After a long offseason, training camp is upon us. Robert Griffin III and Jay Gruden will grab headlines as the Redskins prepare for the upcoming season at the Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond but here are some position battles to keep your eyes on over the next month.
3rd down running back
Participants: Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Lache Seastrunk, Chris Thompson
Roy Helu is the incumbent and the most experienced of the bunch, he had 525 all-purpose yards last year. Royster (like Helu), is entering his fourth NFL season but unlike his fellow draftee he has not had the opportunity to contribute. What Royster does having going for him is that in his two career starts, he’s rushed for a combined 245 yards. Seastrunk and Thompson are the wildcards. Seastrunk has the home run ability sought after in a scat back but his hands are unknown because he was not asked to catch the ball at Baylor (nine career receptions). Thompson also has rare open field ability but has proven to be injury prone (Torn ACL, Broken Back and Torn Labrum). Seastrunk and Thompson intrigue me but at the end of the day I think the reliable Roy Helu wins the job.
Prediction: Roy Helu
Participants: Morgan Moses, Tyler Polumbus
Tyler Polumbus started all 16 games last year but was a source of constant criticism. Morgan Moses is a rookie out of Virginia, who has good size for the position but is still raw. This battle could go either way and I’m usually inclined to give a tie to a veteran but Polumbus has been a human turnstile for two years, give me the devil I don’t know over the devil I do know.
Prediction: Morgan Moses
Participants: Richard Crawford, Santana Moss, Niles Paul, Andre Roberts, Lache Seastrunk, Chris Thompson, Nick Williams
The kick return game has become obsolete thanks to rule changes (unless you’re playing a Keith Burns coached unit). There’s a long list of candidates for the return jobs but according to reports Andre Roberts has received the reps at both kick and punt returner. Roberts came out of Citadel with 4.4 speed and during his rookie season in 2010 saw snaps at both positions, averaging seven yards per punt return and 23 yards per kick return. Richard Crawford missed last year with torn ligaments in his left knee but flashed in punt returning duties in 2012. Roberts is slated to start in the slot this season so I’m hesitant to slot (no pun intended) him in the return man role but he’s the best of a mediocre bunch.
Prediction: Andre Roberts
Participants: Akeem Jordan, Keenan Robinson, Darryl Sharpton
London Fletcher’s retirement leaves a gap in the middle of the defense. Keenan Robinson has been waiting in the wings for two years but has only played in 11 games due to torn left and right pectorals in both seasons. Akeem Jordan is entering his eighth season and has started 44 games. Sharpton is entering his fifth season and has started 19 games. Even though Robinson is the youngest of the competition, I will give him the edge because he has been in Haslett’s system since 2012. “He’s one of the guys that stands out (like) ‘Is that Keenan again,” said coach Gruden during the OTAS.
Prediction: Keenan Robinson
Participants: Kai Forbath, Zach Hocker
I know the other competitions are more sexy but don’t sleep on the kicking competition. Forbath has only missed five field goals on forty attempts in his two years with the Redskins. However, Forbath’s leg strength is a question mark, Redskins ranked 30th in kickoff touchback percentage. Hocker is a rookie out of Arkansas, who the Redskins drafted in the seventh round this year. Hocker made 48 of 64 field goals he attempted as a Razorback and 66.6% of his kickoffs were touchbacks (for comparison purposes that would have been good for third best in the NFL last year). I value field goals over kickoff touchbacks and Forbath is 15/ 17 from 40-49 yards in his two seasons. This is the most compelling battle in training camp but I’m slightly siding with Cobra Kai.
Prediction: Kai Forbath