With the second preseason game coming up on Friday, what are the main areas of concern with the team right now and what players are on the "bubble" at the moment, as far as making the team is concerned?
I really don't have primary concerns with the game this Friday, although one thing I would like to see is less of the starters. We seemed to play our 1st teamers more than any other team this past week and I wouldn't mind if we adjusted that slightly. We all know what guys like Moss, Hightower (especially with the hard nose running he was showing), and others can do, so maybe it would be better to give them a rest. I guess this could make the playing field not level for John Beck and his competition with Rex Grossman, but I really don't expect Beck to come out with the rhythm that Rex had last week.
In terms of guys that need to perform or they may be sent packing, Aldrick Robinson comes to mind first. I'm sure he'll get a fair share of returns with Terrence Austin this weeks and he needs to do much better than his performance this past week. Other players that need to perform at a high lever include Mike Sellers, Byron Westbrook, "The artist formerly known as HB" Horatio Blades, and Chris Horton. All have been Redskins in the past but need to perform at a high level to make the team this year. Another guy that needs to step up or he may be leaving Ashburn is Selvish Capers, Willie Smith by all accounts has looked better and if Capers wants to continue to develop then he needs to show he belongs on this roster. Some think Hankerson is on the bubble at this point, but I think he'll be just fine going forward.
I think Brandon Banks is officially on the bubble now, with what looks like no way to help his cause this week. So you have to be watching a guy like Terrence Austin or even Aldrick Robinson to see if they can prove that they are capable of contributing at receiver AND returner. Despite the great initial line performance on both sides of the ball, we still have to pay a lot of attention to how our guards are progressing on offense and how our three down linemen are meshing on defense. Can guys like Selvish Capers or Eric Cook make the coaches think twice?
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am dying to see if DeJon Gomes can build on his performance last week. I thought he played pretty well, though I am sure Jim Haslett was able to find dozens of coachable moments from Gomes’ playing time against Pittsburgh.
I know people hate the obvious in these columns, but come on…who isn’t wondering what the hell John Beck is going to look like on Friday night?
I would say the main area of concern on offense is still the offensive line play. They had a nice first game and limited their mistakes, but in reading the practice reports it is clear that there are still some issues. The offensive line was helped out by Rex Grossman's quick decisions, and Tim Hightower getting positive yards even when the line broke down. Those aren't things you can rely on during the season, and the team could face a tougher test as the Colts are likely to play their starters longer than the Steelers did.
On defense I think the biggest overall concern is how the secondary will look. The Redskins will be down three starters, and will need their depth to show through. If the secondary struggles the team could look to replace some of their backups before the season starts. On special teams the top area of concern is the return units. With Brandon Banks sidelined and questions about how effective he can be with the new rules, this is a huge game for guys like Terrence Austin, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson to step up.
As expected the Redskins are having some fierce training camp battles for roster spots leaving quite a few interesting names 'on the bubble'. On offense I think veterans Mike Sellers, Artis Hicks and Donte Stallworth are all fighting for their jobs, as younger/cheaper players seem ready to pass them by. Last year's 'star' players Ryan Torain and Brandon Banks also might not be on the 53 man roster. Both players are dealing with injury issues (again) and have much stiffer competition at their respective positions. Defensively veterans Kedric Golston and Phillip Buchanon could struggle to make the 53 man roster. Other former significant contributors like H.B. Blades, Kareem Moore, and Chris Horton also could all get the ax.
I believe the main areas of concern would have to be on the offensive line, quarterback and what we have suiting up at safety. While the o-line looked pretty solid last week, what we are looking for is consistency EVERY week, so that will remain the top area of concern for me. I’m really interested in what Beck may or may not be able to bring to the table; the job is up in the air at this point so who knows what could happen. The safety position looked weak in the first game against the Steelers and that could be because the guys who will start are still nursing injuries.
As far as whom I believe is on the bubble, I believe Brandon Banks, Chris Horton, Mike Sellers and possibly Ryan Torain if his injury lingers too long. In my opinion it’s hard to cut a guy who could be a major weapon like Banks, but it could come down to roster spots and what each player brings beyond just being a returner as well as who can stay healthy. Chris Horton was the weakest link in the Steelers game so his name stands out the most. Just not sure where Sellers will fit into the team with the addition of Keyaron Fox for the special teams and the fact that the ‘Skins are already deep at tight end as well. I honestly don’t think Torain will get cut but with the depth they have at running back but it could get interesting.