QB (3)--Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman-- I still think the overwhelming odds favor 3 QBs vs. 4 with Pat White. Maybe White will conveniently hurt his shoulder tomorrow night against Tampa and find his way to the IR....#stash.
RB (4)--Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Chris Thompson--I guess Royster's injury could cost him a spot to the impressive Keiland Williams' preseason but I think they believe he's their most natural runner and is more capable as a 20+carry per game back if he had to do it. I think Thompson is too much of a practice squad risk.....his potential as a speedy playmaker and potential returner is too enticing.
FB (1)--Darrell Young
TE (4)--Fred Davis, Logan Paulson, Jordan Reed, Niles Paul-- 4 tight ends has been the # since before camp started....nothing we've seen changes that.
OL (8)--Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Wil Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus--LeRibeus reporting to camp in poor shape still puts him in some jeopardy. I don't think his draft status as a 3rd-rounder will make much difference in the decision so it won't shock me if they cut him. I think Pashos goes knowing they could probably get him back if needed.
NT (2)--Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
DE (4)--Stephen Bowen, Kedrick Golston, Chris Baker, Phillip Merling-- Jarvis Jenkins back after Week 5.
OLB (4)--Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Jenkins, Darryl Tapp-- Rob Jackson comes back Week 5.
ILB (4)--London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Nick Barnett, Brian Kehl-- Barnett gives them their only experienced back-up LB.
CB (6)--DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, David Amerson, EJ Biggers, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy-- Murphy makes it after the injury to Crawford. He may have made it anyway.
S (5)--Brandon Merriweather, Reed Doughty, Baccari Rambo, DJ Gomes, Jordan Pugh-- If Gomes goes then it's Gumbs.
Lots to digest and suggest after the Skins preseason win over the Bills. The good, bad, and more.
1. The offense. 20 points on 299 yards and 17 first downs in the first half alone. The Redskins didn't need to make many third-down conversions because they were making first downs on 1st and 2nd down.Bottom line, you've seen evidence here in the preseason that the offense has a chance to very good again.Even though Rex Grossman moved the team well, the offense really hums when the QB is a legit threat to run.
2. Quarterback play. If you're a quarterback in the NFL, playing for the Shanahans should be at the top of your wish list. If Donovan McNabb weren't so resistant to change, he might still be playing for this team. Rex wasn't as sharp today as he was in the first two preseason games but he was still good enough to manage a 116.4 QB rating in the first half. Pat White has made a case to be on the final roster. I suggested last year that the Shanahans would search for a “poor man's" version of RG3 and White appears to fit the bill. He couldn’t throw the ball in mini-camp….the improvement since then is remarkable.Keeping 4 QBs seems unrealistic because there are pressing depth needs at other positions but White has made the 3rd QB discussion interesting. Sonny suggested on the pregame show that White is tradeable after performing well in the preseason. Maybe a team like Buffalo with their banged-up QB situation?
3. Roy Helu Jr. He's been impressive this preseason and he's solidified his spot as Morris' back-up. He'll get meaningful carries this year while spelling Morris and plenty of 3rd-down opportunities as a runner and pass receiver.
4. Kai Forbath. He's picked up where he left off. Perfect in the preseason and a 53-yarder today. I would like to see his touchback percentage go up on kickoffs but field-goal percentage is his most important #.
5. EJ Biggers & Jerome Murphy on Sp Teams. They both played with great energy on special teams. Biggers also had a pass-deflection on a corner blitz. Murphy had a nice play in coverage as well.
6. Brandon Jenkins and Darryl Tapp. Both have made their mark in the preseason as edge pass rushers. Overall, defensive speed looks much better than a year ago.
7. Aldrick Robinson. He's running all types of routes this summer and he's doing it successfully.
8. Darrell Young and WRs as blockers. D. Young blocks well and so do the Skins' wide outs. It's a big reason they run the ball so well and is an underrated reason for the read-option's success. In fact, the FB and WRs must be successful blocking not just because it helps the play work but it also protects the QB when he runs to the edge.
