STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Starter - Kirk Cousins. Backups - Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld.
Cousins is the man for the first time in his five years in Washington - even if we don't know yet if he's here long term. McCoy signed a three-year deal this offseason and is the primary backup. Sudfeld was a sixth-round pick out of Indiana this spring.
Starter - Matt Jones. Backups - Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, Robert Kelly, Kelsey Young.
Jones takes over for Alfred Morris, who was allowed to depart via free agency. But is he ready for that leap? Good in pass protection with better hands than expected, Jones had his moments, but needs better ball security. Thompson had a nice season as the third-down back, but has a checkered injury history and had offseason shoulder surgery. Brown was a practice-squad player last year, well liked, but unproven. Marshall, a seventh-round draft pick who played at Georgia, has blazing speed and could make a push for a roster spot.
Starter - Jordan Reed. Backups - Niles Paul, Vernon Davis, Logan Paulsen, Derek Carrier, Marcel Jensen.
Reed (11 touchdowns) became one of the game's best pass-catching tight ends last season. Paul (dislocated left ankle) and Paulsen (torn toe ligaments) are back from season-ending injuries that struck in training camp. Davis was a non-factor down the stretch for Denver, but the Redskins hope the fading star still has something left in the tank to complement Reed. Carrier filled in capably last year, but tore an ACL in December.
Starters DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder. Backups - Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross, Reggie Diggs, Maurice Harris, Valdez Showers, Jarvis Turner, Dez Stewart.
A big season for Jackson and Garcon, who both enter contract years and turn 30 this year. Jackson played in just 10 games in 2015, but still caught 10 passes over 20 yards with four touchdowns. Garcon was again a reliable possession receiver (72 catches). Crowder, the starting slot receiver, was second among all rookies with 59 receptions. Doctson was Washington's first-round pick at No. 22 overall after a big career at Texas Christian, but foot and Achilles injuries limited him during OTAs and minicamp. Grant will have to fight for more opportunities, though coaches love his blocking and special teams play. Ross is the lone receiver who can replicate Jackson's speed.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Starters LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses. Backups - G Josh LeRibeus, G Spencer Long, G Arie Kouandjio, G Nila Kasitati, T Takoby Cofield, T Al Bond, T Cody Booth, T Kevin Bowen, T Ty Nsekhe, C Austin Reiter.
Williams, the four-time Pro Bowler, anchors a unit that was struck hard by injuries last season. Lichtensteiger (pinched nerve) missed 11 games and Lauvao (torn ankle ligaments) sat 13. If Lauvao holds onto his spot, Long will fill in at guard and took snaps at center in the offseason. He could be a long-term solution there. Kouandjio, a fourth-round pick in 2015, also figures to be in the mix at left guard. LeRibeus was the primary center in place of the injured Lichtensteiger last season, but will revert to guard this year.
Starters - DLE Chris Baker, NT Kedric Golston, RDE Rickey Jean Francois. Backups - DT Ziggy Hood, DT Matt Ioannidis, DT Jerrell Powe, DE Stephen Paea, DE Trent Murphy, DE Kendall Reyes, DE Corey Crawford, DE Anthony Lanier.
Not a star-laden group. Baker had six sacks last season to lead the way and has become an impact player. Francois, Paea and Reyes, a free-agent signing from San Diego, are interchangeable. Murphy gained 20 pounds and will try his hand at defensive end after starting his career at outside linebacker. Crawford spent all last season on the practice squad and could push for a spot. Washington is de-emphasizing the nose tackle spot, but Golston is back for his 11th year with the team and Hood and Ioannidis, a fifth-round pick this spring, will fight for playing time inside.
Starters - MLB Will Compton, JLB Mason Foster, SLB Ryan Kerrigan, WLB Junior Galette. Backups - OLB Preston Smith, OLB Houston Bates, ILB Perry Riley Jr., ILB Martrell Spaight, ILB Steven Daniels, ILB Shiro Davis, ILB Ejiro Ederaine, ILB Terrance Garvin, ILB Adam Hayward, ILB Carlos Fields, ILB Willie Jefferson, ILB Lyndon Trail, ILB Mike Wakefield.
Neither Compton nor Foster were starters at the beginning of last season, but that's how they finished the year. Foster took over for Riley (broken foot) in December, but the latter will have a chance to regain his spot. Galette (torn Achilles) returns from a training-camp injury and, if healthy, changes Washington's pass rush. Kerrigan has been reliable in that area for years and finished last year strong. Smith, a second-round pick in 2015, was a force by the end of his rookie season and finished with eight sacks.
Starters - LCB Josh Norman, RCB Bashaud Breeland, SS David Bruton Jr., FS DeAngelo Hall. Backups - CB Quinton Dunbar, CB Greg Toler, CB Kendall Fuller, CB Dashaun Phillips, CB Jeremy Harris, CB Lloyd Carrington, CB Mariel Cooper, FS Will Blackmon, SS Duke Ihenacho, S Deshazor Everett, S Geno Mattias-Smith, S Kyshoen Jarrett.
Norman is the biggest acquisition of the offseason, one of the best corners in the league. Bruton, a free-agent signing from Denver, and Ihenacho, a former teammate there who has missed almost all of the last two years injured, fight for the strong safety spot. Hall transitions to safety full time after doing so in the middle of last season. Blackmon shifts there from corner, too. Dunbar, a converted wide receiver last year, showed plenty of promise at corner. Fuller was a third-round pick in May from Virginia Tech after missing most of his junior year following microfracture knee surgery. Jarrett, Fuller's former teammate at Virginia Tech, had a fine rookie season before suffering a devastating nerve injury in his shoulder in the regular-season finale on Jan. 3. He didn't participate in any offseason work and might not play at all in 2016.
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg, KOR Rashad Ross, PR Jamison Crowder.
Hopkins was a revelation last year - both accurate on field goals and excellent on kickoffs. Way enters his third year as the primary punter. Neither has competition in camp. Sundberg has held his role since 2010. Ross returned a kickoff for a touchdown last season. Crowder was an excellent punt returner in college at Duke, but struggled there as a rookie.