for early-season showdowns with DeMarcus Ware, Trent Cole and Dwight Freeney. According to coaches, Williams has already made significant progress in the offseason workouts and mini-camps, but too keep the ball rolling, he will need to sign quickly.

It is imperative that Williams miss no more than a day or two of camp. Unfortunately, only two other first round picks have signed, and neither were drafted close to the number four slot where Williams was taken. No comparables means both sides have nothing to set their price at, so it might hold up the signing process even more.

Meanwhile CB Carlos Rogers has yet to sign his tender offer. However, 106.7 the Fan's new Redskins beat reporter Grant Paulsen announced via Twitter that Roger was expected to "sign tender and practice tomorrow."

The Redskins need Rogers to show up on time. Rogers will benefit from a more aggressive scheme that will allow him to play tight man-to-man coverage, which is better suited to Rogers' skill set.

Rogers did fall victim to the double move last season, but Jim Haslett has re-energized the defense and will make sure Rogers will consistently play at the line of scrimmage rather than giving opposing receivers 10 yards of cushion downfield.

Rogers has a one-year, $1.543 million offer on the table. He had been testing the free agent market, but it appears that rejoining the Redskins will be his best option. He reconciled any difference with the team earlier this offseason during a meeting with Mike Shanahan.

Ps. Huge congrats to Grant who has been a huge help to myself throughout the past year. He is very deserving of the gig and I wish him the best.

Haynesworth Will Not Practice With First Team

And so it begins.

Albert Hanyesworth will not be starting with the first team defense when training camp begins tomorrow although he did sit down with head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to discuss the upcoming season.

"He's here, he's ready to go," said Shanahan who has stayed relatively quiet in regards to the entire stand-off.

Haynesworth stated several weeks ago that he planned on attending training camp and has since then reached out to the Redskins, telling them he is prepared to play for them and will not be a distraction. He has been in contact with Haslett for the past few weeks as well.

Haynesworth initially refused to play in a 3-4 defense because he didn't want to play nose tackle. Now Redskins Insider has reported that Haynesworth will split time between the nose and defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.

So far things seem amicable enough. Haynesworth knows he needs to improve his stock if he wants leave town via a trade. And it appears the only way the Redskins will flat-out cut him is if he fails to cooperate. However, Haynesworth can't afford to do that as that would hurt his chances of signing on with another team.

When asked about whether Haynesworth will play for the Redskins this season, Shanahan said, "we'll see."

However, Shanahan was happy that he would be coming to camp on time and reportedly in shape. "I was very pleased with his mindset and where he was coming from," he said. "It was what I expected from him."

Shanahan also said Haynesworth would have to pass the conditioning test prior to beginning practice. "If he passes the conditioning test then he'll work out with our team right away," he said. "If he doesn't, we'll make sure he's in shape before he works out with the team."

It's too early to tell, but it looks like Haynesworth might actually settle in under Shanahan. We know he won't take kindly to being with the second-team defense, but if he comes to play, he'll be on the first-team by the end of the first week.

Of course, he 'll have to learn the new defense on the fly, but by the end of August, if Haynesworth and the Redskins have made nice, he'll be ready to go.

July 23, 2010

The Hot Seat: Malcolm Kelly

The word disappointment has been tossed around numerous draft picks from the Washington Redskins over the years. Former Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly has yet to distance himself from that label.

When the Redskins drafted Kelly in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft, they envisioned him as a top flight red zone target and possession receiver who could finally complement Santana Moss. After all, Kelly has a Randy Moss-like frame, which goes along nicely with his soft hands.

However, things have yet to click for Kelly now entering his third year as a professional. Kelly has struggled through a pair of seasons with a bad knee and poor technique. He admitted that his route running in 2009 was under par, and he never displayed the speed or strength necessary to create separation from defenders.

Kelly has yet to catch a TD pass in the NFL and last year had just 25 receptions for 347 yards in 10 starts.

The Jim Zorn regime failed to bring out the best in players, leading many to believe Kelly will flourish under the guidance of new coach Mike Shanahan. Kelly certainly possesses the physical traits to be dominant. Not all receivers are blessed with his wingspan and 6-4 height.

Even with that size, Kelly has never been able to assert himself. He is lanky, but that doesn't excuse his inability to muscle his way past the average corners who cover him. Kelly is often matched up against the number two corner on opposing defenses, and yet he struggles to get open.