1. Crawford on punt returns & the injury. Fielding one of them at his own 2 and running backwards on another and then the news that he's done for the year with a knee injury.
2. Defense against read-option on Bills' 1st-half TD drive. Like most teams, they had a hard time stopping Kolb, Spiller, etc. when the Bills went to an up-tempo spread look with read-option as their primary play.
1. The Redskins first-team D got some work against the spread-read/option attack when Kolb was in there for Buffalo. Before Kolb got hurt, the up-tempo spread look with read-option was a preview of what Philly may run with Vick.
2. The slant or square-in pass works so much better when its run out of the Pistol with a run-threat QB.
3. Another fumble from Thompson even though they got it back....lucky. He sort of redeemed himself with some good runs and a big punt return. I think they like him a lot. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this week, especially considering the Crawford injury opens up the punt returner spot.
4. Nice play by Lance Lewis to rip fumble out of PR's hands.
5. Keiland Williams has run well in the preseason.
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
The good, bad, and more from the preseason win over Pittsburgh.
1. Ryan Kerrigan. He plays with incredible athletic anticipation. He knows what you're going to do before you know it and it allows him to anticipate where the ball is going. The plays he usually makes involve taking the football from the other team. He has 3 interception returns for scores (2 in regular season; 1 preseason) since being drafted and I think all of them were picked off behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a strip/forced fumble tonight which he's done a few times in the regular season as well. He was a playmaker in college and he's already a proven playmaker in the pros. If Orakpo can become a consistent pass-rush threat, Kerrigan will thrive more this year than he did last year.
2. Barry Cofield. Unfortunately he got hurt but before the injury he played very well. He was dominant against one of the best young centers (Pouncey) in the league.
3. Leonard Hankerson. Same as with Cofield, he played well before leaving with a strained knee. His one-handed touchdown catch was his second TD catch in two preseason games.
4. Reed Doughty. He's a necessity on this team even if he never sees the field on defense. His special teams production will be big this year particularly in lieu of the loss of Lorenzo Alexander to free agency.
5. Rex Grossman. Rex played well and moved the team. The interception was not his fault. Jordan Reed didn't run the run rout well.
6. Defensive urgency. The defense gave up plays but they came out flying around the field as if it were a regular season game. In addition to guys already mentioned (Kerrigan & Cofield), Fletcher, Tapp, Biggers, and Riley were among several defensive players that played with huge energy.
1. Injuries. Cousins, Cofield, Hankerson, and Robinson for starters. Cousins was on crutches after the game so his injury appears to be the one to watch. Cofield told Doc Walker after the game that he would be ready for the opener.
2. Penalties. A second straight week of some stupid 15-yd penalties. Gomes' first 15-yarder was awful.
3. Turnovers. 4 of them including an ugly-looking missed block on Pittsburgh LB Jarvis Jones who showed up simultaneously with a pitch to Keiland Williams in the backfield.
4. Early offense. In rhythm against Tennesee, the starting offense never got into the same rhythm tonight. Before Cousins got hurt, just 23 yards and one first down.
5. DeJon Gomes. Two 15-yd penalties including a bad one on the sideline. He took a few bad angles in space that resulted in lost yardage as well.
1. Why was Josh Morgan returning 2nd-half kickoffs against players looking to make Pittsburgh's team with big hits?
2. In case you haven't been paying attention, the read-option component of the Redskins' offense isn't going anywhere. Helu scored on a beautiful read-option run after White had made big yards on QB read-option keepers.
3. An early 3rd and 4 highlighted the problem the Redskins have with pass protection in fairly obvious pass situations. Cousins had no time and was sacked. If it had been a regular season game, my guess is that they would have gone pistol and made the opposing defense think read-option was a possibility. That was the key to reducing pass-rush pressure last year.
The good, bad, and more from the preseason opener in Tennessee.
