The Buffalo Bills visit the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon...It's the third and most meaningful preseason game, but it will be different than most years for various reasons.
First, with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins not available to play, Rex Grossman will start and play about a half, while Pat White will play the rest of the game. Normally at least three quarterbacks would play, and quite a few teams have five quarterbacks on their 90-man roster. The Redskins have only four, and are down to only two for this game.
Mike Shanahan would only say that Cousins is a "long shot" and the Grossman/White tag-team would be "pretty close to a 50-50 split."
Shanahan also said "I'm going to play the starters probably around 20 plays on offense and defense, and not much more than that. Somewhere in that area. He did make a small distinction when announcing that Josh Wilson would play in the preseason for the first time, and start. "We'll play him for in that area, 15-20 plays."
Brandon Meriweather is very unlikely to play Saturday according to Shanahan who did allow the possibility that he might play in Tampa "If I felt like he was ready, he would be in a game situation, practicing full-speed. I just don't feel like he's quite there yet. I like the strides that he's made, and I'm hoping by the Tampa game he can play."
From a game observation and X/O standpoint here are some things that I am curious about and want to see.
**Josh Morgan and Roy Helu each returned a kick on Monday night. Morgan for 21 yards, Helu for 13 yards. The Steelers had two touchbacks as well. Based on memory, and that's a dangerous thing - I believe Niles Paul was back for one and Morgan was the other. Either way, clearly the Redskins want to give themselves as many options as they can.
**Skye Dawson also had four punt returns for 53 yards (13.3 AVG). Can he make any kind of a desperation impression? Or is he ticketed for the practice squad (if that)?
**Will the Redskins run defense be more like they were in Nashville or against Pittsburgh? Against the Titans, they were gashed. Largely on two plays, Chris Johnson had the 58 yard touchdown run and Shonn Greene had a 19 yard scoring dash. They only gave up 126 total yards rushing, but Johnson and Greene only combined for seven carries. As a whole, they averaged 5.0 yards per carry allowed.
Monday night against Pittsburgh, the Redskins were much better. They allowed 95 yards on 27 attempts (3.5 AVG) and with the exception of two sizable runs by Jonathan Dwyer, they shut the door. It helped that rookie Le'veon Bell got hurt very early in the game.
With the very talented C.J Spiller coming to DC as a duel threat, and backed up by the hard running (but often injured) Fred Jackson and former Redskins back, Tashard Choice - this is a match up that will get the most attention for me. Spiller last year caught 43 passes for 459 yards and two touchdowns, along with 1,244 yards on the ground (6.0/Att).
Buffalo's offensive attack will be limited to some degree because first round pick and QB E.J. Manuel is out and Kevin Kolb will lead the way. However, they play at a very up-tempo pace which our pal John Keim covers (and a lot more) in this post, http://es.pn/1f89YEl.
Buffalo will be a good tempo tune-up for Philadelphia in just over two weeks. Jim Haslett mentioned on Thursday "they run the no-huddle or whatever they call it out of every personnel grouping, and they get a lot of plays off." In Buffalo's trouncing of Indianapolis, they ran 85 plays while scoring 44 points total. They did get a long kickoff return for a score, and a pick six but the point is they can run you out of the building. Buffalo only ran 78 plays in last week's win over Minnesota.
This is clearly another area to watch as the Redskins try to rotate personnel on what is expected to be a sunny Saturday afternoon with temps in the low to mid 80's.
On offense, I need to see more out of Chris Thompson and Keiland Williams (if he plays). Both had fumbles on Monday night, and both are on the outside looking in when it comes to the 53 man roster. A big day on special teams could help either one, especially Thompson who said he would return kicks last week, and it stands to reason he could make a splash that way.
I also want to see Jordan Reed improve on his performance. His first game was fairly rough around the edges. He had a contested drop, and did not run the correct route on Rex Grossman's interception. His blocking was also somewhat inconsistent.
Back to defense, Chris Baker had a hell of a series on Monday night - but want to see even more. He is a disruptive force to say the least. He just has to make sure he doesn't over run or over pursue in the backfield, like he did on one rush against Pittsburgh.
Bacarri Rambo needs to tackle better in space. We all know that. They know that. He knows that. Enough said.
Eager to see E.J Biggers play better than he did Monday as well. He missed a few tackles in space, and was also called for a defensive pass interference.
David Amerson also had some issues against Pittsburgh on two passing plays that were kind of easy to see. He did not get a good jam or re-route on his man on the play that ended in DJ Gomes personal foul for a push out-of-bounds. He was also lost in space on a 29-yard extended play by Ben Roethlisberger to a Steelers tight end.
Also want to see Phillip Merling and Darryl Tapp continue their excellent performances. Both have a roster spot in my eyes, partially thanks to their own performance but also because Washington has two spots that would normally be taken by Jarvis Jenkins and Rob Jackson free because of their respective suspensions.
Perry Riley busted through a blown protection, but came away with nothing except pressure as he sized up Bruce Gradkowski. Bryan Kehl did not waste such an opportunity as he lined up in almost the same spot and shot through the Pittsburgh line and missed block, for a sack. It would be nice to see the Redskins put Buffalo in some 3rd and long situations...
Finally, it would be great to see the Redskins close things out on third downs. They were excellent against Pittsburgh (1-13) after many issues in that area last year. Clearly the "Nasty Nickel" as Rick "Doc" Walker likes to call it, is making a difference.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Every day at Redskins practice, we are assigned to cover a team and to try and track to some degree 90 players and a coaching staff/organization that doesn't exactly like to reveal a whole lot of information. That's fine. It is what it is. Some organizations are revealing and open, some are not.
Often we are left to guess and make our own judgements, because even if you get the help you are left wondering what agenda is in the message that you are given.
I say we cover 90 players (during training camp) but in essence we cover one PLAYER, and then 89 guys vying for the hearts of many and a positive tweet or two. If they have a really good day, they might actually get praised in a blog somewhere.
With that being said, I think we can safely say who that one player is......Tevita Stevens.
No I am only joking. All apologies to the Stevens family, it's not him. Of course, it is Robert Griffin III.
So with that, I am charged with paying special attention to the franchise quarterback at the expense of important drills like one on one periods between lineman on both sides of the ball or running backs versus linebackers.
Griffin III was cleared to return at the start of camp, which simply meant that he could continue to do football related activities in whatever fashion Mike and Kyle Shanahan decided for him. He participates in daily 7-on-7 periods and individual drills, along with various other activities. He does not participate in full team drills.
I am not a coach or a doctor, just a guy with two partially trained eyes and a forum to tell you what I see and think. I am not saying that I am right, but I know what looks normal and fluid versus what looks awkward or uncomfortable.
I closely observed Griffin's footwork during Tuesday's practice, without the benefit of being able to watch the video tape back like he and the coaches can do. In my one crack at seeing his every throw, I was much more interested in his footwork and leg movements, rather than his accuracy or the result of the play. Honestly, I could not care any less. However, to give you a more colorful picture, I did chart the results of what I saw.
