- This is a great time of year for the Sixpack, as we arrive on Monday mornings from here on out with a surplus of topics to run through. One of the best debates we have right away at this point of the summer is whether or not guys should suit up for preseason games. We are hearing that Chris Thompson will likely sit out the preseason opener against the New England Patriots. Great. Trent Williams just hit the practice field to test out his knee and he should not be dressed in pads for that game either. Great. Josh Doctson is currently between injuries, most recently coming back from a dinged up shoulder, so I would be shocked to see him play in that one. Great...kind of...I think. To me, Doctson is that player that I am no longer concerned about exposing to injury. He needs the reps, most importantly, and he needs to get as much work in with Alex Smith in this offense as possible. Also, I don’t think he is capable of being protected from injury...anywhere, ever. He is still on his rookie deal, and he still has a ton to play for, but we can no longer live in fear of him getting injured (maybe we go the other way on this, and play full contact with him now to get him seasoned up before the first game). One thing I am watching is how they work in Alex Smith in that first preseason game. If Trent is sitting out, and Morgan Moses is given the game off to nurse his ankle(s), I am not so sure I am giving Alex a ton of reps. I do not want him playing behind a pair of back-up tackles. Maybe a couple handoffs and one pass play and then get Colt out there.
- As rookies get acclimated to the league, I think now is where you begin to see at least some of the wisdom of shopping in the same aisle year after year in the draft. Da’Ron Payne is banged up and has not been able to go full out the entire time. Shaun Dion-Hamilton is not 100% back yet from the ACL injury from which he is almost recovered. Both hail from Alabama, and sure enough, they have Crimson Tide brethren on the squad to help them stay ready for when they can hit the field. Adonis Alexander has been working hard to prove he was worth the supplemental pick. Tim Settle and Greg Stroman are also there, and they all come from the Virginia Tech program. Defensive backs coach (and coach on the rise) Torian Gray played and coached at Virginia Tech, and the team has determined that this program prepares players (especially defensive backs...like Kendall Fuller) in a way that makes them perhaps slightly more ready to be a Washington Redskin. Alabama and Virginia Tech have been pretty solid wells the team has gone to, and I have not yet seen where it has hurt the Skins. Stroman and Settle should see the field in 2018, and injuries could push Adonis, though for his sake I hope he gets a year to learn. Plenty of college programs prepare players the right way for the NFL, but the Redskins think Bama and VT are the ones to keep going back to (ummm...Alabama is obviously a no-brainer). You guys have any other programs you think the Redskins have had a lot of success mining? I feel like we hit Nebraska pretty hard for a few years there.
- You all know how much I love Josh Harvey-Clemons as a player. I have become pretty excited about the kind of player teams are targeting to play that dime linebacker position. Of course Su’a Cravens didn’t pay off for us, but the idea was there, and I think that is what made me so positive on that move. It was a gamble, and it cost us a valuable pick, so I understand why folks don’t have any patience for “the bright side of Cravens” conversation. Josh Harvey-Clemons was a safety in college (Lousville), but was tabbed right away to start learning at linebacker. I watched him (and Ryan Anderson and Fabian Moreau) on special teams last season and it was a treat. Josh has added some bulk to his frame and all accounts suggest he has had one of the better offseasons. He won’t be penciled in to start for the Redskins, but it stands to reason that he will see the field a whole lot given our recent injury history at the position. To be honest, I kind of see him standing out on the special teams unit this season, as I think his size and athletic ability will start to get maximized thanks to his experience. It remains to be seen the impact he can make on the field at the linebacker position, but I feel like in his second year, he will find a home in a number of packages that should allow him to make plays—that is the name of the game with his spot. Either he will or he won’t—any takers on that one?
- Just when I thought we had destroyed the “How many running backs will the Redskins keep” debate by batting around either three or four, we start to hear this “possibly five” talk. I mean, no way the Redskins keep five running backs...right? Right?!? To me, this lends itself to the conversation I was nudging into last week, which involved making a trade. Let’s set—reset—the board: Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are locked and loaded. Robert Kelley and Samaje Perine are ostensibly battling for the #3 roster spot, which made the debate over the #4 running back a debate about whether or not this player could also play special teams. As Byron Marshall and, to some extent, Kapri Bibbs take special teams reps, you hear whispers that this could lead the team to consider keeping FIVE running backs. I don’t buy it. Not even a little bit. To me, this is the Redskins desperately hoping some team comes calling to trade for either Marshall, Bibbs or even Kelley. I don’t think it happens, but I like the effort. I wonder...if some team out there really, really liked Perine, what would that trade compensation have to look like?
- I talked about Trent briefly above, but I just want to get in the habit of ensuring that folks understand who this man is, and what this man is all about. Pound-for-pound, Trent Williams is the best football player on the Washington roster. He has been for quite some time. He is a leader in the locker room and his mere presence on the field changes the game plan for both sides. I just felt like this was the right time of the summer to set this tone again...hope you all agree. I see people forget this fact every season, and I don’t want to be the reason why. Having him enter the season healthy is the #1 priority for the Washington Redskins. #1.
- I figure I would conclude today’s discussion with an open discussion item: what preseason hype are you allowing yourself to get swept away by the most? I think the easy answer for me would be the Alex Smith hype. In the fantasy football era, most football fans know all about a quarterback that has been playing for a decade or longer. I think we can all agree (somewhat) that getting spun up about a 33-year old veteran quarterback is SOOOOOO us. That said, the hype I think we are being drawn to is not fanbase-generated. It is the quotes that come to us from the locker room, the coach’s press conference and the beat reporters conveying what they are seeing that is different than what they have seen before. It comes from a deeper dive into Smith’s success in Kansas City, where his performance was underappreciated by fans outside of the Chiefs geographic footprint. The guy can play. If he remains healthy, he will produce in an offense that is custom-built for him. If this is true, the Redskins baseline for wins should be closer to eight, as opposed to the six and a half the oddsmakers have stated. That would be worthy of hype. Secondarily, I must admit to falling prey—AGAIN—to the notion that Josh Doctson is going to be a stud this year. I hate that I can’t escape that, so I plan to just embrace it. I still feel like I said I do above—I am no longer worried about him getting injured because at this point, we’re just talking about his second contract. Our cost is sunk now, so I feel pretty liberated on the “idea of Doctson.” I won’t be crestfallen if and when he gets injured, but I will still be overjoyed if and when he blows up for 75 catches and 1,000 yards with eight to ten touchdowns.
The first preseason game is near...but the practice field is where it’s at for the Redskins, and things are getting physical.