First, though, I'll open with my closing thoughts on TC from yesterday. I'm trying not to pilfer too much from the fine works of Gary Fitzgerald over at the Official Site, but he identified some compelling camp battles that deserve additional discussion. Moving along to...
Third Cornerback: Springs is number one, Fred Smoot is number two. If all goes well this is really just a battle for the temporary 3rd cornerback, as ostensibly Carlos Rogers occupies that spot (or pushes Smoot down into it) when he returns. I will be watching Rogers' rehab and subsequent return more carefully than whether Byron Westbrook can outmaneuver enough people to stay on the roster or whether Leigh Torrence ends up beating out newcomer J.T. Tryon (Note: I've also seen it spelled "Tyron" a non-trivial amount of times elsewhere; why can't we get this guy's name right?). Speaking of him, he represents a huge source of entertainment for the blogging community as heaping-big word thus far is he has a black belt in Fred Smoot style karate smacktalk.
Fifth Wide Receiver: Gary calls Moss, Antwaan Randle-El, and our two draft picks Devin Thomas and Michael Kelly as the locks. I would be extremely disappointed if it hashed out any other way. That leaves a lot of guys (six as of this writing) competing for one final receiver spot, though teams do carry six wide receivers sometimes, don't they? (Gary says prolly not because we'll have too many TEs.) Especially in this kind of offense? Anyways, I love James Thrash but I think with each passing year the likelihood he still has gas in the tank decreases, and he was a beloved man by the former offensive staff, now largely departed. However, a guy like Thrash is unique from, say, Burl Toler (who Gary Fitzgerald likes, and he'd know more about this battle than I would) because I think Toler can be tucked away on the practice squad, but unless we add Thrash to the lineup he's not going to be with the team in any capacity. I'll throw my support for Anthony Mix, perhaps irrationally. We got pretty worked up for no apparent logical reason earlier this offseason simply because Anthony Mix represented the largest receiver we have on a unit that lacked as much both in perception and actuality. Let's not discount his size: 6'5, 235 pounds, making him closer to Chris Cooley's size than he is to Malcolm Kelly's (our 2nd biggest receiver). That also gives him 35 pounds on any cornerback on our team, which should give you a somewhat good indication of how he matches up against cornerbacks in Re: size generally in this NFL. Burt Toler, on the other hand, is the 3rd lightest person listed on the roster, heavier than only Leigh Torrence and Cedrick Holt. Let me repeat, though, that Gary Fitzgerald would know a lot more about this battle than I would, and if he likes Toler than I'd suggest you pay attention to that guy through TC as well.
Finally, Punter: I have no hate for Derrick Frost and feel bad that it's come to this, but my position is that this ain't no jockeying for position. Teams invest resources into punters infrequently, and our team invested substantial -- for a punter at least -- resources into Durant Brooks. You don't draft a punter to give your current guy something to think about; you draft a punter to punt for you come Sunday. Derrick Frost is a decent NFL punter who will likely find a home after this battle plays out, but Brooks is loaded with potential and talent and should have little difficulty earning the spot on this team. If he doesn't, that will reflect poorly on the team's decision to draft him, duh. If this battle drags on too long, then I'm going to be flustered.
As intriguing as positional battles are every year, the biggest story, in my opinion, will be the new offense. Coach Zorn is the newcomer here and although he has no competition for head coach, yet, he is still measured by the past moving forward. If this offense shows up equal to or better than Gibbs and Saunders offenses of the past few years, all hail Jim Zorn. If we flounder it will be all eyes on him. The word out of training camp this coming week is going to provide much insight on just how near or far this team is from getting the new offense, and that's going to matter towards the W-L department down the road.
Jason Campbell likewise has no (real) competition for his position heading into camp, but he could a year from now, or much sooner. If he can't take the next step this coming season (and this all assumes he doesn't end up watching his idol throw fooballs for us instead) then the team will begin the move in a different direction, as we are now four years into the Jason Campbell experiment. He'll have much latitude this year, from me at least, but by 2009 I'm going to need to see some improvement to remain behind him. Many of you have expressed perfectly reasonable concerns with or committment to JC and I very much look forward to seeing those two camps of fans argue over him this coming season. Whatever position you may inhabit on that issue, let's all hope he develops into a star.
Enough of me, now to the blognets:
First and foremost, a gigantic welcome to Mark Newgent, newest member of the Redskins internet chattering class and lifelong fan. His new blog, DC Redskins Examiner, is going up on the blogroll to the left here shortly and I'm looking forward to visiting his site daily. Kudos to the DC Examiner for diving into this whole "internet" thing. He also linked here, which makes him good people. This blog is comma will be big time and I encourage you to make it a daily stop. Mark Newgent is no joke; assuming his work out of the gate is any indication, he can write.
