Putting the class of '11 to work

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Putting the class of '11 to work

The Redskins will be brining back all 12 members of the draft class of 2011 this year. Which players will have the same role as they did in 2011, which will have increased responsibilities and which will have diminished roles this year? After OTAs and minicamp, here is how it shakes out:Same workloadOLB Ryan Kerrigan (1056 snaps, 9 sacks in 2011)You cant do much more than he did last year. Kerrigan didnt miss a snap and recorded nine sacks last year. He hit a rookie wall, getting only one sack in the last five games. If he can produce consistently 2012 should be the first of many double-digit sack seasons for Kerrigan.RG Roy Helu Jr. (554 snaps, 151 carries, 640 yards, 2 TDs)Helu had a chance to put a stranglehold on the starting halfback job for this year but he could only get on the field for 11 plays in the past two games. Health issues derailed him during minicamp as well. Based on last year, it looks like he will have some great games in 2012 and he will be a spectator for some games as well.LB Markus White (no defensive snaps in 2011, active and played special teams in two games)Special teams are likely to Whites role again as it will be hard to get three-down players Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo off of the field.NT Chris Neild (163 snaps, 2 sacks)Neild should continue doing what he did last year, giving Barry Cofield an occasional breather. His roster spot is probably safe although Chris Baker could make a run at the job.Increased workloadDE Jarvis Jenkins (on IR all of 2011)He is still recovering from that knee injury but once he gets into football shape it will be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup.WR Leonard Hankerson (126 snaps, 13 receptions, 163 yards)He showed enough in his limited action last year for the organization to have some confidence in his ability but not enough to where they felt they could stand pat at the position. Hankerson should see plenty of playing time and will have a chance to make a big impact.S DeJon Gomes (210 snaps, 19 tackles, 3 QB hurries)We looked at Gomes in some depth in a recent article. The bottom line is that he has a chance to be a starter either this year or next. In any case, he should get more than 210 snaps.TE Niles Paul (164 snaps, 2 receptions)Pauls storyline will be among the most interesting to follow this year as he transitions from wide receiver to being an undersized tight end.RB Evan Royster (158 snaps, 56 carries, 328 yards)Royster came a long way last year. He looked lost in training camp but he finished out the year strong with two 100-yard efforts in the last three games. It is unlikely that he will become the primary back this year but he will get some opportunities as there is likely to be no primary back on the team.WR Aldrick Robinson (did not play in 2011)In minicamp, Robinson has had the look of someone who is ready to make the roster and contribute. He is someone to watch in training camp.Decreased workloadCB Brandyn Thompson (4 snaps in 2011)Thompson has some playmaking ability and that kept him around. But he didnt flash much in the offseason practices and he could end up losing his roster spot to rookies Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford.OL Maurice Hurt (557 snaps, started 8 games)The player who saw the most offensive snaps as a rookie last year could be in danger of not making the team in 2012. He has been playing tackle during the offseason workouts and he will have to beat out Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, and James Lee. Might not make it.

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

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Courtesy of Amanda Carrera

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

It’s very easy to get jaded when thinking about professional sports and social media, especially where those two things intersect, particularly when fans spew vitriolic comments after nearly every event. 

But, sometimes, pro sports and social media can produce great stories, and tremendous results. The recent story of Cameron Carrera counts as one of those stories.

A first-grader at Urbana Elementary School in Urbana, Md., Cameron was born with Spina bifida, a birth defect that damages the spinal cord and leads to other lifelong health issues.

Despite his condition, Cameron is a fun-loving kid, and like many young boys, loves football.

“He loves the Redskins, typical boy, the only thing that’s different for him is he can’t walk,” Amanda Carrera, Cameron’s mom, explained.

“He just loves the Redskins,” Carrera said of her 7-year-old son. “He always says one day when he’s older he wants to be a Redskins player. I say ‘we will figure it out.’”

Cameron, who uses a wheelchair, also has two sets of braces for his legs. His request? Put the Redskins logo on them. Twice a week Cameron endures tough physical therapy sessions - though he is paralyzed from the knees down he is working to walk using a walker. Despite the PT and obvious hurdles, Amanda remains amazed at her son’s positivity.

“He always says ‘I’ll walk when I’m older’ or ‘when I’m bigger I’ll play football,’” she said. “I don’t want to crush his dreams. We’ll figure it out.”

While Cameron’s football playing future may be in doubt, it’s remarkable what has happened for the Carreras during the last six months to dramatically improve their lives. 

“We’ve needed a handicap accessible van,” Amanda said, explaining that the van required a special mechanical seat for Cameron, “and $10,000 for this chair was just out of our reach.”

So knowing they needed the chair, the family started a Go Fund Me account last fall. 

“It’s crazy how much social media can help,” Amanda said. “Within two or three months, we have more than 200 people donate for our van.”

Once the Go Fund Me account became so popular, friends of friends joined in the effort to help Cameron. A friend offered tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll, where Cameron got to meet Ryan Kerrigan.

In May, the Mom’s Club of Urbana held a fundraiser to benefit Cameron, but prior to the fundraiser, Amanda explained to the group that her son loves the Skins. So what happened next? A signed Kirk Cousins jersey.

