1. You know him in the comments section as sam.thebutcher.10, but from now on you will know him as one of the best purveyors of smoked pork products on the east coast. We always do what we can at Hogs Haven to support not just local businesses, but any businesses that are run by fellow Redskins fans. Sam the Butcher is one such business. Do yourselves a favor and go to samsbutchershop.net and order the pulled pork BBQ. I understand that most of us enjoy the process of smoking and grilling meats, but when you are having a party or event, the last thing you want to be doing is standing over a grill the entire time. Let Sam do all the work for you. The meat gets to your house packaged in a cooler and ready to be heated and served within a day after leaving the smoker.
2. One last thing about Sam, who picked the perfect slow news month to reach out to me and talk about his passion: this is a family business. He inherited the butcher shop from his old man and is keeping the recipes and stylings of his family going strong. As much pride as I take in slow-cooking and smoking pork shoulders, there is a big difference in the taste that only comes with a multi-generational process. Flavor and pride meet head-on in a way that reminds me of the scene from Braveheart when the Scots and the Irish conscripts charge the battlefield towards each other and instead of a bloody clash, a harmonious greeting takes place. So...yeah...I really liked it.
3. I figured I would spend the remainder of today's Sixpack highlighting a few of the roster developments that aren't exactly new, but that stand out in my mind as we get closer and closer to actual...real...football. (Still not close though.) The following three players are ones that may not make preseason All-Pro ballots, but are players that have me extremely excited. The truth is that if these three players contribute meaningfully in 2014, the Redskins will be playing for a playoff spot in December.
4. The first name I give people when they ask me how in God's name our defense is going to be better in 2014: Keenan Robinson. Let's be fair and frank--we still don't know if he can stay healthy for a whole season and we don't know how his game will look when he is playing in week 15 or 16 with a few nicks and minor injuries. It says here that his presence in our linebacking corps is going to make a difference. I will defer to those who have watched him all summer long, but the word is that Keenan is tracking towards earning some significant playing time. He is speedy, tough, and might--MIGHT--be the kind of inside linebacker that has the innate ability to find and get to the ball. This is the kind of player I love to root for--we drafted him, and now that a spot has opened up on the interior with the retirement of London Fletcher, we have the chance to promote from within. Kevin will be quick to point out that this is not the first offseason I am pimping Keenan, but early reports suggest that this offseason is different.
5. Given the swift signing of Andre Roberts at the outset of free agency, it is clear that our coaching staff and front office targeted/wanted him. Even after the DeSean Jackson blockbuster, that fact remains unchanged. Even after the healthy return of Jordan Reed, Roberts' role on our team remains insanely important. As a receiver, he is likely going to find space. Defenses will be very occupied with Pierre Garcon, Reed, and DJax. It's not like Roberts is going to be left uncovered, but defensive coordinators could very well decide at some point that if they are going to get beaten, it is going to have to be Roberts who does it. What I find encouraging about this whole situation is that Andre Roberts is the kind of receiver we signed in years past to be our top guy (you know...since we did such a terrible job of trying to find "that guy" in the draft). How many times did we argue over the last seven to ten seasons about whether our #1 receiver was a real #1 receiver? Now we have the returning league-leader in catches in Garcon, a well-known top commodity in DJax, a physical threat at the tight end spot in Reed and a guy like Roberts who really can play anywhere along the line of scrimmage. In addition to strengthening our passing game, I feel like Roberts is the guy we have been waiting for to handle both punt and kickoff returns. He wants the job and believes he can make a difference there. We still might see DeSean take a punt here and there, but Roberts could be the guy who locks down the primary return duties on this team in 2014. I have this feeling that if he gains any momentum at all in the return game, it will creep into the minds of defensive coordinators enough to potentially alter the way our other receivers are covered. For a guy that was a big deal for us and then all of a sudden wasn't, Andre Roberts could really be the guy that our success hinges on this year.
6. You all know how badly I wanted new offensive linemen this year. Well...we got some. Before we get overly excited about Morgan Moses or Shawn Lauvao, I am looking at Spencer Long and seeing a guy who might actually be a bigger factor for us. We all know how the Redskins love to draft guys with injuries that scare off other teams, but if Spencer Long is fully healthy (and it appears that he is/will be), he could find himself with a legitimate chance to win a starting guard spot this August. We are in full-blown "Who knows?" territory with Long. It would be unfair to call him an upgrade over anyone who has started in this league before, because we simply don't know. We have just had such a dreadful time cultivating a strong, young corps on the offensive line. Maybe that is simply not as important as I wish it was, but when I see Spencer Long--even more than when I look at Lauvao or Moses--I see the kind of offensive lineman that can anchor the interior of our line for a long time.