The reasons are many for Kelly's struggles. He doesn't have a great burst and seems afraid to fight off bump and run coverage. His route running improved by the end of last season, but he often appeared to be going through the motions on the field.

It is likely a matter of confidence for Kelly. He may never emerge as an elite receiver, but there is no reason a player of Kelly's make-up can't establish himself as a legitimate threat in any passing game.

Proper coaching will ensure that Kelly prepare more carefully for each game. If Kelly learns to focus and lets the game come to him instead of thinking through every move he makes during a game, then he will gain that extra step, that extra edge which should allow him to get by undersized defensive backs.

However, he must first make the team. There are rumblings in some circles that suggest Kelly may not make the final roster unless he can display that he can produce in the preseason and training camp.

The 'Skins aren't loaded with talented receivers, but there are several players expected to push Kelly for a roster spot. Joey Galloway is experienced and Mike Furrey was signed this offseason to compete for time in the slot.

Neither player has Kelly's potential, but both have delivered in the past. For a long time, Galloway was a prolific receiver while Furrey made an impact playing for Mike Martz in Detroit several years ago. Kelly has yet to log any significant accomplishments in the stat sheet, which could very well be his undoing.

Kelly does have his draft status on his side. Washington invested a second round pick in him, and they aren't likely to pull the plug on him for a couple of veterans past their prime. It would be hard to give up on Kelly given his attributes especially if he flashes his potential before the start of the season.

That being said, the pressure is still squarely on Kelly. All he can do now is put the past two seasons behind him and prove to the new coaching staff that he can be an impact player for Donovan McNabb in the passing game. He'll have 30 days and four preseason games to do it.

Weekend Roundup: Randle El Opens Up

Antwaan Randle El isn't a bad guy. He always seemed to be a decent individual. But he couldn't play worth beans much less $31 million.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to see Mike Shanahan give Randle El the boot.

Now back in Pittsburgh, Randle El opened up about everything wrong with the Redskins last week. Thanks for the critique. Now go do that annoying celebration in Pittsburgh when you catch your one TD pass a season.

Bruce Allen: "[Donovan McNabb] is gonna be a great Redskin for years to come."

Still waiting for Trent Williams to sign. In fact, the Cowboys are the only team to have signed their first-round pick. They inked WR Dez Bryant to a five-year contract worth up to $11.8 million ($8.3 million guaranteed).

Rich Tandler thinks there could end up being quite a bit of pressure on Donovan McNabb in 2010.

Here's NFL.com's Official Redskins Training Camp Preview. I wrote the column on the right!

Mike Wise has a a great piece on why the 'Skins should compromise with Fat Albert. And he's dead right. Like I've been saying, the Redskins need Haynesworth because he's that good. Fortunately, Haynesworth's stock is so low, he will probably need to perform well so he can attract a new team in 2011.

The Hot Seat: LaRon Landry

With training camp just a mere six days away, several members of the Washington Redskins are facing make or break seasons.

A productive season would solidify the status of any of these players as core Redskins. A poor season, and they could be out the door.

The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league.  A player only receives so many chances. Possessing talent isn't everything; it might buy you an extra season or two, but if you don't produce, you won't make it.

I scoured the roster to come up with some players who might find themselves out a job if they can't deliver this season and I'll reveal them throughout the next week before camp begins.

LaRon Landry, S

Easily the biggest enigma on the roster, Landry has the physical tools to be a top safety in the league yet he has not made the leap in terms of putting all his abilities together and becoming a top flight centerfielder.

Landry has speed, he can hit, and he can intimidate. However, Landry also lacks good instincts, has poor tackling technique, and has a tendency to give up big plays.

Maybe it's a lack of focus or perhaps a struggle to adapt to the rigors of the pro game. But whatever the reason Landry has yet to translate his incredible athleticism into success on an NFL football field. In short, he hasn't lived up to the hype from when the Redskins drafted him in the first round in 2007.

Landry is caught up in a dangerous love affair with the kill shot, which of course leads to highlight reel tackles and also the many blown hits that lead to big plays for the opposition.

Landry had 90 tackles, six passes defensed, a sack, and an interception to go along with a pair of forced fumbles in 2009. Those numbers look like those of a strong safety's, but Landry played free safety last season.