1. Offensive coaching. More proof tonight that the Shanahans know how to coach offense and quarterbacks in particular. The only absolute about this football team is how prepared they are on offense every time they take the field. The scheme, preparation, and play-calling is top-shelf and it has been since they got here. The running game was in mid-season zone-stretch form with Helu and Royster taking advantage of cut-back lanes all night long. The passing game was sharp from the start. Cousins was great, Rex caught fire after a slow start, and Pat White was impressive as well. The overall passing stats would've been even more impressive if not for several drops. Bottom line, generating 25 first downs, 360 total yards of offense, and 8-14 on third downs is impressive for week 8, let alone for the first preseason game.
2. Kirk Cousins. It would be hard to imagine Kirk Cousins looking any better than he did in two series of the first preseason game. He went 6 for 7 with a touchdown pass before handing it over to Rex. It appeared his reads were decisive and the ball came out quickly.
3. David Amerson. I have no idea how his coaches will grade his performance technically but they'll love how active and aggressive he played in his first pro game. He did a nice job on Kenny Britt and was close to an interception at least once. He played confidently and like he belonged. His length and playmaking ability will be evident this season.
4. Helu and Royster. Both, like Morris, have great athletic vision. The running game went for 164 yards and 4.8 per carry with a hodge-podge of o-linemen on the field. Not bad. The RB position is going to be a difficult when cuts come around. Helu looks like a given but I'd hate to see Royster go.
1. Run defense. The Chris Johnson 58-yard touchdown run was the start of a bad few minutes for the Skins' run defense. It gave up 90 yards on 6 straight carries with players out of position and taking bad angles. It would certainly appear that Brian Orakpo was the man out of position on the Johnson TD run.
2. Dropped passes. Lots of them including some potential big-yardage plays. Robinson dropped an easy 20+ yard pass from Rex while Pat White was on the money a few times but his receivers failed to hold onto the ball.
1. It looked like Orakpo lined up offsides on his sack.
2. Did you notice that Haslett went with Kerrigan as a down lineman on a 3rd and long in the first quarter? He had Orakpo and Brandon Jenkins lined up as outside linebackers with Kerrigan and Bowen up front.
3. At least 6 projected starters didn't play....(RG3, Garcon, Morris, T. Williams on offense.....Wilson, Hall, and Merriweather on defense).
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.
The Redskins never stop trying to improve. I don't know if every organization works this way, but the only time that you can truly let your guard down a little bit is when you know that Mike Shanahan is on vacation.
Even then, players can always do something and rumors can always send you on a wild goose chase.
Wednesday was a day where the Redskins were on the front burner. For many reasons. Some that are now complete, and some that are very much still in progress.
The Redskins appear to have been able to retain not only a overwhelming part of their core, but also have been able to add to it. Washington will very likely not bring back starting free safety Madieu Williams. ESPN 980 had first reported that news a few weeks ago. If that situation remains, the Redskins will have been able to retain 21 of 22 starters.
They lost their special teams captain, Lorenzo Alexander and risked losing DeAngelo Hall. However to think that they could bring back Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Polumbus, Darrel Young, Logan Paulsen, Nick Sundberg, Sav Rocca, Bryan Kehl, Chris Baker, Rex Grossman and Hall after releasing him would have required you to have 3-D rose colored glasses on while pounding burgundy and gold kool-aid down your throat and yet the Redskins accomplished just that.
Think about it. The Redskins, with an 18 million dollar salary cap hit were able to retain all but one starter and their special teams captain while at least for now, not mortgaging any of the future. They lost more assistant coaches (Danny Smith and Ike Hilliard) than they did starters from the 2012 NFC Eastern Division Championship team.
On Wednesday, the Redskins retained more of their core by agreeing to terms with Rex Grossman. While not a popular move, it was a necessary addition. Here's the bottom line reality that most Redskins fans do not want to face. The (strong?) possibility exists that Robert Griffin III is not ready for Week 1. Kirk Cousins would be the starter, but it is very likely that if Griffin is not ready to start that he would not even be active on the 46 man game day roster. You need a competent, quality and experienced backup and you can do A LOT worse than Grossman.
Grossman took his time before coming back, a move that was made official on Thursday morning. He told ESPN 980 via phone "the real opportunity wasn't out there, so I wanted to be here."
Grossman was a key figure behind the scenes for the development of Griffin III and Kirk Cousins in their rookie years. It's a good move.
