With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir examine the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
30—What veteran needs to have a strong camp to make the 53-man roster?
For the past four years Mike Shanahan was the head coach and the man with final say on the 53-man roster. Now Jay Gruden is the coach and Bruce Allen is in charge of the 53. Allen promised changes, saying up to 25 new faces will be on this year’s roster. That means that some veterans will be on the chopping block. Who is going to have to have a strong training camp in order to survive the cut?
Tandler: Defensive end Stephen Bowen has a trio of issues that put a target on his back—age (30), injury (knee microfracture surgery), and big contract ($4.4 million salary, $7.02 million cap number). He has been confident that he will be ready for training camp but how much will he be able to do if he is out there? Conditioning could be an issue, as could a younger player such as Clifton Geathers pushing him for his job. Bowen is a team leader and a great locker room presence but if he can’t show in camp that he is able to play at least half of the defensive snaps it would be very difficult to justify keeping him as the fifth highest paid player on the roster. He has a lot to prove in July and August if he’s going to be around in September.
El-Bashir: I’m going with kicker Kai Forbath. Although Forbath has been (mostly) money on field goals—he led the league in accuracy in 2012—the Redskins used a seventh round pick on Zach Hocker for a reason. And that reason is the team’s recommitment to special teams and, more specifically, kickoffs. Last season, Forbath ranked in the bottom third among all NFL kickers in touchbacks. Hocker, meantime, sent 34 of his 50 kickoffs for the Arkansas Razorbacks into the end zone for touchbacks. Hocker was good on field goals, too, connecting on 13 of his 15 attempts. Is it possible Gruden will keep Forbath as his field goal kicker and Hocker as his kickoff specialist? Sure. But that’s probably a long shot, given the constrictions of the 46-man game day roster. If Forbath wants to guarantee a spot in 2014, he needs to be good on field goals and show considerable improvement in the hang time and distance of his kickoffs, too.