A detail view as a Washington Redskins football player touches his helmet prior to an NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots at FedEx Field on Thursday August 7, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. Washington won 23-6. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher)
Washington’s NFL team opens training camp on July 30 at their Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, Va. Here are some storylines to keep an eye on as the team heads into camp, which runs through Aug. 16.
Quarterback Saga Continues
The biggest storyline of training camp involves none other than Robert Griffin III. Although he enters camp as starting quarterback, there is doubt within the organization and around the league about what he can do. Will he hold onto the position?
An anonymous league insider in ESPN’s 2015 NFL Quarterback Rankings said they believe Griffin is done, partly due to his injuries, but also because his “ego will not allow him to hit rock bottom and actually grind his way back up the right way.” However, it’s hard to completely count out a 25-year-old quarterback who was rookie of the year just three seasons ago, despite his recent struggles.
Griffin has to find a way to be successful both inside and outside the pocket. He has to adjust to head coach Jay Gruden’s system, and while he may not return to his rookie year form, he has a supporting cast that will allow him to be an effective quarterback.
Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy will compete for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. The winner could get a chance to start this season, if Griffin doesn’t play well.
The Run Game
Second-year head coach Jay Gruden wants his team to be versatile on the ground this season. Although Washington has lethal weapons in the passing game, to succeed they must commit to running the ball.
Running back Alfred Morris is a key returning starter, as well as one of the most consistent and durable backs in the NFL. However, after Morris, Washington’s running backs are a bit inexperienced.
Washington drafted Matt Jones (Florida) in the third round this year, and the rookie has generated a lot of buzz during the offseason. In fact, Jones is poised to be second on the depth chart entering training camp. Jones wasn’t a prolific runner at Florida, but he will most likely get third-down touches, and is ultimately the one to beat.
Chris Thompson, Silas Redd and undrafted free agent Trey Williams are left to battle for two spots on the 53-man roster.
Washington’s defense ranked No. 20 in the NFL last season, but received a major facelift in the offseason. After a few power moves, it appears Washington has finally addressed its greatest flaw.
Replacing Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator is Joe Barry, who spent the last four seasons as the linebacker coach for the San Diego Chargers, and served as defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions for two years. Under Barry, Washington will continue to stick with the 3-4 defensive scheme.
New nose tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton is one of the most impactful additions of the offseason. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 331-pound Knighton is one of the top run-stoppers in the NFL, recording 30 tackles and two sacks last season. Knighton, along with defensive ends Jason Hatcher and newcomer Stephen Paea, are expected to be instrumental in ushering in a new era of Washington defense.