During the early portion of Tuesday's workout - Griffin performed some quarterback unit drills and I thought he looked spry and bouncy. He drew a loud ovation for a very nice throw and catch connection to Santana Moss. He planted well on the few throws in this period and Mike Shanahan had a big smile as Griffin "low-fived" him and then the quarterback took off down the field in a fast jog to congratulate Moss for a job well done.
The greater point is that he looked different than I had witnessed in a brief period on Monday -- a good different.
His accuracy and mental knowledge is not in question, it is simply the physical part of the game to make sure that Griffin is ready to go for a long grind of the season. I thought he looked good on Saturday, an improvement from what I witnessed on Friday.
On Tuesday, after the initial period that looked good - I closely honed in on Griffin's lower foot and leg movements. His first pass in 7's was a completed dump off to Niles Paul. I observed a good, but not great thrust or push off his surgically repaired leg.
His 2nd attempt was a completion on a nice dig route to Leonard Hankerson to the right side. I didn't really see Griffin push off hard, but he looked smooth in my opinion in his weight transfer.
Griffin's third snap and throw was a incomplete pass right towards me on the crowd side of the sideline. He fired it high and it was just a rocket that was slightly off target to Dezmond Briscoe. I looked up as the ball was coming right at me, so I did not see his footwork but I can safely say this - Griffin has not lost any velocity on his fastball.
On Griffin's final pass of his first round, he completed a short dump off to Roy Helu to the left side before Kirk Cousins came in for two completed passes.
When Griffin III came back in, I noticed a difference in how he was moving. He hit Logan Paulsen on a short completion in which he planted his right foot, but didn't really push off strongly. I thought Griffin made a hopping motion to some degree. On Griffin's sixth passing attempt, he drifted to his right and hit Jordan Reed on a short dump pass. He looked very awkward and appeared visibly upset with something after the play. He was pretty frustrated to anybody that was watching.
What is not known is what Griffin III was frustrated about. Was he in any kind of pain, or was he mad at himself for some sort of breakdown in the play structure?
On Griffin's next throw, he executed another short pass to Helu but clearly did not step into the throw and once again looked unnatural or awkward in my eyes. Griffin's 8th throw was a drop by Reed, in which he planted his back foot and whipped his leg around in a similar but less noticeable fashion to how he was throwing before surgery.
Griffin's 9th passing attempt was complete to Aldrick Robinson, but it was very clear and easy to see Griffin dragging his right foot on the ground when shifting forward in his motion. It didn't look like anything I had seen so far, and it just appeared to be strange. His tenth and final throw was a completion in which he once again dragged his right foot into the ground, but in a less pronounced manner.
The bottom line is this. It's all part of the rehab process. I get that, but in my eyes Griffin III has quite a long way to go before he looks anything close to the phenom that he was before the injury. He still has a considerable road to walk, and that is not unexpected.
Bruce Allen admitted on ESPN980 this week that he was somewhat surprised that Griffin III was actually medically cleared and they were without a doubt not fully expecting him to be ready for game action and extensive practices.
This doesn't mean he won't be ready to go for September 9th against the Eagles, but the longer it takes for Griffin to be cleared to participate in full team drills lessens the common thought that he is a shoe-in to be the Redskins starting quarterback in Week 1.
I am putting it somewhere between a 10 - 20 % percent chance that Kirk Cousins is the Redskins quarterback that night, where as a month ago - before actually seeing the plan they have for him and witnessing his lower body mechanics I would have said that Griffin was a 95 - 100% chance to start.
I understand my analysis is not going to be greeted well by Redskins nation, but these are simply my observations and clearly a lot of movements can improve over time. Of course, Griffin III is always subject to a setback of some type which would be much worse than any news I could possibly deliver.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Redskins shortened their mandatory mini-camp to two on field practice days. Players had to report on Monday for physicals and pictures. Before breaking officially until late July, players had to attend meetings this morning and attend a family event at Redskins Park in Ashburn.
That's it until July 25th at least. Redskins Park will be mostly vacant of activities until after the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason game on August 19th. Players go on vacation, as do the coaches. Most of the staff takes a break, and the building continues to get a construction facelift.
Now for what you may have missed. I was not able to attend Tuesday's practice, because of our ESPN 980 "True Heroes" charity golf tournament to benefit the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, a terrific cause that greatly benefits and funds programs to improve the lives of the men and woman that put their lives on the line to defend our freedom.
Wednesday's final practice was anything but epic, but certainly individuals stood out for positive and negative reasons. The Redskins made moves on and off the field as well, adding three new players in veteran receivers Donte' Stallworth and Devery Henderson, along with kickoff and presumably long range field goal specialist, John Potter.
In corresponding moves, the team waived DE Doug Worthington and TE Deangelo Peterson with injured designations. ESPN 980 has learned that Worthington is having surgery today to repair the biceps injury and will be put on injured reserved once he clears waivers.
The loss is a concerning blow to the defensive line group, which we will expand on a bit more later, along with exclusive comments from Adam Carriker.
As for the final practice, before the show gets started for real in Richmond.
**The defensive backs flashed in some spots and were tested/exposed in others. First the good according my notes that I took (clearly it is impossible to see everything). Rookie David Amerson who has played mostly on the right side, had a ranging interception in the deep middle of the field on a throw from Rex Grossman. Defensive Backs coach Raheem Morris was yelling "Score, score, score" to Amerson who weaved his way in between tacklers on a return. EJ Biggers also had a leaping breakup of a pass.
It was anything but a banner day for the group the rest of the day. Morris had to pull 2nd year CB Richard Crawford aside one time, yelling "Come on 20" before privately instructing him on his mistake. Kirk Cousins dialed up a long strike to Leonard Hankerson who beat coverage from a combination of Crawford and Amerson. Crawford was beat on an acrobatic catch by young wide receiver Lance Lewis at the goal line. Another play saw Kirk Cousins out of the pistol formation, freeze a defensive back (did not get a number) with a pump fake and hook up with a streaking Niles Paul for a practice touchdown. Even Pat White got in on the toast party, as he connected with Lance Lewis out of the pistol with a modified zone read keeper which beat Crawford. DeAngelo Hall was beat on a red zone quick slant for Santana Moss, who dropped an easy touchdown.
A couple of times we saw the young defensive backs out of position and lacking enough recognition skills to properly recover. Safe to say that Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas, David Amerson and Richard Crawford all have a lot of work to do. The Redskins best hope is that Hall, Biggers and Josh Wilson can play in Week 1 and play better than they did last year with an improved pass rush.