From there, through the help of more social media and more friends of friends, things really started to snowball. Once he learned more about Cameron’s condition from CSN Director of Strategic Partnerships Eric Shuster, Kerrigan sent along a video.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” Amanda said. “It’s really been a whirlwind and Cameron is just loving all the attention.”

After Kerrigan’s video, Redskins LB Will Compton joined the party, only with a distinct take. It seems Cameron had not heard of Compton, so the linebacker did his best to clear up any confusion.

“That video was hilarious,” Amanda said of Compton’s video. “That made it really special for him, he said, ‘Oh wow, he wants to meet me.’”

Kerrigan, reached for comment, made clear he didn't intend for his message to become a news item. He just wanted to reach out to Cameron after meeting him at the White House.

"It's a pleasure as a professional athlete to help bring a smile on a child's face," Kerrigan said of his video.

One interesting wrinkle in the Carrera family dynamic: Amanda is a lifelong Skins fan, and she obviously passed that on to her son. Her husband Danny, however, likes the Cowboys.

“That’s the funny part, my husband is a Cowboys fan,” Amanda said via text, before adding Danny is obviously “so thankful” for what the Redskins players are doing for Cameron.

Amanda, who works as a civilian at Fort Detrick, and Danny, who manages a Bed, Bath & Beyond, don’t know what to expect next from the Redskins. The videos have been surprises, though Amanda said she would love to bring Cameron to a practice to meet the players.

In late June, Cameron will celebrate his eighth birthday. With about a month lead time, maybe the ‘Skins players will come up with something fitting. 

Josh Norman sees the fiery side of Kirk Cousins at Redskins OTAs: 'I was like, calm down'

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Josh Norman sees the fiery side of Kirk Cousins at Redskins OTAs: 'I was like, calm down'

After two days practicing against Kirk Cousins, new Redskins CB Josh Norman knows how fiery the quarterback can get. And remember, Norman faced off against Cam Newton for years with the Panthers, so the corner knows a bit about excitable passers.

Minor sparks flew a bit on Wednesday when, after a 20-yard completion to Pierre Garçon, Cousins ran down the field to hug the receiver and celebrate what would have been a first down. Cousins' excitment outpaced the rest on the practice field and Norman was asked after the OTA session about his new quarterback.

"I was like - God, calm down," Norman said. "I don’t want to go there yet. I'm gonna be cool."

Perhaps Norman doesn't want to go there yet because he's new to the team, or maybe because it's May, but one way or another he will need to get used to Cousins. Off the field, Cousins is cerebral, soft-spoken and courteous.

On the field, it's different story. It's been evident in practice since Cousins took over as the starting quarterback, and the world saw Cousins' passion with the famous "You Like That" explosion. 

That doesn't mean Norman will back down.

"I came back out here and he looked away a couple times and didn’t throw the ball so I got a little jubilant," he said.

For a corner, the QB going a different direction almost means as much as being able to make a play on the ball. But the play in question, the completion to Garçon?

Norman knew exactly what happened.

"The last play the [starters] were out he threw a ball and he completed it and got excited again," Norman said. "I was like Kirk, man, we whipped y’all butt today. Calm it down a little bit."

At Wednesday's practice, the Redskins defense looked better than the offense. It's not worth taking much from a May session with no pads on, but the competition is real.

"We're only gonna make each other better," Norman said. "We just gotta keep challenging them, and they keep challenging us."

DeAngelo Hall on DeSean Jackson's OTAs absence: 'You want him here, but...'

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DeAngelo Hall on DeSean Jackson's OTAs absence: 'You want him here, but...'

DeSean Jackson’s teammates would prefer that the star receiver join them for OTAs, but one prominent Redskins veteran said this week that the locker room is confident Jackson is working out on his own.

“You want him here, but like I was telling someone else, you understand he has things going on,” safety DeAngelo Hall said. “He has a newborn and he lives all the way on the west coast. It’s not like his home is an hour-and-a-half away like mine, where I can jet down to Atlanta every now again and be around the family. He has to go a long way.”

“We understand that D-Jac is going to work,” Hall continued. “Same thing with Trent [Williams]. Trent went to Houston [to work with his personal trainer], just got back [on Wednesday] and he’s probably in the best shape I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. As long as guys are working, I don’t think we mind too much.”

Jackson has attended some of the Redskins’ offseason program, but he has not been present for this week’s OTA practices—the first group of 10 voluntary sessions. And, according to Coach Jay Gruden, it’s not clear when exactly Jackson will return. Gruden joked that Jackson will “probably show up next week, or it could be whenever.”

Jackson missed a portion of last year’s offseason program, as well. And while there was some speculation that his absence contributed to the hamstring injury that hampered him early in 2015, Gruden has consistently denied that there was any connection.

As for the team-building aspecct of OTAs, though, there’s little doubt that Jackson’s absence could have an impact in that area. 

“Obviously, you want guys around,” Hall added. “You want that camaraderie.You want to build that team unity. But that’s what training camp is for and [mandatory minicamp in June] is for. Yes, you want him here, but this is an offense he knows and he knows himself. When you’ve got a guy who knows himself, you want them to train the way they want to train.”

But Hall—and new teammate Josh Norman—want Jackson back at work for selfish reasons, too. They are eager to test themselves against the fastest wide receiver on the roster.

“I’m just excited about getting him out here,” Hall said. “Josh is excited about getting him out here. We want to go against him. We’re juiced up to get him out here.”