The Redskins also officially signed Pat White to a one year contract, a source close to the situation confirmed to ESPN 980. The former West Virginia product was a second round pick in 2009 and was quickly out of the league, partially due to health reasons and partially due to a bad skill set fit.
Plenty of questions remain on White, and if he can actually play the position. As ESPN 980 first reported on Tuesday, White has worked with noted quarterback guru, George Whitfield Jr. to prepare for this opportunity.
He was also busy taking care of legal matters, as Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times first reported here http://wtim.es/10z6YdM.
Then there's the Kirk Cousins dynamic to this four-headed quarterback monster...He was on ESPN 980 on Wednesday after it became known that White would be signing, but before Rex Grossman's agreement became public.
Per Steinberg's transcript, Cousins told the "Sports Fix" - “I felt like with Robert’s health where it is right now, to be able to have a guy who can do some of the thing Robert does athletically would be important, especially in this offseason time when you’re trying to stay sharp and develop your base playbook and improve your base playbook. While I believe can to some degree run those kind of things, the zone-read stuff is gonna be much better with a Pat White-type athlete in there who’s closer to Robert’s skill set."
“I think that’s a no-brainer to have a guy like that in at least for OTAs, if not longer,” Cousins said to Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro.
That's all fine and good, and makes perfect sense. The Redskins will have at least four, if not five quarterbacks during training camp and pre-season on the roster because Griffin will be extremely limited, if he is even able to do anything in August.
Anybody that thinks Kirk Cousins would be traded to the first team that has an opening in camp (due to injury) is just a flat out space cadet. Sorry. It's just NEVER going to happen, and I strongly believe it would not have happened even if Robert Griffin III had made it through his rookie season completely healthy.
DeAngelo Hall is officially back in the fold, signing a one year deal. Now the interesting part is can the Redskins somehow still reel in Antoine Winfield?
Hall is an interesting case. He's another guy who clearly doesn't have a lot of popularity in the fan base, which is the nature of the position. I have always thought he was a above average pure cover corner and that's as far as I can go. This goes back to his days in Atlanta, and it was laughable that an organization as dumb as the Oakland Raiders gave Hall the kind of money they did and cut him halfway through his first year.
The Redskins are anything but dumb under Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen and Eric Shaffer. As a result of their 2010 creativity which landed them in hot water with the National Football League, the Redskins saved three million dollars in cap space in 2012 - as Hall's cap hit went from 9.5 to 6.5 million. The move also allowed the Redskins to have no dead money if they chose to whack Hall in 2013 or 2014. His base salary and workout bonuses was a simple 8.0 million in 2013 and 9.5 million in 2014, all non-guaranteed.
So when the Redskins released Hall last month, they technically saved a total of 17.5 million additional dollars over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Washington made it official on Thursday morning, signing Hall back to a reported one year, 2.5 million dollar deal with a likely incentives based package for him to make more.
If you combine the on books savings of 2012 - 2014, it adds up too a whopping 20.5 million dollars, and for salary cap accounting purposes if you add the 3.0 million (high side w/ roster bonus projection) - the Redskins actually saved a total of 17.5 million as a net.
They were stripped of 15 million, but gained back the flexibility to have 17.5 million in credits spread over three years. Even if Hall is brought back for 2014 at a similar structure to this year, the Redskins would still have saved about 15 million dollars in cap space over the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.
As far as dealing with Hall, and still retaining his services for at least 2013 - you could not ask for any better than that.
Especially if somehow, the move to bring back Hall still allows you to secure the services of Antoine Winfield. As we have reported several times, strong mutual interest still exists between both sides with Minnesota and possibly another suitor still in the mix (Denver?).
Winfield visited Redskins Park last week, and the Redskins tried to initiate contract discussions about 15 times to Winfield's representatives. The two sides briefly spoke that night and have remained in contact, with Winfield reportedly out of the country.
How do the Redskins accomplish such a move? That's the multi-million dollar question. As I write this, we are all still trying to figure out exactly how the Redskins with less than 700,000 in cap space as of Wednesday night, made the signing of Hall, Grossman and White all official https://www.nflplayers.com/reports/RunPublicReport.aspx?report=top51.
