Though the Redskins are returning nearly all of their starters and much of the roster that won the NFC East last season they will still have their share of position battles to watch this offseason. While most of the biggest ones are on defense, the Redskins will have a couple intriguing offensive battles to watch as well. Here are some of the most interesting ones:
-After Jammal Brown‘s injury last year Tyler Polumbus stepped in to be a full time starter last year. Polumbus struggled throughout the year, but the Redskins didn’t make much of an effort to upgrade this position. Joining Polumbus in the mix are veterans Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood, who both have previous starting experience. Though both Pashos and Trueblood are former starters there is a reason why they aren’t still presently starters. Pashos is coming off a season long injury, and it is unclear if he can is still an adequate tackle. Trueblood was benched in Tampa and has been considered the weak link in their line for some time. Longshots for the position are 3rd year G/T Maurice Hurt and 2nd year T Tom Compton. While it would be nice if one of Hurt or Compton could step up, the chances aren’t too high. Hurt has still played the vast majority of his preseason and regular season time at guard (and not too well), though he did make a spot start at RT last season. Compton is a small school product who struggled in preseason last year and spent much of the year on the practice squad.
Prediction: Tony Pashos- If healthy Pashos is the best right tackle the Redskins have. Given that he had a full year to recover from his injury there should be a fair chance that he’s fully healthy.
-Alfred Morris is without a doubt the number one running back, but who’s behind him is a question that needs answering. Last year Roy Helu Jr. went down with an injury early in the season, and Evan Royster was ineffective as he was dealing with his own injury issues. It led to the Redskins just not using their back-ups last year, putting all the rushing responsibilities on Morris and Robert Griffin III. With Griffin’s mobility likely limited, it is more important than ever for the Redskins to have multiple backs to rush the football effectively. If healthy Helu Jr. is likely to get first crack at the back-up spot. He had a nice rookie year, and could be a change of pace back to Morris. His biggest competition could end up coming from the Redskins 7th round rookie running back Jawan Jamison. Jamison had the talent to go higher in the draft and he comes from a zone blocking rushing attack, making him a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s offense. Evan Royster seems to be a favorite of Mike Shanahan and could get some consideration as well. When healthy in 2011 he had a pair of extremely impressive games, but he was woefully ineffective last season. Long shots are rookie running back Chris Thompson, and former UDFA Keiland Williams. Thompson while a possible weapon on this offense, just can’t be counted on as the 2nd back.
Prediction: Roy Helu Jr.- Jamison will likely be fighting for this spot all season, but Mike Shanahan has typically favored veterans over rookies whenever possible, and will likely do so again here.
-Pierre Garcon is established as the number one receiver and Santana Moss is set as the slot receiver, but who will be that number two is a question that could be up in the air. Now Josh Morgan showed himself as a valuable blocker and solid possession receiver. Morgan led the Redskins in catches (48) and first downs (29), but he didn’t show much playmaking ability. Despite 10 fewer catches, Leonard Hankerson managed 33 more yards, one more touchdown and twice as many catches of 20 yards or more. Hankerson was also the best receiver on the team in terms of drop percentage. While he had his share of inconsistencies, he showed some potential and big play ability. Longshots Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe could also get in the mix, but thus far both have been more one dimensional receivers.
Prediction: Joshua Morgan- Consistency in getting open and his run blocking ability I think will give him the majority of snaps as the number two receiver (though I expect Hankerson to get his chances as well).
-The Redskins brought back both Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen while spending their third round pick on TE Jordan Reed. Now if Fred Davis is fully healthy I don’t think there is much of a battle here, as Davis will be the primary tight end, Paulsen the blocking tight end and Reed be used in certain packages to create mismatches. The problem is Davis is coming back from a major injury, that typically takes 11-12 months for a player to even be 75% of their former self from a speed/agility standpoint. Most players coming back from Achilles injuries last year (and well every year) saw a significant decline in their production level that first year back (if not longer). That could mean that Davis isn’t ready to be an every down tight end getting 70-90 targets a year. Though Logan Paulsen isn’t the playmaker Davis or Reed are, he is still probably the first choice if Davis can’t go. He filled in admirably last season for Davis, showing himself to be an effective target, as well as a good blocker. Jordan Reed is a long shot given that he’s a rookie, who is also really just a pass catcher. With as much as the Redskins run, they can’t really make Reed the primary tight end.
Prediction: Logan Paulsen- To start the season and maybe through it’s entirety, Davis is likely going to be more limited as to what he can do. I think Paulsen will be the starter with a lot of Davis and Reed mixed in there.