I bet if you ask Jason Campbell if bringing Brett Favre onto the Redskins would hurt his development as a quarterback Jason would say hail no son. Wouldn't you like to learn a thing or two on the job from your idol before he retires?
That's an interesting take but I think a debatable one. I think Ben would be 100% correct if JC were younger than me but, alas, he turns 27 this December. The time is now for Jason, imo. (Elsewhere, check out Sportz Assassin's take on Favre here, at Fanhouse.)
Greg Trippiedi talks defensive backs at Hog Heaven and notes, among other things:
Reed Doughty was the biggest surprise of the season last year. He’s got a reputation as a run stuffing safety, and the numbers certainly suggest that’s his craft: No. 2 among all safeties in yards allowed per rush attempt (3.8). The team probably feels he can be a run stuffing dynamo (thanks, Mel Kiper) for the next ten years for them.
Where Doughty was more surprising was against the pass, where he actually had the numbers of a top no. 2 safety. Doughty ranked 26th in stop rate last year and 29th among safeties last year with 6.6 yards per attempt against the pass.
The training camp battle for Doughty's safety spot will be an interesting one to watch, but something to keep in mind throughout: no matter how it shakes out, Doughty will remain with the team. If he's the backup, if the defensive staff is convinced we have someone better, injury there won't kill the secondary. We know we can trust Reed to come in and play reliably, and that should never be discounted. It was circa 2006 when the defense was in shambles that an injured Pierson Prioleau necessitated the Adam Archuleta disaster, which turned into Troy Vincent into Vernon Fox into serious discussions of putting Shawn Springs at safety (even though we really didn't have the depth at corner to cover such a move). You're not going to win much of anything -- see, for example: 2006 -- unless you have injury insurance, and it's a good problem to have when your very capable starter from last year is being pushed for his position.
I'm ready for a new adventure...Greatest facial hair of training camp is going to be this years motif. After leaving Wyoming for my summer vacation I came home with quite a start on my new project. It's been a little over two weeks since I've shaved and I'm as proud as I can be! One thing about my little endeavors is that it is much more fun if I can have a partner in crime, or as many participants as possible. So I've decided to start the Chris Cooley Beard Growing Contest.
Check the site for more details, all of which are awesome. I've already told my girlfriend (she said whatever, I suspect she doesn't take me seriously) that I intend to grow a mustache by the end of 2008, making me the only 25 year old in the continental United States with one. I look absolutely hideous without 1970s era facial hair, but with? Even more hideous, and it will be glorious. Pictures will be pending. In the meantime, I encourage all to participate in Cooley's Beard Growing Contest. Tickets can be won.
Speaking of tickets, CptChaosSidekick won the Redskins Rides contest. The good Cpt needs to email me so I can hook him up with those. For those of you who would likewise like to attend, perhaps with CptChaosSidekick, I'm told that more tickets will become available in the near future. Stay tuned, but while you wait you might keep an eye on Riggo's Rag, since free tickets will also be available there at some point. It is the blogosphere's position that no one should have to pay for tickets.
Homer McFanboy has an interview with Washington Times and Redskins 360 writer Ryan O'Halloran, who I read daily. Here's a teaser than I'll force you to go read the entire interview:
5. If you had to pick one Redskins player, who is most likely poised for a breakout season? Why?
Safety LaRon Landry. I got ripped pretty good for this last year but I think Landry is light years ahead of where Sean Taylor was at the same point of their career. Landry is athletically gifted like Taylor but, entering his second season, is already excellent at anticipating plays, making up for a teammates' mistake/blown assignment and sending messages with physical play. He might not make the Pro Bowl this season but he'll turn out to be the defense's best player.
David Elfin is also a Redskins 360 writer, and he has his take on Don Breaux retiring. I'm going to try and get an Ode post to Don up here later this week, as I think he's deserving of much more praise and admiration than he's received, given what he has done for/and thus what he means to Your Washington Redskins.
Finally, Chris Mottram is cool.
I've run out of time. Enjoy Training Camp; I'll be around to keep you updated to the extent that's possible, but don't be shy about posting FanShots or FanPosts. You never have to wait on me to get the word out on a story here at Hogs Haven. What I'm saying is, explore this space, register, comment, etc. This place is so much more entertaining when it isn't me talking to myself.
I'm going golfing. Enjoy all these tags.