As I continue my rigorous pre-training camp reading regimen (which really is not all that rigorous), Ill keep bringing you interesting items as I come across them.Todays nugget comes from Pro Football Weeklys Eric Edholm, who ranks last seasons cellar dwellers and their prospects of making a significant improvement this fall.Edholm considers the Redskins to be the third most likely to enjoy a major turnaround, putting their chances of improving on 2011s record of 5-11 at 65-percent and their chances of making the playoffs at 35-percent.The reasons? Edholm points to three in particular:The addition of potential big-play threats Robert Griffin III and receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.The Redskins longest rushing play last season was 39 yards, and they had exactly two (two!) pass plays that went for 50 yards or more, he writes, in part. The team needed offensive juice badly and addressed it That should help a ton.Some soft spots in the schedule that includes four last place opponents. Those teams are: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Cleveland. (It should be noted, though, that only the Vikings are coming to Washington.And, finally, a young defense thats on the upswing.When you consider that the defense is in pretty good shape and that the Redskins beat the Giants twice last season and lost three other divisional games by one score, the chances for a bump is there, Edholm writes.I cant argue with any of those reasons (mostly because Im a glass-half-full-kind-of-guy). But, like Edholm, I also subscribe to the school of thought that believes the Redskins fortunes in 2012 will mirror RG3s.RG3 still must prove himself amid sky-high weekly hype, the pressure of playing in D.C. and in a division that remains a gauntlet, EdHolm concludes.
The Redskins will have to get through the season without Junior Galette, who suffered a second torn Achilles tendon in as many seasons. He won’t be easy to replace but they will have to line up and play 16 games without him just like they did last year.
Ryan Kerrigan, who had 9.5 sacks last year, will start at left outside linebacker as he has since he was drafted in 2011. Preston Smith, who was going to compete with Galette for the starting right side job, will now have that to himself.
Kerrigan had 13.5 sacks just two years ago and Smith has the potential to have that many. After that, however, the Redskins are quite thin.
Last year they had Trent Murphy starting 15 games at right outside linebacker. But he has been moved to the defensive line, adding around 30 pounds to make the position change. Even if the team wants to move him back to linebacker it may not be possible to have Murphy shed the weight.
Assuming Murphy stays on the line, the Galette injury could open the door for a few other players to get an opportunity. Houston Bates played in eight games last year, most on special teams. Willie Jefferson has been looking for an opportunity since he played six games for the Texans in 2013. And Lyden Trail is large (6-7, 270), athletic, and very, very green.
The Redskins also could use rookie Su'a Cravens, their second-round pick, to help out with outside pass rush. He could be of help in nickel situations but at 6-1, 222 he is not big enough to be effective defending against the run from the ouside linebacker spot.
Training camp is always important for young players but for this group the stakes just went sky high. We will see who responds starting in a few days.
Kyshoen Jarrett was one of the best stories on the Redskins last year. A 6th-round rookie from Virginia Tech, Jarrett found his way into an important role for Washington as the slot cornerback, and saw his playing time steadily increase throughout the season.
Then, in a meaningless Week 17 win over the Cowboys, Jarrett sustained a shoulder injury. But the shoulder injury wasn't the worst part as he sustained nerve damage that stunted his rehab.
In a move that surprised few who saw him this summer, on Monday the Redskins waived Jarrett with a failed physical designation.
From a football sense, the 'Skins secondary should still be much improved after the signing of free agent Josh Norman and drafting Kendall Fuller, another Hokie, in the third round this year. From a personal sense, the Jarrett news is sad to see, as coaches and teammates often said he was a hard worker with what appeared to be a good NFL career in front of him.
Jarrett played in 16 games last year, making 58 tackles to go with four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Just days before training camp begins, Junior Galette again tore his Achilles and will be out for the year. Are there any edge rushers available on the gree agent market that the Redskins would consider?
One name stands out: Greg Hardy.
Though a disappointment on the field and a mess off of it for the last two seasons, few players in the NFL can get after quarterbacks like Hardy once did. In 2012 and 2013 Hardy combined for 26 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Undoubtedly Hardy's name carries a lot of personal questions. A lot. But that won't scare off everybody in the NFL - in fact, Hardy recently worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The guess here is Washington does not even consider Hardy, but stranger things have happened.
Another name that will be mentioned is Dwight Freeney. At 36 years old, Freeney's best days are behind him, but the veteran was able to post eight sacks last year with the Cardinals. Arizona smartly deployed Freeney in a strict situational role, and if the 'Skins could come up with a similar plan, he might be a fit.
Beyond Freeney and Hardy, it's hard to see a current free agent that would be better than the Redskins options behind Galette. And given Hardy's history, it's unlikely he is an option.
Considering Washington won the NFC East last year without Galette, and second-year LB Preston Smith could continue to emerge after eight sacks his rookie season, it would not be a surprise if Scot McCloughan simply stands pat.