Washington banks on rookie administration - Part 1
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - INSIDE SLANT
Last year's 3-13 nosedive after a 10-6 record in 2012 led to the dismissal of head coach Mike Shanahan and his son and offensive coordinator Kyle. Taking their places are Jay Gruden as head coach and Sean McVay as offensive coordinator and they have no prior experience in those respective roles.
Their most conspicuous challenge will be to restore quarterback Robert Griffin III to star status. Heading into camp, he certainly is the player with the most to prove.
Two years ago, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner/second overall pick in the 2012 draft set rookie quarterback records for passer rating and rushing yards and electrified Washington fans while leading the Redskins to a 10-6 record and their first NFC East title in 13 years. That season ended with a playoff loss to Seattle in which Griffin tore his right ACL and MCL.
Griffin missed the entire offseason, but pushed to be on the field for training camp and to start the season opener after being held out of all four preseason games. He wore a brace to protect his knee for all of 2013 and was never the same dynamic performer that he had been in 2012 before being benched for the final three games by Mike Shanahan to supposedly prevent further hits in a lost season in which Washington would finish 3-13.
With his knee healthy and the Shanahans gone, Griffin needs to show that he is more like the dazzling performer he was in 2012 than the lackluster player he was in 2013, or his future and that of the Redskins will be in jeopardy.
Here are other key issues Gruden must address in his first NFL training camp as a head coach:
KEY POSITION BATTLE
Inside linebacker: London Fletcher retired after starting every game the past seven seasons while making four Pro Bowls, calling the defensive signals and serving as a captain.
Washington signed free agents Akeem Jordan (98 games, 44 starts), Darryl Sharpton (42 games, 19 starts) and Adam Hayward (107 games, 13 starts), but the leading candidate appears to be Keenan Robinson, a fourth-round pick out of Texas in 2012.
Robinson's rookie year ended with a torn pec on Thanksgiving at Dallas and he missed all of 2013 with a similar injury suffered before preseason began. However, Robinson spent more time working with the starters in minicamp than any of the newcomers.
--Safety: The Redskins signed veteran Ryan Clark, which should help at free safety. And Brandon Meriweather can still play, especially at strong safety, when he's not costing his team 15 yards or getting suspended.
But it's slim pickings after that. Bacarri Rambo struggled as a rookie and has a lot to prove. Phillip Thomas sustained a Lisfranc injury to his left foot during training camp and that cost him a valuable development season. The Redskins did not draft a safety, but cornerback Bashaud Breeland, a fourth-round selection, is versatile enough to move to safety.
BEST LONGSHOT ROOKIE
--Silas Redd, RB, Southern Cal, undrafted rookie: Alfred Morris rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns during his first two seasons, but Washington might cut ties with backups Roy Helu and Evan Royster, both drafted in 2011 by former coach Mike Shanahan, and replace them with swift sixth-round pick Lache Seastrunk from Baylor and Redd.
Redd, 5-foot-10, 212, earned raves from coaches for his shiftiness and power. At minicamp, he made a nice catch downfield and has also shown good ability in pass protection. Redd played behind Royster as a freshman at Penn State in 2010, but when the school was put on probation because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Redd transferred to Southern Cal, where he ran for 1,281 yards and 10 touchdowns the past two seasons.