Training Camp 2013: The Washington Redskins
Beneath the sweltering summer sun, a season is reborn. The hopes and dreams that were crushed at the end of last season are now redeemed in the hearts of the team. Blood, sweat, and tears are being poured onto the gridiron in Richmond, Virginia, all in the name of preparation and success. Of course, I’m talking about Redskins training camp.
The Redskins are entering this season as division champions; a new feeling to the team due to the fact that they have not won the NFC East since 1999. Expectations are sky high and the bar is raised because of the team’s success last season. So what are the keys to the Redskins repeating as division champions and going further into the playoffs as they dedicate a month of their lives to training camp?
The number one concern of the Washington Redskins is making sure that Robert Griffin III is ready for week one. Head coach, Mike Shanahan, has made it very clear that he is introducing Griffin III back into the practice routine with extreme caution. Thus far in training camp, Griffin III has not taken a snap in 11 on 11 drills, but he does participate in 7 on 7 drills. Shanahan doesn’t want to rush Robert into any drills in which he would feel pressured to move out of the pocket to make a play, which would in return, put his healing knee in harms way. Shanahan has already stated very clearly that Robert Griffin III will not play in the preseason so that his chances of being ready and healthy for the Monday night opener against the Eagles are very likely.
Another key point that the Redskins must address in training camp is their defensive backfield. Last year, the team ranked 30th in the league in pass defense, so it is no secret that their defensive backfield must improve. With the NFC east stacked with deep threats such as Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant, and DeSean Jackson, the Redskins must upgrade in that aspect of the game or else they will not have much success in the 2013-2014 season. The team already believes that they have done so by drafting David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo, and Phillip Thomas, which all have reputations of being “ball-hawks”, which should, in theory, increase the number of defensive turnovers that the team forces on opposing offenses.
The Redskins also must find an explosive kick returner that has the ability to spark a game-changing momentum swing at any point in the game. The team has not had a brilliant kick returner in years, which makes this one of the key focus points in training camp. Brandon Banks had the Redskins hopeful and optimistic that they had finally found their guy, but proved to be yet another bust at the position. This year, Niles Paul, Josh Wilson, Richard Crawford, Josh Morgan, Aldrick Robinson, Skye Dawson, and Roy Helu are among some of the contenders for the position. It should be very interesting to see how the kick return battle plays out in training camp and in the preseason.
If the old saying, “preparation is the key to success”, is true, then it is vital that the Redskins use training camp to address all of the weak points in their team and ensure the health of their quarterback and other previously injured players in order to have success in the upcoming season. Mike Shanahan is well-known for his intelligence, so it is more than likely that the Washington Redskins will be ready to compete come week 1. The team has tasted success now, and they are without a doubt hungry for more. Training camp 2013 will be a test of will for the Redskins, and will show how badly the team wants to reach a level of greatness once again.