Can the Redskins go from worst to first in the NFC East?That was a question posed on NFL.com. They took the four teams that finished in last place in their respective NFC divisions last year and ranked them in order of their chances of finishing in first place in 2012. Blogger Daniel Jeremiah thinks the Redskins have a shot but they face some serious obstacles.I have to quibble with the pick for the team that Jeremiah has the best chance of the ultimate turnaround, the Tampa Bay Bucs. Among the reasons he cites are their new coach, Greg Schiano, who is fresh from the college ranks, and free agent signees Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks. Anyone who has followed the Redskins in the last decade know that a new coach, especially one straight from the NCAA, and high-priced free agents are not guarantee of a turnaround. Washington would have won the NFC East on multiple occasions if that was the magic formula.The Redskins are his second pick and Jeremiah cites what should be a vast improvement in quarterback play with Robert Griffin III at the helm and the pass rushing duo of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan as reasons for optimism.But in the not so fast department there is the strength of the NFC East and the fact that while RG3 may be a special rookie he still will be a rookie quarterback with the accompanying growing pains that will come with learning on the job.The Rams and Vikings have the third- and fourth-best chances per Jeremiah.It seems like there is a worst to first occurrence every year in the NFL but it seems unlikely to happen this year, at least in the NFC. Of course, that is what it looks like in June just about every year.The Redskins could pull it off but a lot would have to go right for them and a lot would have to go wrong elsewhere around the division for that to take place.
Redskins Park was a busy place on Monday, with the departure of Bryan Stork and the signing of Cullen Jenkins both becoming official. Those weren't the only two moves made by the team, however, as they also announced that they had claimed a player off waivers who could add some depth to the backend of an important position.
That player is Vinston Painter, a former sixth-round draft pick taken by the Broncos out of Virginia Tech in 2013. The 26-year-old has also been with the Browns and Dolphins, with his only real experience coming with Cleveland in 2014, where he suited up for three games.
Spencer Long, an interior lineman like Painter, was sidelined during practice on Monday with an ankle problem, meaning Painter's signing could be interpreted as a reaction to Long possibly missing some additional time.
The ex-Hokie appeared in 31 contests in his college career, and is listed at 6-foot-4, 322 pounds on NFL.com.
Cullen Jenkins had to wait a while to get the right opportunity.
The veteran defensive lineman started 14 games for the Giants in 2015, which was the final year of his contract. The Giants did not want to bring him back so he worked and waited. And wondered.
“As it kept later and later you wonder because the truth with the league is, as you get older your opportunities get less and less,” said Jenkins in the Redskins locker room after his first practice with his new team. “ Then you start sitting there for as long as I have and it makes people wonder. So you start wondering. But you still you've got to keep preparing and stay ready. If the call doesn't come, it is what it is. But it's not going to come and I'm not going to be ready.”
He did get a few calls but it was important to him to stay near his home and family in New Jersey. The Redskins finally invited him down for a workout. They liked what the saw from the 12-year veteran and signed him to a one-year deal.
“It adds another veteran player with some flexibility on the defensive line,” said Jay Gruden. “He’s played three-technique, he’s played nose, he’s played the four, he’s played the five. He’s played a little bit of everything in his career.”
Jenkins sees himself having the same strengths.
“I've got a lot of quickness and experience . . . I'm just going to try to get to the quarterback and be a versatile player,” he said.
The Redskins defense plays a one-gap technique. That’s a system that Jenkins is quite familiar with from his seven seasons with the Packers.
“The one gap, I don't mind it at all,” he said. “I played it back in Green Bay a while ago and I did well in it. I haven't played it in the last five years so it's something I'll have to get back in the rhythm of but I'm definitely up to the challenge.”
Jenkins comes in at a tough time. The roster will be cut to 53 players on Saturday and he was not assured of a spot.
“It's still a matter of me having to prove myself,” said Jenkins. “I'm an older player, 35 years old. I don't expect any gimmies or guarantees or anything. You come in, you prove yourself, you show what you've got and if you do a good job with that you have a chance to stay around.”
He got a clear idea of the challenge ahead of him during his first practice. When they starting calling plays he immediately was lost.
“It was like a foreign language being talked out there,” he said with a smile “I had no clue was was going on.”
He will need to get a clue in a hurry if he wants to stay around.
MORE REDSKINS: JENKINS IN, WHO'S OUT?
After sitting out the Redskins first three preseason games, head coach Jay Gruden previously said that rookie first-round wide receiver Josh Doctson could play in the fourth and final preseason game. On Monday, Gruden closed the door on that possibility, but opened bigger, more important doors.
"We're going to hold him out the fourth preseason game," Gruden said. The coach then added that Week 1 against the Steelers is "definitely" a possibility.
Doctson hasn't practiced the entire training camp session after an Achilles injury limited his ability to run. Monday, however, Doctson ran routes, with his coach playing quarterback.
"He's coming along, he ran some individual cuts," Gruden said. "I was able to throw to him a little bit, watch him in person, he looked good coming in and out of breaks, looked very good."
MORE REDSKINS: IF CULLEN JENKINS IS IN, WHO'S OUT?
Doctson still only watched practice, but it's obvious he is getting closer to being out there with his teammates. Walking off the trainer's field, Doctson complemented his coach's arm before saying he's definitely feeling better.
What playing time awaits Doctson remains a mystery, as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are locked into their roster spots while Jamison Crowder mans the slot role. In a way, that is good news for Doctson, as he won't be forced into more action than he's ready for, at least early on.