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2010 Team Report: Washington Redskins

Quarterbacks

Starter: John Beck
Backup(s): Donovan McNabb

Starting QB: A year ago the Redskins were beaming at their good fortune. New head coach Mike Shanahan managed to trade for long-time division rival Donovan McNabb, and both the veteran Pro Bowler and head coach were all smiles as they ushered in a new era in Washington. As the saying goes, the honeymoon didn't last long. After a 4-4 start heading into the bye, the Redskins floundered down the stretch, losing six of their last eight. Along the way, Coach Shanahan decided that McNabb wasn't a good fit for his offense, and inexplicably benched him for Rex Grossman. Fast forward to this year, and there is nothing but uncertainty. With the labor situation freezing free agency, the only thing we know for sure is that Donovan McNabb and John Beck are under contract. It's widely believed McNabb will be traded or released before the Redskins would be on the hook for the bulk of his contract extension. If that's true, clearly Washington has to be aggressive in free agency to add competition for John Beck. For now, we have no choice but to accept Coach Shanahan at his word and pencil Beck in as the presumptive starter. Beck, a 6'2, 215 pound pocket passer, was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 2nd round, and started 4 games as a rookie (going 0-4). He hasn't played a regular season snap since.

Backup QB: Technically Donovan McNabb is under contract and would theoretically slot as the backup right now. But we all know that's going to change as soon as the free agency period begins anew. Either way, the Redskins will be looking at add one, if not two, QBs to fill out the roster. Re-signing Rex Grossman is believed to be a possibility, but Washington is probably open to lots of alternatives. They have to be.

Running Backs

Starter: Ryan Torain
Backup(s): Keiland Williams, Roy Helu [R], Evan Royster [R], James Davis, Shawnbrey McNeal, Andre Brown, Chad Simpson
Fullback(s): Mike Sellers, Darrel Young

Starting RB: Year Two of the Mike Shanahan era is going to bring wholesale changes to the RB stable, and a true youth movement is in effect. Last year people were questioning whether Clinton Portis would lose carries to Willie Parker and Larry Johnson. This year none of them will be wearing Redskins' jerseys, with Portis being released earlier in the offseason. The projected starter, at least for now, is Ryan Torain. Torain was a 5th round draft pick in 2008 by the Denver Broncos, and Mike Shanahan brought Torain to D.C. with him as a backup. Even though Torain hadn't shown much in Denver, injuries to Portis opened the door for Torain, and he made the most of his opportunity. The 6'0", 213-pounder started 8 games and ran for 742 yards (4.5 per carry) and 4 TDs. While he'll likely be pushed by the other backs on the roster, he should be in line for the first chance at the bell cow role.

Backup RBs: There are a lot of RBs under contract (or drafted rookies) right now in D.C. and we can be sure the herd will be thinned as soon as the season gets underway in earnest. For now, a pair of rookies -- Roy Helu and Evan Royster -- are the most likely contenders for carries alongside projected starter Ryan Torain. Coach Shanahan was particularly effusive about Helu after the draft, saying, "He was that 4.45 guy coming out, very physical, and once he had that open lane, he could go the distance. I look at Helu as having that type of ability, that type of speed." Royster projects more as a special teams contributor and backup.

Fullback: At 6'3", 260 lbs, Mike Sellers is more like a 6th offensive lineman than an offensive threat with the ball in his hands. That said, the 35-year old fullback is an able receiver, and should hold down a role this year if he can beat out youngster Darrel Young.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Santana Moss [FA], Anthony Armstrong
Backups: Roydell Williams, Brandon Banks, Leonard Hankerson [R], Niles Paul [R], Aldrick Robinson [R], Terrence Austin, Malcolm Kelly

