1. Offensive line--You won't know how good your offensive line is going to be during or directly after May OTA's, but you can't have a good offensive line if something doesn't start materializing now. We should expect to hear coaches heap praise on guys like Trent Williams and Jammal Brown, assuming they tie their shoes right and show up. Can Chris Chester and Jammal Brown start getting on the same page this week? The right side of our line practically depends on it. I'll be listening intently to see how Josh LeRibeus fares working in at different spots, but let's not get our hopes up too much there. More than anything else, you want to see that guys didn't roll into this week sporting an extra 30 or 40 pounds.
2. Safety--Get used to the drama that will be ever-present in our secondary this summer. With so much uncertainty at the safety position, our attention is going to be fixed back there through August and into September. When we focus our attention on something, drama unfolds. It isn't that we have bad players battling for the safety spots--it is that we have no great players there. Here is what will be key for me: I don't want to hear about how a guy like Brandon Meriweather is "rejuvenated" in May, June or even July. I could care less if Cedric Griffin is "reinventing himself" as a potentially great safety. I have no interest in the potential "leap year" for DeJon Gomes being touted in the summer heat. You get the idea...none of it matters right now. We better get four or five guys ready to play by September and be comfortable with what each of them can do, because we are going to likely have to play them all. I want to hear about guys who are putting in extra classroom time. I want to hear about Reed Doughty providing the new guys with daily downloads of his experience and knowledge. We are going to have to rely on our safeties playing smart this season, because--at least from this vantage point--it doesn't appear that we have guys who can just coast on God-given ability.
3. Running back--This is where I do want to hear about guys showing signs of "getting it" after their first year in the Shanahan's system. This is where I can handle hearing the unnecessary superlatives applied to guys who are still four months away from playing Sunday ball. How does Helu look? Where is Royster's head? How far away is Hightower from being 100%? How are these guys working together? Tell me everything you can about Alfred Morris.
4. Lorenzo Alexander--I just don't know what to think about one of my favorite Redskins. When I see a team moving a guy around to this many spots, it leads me to believe he may be left with no spot at all. If it wasn't for Alexander's special teams prowess as well as his proven ability to play a ridiculous amount of positions, we might already be suggesting he is a longshot to make the team. I feel pretty confident he is going to make the roster handily. Alexander is the kind of player who will have to earn his spot on the team--lucky for him, that is where he excels.
5. Kirk Cousins--Ahhhhhhh, yes...the backup to the backup. Let me be very clear when I state that I am not even remotely considering a future for this franchise that centers around Kirk Cousins. That said, his development is so insanely important and meaningful to our future in so many ways, I will be very shocked if an inordinate amount of press and coverage isn't focused on his journey. Whether he is one snap away from playing in 2012 or 2013, his ability to come in and play well for two or three quarters--at some point--could be the difference between going to the playoffs and not going to the playoffs. If he looks lost this summer, there is going to be a lot of disappointment in Redskins Nation. If he shows that he can handle a clipboard and execute the core of Shanahan's offense, our team will be more playoff-ready than it has been in quite some time.
6. Kicker Battle!!! I think I described the way we do kicker battles as "hilarious and nauseating" on Danny Rouhier's show this past Saturday on 106.7 The Fan. Here is how it works: First, the incumbent (Graham Gano) is pitted against a worthy competitor (Neil Rackers). In practice, the incumbent will display Hall of Fame form. As the competition heats up, the veteran challenger cracks the door open just a little by missing a kick or two. These won't be 25-yard field goals. They will be 40+ yard attempts. The misses won't be enough to send Rackers packing. They will be just enough to make Gano's 39-yard and 41-yard made attempts look that much better. Since the incumbent always seems to have the edge, this could be enough to make the coach's decision at the end of camp. Here's hoping that in Week One, we see the guy who won yet another epic kicker battle, and not the guy who had an uncanny ability to have his kicks blocked.
(Wow...I got through six stories to watch this week and I did not even mention "you know who.")