With TC set to open on Thursday, I figured it was about time I returned to the main section of this place we call 'home'. And back to my main sporting love of football after being absent from both for the past 2 or 3 months. With one thing and another to capture my summer interest (major European soccer tournament. Wimbledon tennis) and that little thing called 'life'; I just needed a complete break from football after the draft so as not to both overload on summer sports talk; and to 'recharge' myself away from our mutually shared addiction. And now, 4 days out from TC 2012, I'm like a kid at Christmas counting down the hours until the last, heated battles decide what warriors we'll take forward into battle for the 2012 NFL season.
And what battles we have to look forward to. In most every position on the field, we have fierce, open battles set to commence to not only lock down a starting job; but to even make the 53 to begin with. Normally training camp, and more so the tedium of exhibition games is a bit of a 'meh' to me, with only certain things garnering my attention as I labor through those necessary evils with a passing interest to get to the real business of Week 1 each year.
But not this year. This year, I'm gona' be glued to the nightly recaps, and I honestly CAN'T WAIT for the Bills pre-season opener. A game in years past I wouldn't go out of my way to catch. Now of course a certain dude newly arrived from Waco, Texas plays a major part in that. We've waited SO long for a LEGIT franchise caliber talent under center that even if he steps out onto the turf in Buffalo early next month and stinks the joint up, it'll still feel like we've won the lottery and then some just to have him suited in OUR colors. But #10 is just the icing on the cake to the overall direction this ball club is headed. And on the field, this is gona' be one heck of an interesting camp/ pre-season to follow as I'd venture as of right now, as many as upward of a third of the 53 is up for grabs; with maybe as many as 7 or 8 of the 22 starting slots for opening day there to be claimed.
O-Line. With only Trent set in stone, and maybe Lichtensteiger and Montgomery ahead of the field to start; this should be a real interesting competition to watch. Will the abysmal Brown finally show his NO's form LONG forgotten here to claim the RT spot? Will he even make the 53 at all with last years UFA surprise Smith, Polombus and the rook Compton all vying for a slot? Do the two rookie guards make the grade? Or do Chester and Hurt hang on in there to join Lichtensteiger? Talking of which, will his knee be fully recovered and strong enough for him to be full-go by Week 1? Will my personal hope for a major camp surprise, the undrafted Cowboy center Grant Garner make the team as Montgomery's back-up? Being an OU fan, I've seen this dude up close the last few years in the 'Bedlam' game, and I was shocked he went undrafted. Still raw no question, but he's a tough lil' SOB for someone undersized, and a great athletic prospect for the ZBS. Really hope he shines as he could well be a future starting caliber steal from this class.
GHH's O-line surprises: Not before time, Brown gets cut, with Smith getting the day one start opposite Williams. Three rooks, Compton, LeRibeus and the major surprise Garner make the cut; with Gettis on the PS.
The line still has BIG question marks going into 2012, and is still a major weak-link until proven otherwise on a consistent basis in both facets. But it sure will have a fresh, youthful look about it. Which is never a bad thing.
Tight Ends. Also a major watch for me going into camp. Does Cooley roll back the years, shake off the injury bug and hang on to his place. Or do the constant rumors from those that follow the team up close on a daily basis come to fruition and a parting of the ways from my current favorite Redskin? Does Niles Paul transition on the field to an unfamiliar role? Does Logan Paulsen get over his sophomore slump?
GHH's TE surprises: A parting of the ways by camps end for the Redskins and Cooley, sadly. Paul makes the 53, giving us a dual TE/ WR threat in a number crunch. And a vet. blocking TE is picked up after camp cuts as Paulsen continues to regress and bites the dust.
Wide Receivers. As much as the line and RGIII, this position could make or break our 2012 offense. You'd have to say Garcon is in the driving seat for the number one gig, with Hankerson or Moss the other starter. And Morgan wasn't acquired to sit twiddling his thumbs. Above and beyond that, it's anyone's guess. Has the speedster Robinson progressed enough in his first year to take the next step and crack the roster? What of the ineffectual, but talented, Armstrong and Austin? And will Banks be gone if he still can't contribute on offense being as he contributed little in the return game last year? And I wouldn't rule out one of the UFA impressing enough in pre-season to sneak in at the last spot.