Starting WRs: Santana Moss is an unrestricted free agent, and his asking price combined with the youth movement underway could signal an end to Moss' tenure in D.C. But for now we're listing him as a starter for two reasons. One, he has made clear his desire to re-sign with Washington. Two, he's coming off a 93 reception, 1,115-yard season for an otherwise moribund passing offense. Moss deserves credit for evolving his game as he's gotten older. At 32 years old, the 5'10", 200 pound pass catcher no longer has the blazing speed to blow past defensive backs. In fact, last year marked the sixth consecutive season of declines in his yards per catch (12.0). However, he still has great hands, and has become a disciplined route runner; which allow him to overcome his small size and make plays in traffic. In spite of his age, Moss remains one of the better receivers in the NFC and unless his asking price is exorbitant, he seems likely to be the Redskins leading playmaker again in 2011. Anthony Armstrong is the likely starter opposite Santana Moss, and in a way he's become what Moss used to be. Armstrong started 11 games in 2010 and averaged an impressive 19.8 yards per catch on 44 receptions. At 5'11", 183 pounds, Armstrong isn't going to overpower defensive backs, but he does provide an essential deep threat that can keep defenses honest while Moss and TE Chris Cooley work the middle.

Backup WRs: The Redskins has struggled to get production out of their WR corps (other than Santana Moss) for years, which is why Washington used three draft picks on the position in April's draft. The gem of the group is 3rd round pick Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson was a productive receiver for the University of Miami, and has a nice size (6'2", 209 pound) and speed combination. While he isn't the most polished route runner, he is physical and adjusts well to the ball. Coach Shanahan said Hankerson will have an opportunity to win a starting job early, and his size would be a welcome addition to what otherwise is a smallish group of projected starters. In the 5th round Washington grabbed another big receiver -- Niles Paul -- out of Nebraska. Paul (6'0", 224 pounds) doesn't have top end speed or the best hands, but play aggressively, can get off the line, and is an option in tight coverage. Aldrick Robinson is most likely a practice squad or special teams contributor.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Cooley
Backups: Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen

Chris Cooley bounced back nicely from an injury shortened 2009 season, and started all 16 games for the Redskins on route to a 77-catch, 849-yard season. The only fly in the ointment was that Cooley only scored 3 times, continuing a streak of subpar TD production (6 total TDs in last three years). Either way, Cooley remains what he's always been, a hard working, smooth route runner with good hands. He's set to reprise his role as one of Washington's main offensive conduits. Fred Davis acquitted himself well in 2009 as a starter in place of Cooley, and many expected the Redskins to utilize two-TE sets with regularity as a result. That really never materialized as Davis only caught 21 receptions last year in 16 games. That said, we still saw glimpses of what he's capable of, indicated by his 3 TDs and 15 yards-per-catch average. Logan Paulsen returns as the primary blocking tight end.

Place Kicker

Graham Gano : As a rookie last year, Gano spent the preseason with Baltimore, but was unable to overtake Steve Hauschka for the starting job. The Redskins signed him for the final four games of 2009 after bailing on Shaun Suisham. He was good on his four field goals, but missed one of his seven PATs. The team also had Justin Medlock on board during the spring, but released him in June. The Redskins have ranked 23rd and 27th in kicker scoring the past two years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks, Devin Thomas, Justin Tryon, Bobby Wade, Mike Furrey, Mike Sellers, DeAngelo Hall

With a new coaching staff and the previous starting returners gone, an open competition is under way. Two of the competitors are rookies that would presumably need to win the return specialist role to make the final roster. Seventh round draft pick WR Terrence Austin averaged 24.1 yards on kickoff returns for UCLA last year. Undrafted WR Brandon Banks averaged 28.9 yards on kickoff returns for Kansas State last year and scored four TDs. WR Devin Thomas averaged 29.1 yards (11th in NCAA) on 39 returns for Michigan State in 2007 and 22.0 yards on 20 returns for the Redskins last year. CB Justin Tryon averaged 31.0 yards on kickoff returns during his college career at Arizona State. Potential backups and upmen include RB Mike Sellers (one 13 yard return). Another possible backup is CB DeAngelo Hall (16 returns, 22.4 avg. in 2005 for Atlanta). WR Bobby Wade and WR Mike Furrey have dabbled in returns during their NFL career.

