Quick Links

Camp preview: A big bubble on the O-line

771626.png

Camp preview: A big bubble on the O-line

By Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.comThe Redskins start training camp on Thursday. Were going around the team to let you know what were looking for when practice gets underway. First up is the offensive line.Anticipated starters:LT Trent Williams
LG Kory Lichtensteiger
C Will Montgomery
RG Chris Chester
RT Jammal BrownThere dont appear to be any challenges to the starters in the offing, although Mike Shanahan has been known to bring in competition at a position where nobody really expects one. This will be the same starting five that was in last year when the team averaged 21 points per game and was rolling with a 3-1 record. Although with the exception of Williams none of them is a threat to make the Pro Bowl, the Redskins zone blocking scheme is more about technique and cohesion as a unity than it is about maulers who can win one on one matchups.Key reserves:T Willie SmithSmith did a decent job of filling in at left tackle during Williams suspension. He is the one sure keeper among the reserves and it would not be surprising to see him challenge Brown for the right tackle job at some point, maybe sooner rather than later.On the bubble:T Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, James Lee
GC Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Erik Cook
GT Maurice HurtIt is entirely possible that at least one of three players who started multiple games last year, Cook, Hurt, and Polumbus, will not be around in 2012. In fact, it would not be shocking if all three of them were gone. It looks like seven players battling for the last three or four spots.Three things to watch:Whos coming in second? As noted, the starters are set but all four or five reserve positions are very much up for grabs. It will be important to watch who comes in when any of the starting five needs a rest. Who comes off the bench when RG3 is in at quarterback will be especially noteworthy as the coaching staff will want him practicing with the best players available.Hows Steiger doing? He may not be the teams best offensive lineman but things sure did seem to unravel when he went out of the lineup in Week 6. Although we have been assured that he will be ready to go for the start of camp that doesnt necessarily mean that he will be at 100 percent. We will keep an eye on how well he moves in pass protection and if he can get to the second level in run blocking.Is Trents head in the game? Williams athletic ability keeps him from making very many physical mistakes. His challenge is staying sharp and focused mentally. If he looks focused on the field, its good news for the Redskins and bad news for any opposing pass rusher who plans on trying to chase down RG3.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.

Quick Links

Redskins have many options at tight end, but don't count out Niles Paul

Redskins have many options at tight end, but don't count out Niles Paul

The Redskins are loaded at tight end - Jordan Reed is the emerging star and Vernon Davis the veteran with a stellar track record. But don't forget about Niles Paul. Lost last season to a broken ankle, Paul looked strong throughout Washington's offseason work, and with the team heading to Richmond this week to begin training camp, the former Nebraska receiver has been clear he plans to compete for playing time despite his loaded position group. 

"If you’re not out there competing to be the No. 1, I don’t know why you’re in the league," Paul said on ESPN980 earlier this summer.

Paul's mindset is admirable, but Reed is locked in as the No. 1 tight end. There's no debate there. And GM Scot McCloughan did not bring Vernon Davis to Washington without plans of playing him. 

But here's the thing with Paul - he can be very good.

In the first four games of the 2014 season, Paul caught 21 balls for 313 yards and a touchdown. He was averaging nearly 80 yards receiving per game in that stretch, the best of his career. It's no surprise that Paul put up those numbers when Reed was out, as he was injured Week 1 and did not suit back up until Week 6 of that season. 

RELATED: VERNON DAVIS PLANS TO COMPETE FOR TOP SPOT 

Paul has proved himself a strong backup to Reed, and in Reed's three-year career, he has missed 14 games. Last year Reed stayed mostly healthy - he missed two games - but it would hardly be a surprise if the Redskins have to go one or more games without their new $50 million tight end. Davis will be expected to step up should that happen, but the team might lean on Paul more in that situation, in addition to a major role on special teams as well. There were also a few snaps this summer where Paul worked as a fullback - a role the tight end might have to take on with the departure of Darrel Young. 

Jay Gruden acknowledged Paul's hard work during minicamp.

"He’s done an unbelievable job in rehab to get himself to this point," Gruden said. "We didn’t expect him back until training camp."

A 5th-round pick in 2011, Paul has already surpassed expectations with a five-year NFL career. That he outpaced his rehab schedule should not come as a shock.

Should he significantly contribute this fall, even considering Reed and Davis will be the first and second targets at tight end respectively, would not be a surprise either.

Quick Links

Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Is it crazy to give a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season the same MVP odds as a guy who went 0-3 in three starts and tossed just four scores in 2015?

According to the sportsbook Bovada.lv, no, it's not crazy at all. So that's why, when looking at their opening odds for the 2016/17 NFL MVP, you'll find Kirk Cousins right next to Mark Sanchez, with both signal callers listed at a long 150/1.

Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, David Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Le'Veon Bell and Sam Bradford also check in at 150/1. Some of those names, like Jeffrey and Bell, should makes Redskins fans feel good, since they're both premier players at their position. But others, such as Sanchez and Bradford? Yeah, not so much.

The top five guys most likely to win the award are Aaron Rodgers (4/1), Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1). Meanwhile, if you squint hard enough, you can see Robert Griffin III near the bottom of the list at 250/1.

Not that this reminder is necessary, but here's a reminder anyway: Anything can happen in this league, so these rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Last year, for instance, Newton had 50/1 odds of being named MVP, and then he went out and did it anyway.

So, with that in mind, while Cousins is no favorite, perhaps his loaded arsenal of targets can help him claim the valuable piece of hardware. The NFL is a wild place, after all — but still probably not wild enough for Sanchez to rise to the top of the sport, which is why him landing next to Cousins hurts more than a little bit.

RELATED: COLIN COWHERD TROLLS KIRK COUSINS IN LATEST RANT

Quick Links

Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green died on Friday morning from complications stemming from a cardiac arrest.

He was 67.

Green spent ten seasons as the Vikings head coach, amassing a 97-62 record which included four NFC North titles, eight playoff appearances and one NFC Champuionship game appearance.

After taking a break from coaching, he returned in 2003 to coach the Cardinals, spending three years at the helm, finishing with a 16-32 record.

Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was lined up across from Smith-coached offenses throughout much of his career.

As a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Arrington had much respect for Green, a Harrisburg, Penn. native and former coach at Northwestern, a fellow Big Ten school.

He was a great coach, mentor and man R I P Coach Green 🙏🏾

A photo posted by Lavar Arrington (@lavarleaparrington) on

Green was one of the NFL's great people and great characters.

While he will always be remembered for his most-game meltdown after the Cardinals blew a 20-point lead to the Bears in a Monday Night Football game in 2006, Green's lasting memory will be his commitment to respecting the game and teaching it the right way.