This week, the Redskins are back on the practice field, holding OTA's that will give coaches a chance to work on schemes and roles for more than just the rookies and undrafted prospects who attended the most recent minicamp.
We'll be making a way bigger deal than we should about guys running around in shorts and helmets--that's what we do after all--but the truth is that these OTA's are already reinforcing the notion that this Redskins team is...different.
Last year at this time, Kirk Cousins was looking up the depth chart at #10, playing the role of caddy to Robert Griffin III. This week, he is the unquestioned starter. He is the leader of the offense, and has the support of players up and down the roster. This simply can't be understated. Leadership has been handed out by this franchise in the not-so-distant past based on lucrative contracts and hype. Now, it would seem that a player has risen to a leadership position through hard work and perseverance. This is how it works on good, solid teams.
DeSean Jackson is once again not present, which is not really a huge concern from the standpoint of his ability to play football, but I think we can all agree that it would be better for most involved if he was around his teammates. File this in the "fans probably make a bigger deal out of this" category, but it also is worth mentioning that he got off to a very slow start last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Preston Smith enters as one to watch. I know we have all engaged in the discussion about whether Smith will keep Junior Galette off the field. The good news for us is that both of these guys will see the field plenty, and it seems like both will be on the field together at key times during games (Robert Henson explained this a bit for us on The Audible last night).
Pass rushing aside, it was the run defense that became a glaring problem in 2015, and is clearly an area that will get a ton of attention starting right away in these OTA's. It will be interesting to see how fast the team gets players like Matt Ioannidis and Trent Murphy ready to play meaningful snaps on the defensive line next to the very Swaggy Chris Baker. I also will be watching Kendall Reyes very closely, to see if there can be a sizable impact out of that free agent signing.
What position battles are you tuning into at this point? Which players do you think this kind of thing is most important for, and why? For example, I don't expect there to be a final decision made on starting roles for players like Perry Riley, Mason Foster and Will Compton, but this battle has to be officially underway, right?