Punt Returners: Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks, Bobby Wade, Santana Moss, Phillip Buchanon, Mike Furrey, DeAngelo Hall

Terrence Austin averaged 9.2 yards on punt returns during his senior season while Brandon Banks averaged 9.1 yards. Bobby Wade has returns punts for several teams during his NFL career, including the Chiefs part of last year (21 returns, 7.6 avg.). WR Santana Moss was an effective punt returner earlier in his career, however his numbers began to fade, and he did not have any punt returns for two years. Then in 2008 the Redskins decided to add him back in to the mix, scoring an 80 yard TD on one of his six returns. Last year he averaged 4.7 yards on 11 returns. CB Phillip Buchanon is a serviceable backup, with experience returning punts during his years with the Oakland, Houston, Tampa Bay and Detroit. DeAngelo Hall served as the primary backup for Atlanta (8 returns, 10.3 avg.) in 2005 and had two returns for Washington last year. After a 13th place ranking in fantasy returns in 2008, the Redskins dropped to 28th last year.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Trent Williams (R), LG Derrick Dockery, C Casey Rabach, RG Artis Hicks, RT Stephon Heyer
Key Backups: G Will Montgomery, G Edwin Williams, T/G Mike Williams

The Redskins offensive line was getting long in the tooth over the past couple of seasons. They took a giant step to fix that this season with the drafting of Trent Williams from Oklahoma with the fourth overall pick. He has the look of a true difference maker at tackle and the team hopes he will be their cornerstone for the next decade. Stephon Heyer started 16 games last season but was a below average tackle. He was terrible in pass protection and not much better in run blocking. He'll be in a battle for the starting job with a number of other players including veteran Mike Williams. Derrick Dockery has started in 96 consecutive games with both the Redskins and Bills. He is a good option at guard but isn't as dominating as he was in his first few seasons. He struggled at times in run blocking last season. Artis Hicks was signed this season, but he only had 13 starts over three seasons with the Vikings. He can play at either right tackle or guard and will be in the running for a starting spot. Mike Williams had eight starts with the Redskins last year but just 14 total starts over the last three seasons. He'll be in the running at both guard and tackle but is not likely to be more than an average player. There is some talent in Washington and if rookie Trent Williams can immediately become a force at left tackle, this unit may surprise. Having a veteran quarterback in Donovan McNabb calling the plays can only help and the competition at right guard and right tackle will be fun to watch and could push the players into better efforts in 2010.

Team Defense

Defensive Line

Starters: LDE Phillip Daniels, NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu, RDE Albert Haynesworth
Backups: DE Adam Carriker, DE Jeremy Jarmon, DE Vonnie Holliday, DE/DT Kedric Golston, DE Rob Jackson, DT Howard Green, DT Anthony Bryant

Starting DL: Defensive coordinator Greg Blache was let go this offseason. Jim Haslett replaces him with plans to build a hybrid 34 defense. There is no team with more questions on defense than Washington. They have been stockpiling defensive lineman, several who have a history with Haslett. The turnover makes it very difficult to say who will start and where. Albert Haynesworth has been adamant he does not want to play nose tackle, look for him to be traded or bounced outside to DE. Daniels returns for his 15th season, the 37 year old played in every game last year, starting 15 despite being hampered with a torn bicep. He was able to bounce back nicely from a torn ACL he suffered in training camp 2008. Washington signed Ma'ake Kemoeatu to what is believed to be an incentive laden contract with little guaranteed after being released by Carolina. Kemoeatu missed all of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon, a training camp injury while with the Panthers. He is rehabbing after having two surgeries, his agent says he should be ready for training camp.

Backup DL: Washington traded for Adam Carriker, the 13th player selected in the 2007 draft by the St. Louis Rams where Haslett was DC at the time. Carriker spent 2009 on IR after tearing a shoulder muscle in the preseason. He is a talented, hard working player familiar with Haslett and his scheme. Jarmon and Jackson both could be converted to OLB. Greg Peterson will compete for a roster spot. Holmes is a project and a long shot to make the final roster. Darrion Scott was signed off the streets. He's been out of the NFL the past two seasons. Last year Scott played for Haslett's Florida Tuskers in the UFL and is just another player with a history with the defensive coordinator. The coaches love Kedric Golston's motor, he'll compete to start at NT. He is great insurance in case Kemoeatu isn't ready. Howard Green played for Haslett in New Orleans; he is expected to compete for starting nose tackle spot as well. Bryant is a long shot to make the roster.