A good free safety is expected have more than one interception. To put it in perspective, Darren Sharper had nine while Nick Collins had six. Ed Reed played in just 12 games and had three picks. Troy Polamalu also had three picks, but in just five games. Let me reiterate: Landry had just one interception last year in 16 starts.

Not only did Landry struggle to generate turnovers, but he bit constantly on double moves and playaction while blowing coverage far too often. He just wasn't mentally prepared to take on the role of the last line of defense.

Despite his struggles at FS, Landry has never had a problem being physical. In 2007, his rookie year, Landry played at strong safety and had 95 tackles. Though he misses his fair share of tackles, Landry is still active in terms of sticking his nose into the play and putting a body on the ballcarrier.

However, Landry has yet to achieve the balance necessary to be a true free safety. He isn't interested in sitting back. He wants to be involved in the action. The defensive coordinator in 2009, Greg Blache, failed to understand this and refused to play to Landry's strengths.

Blache overloaded Landry with a laundry list of responsibilities, which Landry just wasn't able to handle. Landry appeared to be over-thinking on the field instead of instinctively making plays. The turbulent relationship Blache had with his defense led to uneven play from everyone, but especially Landry.

While Blache wanted Landry to sit back and prevent the big play through the air, Landry was concerned with establishing contact in the box. Opposing offenses realized Landry didn't have the patience to sit back and so they beat Landry over the top on a weekly basis.

Now under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, Landry will often be playing closer to the line of scrimmage. The new 3-4 defense doesn't distinguish between free and strong safety, but Haslett is aware that Landry is better suited to playing more an SS role.

Under Haslett, Landry may have found that coach who can emphasize his strengths, helping him live up to the hype surrounding him throughout his short professional career.

Landry may not ever develop into the playmaker the Redskins were hoping for when they drafted him, but if he can settle into a role where he his can play aggressive game without having extensive responsibilities in coverage, then he will salvage his career.

Landry is an immensely talented athlete who can still succeed in the NFL. All he needs is a coach who understands his skill set and works with it rather than trying to add dimensions that simply aren't compatible with Landry's playing style.

Let's just hope Haslett is that coach.

July 18, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Hell Week

The Washington Post has a fascinating piece on Donovan McNabb's upcoming "Hell Week." McNabb will host several teammates (Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Santana Moss are expected to attend) for a week of workouts in the brutal Arizona heat.

Here's an excerpt:

The daily routine focuses on the athlete's core -- abdominals, the lower back, gluteal muscles and hips -- and involves everything from traditional weights to resistance bands. Fischer likes to focus on balance, flexibility, joints and areas that most athletes tend to ignore in their regular workouts.

The group also will spend plenty of time on cardio, running steep hills in the desert heat until they finally take a break in the early afternoon.

If that doesn't build chemistry, then I don't know what will.

Mike Shanahan  announced that the Redskins will not pursue Terrell Owens on WFAN in New York last week. I have been a huge TO advocate this offseason, but I'd bet that the Redskins' lack of interest has to do with what McNabb wants.

Obviously, McNabb and TO clashed in Philly, and McNabb likely wasn't comfortable with the thought of being teammates again. The tension between the two has been downplayed, but it has to be there to an extent.

However, I see still TO as player who could make an impact for some team out there. An incentive-laden contract is the key. I wouldn't be upset if the 'Skins ultimately signed him as he can still post solid numbers at position where the 'Skins are uncertain.

Brian Orakpo has had a terrific offseason. That's good to know since he has the potential take over a game. Opposing offenses will have to gameplan around him. Just what I think.

Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly are now vets. For Kelly, he'll need to step his game up this year.

A look some Madden '11 'Skins pics. The graphics get better every year and '11 is no exception.

Not gonna lie: I worship the new Redskins ad campaign. It's blue-collar, it's hard-core, it's exciting. Plus, I love the logo with the R enclosed in the circle with the feather hanging from the circle. Brilliant.

LaRon Landry had toe surgery on June 23rd and it was reported last week. Nothing serious as Landry should make it to camp on time.

The training camp preview will continue in the coming days.

July 14, 2010

Haynesworth Trims The Fat

The Free Lance Star's Rich Campbell reported on Wednesday that Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has shed 32 pounds this offseason after struggling with conditioning issues in 2009.

Haynesworth's personal trainer Tripp Smith revealed this to Campbell in a phone interview and told Campbell that Haynesworth is "going to open some eyes when he gets to camp."

