We are now into week two of @RedskinsRVA, and we are starting to get an understanding of some team needs both early this season, and moving forward. Some injuries and suspensions have hamstrung key pieces of our football team thus far. We have also seen some areas that are in need of an infusion of youth and talent.
Although its early in training camp, let's examine our most crucial needs both immediate, and for the future.
Offensive Line: The obvious focus here is at the right tackle position. Both talent and youth are desperately needed, but it looks like neither will come this season. The battle early on looks to be between Tyler Polumbus and Tony Pashos, both of whom provide no long-term answer at the position. Some have suggested Tom Compton, but he has had a rocky start thus far in camp, and it doesn't look like a move to the right side is in the cards.
The other area to watch is the interior line, where Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis are trying to position themselves as players to take over for the future. Both will have to show much more than they have so far, if the Redskins want to remain confident and comfortable with the position moving forward.
Defensive Line: All the woes of the Carriker injury and Jenkins suspension may be long gone by week five this season, when a healthy(and hopefully motivated)Jenkins returns to the starting lineup, but for now, and the immediate future, the position is worrisome. Chris Baker has been moved to defensive end, and Ron Brace and Philip Merlin look to provide depth at the position opposite Bowen, but the lack of a quality starter on the left side has to be a cause for concern. One idea defensive coordinator Jim Haslett may toy with, is moving Ryan Kerrigan inside in certain packages, and lining promising rookie Brandon Jenkins outside of the offensive tackle. This package could help by getting some of our best pass rushers on the field at the same time.
Safety: Injury and inexperience continue to hamper this unit. Brandon Meriweather has not been near 100% from a knee injury that robbed most of his 2012 season. With his future up in the air, the Redskins will be forced to go, yet again, with a safety-by-committee approach, with Rambo, Doughty, Pugh, Gomes and Thomas all fighting for playing time. The good thing is, the Redskins look to have positioned themselves well for the future with the additions of Rambo(who by all accounts has looked good thus far in camp) and Thomas. If the two rookies can get some quality snaps this season, and show the progression the coaches need to see, the position could become a strength heading into 2014.
Wide Receiver: The preseason battles that will take place over the next month could define the position for the future. Aside from Moss and Garcon, there are many question marks amongst this group. Hankerson has show the early inconsistencies that have plagued him throughout his first two seasons with the team, and he'll really need to step up his game this year if he is to be counted on for the future. Aldrick Robinson may be the most improved and impressive member of the corps this early in camp, but the staff will need to see much more from him once the games begin, if they are to feel comfortable moving forward. Josh Morgan will be a free agent in 2014, and he'll need a big season if he hopes to remain a Redskin. Briscoe, Dawson, and Lewis are other young players worth keeping an eye on this preseason, but I doubt any will challenge for significant playing time. Garcon, Hankerson, Morgan, and Moss are all locks to make the 53 man roster. Robinson should also easily make the team, and possibly even position himself for a much more prominent role moving forward, but he'll need to show his value before he's handed anything. The question is, will the Redskins keep five or six receivers?
Cornerback: A recent injury to starter DeAngelo Hall has forced rookie David Amerson into an early starting roll, and by all accounts, he's handled that move pretty well. Amerson has shown good physicality jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, and has been very solid in coverage during 7-7 and 11-11 action. His size, speed, ball skills and physical style of play should be a huge asset to the defensive moving forward. Richard Crawford is anothe young corner with some promise. He showed glimpses of his coverage ability last season as a third or fourth corner, and his value in the return game should easily keep him on the roster. E.J. Biggers has been pretty quite in camp thus far, but he could be counted on as the season gets under way to provide much needed size and athleticism to the unit. The wildcard here is Chase Minnifield. Minnifield spent last season on the practice squad after he was released due to injury, but no team claimed him. He appears healthy so far this camp, and has made some plays in team action. I don't know if his performance during camp will help him make the roster, but with the likely departure of both Wilson and Hall next year, the Redskins may be wise to hang onto him, if he shows some playmaking ability and can stay healthy during camp.