Tired of hearing about the Redskins’ quarterback competition yet?
You probably aren’t, but there are other position battles going on in Washington as the team resumed camp at its Ashburn headquarters this week. Entering Thursday’s preseason home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, keep tabs on these other battles.
Some news outlets have already declared Montez Sweat a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. First, he’ll need to secure a starting gig over Ryan Anderson.
The spot opposite Ryan Kerrigan in Washington’s front seven could go a long way in determining how good the defense can be in 2019. Anderson is listed ahead of Sweat on the Redskins’ depth chart, but most of the team’s rookies are listed as second- or third-stringers for now.
Sweat might still be the favorite to start in Week 1, but he missed some time in camp after being accidentally kicked in the calf. Meanwhile, Anderson is out to prove that he still deserves the starting job after a lackluster first two years in the NFL.
The two have different strengths, so defensive coordinator Greg Manusky could decide to alternate them. Anderson is well-rounded and can set the edge when defending the run, while Sweat is known for elite edge-rushing talent. Sweat’s 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine set a record for defensive linemen. Their usage will be worth monitoring Thursday and in preseason Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Left tackle and left guard
It’s helpful to lump these together because of Ereck Flowers, who was originally signed to play left guard but then saw time at left tackle with the first-teamers when Trent Williams failed to report to Richmond.
Ironically, Flowers is back to left guard after 2018 third-round pick Geron Christian returned to practice from an injury and the team signed veteran tackle Donald Penn. So far, Christian is tentatively the starting left tackle in Williams’ absence and Flowers has lined up next to him. But don’t discount Penn, a 36-year-old three-time Pro Bowler, and guard Wes Martin, a fourth-round rookie out of Indiana, from stealing both of those spots.
Jay Gruden said Washington was “still working through” the state of the offensive line.
“Geron is getting more reps and obviously Penn,” Gruden said this week. “We could also look at Flowers over there a little bit more at left tackle depending on how we feel Wes Martin is doing at left guard — he’s getting better and better.”
Robert Davis scored Washington’s only touchdown in last week’s preseason opener at Cleveland, a 46-yard reception downfield from Case Keenum — but it only happened so easily because of the Browns’ blown coverage.
Still, Gruden said “there’s a lot to like” about Davis, who could be a fringe candidate to make the final 53 a year after a near-devastating leg injury landed him on IR during the preseason.
“It was good to see Robert, man. He’s gone through a lot,” Gruden said. “He’s busted his tail to get back on the field. We didn’t really fully expect him this soon. We thought he might be a PUP candidate, but he worked his tail off to get himself ready to go and glad to see he got some opportunities.”
Assuming the Redskins keep Josh Doctson — which may not be a guarantee for the underwhelming former first-rounder — the first five receivers on the chart are presumably Docston, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn and rookies Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon. That leaves room for one more depth receiver, because teams hardly ever carry seven at the position.
Davis’ primary competition here is Cam Sims, who’s currently a second-stringer on the depth chart. Sims consistently made nice plays in training camp for the second straight summer. Both Davis and Sims have good size to be a red-zone target, though Sims is two inches taller at 6-foot-5.
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