This is why I applauded the 'Skins for staying patient and not making a decision on Haynesworth right away. If Haynesworth comes to camp ready to play, the team must reconcile with him because he is that talented. Mike Shanahan didn't burn his bridge with Haynesworth, and now the Redskins may very well benefit.

Granted, Haynesworth has few fans in the locker room, but if he comes in shape and ready to play, you can bet that the team will in the very least cope with Haynesworth's attitude.

Haynesworth commands more attention than any other lineman the Redskins currently have. You can't find that talent often. Shanahan knows that and hence he is playing it cool, hoping to have Haynesworth come back and play for him.

By waiting for Haynesworth to make his move, the Redskins are in a much better position. Haynesworth knows the 'Skins don't want to trade him for peanuts or cut him. So to get out of Washington he has to produce.

Not saying that this is what's going on for sure, but I think it's likely. The Redskins do not want to part ways with Haynesworth if they believe he has a chance to produce in 2010. And who wouldn't?

He makes everyone around him better. Linebackers have less traffic to deal with while fellow defensive lineman find themselves in more one-on-one situations.

In short, he's possibly the most vital cog on a defense undergoing a drastic transformation.

By playing it safe, the Redskins might have secured a productive Haynesworth in 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.

July 11, 2010

Mike Williams Done For Year

'Skins guard Mike Williams, a former first-round pick will miss the 2010 season as result of blood clots near his heart.

In a bizarre turn of events, the Redskins will now be without a key piece to their retooled offensive line. Williams was expected to compete for the starting right guard spot. He would have provided quality depth along the interior should he have lost the position battle for right guard to Artis Hicks.

Williams lost 100 pounds in time to win a spot on the Redskins roster in 2009. He sat out the 2008 season, but the Redskins gave him a chance to erase the "bust" status Williams had earned with lackluster efforts in Buffalo and Jacksonville.

Williams was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft. He struggled with weight issues and poor work ethic, but in Washington he was well on his way to shedding that image.

His mammoth frame was perfect for the guard position, and the 'Skins had high hopes that Williams would be a key contributor on the offensive line this year.

Now it will be crucial for to have either Chad Rinehart, Will Montgomery, or Edwin Williams emerge as an option should injuries beset the O-line.

The depth along the interior isn't top-notch, but the real concern will be at tackle. If either Jammal Brown or Trent Williams suffer an injury, the Redskins will be stretched thin as Hicks will likely have to move to one of the tackle positions.

That would mean the right guard position would be manned by Rinehart, Montgomery, or Edwin Williams in light of the loss of Mike Williams.

I would expect the Redskins to address the issue by trying to acquire another lineman in the free agent market.

Initial thoughts on the remaining O-linemen on the market:

1. Chester Pitts: Coming off a knee injury, but a solid vet who played under Kyle Shanahan in Houston.

2. Levi Jones: He played for the Redskins last season and started eight games in wake of all the injuries the 'Skins had on the O-line last year. He wasn't incredibly consistent, but proved he could work in a pinch.

3. Arron Sears: The youngster came into the league with the Bucs in 2007 with high hopes, but he missed all of last season with what is thought to be psychological issues and the Bucs released him a few months ago.

Sears may retire, but should he decide to come back and play, the 'Skins might want to give him a look.

4. Mike Gandy: He's no spring chicken at 31, and he's coming off an injury, but he might be the best tackle left on the free agent market.

He missed the play-offs and the last four games of the 2009 season with injuries.

July 9, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Taking A Flier On TO?

Terrell Owens is still available and has garnered little interest from many teams.

TO made an appearance on NFL Network about a month ago for a little self-promotional interview, and he has apparently made a few appearances, trying to drum up some support.

I wrote up a piece on who I think are the top ten impact players for the 'Skins in 2010.

And finally, here AOL NFL Fanhouse's NFC East Burning Questions.

Have a good weekend. I'll be back with a training camp preview on Sunday or Monday.

July 7, 2010

Gibbs To Speak At Coryell Service

Joe Gibbs will be speaking at the memorial service for legendary San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell who passed away last week.

Gibbs will be joined by John Madden and Dan Fouts as they reflect on the life of one of the greatest offensive innovators in the NFL's history.

Coryell's coaching tree is enormous and he is the father of west coast offense that is so prevelant in today's NFL. He has yet to be elected into the Hall of Fame, but hopefully now he will be recognized as worthy of admission into Canton.

RIP Don.