Heck of a battle all-ways round in the receiving group.
GHH's receiving surprise: Banks is expendable, and will be with more return options now available. This time last year I'd of been screaming blue murder over the very thought of that to anyone that would listen. Now, after last year, I can't defend justifying a place on the 53 for him.
Linebackers. With the starters cemented, the battle for the back-up slots could well be quite fierce. Pick any 4 from the returning vets. Alexander, Jackson, Wilson and White; the new vets. Goff and Kehl; and the great 4th round steal for me Robinson.
Kicker. I aren't going to go into the why's and wherefores of Gano. We've done that to death on here and then some. But one things for darn certain. He'd better produce under pressure this camp/ pre-season in most EVERY kick, or else his time in the B&G will be at an end. They haven't been bringing in vets., culminating now in Rackers, for the heck of it. The perceived long term kicker of the Washington Redskins by many may well actually be one of the most unsafe guys on the team right now.
A complete, open competition. The way it should be. And the way his inconsistency has demanded there be.
GHH's kicker surprise: If it is even a surprise. Rackers to finally put the nail in Gano's long overdue (for many of us) coffin.
Running Backs. Who get's the start between Helu and Royster? Does THT hang on, or does the rook Morris, who can double at FB get the nod? This one could actually be quite fierce from all four men involved.
GHH's RB surprises: Morris beats out THT. RGIII is handing off to Royster the first series Week 1.
Quarterbacks. We know who's the starter. Hell, we know we'll carry three and who they are. But who backs up Robert? The obvious choice, as poor as he is, is Rex for the experience. But how quickly will Cousins pick up enough to impress? Will they want to bump him up ASAP to increase his value down the line, if that's what they ultimately look at doing with him? One to keep an eye on.
D-Line. Does Jarvis Jenkins come back as good as new, continue to show the real promise he did last camp, and earn the start over Carriker? (Or Bowen, but most likely Carriker's side.). Can Doug Worthington beat out the career average vets. Golston and Scott? Probably the most set area of any on this team, but a few individual battles to keep the interest.
Safety. Does the game, but pretty darn woeful Doughty finally bite the dust? Does Merriweather finally fulfill the natural talent he has and control his mental side? Does Gomes keep progressing to be in the mix? Will Griffin be in the mix at free along with Jackson and Williams? Lot of questions here, with not a lot of answers.
Should be an interesting battle. How good and how high quality is another question altogether at the woeful back-end of the D.
Talking of which: Corners. Hall should still get the starting gig alongside Wilson, though it's open to debate if either are true starting corners. (Wilson's certainly the best we've got.). Above and beyond that, with Chase currently (and wisely) stashed on the PUP list, we've ..... well, not much of anything if truth be told. Barnes, who's career has been stuck in neutral since he turned pro. Thompson., who looked good in flashes last year, but is still real raw and inexperienced. Griffin, who may or may not be the nickel, or even a FS; and isn't that great a vet. to begin with. And the rooks Bernstine, who may well stick at SS, and Crawford. I'll add it as a 'minor battle' watch, simply because heck knows who'll make the cut?
The only thing certain is the front 7 of the D better play lights out, as the back end could well be a major train wreck all year long. Here's hoping the Morris effect kicks in. And kicks in early with the DB's. He'd better scheme the heck of the lack of top level talent he has at his disposal for the D to come together and progress.
So all in all, some fascinating and intense battles, and some intriguing minor ones, right across the board to make this coming camp and pre-season one of the most enjoyable, interesting and eagerly anticipated ones in EONS.
And then there's that dude from Baylor in the #10 jersey .....
It's good to return to 'The Stadium' after a much needed rest from the intense craziness of this place of ours. And it's fricking GREAT to be a Redskin again!
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!