***The Redskins defensive line had a couple of deflections in the practice session. Barry Cofield had a big year in 2011 with this skill and Jarvis Jenkins each had batted balls. Jenkins' deflection popped up in the air for an interception to Darryl Tapp. A couple of weeks ago Jenkins had a batted ball that he caught for an interception. Safe to say if the defensive line can create a few turnovers for a team that was already good in that area it will go a very long way.
***Rex Grossman continues to throw interceptions in every practice session that we've been able to see but he also makes plenty of big plays, like dialing up Josh Morgan on a deep throw down the near sidelines (from where I was) which perfectly landed over Morgan's shoulders beating a chasing Amerson and Crawford. Pat White had some ups but a bunch of downs. He's high way too often as he overthrew Donte' Stallworth on one pass for an incompletion. Raheem Morris even joked that a younger Stallworth would have been able to leap for it. White also threw a very high completion to Jawan Jamison on a middle screen. White also threw a rainbow, high arcing incompletion. It's been a constant theme. For as many picks as Rex throws, I will take him any day of the week.
***The Redskins worked on some hurry-up down and distance situations on Wednesday. After converting a fourth down completion in the middle of the field to young receiver Nick Williams, Trent Williams raced on the field only to realize that he was not supposed to be there for the next set of downs. Needless to say the defensive group on the far sidelines enjoyed themselves at No. 71's expense.
A few other offensive line notes after a conversation with OL Coach Chris Foerster. It is a completely open battle to who would be a replacement in the regular season for Williams if he were to get hurt. He has in each of his first three years, missing two games in each of his first two seasons and most of the Bengals loss in Week 3 of 2012. In my conversation with him, he clearly believes that Tom Compton has the most potential but had the longest road to grow out of the three offensive lineman the Skins took in the '12 draft.
Foerster is much more confident that Adam Gettis and Compton will be able to contribute this year, because they just were not ready to handle the NFL last season. Foerster mentioned that because Tyler Polumbus has played some games at left tackle, he would be an option. If Polumbus is the starting right tackle, that would create a domino effect at both tackle positions. Clearly that plan would benefit Tony Pashos or Jeremy Trueblood (maybe both?) in their mission to make the 53-man roster.
As we touched on above, with Worthington done for the year and Adam Carriker's health clearly in question, the Redskins suddenly have question about defensive line depth. Carriker appeared on ESPN 980 last night with me http://www.stationcaster.com/player_skinned.php?s=65&c=542&f=1521501 (Hour # 2, 6-12-13) and discussed the road back from multiple surgeries since blowing out his quad tendon in Week 2 last year.
Jarvis Jenkins and Stephen Bowen are the clear starters entering training camp but who will back them up? We know one answer is Kedric Golston, who was re-signed to a three year deal. The other backup would come from a group of Chris Baker, Ron Brace, Dominique Hamilton, Chigbo Anunoby or veteran Phillip Merling. It's likely only six lineman will be on the initial 53-man roster and with Bowen, Jenkins, Golston and Cofield appearing to be locks, that would leave only two spots that are open.
Keith Burns won two Super Bowls as an NFL player and special teams demon for Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos. The seeds for that success were sewn at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.
Now he hopes what started in the shadows of Washington DC ends in essentially the same place.
The Washington Redskins lost the longest tenured coach on their staff earlier this off season in Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith. Smith is a man who the fans loved to criticize and blast, just because he was the convenient target of a sometimes great, sometimes shaky special teams unit over the years.
I have been very outspoken on that issue, and it is clear (as it usually is) the fans opinion and analysis was and is very different than that of the coaches, players and media when it came to Danny Smith. This is also the same fan base that ruthlessly blasted Kyle Shanahan in 2010 & 2011, and hammered Jim Haslett throughout the 2012 season, until a 7-game winning streak took hold.
The Redskins replaced Smith with Burns, who gets his first opportunity as an NFL coordinator.
Burns inherits a good group (by no means a great one in terms of pure talent) that lost their captain in Lorenzo Alexander to unrestricted free agency, but returns everyone else. Make no mistake, Burns doesn't get Shane Lechler in his prime (punter) or Sebastian Janikowski's leg strength (place kicker) or a lights out coverage unit, but this group can get better with a different voice and a fresh approach.
"I think the foundation is here. I think Danny's done a great job. But at the same time, I have a different philosophy than what Danny did. Everything will be new to the guys, but I think they'll like what we're doing," Burns told ESPN 980 last month in his first and only interview since signing on for his new gig.
"I'm going to try and keep it simple so they play fast and play physical football and enjoy playing the game with a lot of swagger, because that's what I played with. You'll see a lot of passion out of the guys, you'll see a lot of enthusiasm. I think that will bleed throughout the whole team," Burns said.
In a few brief conversations with Burns at Redskins Park since the interview and meeting him, I see somebody that is genuine and has a burning desire to be great.
Burns told me over a two-part on-air interview http://bit.ly/17S1qmI (4/16) how he got the job with the Redskins. It was a pretty simple process, but it was interesting to find out that this was not something that was in the works from the start of Shanahan's tenure here in Washington.
"He (Shanahan) got the job here, and when Danny ended up leaving I was like 'I guess it's an opportunity,'" recalling his thought process after Smith returned home to Pittsburgh. "Washington put in a request. I sat down with Mike, did my interview. I think he's had his eye on me for a while."
Shanahan explained that the process was not a targeted mission at first. "When I interviewed Keith as the special teams coach, I brought in a number of people and he blew me away in the interview with how organized he was and his teaching progression to all of the coaches as a teacher. He’s very organized with his thoughts. He has a very solid scheme. He’s got a lot of passion for what he does. And that’s why we hired him.”
Shanahan gave him a shot in coaching, and Burns told ESPN 980 he hopes to pay him back. "Getting my start for him was incentive enough. It took four years later, but at the same time good things happen to good people. Hopefully, I'll be able to reward him with a great special teams unit."
When Shanahan arrived in Washington, Burns was one of the names that I had circled as a guy who would potentially be added to the coaching staff and probably right away. He was already the assistant special teams coach with the Denver Broncos, and he was retained by Josh McDaniels. I thought it was a surprise in 2010 that Burns was not added to the initial Shanahan staff.
It wasn't meant to be because it would have been a lateral position move (once Shanahan decided to retain Danny Smith) and the team then hired Richard Hightower to assist Smith and also the defensive game planning.
Burns was a hungry player whose appetite was filled by Super Bowl rings and he made contributions that never were given enough credit. Be honest. Who do you remember from those Shanahan - Broncos teams? Guys named Elway, Davis, Smith, McCaffrey, Sharpe and more. Not Burns. Unless you highly value the impact specials makes. To me it's more than one-third of the game in today's day and age, so philosophy is important.
"We gotta put guys in the right position to allow them to make plays either in the return game or in the coverage unit. I want us to be a scrappy group, a physical group to go out there and create turnovers. As a return team, you want to take care of the ball number one and get the ball down field and get those hidden yardage that you really don't see until the end of the game," Burns told ESPN 980.
