Not much of OTAs have been open to the media, but in the sessions that are, it's clear that Smith is impressing the coaches. From May to June, Smith has seen an increase in reps with the first team defense. Now it seems like Smith is splitting time with Trevardo Williams, and the second year linebacker talked about the rookie.
I think the better question is, at this point, why change? They already had the personnel for a 3-4 except for the nose tackle and they added a good one in Terrance Knighton. I know that fans are somehow convinced that the 4-3 is, by its very nature, a superior defense. But the facts just don't back that up. A total of 17 teams are expected to use the 3-4 as their base alignment. Some of those defenses will be good, some will not. But it will be due to the personnel they have and not how they typically line up. If the early looks at OTAs are any indication, however, the Redskins will line up in multiple fronts this year so they will be plenty of chances for the fans to see their beloved four-man fronts.
El-Bashir: McCloughan immediately identified the D-line as the team's biggest area of need, then wasted no time overhauling the previously underperforming unit. As I've said a number of times, I'm a fan of McCloughan's approach here. Paea is a building block type player—27 years old and on the upswing. Knighton, meantime, is hungry after the market forced him to settle for a one-year ‘prove-it' deal. If the 28-year-old nose tackle wants another multi-year deal, he must keep his weight down and, most important, produce. Jean-Francois, 28, figures to be a key player in the rotation. As far as the incumbents, Hatcher's health will be key, as Tandler said. Hatcher had moments early last season when he appeared almost unblockable.
If the Redskins want to really take a jump this season, then solving this position is of utmost importance. It would help if Griffin improves -- he's had a second straight healthy offseason along with another year in Gruden's offense. If not, then the Redskins will have to turn elsewhere. At some points last season, team officials admitted deciding on a starting quarterback was like pulling names out of a hat. Each one offers something; each one has flaws.
John Keim: Probably at least a little bit considering how long it's bothered him. The good part for him is that he said he didn't have any surgery and had visited noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. So it's just rest and rehab. Still, this will be something to monitor all summer. It's a big year for Williams, entering the final year of his contract. He said he lost 20 pounds, trimming down to 325 -- it needed to happen.