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 will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
What will Stephen Bowen be able to contribute in 2014?
Stephen Bowen played hurt at the end of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, battling knee injuries but he still started all 16 games. The defensive end wasn’t able to finish last season as he wound up needing knee microfracture surgery, ending his campaign after 10 games. He hasn’t participated in any of the offseason program and his status for the start of training camp a week from Thursday is very much up in the air. How much can the Redskins expect to get out of Bowen in 2014?
Tandler: I’m no doctor but I can look at some simple numbers here. Bowen is 30 years old and that knee that had the microfracture repair will have to support a body that weighs 300 pounds through the rigors of six weeks of training camp and preseason games and 16 regular season games. Oh, and his salary cap number is just north of $7 million, the fifth highest on the team. I can add those numbers up and say that it’s very unlikely that the Redskins will get good value for what Bowen is costing them. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to contribute anything. The Redskins should be able to get 400-500 snaps from him and he will be able to use his experience to make up for some of what the wear and tear on his knees have cost him physically. That’s not the impact you expect from a player who is taking up so much cap space but it looks like Bowen and the Redskins are just going to have to make the best of a bad situation.
El-Bashir: Before we discuss Bowen’s potential impact, we need to have a quick discussion about his chances of making the 53. Last season, the Redskins kept six defensive linemen—four ends and two nose tackles. If the Skins keep four ends again, final cuts could get interesting. Working under the assumption that Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker and Jarvis Jenkins are locks, that leaves Bowen—and his $7 million salary—battling Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers, Doug Worthington and Frank Kearse. (It should be noted that Golston can play end and nose and did so this offseason while Barry Cofield was sidelined. That versatility figures to serve him well.). Any way you look at it, though, this much is clear: Bowen’s got a lot to prove and not a whole lot of time to do it. I do, however, get the sense that coaches like Bowen's experience and knowledge of the scheme and they remain hopeful that he’ll help this season. So I’ve got to believe that if he’s able to prove that he’s healthy, or at least progressing toward being healthy early in the regular season, I like his chances to stick. As for how much he’ll help, well, it all depends on that knee. And that’s just about impossible to predict without seeing him in pads.