So how do you get young players to get better? "Just being disciplined, cut down on a lot of the penalties that will allow us to have positive plays and positive yardage in the kicking game."
Discipline is important, along with accountability. That starts with Burns who knows that he has to get players attention because of the tremendous respect they had for his predecessor "It's really not about me...I don't think as the Washington Redskins unit, it's not going to be win or lose games, it's going to be really to not mess it up. We will have our opportunities to make big plays. The biggest thing is we got to take care of the ball. If we get that emphasis across to the guys, we take care of the ball, only good things can happen."
In Denver, Burns helped a unit that was in the upper echelon of the league consistently. There is no Trindon Holliday in the return game just yet, or Matt Prater. Heck, there is no Britton Colquitt either. That's where coaching and developing comes in. According to the official press release the Redskins issued when they hired Burns, his unit's accomplishments should bode very well for the burgundy and gold.
The statement read in part "From 2007-12, Burns worked with a unit that accumulated 10 combined punt and kickoff return touchdowns, tied for most in the AFC and second-most in the NFL. In that time period, the Broncos ranked fourth in the AFC and fifth in the NFL in punt return average (10.5 yards per return)."
As if not having Prater, Colquitt or Holliday isn't difficult enough, Burns has an even tougher job than Smith had in some ways because the one major loss the Redskins suffered in free agency was special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander.
"I loved the way that he played. He played that game with passion. I don't think I'll look to replace a guy like Lorenzo Alexander. I don't think you can replace a guy like Lorenzo Alexander, Burns told ESPN 980.
"We have enough guys in that locker room that will step forward. We'll get another leader out of that bunch. A leader will step forward, and we'll just have the best guy out there."
My vote? Reed Doughty. I haven't hid from this position. It would be a flat out embarrassment if Doughty is not elected by his peers to be the new special teams on-field leader. Doughty will be a leader regardless, but this really isn't a debatable topic in my eyes.
"He's a leader, disciplined, a hard worker," Burns said about Doughty.
Doughty was 2nd on the team in special teams tackles (22) to Alexander's 31 according to coaches film stats. Doughty was 2nd to Alexander with 13 tackles in 2011. He was 3rd behind Alexander and Chris Wilson in 2010.
Niles Paul and Darrel Young figure to have huge roles on the Redskins special teams units this season. Paul had 16 tackles last year and is known for his ferocious ability to cover and close, but he can always continue to improve with more seasoning.
"I like everything I've seen. There's a couple of things that I can teach him (Paul)," Burns said. No doubt everybody can get better, but Burns feels Paul is on track for something more just in terms of coverage ability.
"What he's done the last two years, is just about as good as anybody in the league," Burns told ESPN 980. Paul finished last year as the primary kick returner replacing an ineffective Brandon Banks, and had 13 returns for a 21.8 average, and a long of 48. That return came against Dallas in the regular season finale, and if not for a questionable holding penalty on Chris Wilson in Philadelphia, Paul would have had another 40 plus yard return under his belt.
Still, nothing is set in stone for Paul or the guy who ended the year as the Redskins primary punt returner, Richard Crawford.
"Oh no. Every job is wide open. I'm the new guy. Everybody starts on a clean slate. Nobody actually has a job. Every job on the special teams unit will be earned. Nothing will be given to anybody. Every job is wide open," Burns told me.
This is a notion that the 2nd year cornerback from SMU (Crawford) backed up at OTA's last week, "There's no given position. To me, I'm not the starter. I have to earn that spot."
Crawford helped win the Baltimore game in overtime for the Redskins, and clearly Paul and Crawford represent a significant upgrade over Banks who never was the same after his knee surgery in November of 2010. Now the question is, can they get better?
The belief is there, and perhaps a coach like Burns can bring it out of them. "Keith is a great coach. You see it in Denver, what he did with Trindon Holliday, and those returners. He knows what he's doing. We just have to buy in to it and do it. I already bought in to what he's talking about so I'm trying to improve on what he wants me to improve on," Crawford said.
If you are looking for a long shot returner option with some potential, undrafted free agent WR Skye Dawson has turned some heads with his speed and knack for big plays in limited time during OTA's.
The Redskins were never able to find a consistent place kicker under Danny Smith. After releasing Graham Gano and Neil Rackers at the end of training camp last year, Washington went with Billy Cundiff. That worked about as well as the infamous "swinging gate" play under Jim Zorn, and it led to another change at placekicker.
Enter Sandman? Nope, try Kai Forbath. Forbath in his first NFL regular season experience did not miss a field goal attempt until the final game of the regular season on a chilly late December night. He was (17-18) overall and a perfect 12-for-12 from 40-plus yards.
"I would consider him my 'silent assassin,'" Burns told ESPN 980. "He had a great year. He doesn't really say much, he just goes out and gets the job done," Burns said.
Forbath liked the 'silent assassin' tag that Burns gave him when I mentioned it, but he also appreciates his new leader's approach. "It's been pretty smooth. He's not a guy that came in here and tried to change our technique. He know's it's our craft and we work on it. It's been great so far."
One area that could be cause for concern is distance on kickoffs for Forbath. Clearly leg strength is not his calling card as opposed to accuracy.
Sav Rocca, was re-signed to a two-year deal by Washington to provide a steady presence. If Rocca makes it to year four of his tenure in DC, that might surprise some observers because he is 39 and dealt with a nagging knee injury. However, Burns still likes what he has to work with saying that Rocca has a "big leg. He's a boom guy. I just gotta get used to the accent."
Welcome to the club on that one, Keith. Rocca fought thru the injury last year to average a gross of 43.9 and a net of 37.2, with 22 punts downed inside the 20-yard line on 68 boots. Not the best year by any means, but it was not an eye-sore.
Burns also has Nick Sundberg, the most famous long-snapper in the NFL. His football bravery caught the eye of his new coach early on. "You can't ignore his toughness. Anytime you got a long snapper that's willing to snap with a broken arm, that says a lot about him. Hopefully everybody on the team will take that lead and play with the same heart that he plays with," Burns said on ESPN 980.
Never one to shy away from an opinion, Sundberg weighed in on going from the old school of Smith to the new school of Burns. "Transition is always difficult. I think it's something when you've had one coach for a while and a new coach comes in, it's just about learning his ways. Not everybody does things the same way. We're just getting to know each other still at this point, learning from each other every day and trying to get better."
The Redskins overall on special teams did not rate very highly because of the struggles at placekicker early in the year and the lack of spark Banks provided. According to Football Outsiders (http://bit.ly/ajGvkj) Washington ranked 27th in "special teams DVOA" (a confusing measurement system) at -4.0%. In 2011, they ranked 21st in that category.
The team had a much better and more representative "weighted DVOA" to finish at -0.1% and 16th overall in the league.
