By: Mike Patt
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the IE Sports Radio Blog. Today we are talking football. Training camps have begun all over the country as NFL teams begin preparations for the upcoming 2021 season. We have already seen quite a bit of COVID-19 related drama, but that is not what we will be discussing in this post. My long time favorite Washington Redskins Football Team had a productive off-season in which they added talent to most position groups across the roster. I thought their draft could have been a little better, but it was not the worst in the league in my opinion. This has naturally created some intriguing competitions for us to follow through training camp and into the pre-season. Here are my top five position battles to watch:
5. Wide Receiver Depth
This might be the competition that has the most bodies involved. By my count (and opinion), Washington has 11 NFL caliber receivers currently on the roster. Three spots are claimed by young star Terry McLaurin, free agent signee Curtis Samuel, and 3rd round pick Dyami Brown. That means 8 guys are battling for maybe three or four spots, which is a great problem to have. Injuries will likely take a few guys out of the discussion (so goes the nature of football), but the team will have to make some tough choices. This battle is not higher because there’s no true starting position up for grabs, but it will be interesting to see how things unfold.
4. 3rd Defensive End
I was surprised when Washington did not do more to address the defensive end spot this off-season. With Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson departing in free agency, their only response was drafting edge rushers Will Bradley-King and Shaka Toney in the 7th round. Those two will join 2020 7th round picks James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill (from a different team) in the competition for the back-up DE spots behind stars Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Ideally the back-ups won’t play much, but the Team will need a contingency plan should injuries of COVID happen. That makes this battle of young, inexperienced players somewhat significant.
2020 brought some serious drama to this position group. Previously, Landon Collins was the stud with Troy Apke and Deshazor Everett vying for snaps next to him. Then last year’s series of events allowed youngsters Kamren Curl and Jeremy Reaves to get some playing time, and they more than proved their worth. The Team managed to keep that quintet of contributors while adding veteran Bobby McCain following his release from Miami and drafting Darrick Forrest in the fifth round. Collins will likely return in a starting role (though even that is not guaranteed), but the starting spot next to him is a wide open competition. Fights for spots in sub-packages and on special teams will also be critical in determining the final set of players Washington goes with.
This was arguably the weakest position on defense last year, which is saying something because they weren’t that bad. It’s also the group that underwent the most overhaul, with Thomas Davis, Kevin Pierre-Louis, and Shaun Dion-Hamilton departing and veterans David Mayo and Joe Walker being brought in along with first round pick Jamin Davis. The team also still has leading tacklers Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb, and 2020 late round pick Khaleke Hudson rounding out the group. There’s a good amount of talent, but the biggest question is who fits where and at what capacity. The coaching staff has already said they will be trying many different combos to try to find what works best on the field. We shall see, but I think the group will improve over last year.
Right Tackle/O-Line Depth
I am confident that four of the starting linemen will be (from LT to RG) Charles Leno, Ereck Flowers, Chase Roullier, and Brandon Scherff. I am not 100% on Flowers, but he’s the only one. Right Tackle could go a lot of directions since starter Morgan Moses was released. It could be a four man battle between rookie Sam Cosmi, 2nd year player Saahdiq Charles, and veterans David Sharpe and Cornelius Lucas. Some of the losers might not even make the team. The depth spots will focus on who can play multiple positions, like Wes Schweitzer. Interior linemen Wes Martin, Keith Ismael, and Tyler Larsen are also in the conversation. There are lots of good names here, and it will be tough to decide. Finding the best RT to complete the line will be equally difficult.
Honorable mentions go to the battles at Quarterback and Defensive Tackle. QB did not make the list because even though there is a fair amount of intrigue surrounding Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, I am pretty sure they are gonna go with Ryan Fitzpatrick to start. DT has some high quality depth and talent, and there will be a good competition for snaps. There is more of a debate of finding which combos to play in what situations than who is going to make the team or get snaps in general. Camp started yesterday and runs through the 31st in Richmond, Virginia. The team also has fun activities for fans, so if you get a chance you should check it out. Thank you all for reading and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.