Jay Gruden getting used to being in charge
He hasn't played in the last 30 games, almost two full seasons, but Redskins defensive tackle Adam Carriker remains optimistic about his future with the team. Carriker, who will turn 30 before the season begins, counts for $6.5 million towards the 2014 salary cap; releasing him would free up $3 million in cap space.
"I understand how the NFL works. [But] there's no doubt in my mind they want me around. They like a lot of things about me. They know I can play," Carriker told John Keim of ESPN.com.
Injuries have cost Carriker much of the prime of his career. First a knee injury, then a massive injury to his right quadriceps that has required three surgeries. His rehab efforts are well known, and the Redskins coaching staff respect how hard Carriker has worked to fight back from the injury. Still, it is not clear that the eighth-year man out of Nebraska could be healthy in time for training camp, let alone OTAs or minicamp.
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"It's only February and camp is a long ways away," Carriker said. "Am I happy I've progressed and am better? Yes. But as a competitor I'm never where I want to be. I know I've progressed and progressed quite a bit. I have a lot of work to do, but I have a lot of time to do it."
Much of Carriker's optimism is grounded in his belief the Redskins coaches know he can fit in the team's scheme. Despite the firing of Mike Shanahan, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett remains and is familiar with Carriker's skills.
"I know the defense very well," he said. "Even if you bring a guy in, unless you see him in your exact scheme it's hard to know if a guy will work. They know I can do it."
The Redskins face big time questions when free agency comes, none bigger than trying to re-sign Brian Orakpo. The cap space available by cutting Carriker could be quite useful for the team. Even if that happens, the team could try to bring Carriker back to a lesser deal.