Either way you look at it, the Redskins need to improve in several key areas if they are going to take the next step. While the NFC Champion San Francisco 49'ers ranked 20th in special teams DVOA, the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens ranked # 1 by a WHOPPING margin. The Ravens had an even 9.0% which was high above the next ranked team in the league, Cleveland.
I might be a complete football nerd or perhaps an ignorant fool, but there is NO mistake made when you look at Baltimore's success and make the correlation to excellent special teams play in 2012. The bottom line is this. Billy Cundiff cost them a chance at the Super Bowl in the AFC Championship the year before, they got rid of him and added Jacoby Jones and a young but talented leg in Justin Tucker. Problem solved, at least for one year.
For Burns, that march begins now. "Guys are talking about winning the Super Bowl, but are they willing to put in the work?" Burns asks. "They got a taste of it here last year. It starts with the off-season workouts, wanting to do it for that one common goal. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters."
The young man who evolved into a champion has come home to tie the package together in a pretty bow. He has a golden opportunity in a football and championship starved town, to be a piece of Redskins lure forever.
"I kinda know what every Redskins fan wants and expects out of their team. Growing up here, I know the enthusiasm that every Redskin fan has about the Washington Redskins. I know we have the fans backing us, it's all about guys just being committed. I think we have a great coaching staff to be able to do that. Who's willing to put in the time to go out there and win a Super Bowl?"
That has to be music to many Redskins fans ears. Burns' intentions are very clear. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is coming home, if he has anything to do with it.
Chris Russell -- SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980.
Brian Orakpo not only hosts the "The Brian Orakpo Leukemia Golf Classic" presented by Omnitec Solutions, INC for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (www.lls.org) golf event, but he has immersed himself in truly being a key figure of an outstanding organization dedicated to fighting blood cancers.
The Redskins outside linebacker, recovering from a 2nd surgical procedure to his pectoral muscle, took over the event from Jason Campbell a few years ago and as the sign at the very top of the golf course would tell you, this is more than just about good publicity or just lending his name.
The sign - a very nice gesture and tribute from a grieving family who just recently lost their son, Brendan Kelly - reads "In Memory of Brendan Kelly - From The Entire Kelly Family....Thank You. Brian!!"
The sign has a picture of Orakpo and young Brendan in happier moments, but you can tell that the two developed a strong connection. In addition to honoring Brendan's legacy, Orakpo and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (@LLSNatCap) honored another "Patient Hero" named Tyler. Tyler, a 12 year old young man who has been fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) since November of 2011.
Orakpo is clearly all-in for a organization that does so much good for so many people. He's also on-board for an organization that drafted him and now sits a year away (maybe less?) from deciding if they want to make it a long term relationship.
I've covered Orakpo since he was a rookie and it's hard to fathom how quickly his first four years have gone, and yet how long the road to success (for everyone) sometimes has been. One thing is for sure, Orakpo has always been determined. He is a consummate professional who works hard at his craft, without any drama.
Sometimes that quality is underrated by fans and even media, but it is extremely important to note because the norm is for great athletes to have something about them that rub people the wrong way. I might be missing something, but I can't think of anything that Orakpo has done in that regard.
Sure, he has been knocked for not having a monster breakout season, and that is for the most part understandable. Right now, the most important issue is Orakpo proving to himself & the Redskins management team that he can stay healthy.
On Monday, the new Dad of little Brianna spent time with the media assembled and Orakpo was very adamant that he is healthy and ready to show that the two pectoral tears and an incident in a preseason game in Chicago was just a couple of "freak" occurrences as he called it.
"I shouldn't have no setbacks come OTA's. I can't say how much even better I feel this year from where I was at this point last year....I'm ready to go."
The natural question is why would Orakpo be any different than any other recovering athlete or even his situation from last off-season, which was similar? "It feels differently because I'm not having any aches or pains. I'm not having any sort of discomfort, post surgery. That's the great thing about it."
Clearly that was a problem last year at this time that continued into training camp before initially giving way in Chicago in the preseason, and then in a completely different area in Week 2 at St. Louis.
Either way, Orakpo knows going into the final year of his initial rookie contract that staying healthy (freak injury or not) is important and if he can do that, along with putting up monster numbers - he will heavily increase his chances of being a "Redskin for life" as he termed it, when I asked him about his pending contract situation.
As of this point, if I am being completely honest - I don't know if the Redskins could afford to make a long term commitment to Orakpo if they had to make that decision today. Luckily for Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, they do not have to make that decision right now or really anytime soon. They might not even have to make that decision next year, as they simply could use the franchise tag.
A franchise tag designation for an outside linebacker in 2012, cost 10.6 million per multiple reports. In 2011, the franchise tag for outside linebackers was a reported 8.8 million. It is possible that the tag price for 2014 could rise to over 11.5 million.
If Orakpo stays healthy for 16 plus games and puts up 10 plus sacks, while continuing to improve in his run defense and pass drops -along with a couple of forced turnovers (interceptions or forced fumbles), that would have to be worth at least 10 million dollars per year in my eyes.
Is that realistic? Of course it is. Players with Orakpo's talent and work ethic usually get better year after year, until their body starts to fail them. I personally don't feel that Orakpo's body is breaking down, but even the most optimistic supporter would have to admit that it is a issue that needs to be monitored.
Let's look at the numbers to see where we are and what is realistic. Orakpo had 11 sacks on an awful team as a rookie, including 4 in one game against a brutal Oakland Raiders team. He had 50 combined tackles and one forced fumble in 2009.
In 2010 (Mike Shanahan's first year) and after transitioning to a 3-4 defense, Orakpo put up 8.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble in 15 games. He had 56 combined tackles.
With Ryan Kerrigan as a first round pick, and helping deter some of the blocking attention, Orakpo racked up 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He had a career high 59 combined tackles and 5 passes defensed, which was one more than his combined first two years total. Orakpo was hurt before halftime of the Redskins final game of the season, with the pectoral injury.
In one game plus (and not very much of a 2nd), Orakpo had a full sack and a forced fumble in St. Louis along with 3 passes defensed. It stands to reason that 2012 would have been the 'breakout' year that everybody was hoping for with Kerrigan now comfortable in the systemand with Orakpo in year number three of Jim Haslett's defense.
Orakpo, a two-time Pro Bowler probably would not have reached the levels of J.J. Watt (20.5 sacks) or Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks) or Von Miller (18.5 sacks) but is it fair to say he could have reached what Cameron Wake from Miami did (15 sacks) or Clay Matthews of Green Bay who reached 13 sacks in just 12 games? I think that is more than a fair assumption, and it would have put Orakpo in the top five of the league as Wake was fourth overall with Matthews coming in 5th.
Matthews might be the easiest comparison in terms of production and value for Orakpo. Matthews has 42.5 career sacks in 58 games, with 55 starts. He does have 4 interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns and 7 forced fumbles. Throw in three fumble recoveries, another touchdown and an unofficial total of 203 combined tackles along with 22 passes defensed.
