The Redskins start training camp on Thursday. We’re going around the team to let you know what we’re looking for when practice gets underway. Yesterday we looked at the offense (line, backs/receivers). We start the defense today with the line and linebackers.
LDE Adam Carriker
NT Barry Cofield
RDE Stephen Bowen
ROLB Brian Orakpo
LOLB Ryan Kerrigan
MLB London Fletcher
JLB Perry Riley
Carriker might get challenged for his starting job (see Jarvis Jenkins below) but otherwise this group is set in stone. The linebacking corps is the strength of the team and that group is set up for success by the workmanlike guys up front. This will be their second full season playing as a unit (Riley played for half of the year) and should only get better. Their task during training camp will be to stay healthy and fine tune.
DE Jarvis Jenkins
NT Chris Neild
OLB Rob Jackson
LB Lorenzo Alexander
Jenkins has the talent to start but the versatility he showed in camp last year before he got injured may make him more valuable in a reserve role. He can rotate to give Bowen and Carriker a rest and play nose tackle on passing downs to provide some rush up the middle. Alexander can play inside or outside linebacker but even if he doesn’t play a snap on defense his role on special teams makes him one of the team’s key players.
On the bubble:
DE Kedric Golston, Kentwan Balmer, Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington
NT Chris Baker
LB Markus White, Chris Wilson, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl,
The DE’s listed are fighting for one or two spots. It seems like the coaches would like to see Balmer succeed as they are impressed with his size (6-5, 315) and the ability that made him a first-round pick of the 49ers. Robinson is not really on the bubble but he is unlikely to see many defensive snaps as he trains to be Fletcher’s eventual replacement. While it seems that Neild is safe, Baker could sneak up and steal his spot.
Three things to watch:
Will Riley take the next step? Riley did a lot of learning on the job last year, mixing some big plays with some obvious errors. If he can keep making the good plays while drastically reducing the mistakes the defense will be that much better.
Can Cofield master the position? He came into camp last year right after signing as a free agent with little time to learn his new position. At about 310 lb., Cofield is quite a bit lighter than the typical 3-4 nose tackle but he managed the position last year by using leverage and quickness. With the offseason program behind him and a full training camp to work on his techniques he might be able to go from being adequate at the position to being pretty good.
How long can London keep on keeping on? In a way, that’s a dumb question as Fletcher shows no signs of slowing down. But all football players hit the wall at some point; it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Chances are that he will play virtually every snap this year and lead the team in tackles again. But at some point . . .
What do you want us to watch? Who do you think is on the bubble? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #RedskinsTalk.