Clearly, they have some work to do and it very much seems that Winfield and his camp are more than willing to be patient in the process. Sure, returning to Minnesota is an option but he has to see what everybody sees and that is Christian Ponder is going to be hard pressed to take a team to a Super Bowl, something that has eluded Winfield during his career.
Based on multiple conversations with multiple sources, I have been able to rule out as of Wednesday a re-structure for Pierre Garcon. His base salary for 2013 is guaranteed anyway, and a provision does exist that would allow the Redskins to convert that base to "bonus" to allow them to re-distribute the cap charge. That move had not been executed as of Wednesday per sources.
Trent Williams is another likely candidate. He's coming off his first Pro Bowl year, and done with year three of his rookie contract that spanned five years. An extension is much safer and more likely in my eyes, and could be in the works. I would stay tuned on this front.
Other than that, the Redskins will very likely have to release a player or two to have the flexibility needed to create enough room to not only have a chance to sign Winfield, but also to ink their 2013 draft class.
Another option would be to trade a current contract to an interested party for future draft picks & flexibility. Two names that would come to mind in my eyes, are Josh Wilson and Brian Orakpo.
**Finally, a note on Fred Davis who re-signed earlier this week officially. The Redskins gave him a deal that will count initially at 2.5 million against the cap, but could count as much as 3.0 million under the 2013 limit. Davis got a 1.5 million signing bonus, a 1 million dollar base salary and a 500 thousand dollar incentive clause that he receives (and the Redskins are charged for) if he is on the gameday 46-man roster for a minimum of 12 games. Davis also can earn another 750,000 in incentives that are tied to snap count and a possible Pro Bowl selection.
The Redskins essentially got a franchise tag free agent that cost them over 5.5 million last year, for a significant discount with no long term liability. Of course, they really had the leverage because of Davis' blown achilles.
QB--Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
RB--Evan Royster, Tim Hightower, Alfred Morris-- Helu Jr to IR? Just a guess but I'm still not 100% sure on Hightower's health either. I think it's overly optimistic to think Morris would make it through waivers and be available for practice squad.
TE--Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Niles Paul, Logan Paulson-- Cooley or Briscoe? My gut says Cooley for now.
WR--Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Brandon Banks, Aldrick Robinson-- still convinced there's no chance Banks gets cut. Still not ruling out Briscoe as a 7th receiver over a 4th tight end.
OL--Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Wil Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Willie Smith, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus--I think Black has a chance but I've got him out for now. Compton to the practice squad.
NT--Barry Cofield, Chris Baker
DE--Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Darrion Scott-- a hunch on Scott over Golsten.
OLB--Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson-- Wilson or White?? White's injury couldn't have come at a worse time...edge to Wilson for now.
ILB--London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson-- Robinson over Kehl but it's close.
CB--DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Kevin Barnes-- I know Griffin has looked shaky but he's a vet and there's not enough pushing him.
S--Brandon Merriweather, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes, Tanard Jackson, Reed Doughty-- Doughty survives again. Bernstein to the practice squad.
K-Graham Gano-- gut says they stick with Gano although a couple of missed kicks in the final 2 preseason games would be lethal.
Nothing says the first preseason game more than 13 total points, 23 penalties, and 17 punts. It was a hard watch after RG3 left the game but here's my good, bad, and more anyway.
1. RG3: Forget the #'s which were good, the biggest takeaway for me was how comfortable and confident he looked. His best play was his 20-yd throw to Garcon after he looked off his first two progressions. Fourteen total snaps and none of em required him to run or extend the play much. Credit to the o-line and his ability to get the ball out quickly for that.
2. Pass Rush: Kerrigan and Orakpo early, Rob Jackson later.
3. Starting O-Line: Griffin went untouched on all six pass attempts and the running game got going on the one touchdown drive.
4. Garcon: Yards after catch has been a problem for years, Garcon will provide it. The excessive celebration penalty was unnecessary.