Orakpo in 49 career games, has 30 sacks with no interceptions, six forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed and 171 combined tackles unofficially.
Clearly, Matthews has been more productive and has already helped his team win a championship despite being selected 26th overall by the Packers in the 2009 draft. Orakpo was the number 13 overall pick the same year.
Remember though that Matthews had an enormously better supporting cast and a franchise that was already poised to win. Orakpo didn't get to play with Charles Woodson in his prime, or a very talented Cullen Jenkins and many others that contributed to Green Bay's defensive success. Matthews also was drafted by an organization that very clearly had been set up well by Ted Thompson.
It's hard to fathom anybody not realizing that your individual success is often a by-product of who and what you have around you. Sure, Orakpo had London Fletcher but that was about it for the first two years of his career. Watt, Smith, and Matthews walked into pretty good situations in their respective organizations. Miller was drafted # 2 overall by a defensive minded head coach in John Fox, but on a team that also had Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey amongst others.
Orakpo has improved in the other areas of his game, such as his pass drops and run defense, along with his ability to use his hands for a little better leverage. If he can play a full season this year, with Kerrigan fully comfortable in his role and ideally others around him being healthier and better in coverage, it stands to reason that 15 sacks is not out of the question for Orakpo.
As for the money, and what it might cost? Matthews signed a six-year, 69.73 million dollar contract on April 17th according to information posted on Rotoworld.com and Spotrac.com. He received a 20.5 million dollar bonus. Matthews will only count for 6.7 million under the Packers cap in 2013, with figures rising to 11.15 million (2014) to 12.7 million in 2015. From 2016 - 2018, Matthews is currently scheduled to count about 40 million under the Packers cap, with 15.2 million counting in 2017 as currently constructed.
The deal seems to favor the Packers in one area, being that the current franchise tag of 10.6 million (will only go up as more deals are done). Matthews will cost less than he would under a franchise tag in the first two years of the deal and that will probably be the case over the first four years of the deal as well.
The Cowboys have franchised OLB Anthony Spencer the last two years in a row, so Washington might not have to make the decision for even longer, but while that gives you good flexibility from a no long-term risk perspective, it significantly boosts your salary cap number for that one particular season.
Here's what I would say. I would roll the dice for right now and wait on an extension, even though it would lower Orakpo's cap number for 2013 (currently 5.109) and see if he returns to the same or even better level that he was before the injury. I think that is only fair for both sides. If Orakpo goes 8 - 10 games and has roughly a sack per game average, maybe you get serious about a long term extension that makes sense for both sides.
Spencer is going to cost the Cowboys 10.627 million as currently configured (barring a long term extension) and while he had 11 sacks last year, Spencer only has 32.5 career sacks (2.5 more than Orakpo) but has played in 90 games. NINETY. Orakpo has played in 49, if you weren't paying attention above.
Orakpo might not be Matthews, but he's far better than anything Spencer has ever produced and that's with DeMarcus Ware on the other side. If you think about it, Orakpo is an absolute bargain for the Redskins compared to Spencer for the Cowboys. The Redskins know this, and now you do as well.
Even though it would help the Redskins now, Eric Shaffer and Bruce Allen are paid handsomely to make sure that common sense prevails in a league that is every bit as much about dollars and cents, as it is about x's and o's.
If Matthews is the high end ceiling, my guess is Orakpo would come in at the 5-6 year range, with a total value of 50-55 million (5 year deal) or 58-65 million (6 year deal) with maybe 15 million guaranteed. You have until early next March to try and make that happen if you wish to do so, there is absolutely no rush for right now.
For his part, Orakpo didn't seem concerned at all. He's in a good spot, but now it is about trying to get the most imporant thing Matthews already has, a Super Bowl ring.
The Redskins took a couple of big swings at the fences on Saturday, and came up with several intriguing prospects that could be boom or bust guys. You can make an argument the entire draft has had that mantra.
In the fourth round on Saturday, the Redskins selected hybrid safety Phillip Thomas from Fresno State. Thomas can play both free safety and strong safety. He grew up a Redskins fan, and told the Redskins media via teleconference, "I know that we needed a safety. I know [Brandon] Meriweather was hurt this year and they needed a safety who could play the ball in the air. I'm happy the Redskins organization chose me to be that safety."
Thomas also joined ESPN 980 moments after he was selected, an interview you can listen to here http://bit.ly/12B7Uk2
Thomas is 6'0, 208 pounds, but he had a broken left leg and a dislocated ankle in 2011 suffered in a non-contact drill. He did rebound nicely in his real senior season, with 8 interceptions and three that were returned for touchdowns. He also had four sacks and four forced fumbles.
The reason why you might consider Thomas more of a risk than what he appears to be is if you watch these isolation videos via www.draftbreakdown.com of Thomas play against Oregon, you have to wonder will he be able to handle the advanced speed at the NFL level.
You also have to think that Chip Kelly had a smile in a quiet moment about what he might be able to run against Thomas and company, when the Eagles meet up with the Redskins.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, via NFL.com says "That is a great pick for the Redskins at this point in the draft. This kid has an opportunity to come in and start , and I think he will." Mayock mentioned free safety, which is the position that Thomas has the most experience with, starting 24 career games. Thomas also has played 15 games at strong safety.
In the fifth round, the Redskins had two selections and chose lightning quick running back Chris Thompson from Florida State. Thompson is 5'7" 195 pounds and is also the fifth running back taken by Mike Shanahan and Bobby Turner.
Thompson who says his best 40-yard dash was a 4.3, has a major injury history including a torn ACL and two broken vertebrae in his back. He told reporters via teleconference, "My knee is feeling really good. I've been told by my trainers and everything that by training camp I should be fine. I've been working out real hard and I've been feeling good so far. Now I'm just ready to join the Redskins and continue to get my knee better."
As for the back being a potential issue? "I broke my C5 and C6 vertebrae. They said it was the thoracic spine. It was kind of mid-back. It was a compression fracture that I had." Thompson said the back has been no issue "It didn't bother me at all. I haven't had any issues."
The Redskins put a double down bet on Florida State players, with their additional fifth round pick. Washington selected Brandon Jenkins with the pick acquired in the Albert Haynesworth trade to New England.
Jenkins, is coming off a foot injury which he called "a freak injury." He says "It made me mentally stronger and a better player on and off the field. A foot injury is all about patience. You can't rush it."
Jenkins and Thompson become the fifth grouping of players since 1969 in which the Redskins have drafted a pair of college teammates with consecutive picks. It's the 2nd time it has happened since Mike Shanahan took over, with the Redskins selecting three Nebraska teammates in consecutive picks (Roy Helu Jr., DeJon Gomes, Niles Paul).
In the sixth round, the Redskins selected the very talented but somewhat erratic Bacarri Rambo with the 191st selection. Rambo, a free safety from Georgia could have gone in the third or fourth round, but a drug suspension issue cost him games in Athens, rounds in the draft and up-front money.