Midweek Roundup: Countdown To Camp

Training camp is 22 days away. Has anyone else noticed how good Donovan looks in the Burgundy and Gold?

This marks the first time in my life that I feel confident about the 'Skins QB situation coming into the season.

The depth isn't fantastic (It's tough to get excited about Rex Grossman), but right now the starting QB is a perennial winner who is a better passer than any QB the 'Skins have had in decades.

That is going to make the Redskins exciting to watch offensively. Finally, the Redskins will have an identity on offense.

The competition at running back should only improve what was an abysmal rushing attack in 2009.

When the Redskins hired Mike Shanahan, my biggest question was what method would he use to make the team a winner?

Did he believe the Redskins were an offseason away from contending or would he slowly build the team to compete over the long-term?

I firmly held that Washington was a long ways off from being a contender, but Shanahan thought otherwise.

Ever so slowly, Shanahan has added McNabb, Jammal Brown, and a host of low-risk free agents along with first-round draft selection Trent Williams. Sounds like a banner offseason, but Shanahan has made every move with caution. He didn't overpay or give up too much, and as a result, the 'Skins have themselves draft picks for next year and a pretty darn good team for the 2010 season.

So much for a multi-year plan. The future really is now.

July 4, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Air Coryell

Legendary San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell died last week, and the surge of attention that has accompanied his passing certainly indicates that he may finally get the push he needs to be admitted into the Hall of Fame.

Coryell's connection to the Redskins is a strong one. He mentored Joe Gibbs at San Diego State and set Gibbs on the path to success. Coryell revolutionized the passing game in football, and Gibbs took his philosophies, winning there Super Bowls with them.

Bill Walsh took Coryell's vertical scheme and modified it into a lateral scheme, bringing about the birth of the West Coast offense as we know it today. Coryell is truly the father of the modern NFL.

RIP Don.

Tough to follow that up, but there are a couple of good links I need to share.

Do the 'Skins have the best offensive line in the NFC East? You can make a case for them.

Rich Tandler breaks down the 'Skins running backs.

No extension talks between Donovan McNabb and the Redskins. Same with Jammal Brown. The 'Skins might be doing the right thing by waiting until midseason to determine if they want to invest in a couple of older players.

July 3, 2010

Burress Applies For Work Release

The 'Skins are desperate for receivers. Plaxico Burress is desperately trying to qualify for a work release from prison. Match made in heaven?

As crazy as it sounds, the Redskins are more than likely going to have to acquire another receiver, considering the lack of talent at the position currently on the roster and Burress is someone to monitor.

Burress is 33 years old and a problem child, but someone will take a flier on the 6-5, 232-pound WR because he is that good.

Burress has averaged over 60 yards receiving per game in all but two of his seasons as a pro. He has four 1,000-yard receiving campaigns in nine years, and made the game-winning TD catch in the Super Bowl for the Giants to beat the Patriots in 2007.

What many people don't remember about the Giants' play-off run in 2007 was that Burress torched the Packers secondary in the NFC Championship game, catching 11 balls for 151 yards.

Should Burress be permitted to return to work in the NFL in 2010, the Redskins will undoubtedly consider him.

Burress may be a gamble due to his having been absent from the game since the middle of the 2008 season, but the Redskins must take a gamble at receiver given their situation at the position.

Santana Moss is not a number one receiver as he lacks the size to get open in the face of constant double-teams. Also, there is speculation that he could be suspended for his involvement in an HGH case.

Youngsters Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly have yet to stake a claim to being consistent threats, and the other receivers on the roster leave plenty to be desired.

Terrell Owens' name has come up. Ditto for Chargers hold-out Vincent Jackson, but nothing yet on Burress.

If Burress is successful in securing a work release, expect to hear him linked to the 'Skins.

July 1, 2010

Eagles Wishing They Traded for Campbell

With Mike Vick embroiled in another controversy, the Philadelphia Eagles might be left scrambling for a backup QB to Kevin Kolb.

Of course, the Eagles wouldn't be worried had they just found a way to acquire Jason Campbell from the 'Skins in the Donovan McNabb deal.

Instead, they will have to scrounge for a QB in the free agent market. There's a woulda, coulda, shoulda.

The Redskins have to be feeling good that they managed to get McNabb and ship Campbell out of the division. They wouldn't have wanted to see Campbell under center at FedEx Field in an Eagles uniform at any point.