5. Cousins: His numbers weren't great but probably due to the revolving cast of teammates around him. Like RG3, he played with a high level of confidence. When he wasn't rushed, he threw the ball pretty well.
1. Rex. He was off throwing the ball even though he was pressured much more than Griffin.
2. Dropped INT's. At least three by my count, Merriweather had a chance for an early one.
1. Replacement refs struggled. NFL needs to fix this and soon.
2. C. Baker, R. Jackson, A. Morris, C. Wilson, J. Wilson, and M. White were a few of the others that made plays.
3. Banks was targeted a bunch but only caught two balls for 7 yards. Not sure if the lack of productivity was due to his route running or the throws from Rex and Cousins. I think more of the latter.
4. Hope Trent Williams' foot is okay.
5. Rackers vs Gano has to wait at least another week.
That was the somewhat obvious, but completely unexpected statement from Redskins Head Coach/EVP Mike Shanahan on Sunday in front of over 50 members of the media, assembled on a humid late morning/afternoon in Ashburn.
Of course, "he" is Robert Griffin III, and while practically nobody expected him to be the 2nd string in New Orleans as the Redskins open up the 2012 campaign, I figured that Mike Shanahan would do everything he could to push, poke and prod "RG III" with motivation and a good old fashioned 'controversy,' by keeping the competition open publicly or by listing Rex Grossman as No. 1 in the first unofficial depth chart.
That's not happening according to the man that matters most.
"We're going to put him with the first team when we come back … We'll have our first team on one field, working against our second defense, and we'll have our second team on the other field, working against our first defense," Shanahan said on Sunday.
I have to admit I was stunned. Not at the fact that Robert Griffin III was anointed as the starter, but just the timing. It was very unusual for Mike Shanahan to be that bold, that upfront, THIS early.
"I thought it was very important to start with Robert with our first unit. He's able to do it and pick up the system as quick as he has, which is always good, to go out there and be able to call plays and feel good with what you're doing, and I've seen that over the last five practices."
It tells you the obvious desperation of the franchise and management, but also it is a credit to Griffin III that he has caught on so quick.
Shanahan explained "Any time you pick a player with the second pick of the draft and you give up another two No. 1's and No. 2 and you move up four spots, you've got a game plan in mind. We're going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with, and we'll watch him grow, and we'll do what we feel like he does the best."
That's all fine and good, that's what every staff does. It is what Mike and Kyle Shanahan did with Donovan McNabb as well.
Despite Donovan's claims, as my colleague Kevin Sheehan points out, and as we talked about routinely on the air in 2010, the Shanahan's dialed up a lot of screens and the deep ball, accentuating McNabb's skill set.
Just color me surprised. I have attended just about every Mike Shanahan press conference since he became the head man in charge. He is a coach who has been honest with the media about not always being honest with the media. In other words, he has admitted to fibbing, to protect certain things.
I would be astonished if this is nothing but 100% truth, I just didn't expect it. It speaks volumes for the 'intangibles' side of RG III.
His new teammate, offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus told reporters, "it feels like he came in, and already new the damn playbook."
His head coach gushed some more, "He's great. You can see what an incredible athlete he is," Shanahan said of Griffin. "I was impressed with the first day. He didn't have one bust on a formation or a play call, and I've never had that in all the mini camps I've been involved with."
On Monday, I asked General Manager and Executive Vice President, Bruce Allen why the Redskins were so up-front about their plans, which again is extremely unusual.
"We're excited. We feel good about Robert. If we can surround him with proper talent, we'll be OK. We think he's a unique talent. What coach envisions for him, what we think we can do with our offense, we think we can achieve our objectives. The sooner we get too it, the better."
Allen was speaking to a group of reporters at the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society charity golf outing, hosted by Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.
The bottom line is this. If Robert Griffin III was not the starter for Week 1 in New Orleans, it would have been somewhat concerning. If Robert was not listed as the number one starter on the 'public' depth chart in training camp, it would have been a controversy. If Kirk Cousins would have looked better at mini-camps and training camp, it would have been well, unexpected.
Now, the Redskins can just move on without the daily questions about depth charts. For now.