"It was a very selfish decision I made, but I grew from it, Rambo said on Saturday. "That's my past. I can't control my past. All I can do is just grow from it."
Rambo via teleconference with the Redskins media said "I thought everybody had forgotten about me. I was sitting here praying, asking God to give me one team to like me. They the Redskins called, and it's just a blessed moment." I thank the organization for believing in me."
In some game cut-ups that I watched via www.draftbreakdown.com of Rambo, I noticed his ability to blitz frequently from the secondary, and in one particular instance against Florida, Rambo ran an "A" gap blitz from his deep position and sacked the Gators QB. He also had a acrobatic interception in the end zone, in which he was in coverage from a single high position. He patiently read the quarterback's eyes and reacted to make the play.
In the 7th round, the Redskins finished the draft off with another smaller running back in Rutgers product Jawan Jamison, 5'7", 203 pound player who is considered to be a good pass protector and a good pass catcher out of the backfield.
He started 20 games in his career, and ran for 1,075 yards and a 4.22 average, with four touchdowns in 2012. According a release by the Redskins, he ran a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash but NFL.com lists him as having a 4.68 combine run.
Mike Shanahan said "Jamison is a guy I thought would be going much earlier. We weren't really looking for that running back in the seventh round, but when he was there, we just thought he was too good to pass up."
The Washington Redskins addressed a huge need with the number 51 overall pick in the 2nd round and their first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, selecting 6 foot plus CB David Amerson out of North Carolina State. With their third round selection, the Redskins selected tight end Jordan Reed from Florida, a former Quarterback with tremendous athleticism.
As reported live on ESPN 980 Friday night before the pick was made, the Redskins zeroed in on Amerson tonight as teams before the Redskins picked off other players of interest such as Johnthan Banks and Jonathan Cyprien.
ESPN 980 first reported several weeks ago that Amerson would make a personal visit to Redskins Park, a visit that he took to spend time with Defensive Backs coach Raheem Morris and Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett.
Amerson had 13 interceptions in his sophomore year of 2011, the most in college football since Washington's Vince Worley in 1968. He had 18 interceptions in his career at NC State, with 5 picks coming in his final year.
He also has the ability to play free safety, although he told ESPN 980 moments after his selection that for the time being the Redskins coaching staff has only talked to him about playing cornerback, but he also said "I'm open for anything."
Currently, the Redskins have DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, EJ Biggers, Jerome Murphy and now Amerson in the fold at cornerback.
Free Safety is a much thinner group with Jordan Pugh who played mostly on passing downs last year, Reed Doughty and the currently suspended Tanard Jackson.
Amerson, was sharply criticized for his performance in 2012 for the Wolfpack, but some of that may be unfair. He says and the tape cut-ups prove it, that he was guilty of being a little over aggressive and not reading with his eyes carefully enough. He feels that the early season adversity made him a better player.
In looking back at my notes when I was able to watch isolation coverage via DraftBreakdown.com of Amerson against Boston College, I saw a defensive back who plays on both sides of the field, who can flip his hips and run around a 4.4 40-yard dash. He had an interception while playing on the right side, and in zone coverage that he returned for a touchdown along with a few nice pass break ups.
However, he also had times where he was beat like on a deep post and one time, playing off-man coverage, Amerson was beat on a 3rd/10 hook route. He also did a bad job tackling in space on a cutback run on one play.
We will learn more about Amerson in the coming weeks, but he is a member of the Washington Redskins tonight and he adds to a big need area, in a league that is clearly going taller, bigger and faster at wide receiver.
As for Reed, he joins a group that consists of Fred Davis who is on a one year deal and coming off a major surgery, along with returning tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul.
Reed becomes the eighth player from the University of Florida selected by a Shanahan led team, the most of any school. Shanahan has roots to Gainesville as he was an offensive coordinator there from 1980 - 1983.
Reed has been compared to Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots, by more than just scouts and draft analysts. Mike Shanahan mentioned the connection as well saying Reed is a "lot like Hernandez. I'm not sure if Hernandez is that fast."
Reed figures to give the Redskins the ability to be a matchup nightmare to opposing defenses as he can line up at tight end in-line, a split end, a wide receiver and in H-Back capacity.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Washington Redskins endured plenty of criticism last year. Some of it was deserved, some completely unfair but perception is often much more powerful than reality.
The organization was marching to their first NFC Eastern Division Championship since 1999 and all anybody could really talk about was the health of Robert Griffin III and the health of the FedExField playing surface. Even after they won the division on an electric Sunday night, the playing conditions after three December home games were a hot button topic. In the aftermath of the Seattle playoff loss, the burning topic of how sloppy the field was and what impact did it have on Robert Griffin's re-injury and Chris Clemons' torn ACL was an enormous national story.
We were all left with many questions, most of which have gone unanswered.
Should the Redskins put in field turf? What can be done? What did you think of the playing conditions? Is the surface safe? These were all questions the media and you were asking and inevitably the answers coming from the man that matters most (Mike Shanahan) was that the conditions were much better at field level than what it appeared to be on television or from a distant eye in the crowd at FedEx.
No matter the reason, no matter the impact both past and present, the Redskins organization took it upon themselves to fix a good amount of the problems. On Tuesday, ESPN 980 received a first-hand look at the progress and the plan that is in place.
Many of the changes won't be noticeable to the naked eye, so in a nutshell over a lunch meeting and tour with several Redskins officials - this is what is going to happen and what has already taken place.
**The Redskins discovered that the "root" of the problem was not the surface itself, but what was underneath. What was under the sod is what they feel provided an untenable situation moving forward.
A senior Redskins official told ESPN 980 that a "layer of silt formed" which prevented water from percolating and to not be able to get to the roots. The problem also did not allow for proper drainage. Silt is described as a mixture of debris, grass clippings and other materials.
The Redskins attacked the problem by excavating the entire field at the base, putting in fresh sand, adding a few extra inches to the sand base, rebuilding the "crown" of the surface and adding new drainage mechanisms along the sidelines. The organization last performed a major field renovation four years ago.
Behind the Redskins' and visitors' benches, there are now two strips of cement walkways in spots that used to be just an extension of the grass surface during the nice weather, and slippery and dangerous mud during the inclement weather periods. One of the strips of cement will actually go under the "dream seats" as the Redskins call them and has new drainage vents.
On the strip of cement (which will be rubberized) closest to the field, another underground drainage line or system will allow for sufficient drainage (this sits on the field side of the path) and will prevent the sideline areas that players stand on and team personnel walk and run on, from being an absolute quagmire.
***On June 5th, the Redskins per team officials, will lay down a brand new complete surface that they are currently raising on the eastern shore of Maryland. The Redskins are even using a different type of sod going from the old "Tif Sport" to a new sod they called "Latitude 36" which has been tested on the east coast under similar weather conditions.