Linebackers

Starters: OLB Andre Carter, ILB London Fletcher, ILB H.B. Blades, OLB Brian Orakpo
Backups: ILB Rocky McIntosh, ILB Riley Perry, OLB Chris Wilson, LB Chris Draft, LB Robert Henson, LB Robert Young, LB Lorenzo Alexander, LB Curtis Gatewood, LB Alvin Bowen

Starting LBs: Andre Carter will have a difficult time standing up and playing 3-4 OLB, he struggled with it for a season in San Francisco showing lack of coverage skills, which is why he is now a Redskin. However Haslett's 3-4 scheme will be more like the Steelers than the Niners, where the OLBs have less coverage responsibilities. Orakpo had an impressive rookie campaign, a Pro Bowl appearance, and finished 4th in the voting for Defensive ROY. While many guys are considered questionable fits in the new scheme, Orakpo should be a perfect fit. After years of being snubbed, Fletcher finally made his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2009. The unquestioned leader of the defense, Fletcher will be 35 by the time mini camp starts. How much does he have left? Special team standout H.B. Blades appears to be in line to start opposite Fletcher inside with Rocky McIntosh not attending the team's first minicamp, but the RILB spot appears to be wide open.

Backup LBs: McIntosh is in the mix to start inside along side Fletcher. It is believed he has asked to be traded and some thought he would be moved during the draft, but he remains a Washington Redskin. A better fit as a 4-3 WLB, McIntosh doesn't appear to be a fit in the new scheme. Fourth round draft pick Perry Riley, the only defensive player drafted by the Redskins, is expected to play inside, and could compete for a starting spot. Riley is a physical run stuffer, with limitations in coverage, he may never be more than a two down LB. Robert Henson has the speed and ability to play in space which should intrigue the coaching staff, however he's a dark horse to be anything more than depth, but nonetheless is a player to keep an eye on this summer. 2009 undrafted free agent Robert Young will have a difficult time making the roster. Chris Wilson and Lorenzo Alexander are converted defensive ends. The Redskins value Wilson; the RFA garnered a 2nd round tender, which he has signed. Bowen and Gatewood will compete for roster spots, good chance either Jarmon or Jackson will be depth at OLB.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB DeAngelo Hall, SS Laron Landry, FS Reed Doughty, CB Carlos Rogers
Backups: CB Phillip Buchanon, CB Justin Tryon, CB Ramzee Robinson, S Chris Horton, S Kareem Moore, CB Kevin Barnes, CB Bryon Westbrook

Starting DBs: LaRon Landry will move to strong safety. He has bulked up considerably for his new role to the 230 range and plans to play at 240. Landry stands to benefit from the move to a 3-4. Depending on the play in front of him he could easily approach 80 solos. The free safety spot is up for grabs between Reed Doughty, Chris Horton, and Kareem Moore. Doughty is serviceable and the favorite to start. Haslett wants to see the defense create more turnovers with confusion and pressure which could bode well for DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers in the big play department. Hall has play making ability, a brash, trash talker that doesn't always back up his words. In early March RFA Rogers was making noise he wanted out of Washington, but that all seems to be resolved.

Backup DBs: Horton played eight games with five starts before a toe ligament landed him on IR, he will push Doughty. Moore is the wildcard; he appears to be more of a run safety than cover safety, a very physical tackler that really packs a punch. The Redskins added much needed veteran depth with the signing of Phillip Buchanon. While Buchanon is not expected to compete with Hall or Rogers, he could add play making ability as a nickel back. Tryon and Barnes will battle Buchanon for nickel snaps. Westbrook and McCauley will fight for roster spots.

Last modified: 2011-05-06 11:00:49