It’s time to look at the Washington Redskins, the Falcons twelfth opponent in 2013, and what things to watch in their camp. The Redskins camp will be in a new place this year, as the team moves to Richmond, Virginia to hold it’s summer session.
The Redskins off-season, training camp, and frankly their 2013 season really centers around one player: quarterback Robert Griffin III. All eyes will be focused on Griffin this summer to monitor his recovery from a knee injury he suffered in the playoffs last year.
There appears to be near universal praise for Griffin’s recovery and the expectation that he will suit up for the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. But recently questions have been raised on how the Redskins may opt to bring him long, which may be slow and steady this summer akin to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson last summer. Peterson did not play in the preseason, and as a cautionary measure Griffin’s work this summer may also be very limited.
In Griffin’s absence, the Redskins won’t be too concerned with their backup quarterbacks as they have a lot of confidence in Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman to get the job done.
The other big concern on offense will be at wide receiver, where top wideout Pierre Garcon is recovering from injuries. He had minor shoulder surgery following the year, but opted not to have surgery on his toe that caused him to miss a third of the 2012 season. There are questions whether or not the toe will hold up in 2013. His return down the stretch was a key reason why the Redskins won their final seven games of 2012 to make the playoffs.
Opposite him, the competition will be centered on trying to find another playmaker. Josh Morgan is expected to start with Santana Moss serving as their primary slot receiver. But the team would love to see one of the young players in Leonard Hankerson or Aldrick Robinson step up. Robinson has explosive vertical potential that could surpass Moss and has had a good offseason thus far. The team did bring in veterans in Donte Stallworth and Devery Henderson to compete, but both players appear to be shells of their former selves.
Tight end is also a concern as Fred Davis has been limited in his recovery from Achilles tear. The team got solid production from backup blocking tight end Logan Paulsen last year, but Davis’ recovery will be a key to success in 2013. He was pacing the team in receptions and yards prior to his injury in Week 7 last year.
Up front, the only battle will be at right tackle where Tyler Polumbus is coming off a poor 2012 campaign. But the team is confident that Polumbus will improve with a full off-season of work at the position. They brought in veterans Jeremy Trueblood and Tony Pashos to push him.
Defensively, the Redskins also have a lot of questions when it comes to players coming off injuries. Most notable of them is their top playmaker in outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle at the outset of the season. Orakpo appears to be looking good this off-season and is in line for a big contract extension after the year. The team likely wants to wait and see him return to the field before negotiations pick up. Ryan Kerrigan stepped up his production last year in Orakpo’s absence with a team-leading 8.5 sacks. They hope his production only improves in 2013.
Inside at linebacker, leader London Fletcher returns for his sixteenth season. Fletcher’s age got the better of him last year, and the team is hopeful that 2012 fourth round pick Keenan Robinson can step up this summer and hopefully earn a bigger role, potentially subbing for Fletcher. Like Orakpo, Robinson is also coming off a pec injury.
Up front, the Redskins will feature a battle at left defensive end, where Adam Carriker is trying to hold off Jarvis Jenkins. Although Carriker is recovering from a knee injury, so much so that whether or not he is available at the outset of training camp remains in doubt. Jenkins has been coming on strong since missing his rookie year with a knee injury, and probably is the favorite to swipe the job out from under Carriker this summer with a solid camp.
The biggest concern for the Redskins defense this year will be improvement in the secondary. Starting cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are expected to return in the same roles, but there will be a lot of competition behind them. Top pick David Amerson will compete with free agent E.J. Biggers for the nickel job. The team won’t rush Amerson, but they would love to see him have a strong summer as his size and ball skills could be a big factor in any improvement for a pass defense that ranked 30th last season.
At safety, there are no set starters as of yet, although Brandon Meriweather will likely open the season at one spot, most likely strong safety. He had a run of bad luck last year, missing the early part of the season with a sprained left knee before finally being sidelined for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee after a single appearance in Week 11. It will be critical for him to have a strong camp and show he’s fully recovered. Two rookies will be competing for starting jobs in Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. The team expects at least one of them to start, with Thomas being listed as a strong safety and Rambo at free safety. But the team views either spot as interchangeable, which means the best man should win. Reed Doughty is a steady veteran that is a reliable insurance policy in case neither rookie steps up.
For the most part, the key with the Redskins will be getting players healthy. Their two best players: Griffin and Orakpo are both coming off injuries, but appear poised to be ready when the regular season starts. Bigger question marks center on Fred Davis, Pierre Garcon, who they will need this year in the passing game to try and complement the running game led by back Alfred Morris. And the battles in the secondary could be critical to strengthen that unit and the defense overall. If things go their way and key players can stay healthy, the Redskins appear poised to defend their NFC East title.