When the Redskins drafted Keenan Robinson in the fourth round last month, they were doing what worked for them just two years ago.In the 2010 draft, they tabbed LSU outside linebacker Perry Riley in the fourth round. He played on the outside for the Tigers but the Redskins had him pegged to succeed Rocky McIntosh, a pending free agent, on the inside next to London Fletcher. After playing just a handful of snaps on defense as a rookie, Riley took over the starting job from McIntosh midway through last season and, while he is still learning, he appears to be set for a long run at the position.After signing the 37-year-old Fletcher to a two-year deal, one that presumably will be the last contract of his career, the Redskins got down to business with succession planning at his position. They saw the athletic ability and versatility they are looking for at the position in Robinson, who played both inside and outside linebacker at Texas.I try to play tough between the tackles. Im good in pass coverage, thats another element I bring to my game, and I feel like I can play sideline to sideline, said Robinson after the Redskins rookie minicamp concluded on Sunday.Although he believes he has some game, he realizes that being in the NFL is a different game altogether. I feel like Im a freshman starting out again and Ill just have to work my way all the way back up, he said.If he didnt realize that before, he did when the Redskins gave him their sizeable defensive playbook. Yes, it was about a triple cheeseburger worth, Robinson said with a smile.Robinsons approach to learning the playbook was similar to how he might eat that triple cheeseburgerone bite at a time.Once you get the concepts down with the defense you can pick it up real quickly, he said. Once you just get the concepts and the terminology everything else kind of flows from there.Robinson was teammates with current Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo at Texas and he said that he has watched a lot of Redskins games because of that. He plans on learning a lot from Orakpo and from the man he could replace in 2014.Im going to be right there, trying to learn everything I can from the Fletcher especially since hes one of those guys who have done it for so long and able to play injury free, said Robinson. So Im going to learn everything I can from him and use his advice to my advantage.
You know, if this whole football thing doesn't work out for DeSean Jackson, maybe he could give baseball a shot.
The Redskins wide receiver was on hand Sunday at Nationals Park to throw out the first pitch and did a pretty good job.
Jackson throws it from the mound and gets it to home plate, though just a bit outside. The throw was certainly good enough to keep Jackson off the list of other professional athletes with horrible first pitches (see John Wall).
RELATED: DON'T FORGET ABOUT 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.
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.
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.