By Ben Sullivan
Redskins training camp starts when rookies and veterans report on July 24.
Location: Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia.
Most important position battle: Uhh … quarterback. Washington thought it had its pigskin passer of the present and future when it drafted Robert Griffin III second overall in 2012 … when it replaced RGIII with Kirk Cousins as the starter in 2015 … and when it let Cousins walk and traded for Alex Smith in 2018. Then came Smith’s season- (and potentially career-) ending leg injury and another crisis of confidence regarding the future of the position. Enter Dwayne Haskins, who fell to the Redskins with the No. 15 pick in late April. The Ohio State stud has a legitimate opportunity to start under center Week 1 in Philadelphia, but he’s not the only new addition in D.C. Unpredictable journeyman Case Keenum was signed in free agency before Washington drafted Haskins, while Redskins veteran Colt McCoy should return from his leg injury by training camp. The real competition for the starting gig is between Haskins and Keenum, and their upcoming daily battle is already sparking debate in the D.C. area. Joe Theismann says Haskins should sit regardless of his training camp performance, citing Washington’s brutal opening stretch. Jay Gruden thinks Haskins deserves a shot to prove himself as Washington’s starter. Doug Williams and ‘Skins brass insist the decision to name a starter in D.C. will be made by a group, not just by the coach. Since the turn of the century, Washington has seen more potential starting QBs come and go than senators, the club’s success rate with QBs lower than most incumbents’ approval ratings. How Haskins performs in training camp vs. Keenum, and how the ‘Skins handle the start of his career in the nation’s capital, will be monitored league-wide.
Newcomer/player returning from injury to watch: Landon Collins, safety. I was gonna say Reuben Foster, but then he became a player returning from injury to watch next season. How about a fellow Bammer in Collins, the former Giants safety who was betrayed by Big Blue and then took way more money to play for New York’s division rival. The defensive back said he felt “heartbroken” after leaving the Giants, but Collins — who inked a six-year, $84 million megadeal with $44.5 million in guarantees — has quickly made an impression in D.C. Having grown up idolizing Sean Taylor, Collins is taking up the late safety’s mantle as Washington’s enforcer and defensive leader. On a defense stacked with a ton of potential and former Tide players (they’re often one in the same), Collins, a three-time Pro Bowler in four NFL seasons, could be the lynchpin that ties up D.C.’s loose ends.
Looming camp question: Aside from the QB thing … who is The Guy on offense? The Redskinspossess one of the more interesting crops of playmakers in the league. (Take “interesting” to mean whatever you want.) Washington employs at least three running backs with starting-snaps potential, one of whom is coming off serious injury (Derrius Guice), one of whom is always injured (Chris Thompson) and one of whom is aging gracefully, albeit aging nonetheless (Adrian Peterson). There’s also Samaje Perine and rookie Bryce Love, college stars still brimming with possibility but struggling with injuries. The Redskins’ receiving corps is a mixed bag, as well, fronted by Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinnand rookie Terry McLaurin. I’m not a fantasy guy, but from a fantasy perspective, there is no sure thing on this offense, perhaps except Jordan Reed (who has dealt with injury issues throughout his career). That either speaks to the multiplicity of Washington’s attack or a lack of focused firepower. I’m eager to see who stands out in Richmond in August, not just under center but out of the backfield and on the flanks.