**One other significant step that the Redskins are taking for the first time in the history of FedExField is that they are doing a complete re-sod of the middle of the playing surface directly after the November 3rd home game against the San Diego Chargers. The re-sod procedure will include the areas from the "bottom of the numbers" on each side of the field spanning the entire length of the field from end zone to end zone.
**Redskins team officials compared the planned improvements to what you see (or don't see) in December & January in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field. However as @HTTR24_7 and others point out on twitter, the Eagles use a different type of surface called "Desso Grassmaster." Another interesting fact is that, for the first time in several years, no college football games are scheduled to be held at FedExField and while a soccer game will probably be added to the schedule, the facility will be preserved for Redskins home games.
***The Redskins have not renovated the base of the surface in four years, and they have never re-sodded the field as they will do this year, which they feel will give them the best chance to provide a world-class surface for a championship contender. As one official told ESPN 980, "We want to be the best in everything we do. We have to provide the best surface we can. We're always trying to be the best."
**As for field turf - it's not happening. Mike Shanahan doesn't like it, and that's really all that matters. Redskins officials insist that they made this decision on their own, and not because they were forced to do so. One said "this is our decision, there was no mandate. Nobody's called us."
**Another item of interest - for the critics that blasted the Redskins for the putrid field conditions late last season, team officials say that that the NFL personally inspects and approves every field surface before every game, and essentially certifies the playing field. The league did this on the Thursday before the Seattle playoff game, and had the ability to demand sweeping changes, but did not.
**One last nugget of information that I found interesting - a member of the stadium management team who is very involved in the building of the Redskins' new training facility in Richmond, Virginia says the fields are being built in Richmond with the same exact specifications and 'crown' as FedExField has. Why? Mike Shanahan believes that if players are practicing and playing on different surfaces with opposite dimensions, the timing and rhythm of say a quarterback and wide receiver can be affected. He wants it the same exact way.
That, along with the refusal to go with field turf, should give you another few examples of not only who is really in charge, but also how deep the head coach's thought process into winning football goes. The Redskins management team feels that they are taking steps every day and every year, to make the organization the best it can be on the field and off the field.
Lorenzo Alexander is no longer a member of the Washington Redskins, but that shouldn't make himless important in the Washington DC and Northern Virginia area. He simply wears a different uniform and plays his home games in the desert, instead of in Landover (which can feel like a desert in August and September).
He's still a valued member of the community and a very good part of the recent Redskins history. He has his hands more than full, trying to get the Arizona Cardinals back to the promise land, which they did not too long ago.
This Saturday, at Reston Town Center - Lorenzo will host the 4th annual "Ride to Provide" www.ridetoprovide.org to benefit the ACES Foundation and the "Ride 2 Recovery, Project Hero-Bethesda"
Kedric Golston will co-host the event, as he has every year. Last year, Ryan Kerrigan, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen and several other players were in attendance so it is an excellent opportunity to get to hang out with players in a very casual atmosphere that helps raise money for a few great causes. This year, Alfred Morris is scheduled to appear along with several others.
It's a great event, to get out and ride a bike with usually great weather or just support a great cause and have some fun on a Saturday in April. Not much can be better than that, right?
If you are looking for a weekend double header of great charity events and good weather - the next day (Sunday April 21st) you can join current Redskins Safety and special teams ace, Reed Doughty as he hosts and chairs the 3rd annual Northern Virginia Kidney Walk, which you can check out at www.kidneywalk.org or directly to the specific Northern Virginia event at http://bit.ly/ZwaF1N, which will start at the Reston Town Center as well.
As you know, Doughty's story is a heartwarming one from his hearing loss to his first son Micah being born and needing a kidney transplant. Doughty's wife donated her kidney and Micah is doing very well. Recently, Doughty joined us on ESPN 980 at Redskins Park to promote the walk and because his wife was out of town, Micah and his two brothers came to work with their Dad and could not have been more well behaved and happy.
Two great causes featuring two great individuals and human beings, who have each been through individual adversity and challenges, as most Americans do. Please support both Alexander and Doughty in any way that you can.
Of course, the main part of what both gentlemen do and a lot of us care about is NFL football. It's kind of interesting how the calendar plays out that you have Lorenzo passing the torch to Doughty in a charitable way, because that might very well be the case within the halls at Redskins Park.
Alexander has served as special teams captain for the Redskins under Mike Shanahan and deservingly made his first Pro Bowl after the 2012 season. Because of various issues, he was not retained via free agency so the Redskins will need to elect a new captain. From the moment Alexander's departure became reality, the one name that made the most sense to anybody with a clue, is Doughty. I can’t be wrong on this, can I?
I will go so far to say that if Doughty isn’t voted as the Redskins special teams captain in 2013, somebody else should replace me. If Doughty isn’t a leader in every way, I don’t know what one is.
Ultimately, the decision will be up to the players – but new Special Teams Coordinator Keith Burns who joined me Monday on ESPN 980 said of Doughty “He’s a leader, disciplined, a hard worker.”
Burns went on to explain “I don’t think you can replace a guy like Lorenzo Alexander,” but that a new voice will emerge besides that of Burns.
“We’ll get another leader out of the bunch. A leader will step forward, and we’ll just have the best guy out there.”You can listen to the entire interview with Burns via the “Long Windows Audio Vault” at redskins.espn980.com .
For his part, Doughty who had toe surgery in January says “I don’t feel like anybody on this team has been a one dimensional leader. I’ve done it for a long time. I feel like I’ve been a leader since 07-08. I don’t think you have to be the captain or wear that “C” on your jersey to be a leader. Lorenzo did a great job as our captain, but I don’t think it changes what I do at all."
Doughty continued on ESPN 980, "If guys want to view me and put that “C” on my chest, that’s fine. If they don’t, I’m still going to be a leader and do the things to be successful (studying film, etc). Hopefully young guys continue to recognize that and do that themselves.”
Doughty also told me that he is planning to be the strong safety until Brandon Meriweather is ready, but “I know I can be a free safety.” He (as many others do) feels the Redskins will target a free safety in the draft, saying “that’s a given” and “there’s going to be a new starting free safety this year.”
Doughty, who had his best game of the year on defense in the Seattle playoff game, is basically the new Alexander.Even though he’s been here the whole time and has been doing a lot of the things that Alexander has done so well.
Perhaps now, he will get a little bit of recognition, heading into a very important year for the franchise and for Doughty himself, as he will be an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming year.
It’s one captain to a guy that should be the new captain, and even if it might not work out that way – it’s time to let the spotlight shine on another good guy in the Redskins locker room.
For more on Lorenzo Alexander’s Ride to Provide this Saturday, please visit www.ridetoprovide.org or come out to the Reston Town Center Saturday morning.To support Reed Doughty, and the National Kidney Foundation, please check out www.kidneywalk.org and go to the Northern Virginia page.