ASHBURN, Va. -- As the Washington Redskins prepared to break before returning as a group next month in Richmond, coach Jay Gruden was asked what if he felt the team had any resolved issues heading into training camp.
“I think there’s a lot. We are trying to resolve a lot of things. We’re trying to get better at each position. We’re trying to find good, quality depth. Special teams is probably an area that we have got to find some players stepping up – the flyers and the punt protectors and punt team and all that good stuff, kick cover guys. But overall, once you get to training camp, you’re going to have your 90 guys, let them compete, play the games and then see what you need to do. But we feel good about the depth with have on this football team. We feel like we have great choices and there are going to be some tough decisions when it’s time to make those decisions. And that’s a tribute to our scouting staff and [general manager] Scot [McCloughan] for bringing in good, quality players and these players working hard that’ll make it tough.”
That's a rather generic answer or at least some legit coachspeak other than the special teams mention. The status of injured players like edge rusher Junior Galette and rookie receiver Josh Doctson are clear questions. Here are some other specific thoughts on those unresolved issues we'll be wondering about when the Redskins reconvene June 28.
Running back -- At some point this offseason I want to look around the NFL and see how many other teams have backfield situation as uncertain as Washington's. Yes, the team is saying Matt Jones will start and yes, the second-year runner has the all-around package. Jones also hasn't shown he can avoid injuries and fumbles on the pro level. Things get dicier from there. Chris Thompson is a legit third-down option, but he's missed all of the offseason with a shoulder injury. Even if healthy, he's no true bellcow backup for Jones. Maybe seventh round Keith Marshall (hamstring) or undrafted free agent Robert Kelley emerge into that role, but let's wait until the team puts on pads before anointing. Good bet the Redskins add a veteran before camp.
Left guard -- Make me pick a Week 1 starter now and Spencer Long gets the nod. He closed strong at the end of last year and received praise from coaches during this offseason. That choice is also based Shawn Lauvao (ankle) still sidelined without a clear timetable for his return and Arie Kouandjio having essentially zero NFL playing experience. But the Redskins also gave Long a look at center and Kounandijo time with the starters during the offseason. Lauvao, who has two years left on his contract, likely would be with the starters if healthy, but now might be closer to becoming a surprise roster cut before Week 1 if he's not able to go full speed during training camp.
Inside linebacker - Move past Will Compton and Mason Foster and who knows. Perry Riley (foot) was another observer during OTA and mini-camp. The veteran probably won't return to the starting lineup even if healthy and the Redskins could receive $4 million in salary cap savings by waiving the 28-year-old. If they do, then it's unclear who they could count on to actually play ILB should Compton or Foster miss time. Martrell Spaight, Terence Garvin, Adam Hayward, Steven Daniels and Carlos Fields are all in play for a roster spot, but all might be viewed more as special teams help. Then the question is how many roster spots will even exist for this group especially if Riley stays. Give Spaight the edge for now, but it will be game on in Richmond.
Su'a Cravens - The second round pick worked plenty at inside linebacker, his apparent landing spot, and safety. There were some good moments in pass coverage, but also clear signs that the former collegiate defensive back remains a work in progress. At 222 pounds, Cravens was engulfed at times by hulking offensive linemen. There's no rush to get him on the field, but obviously teams expect second rounders to contribute year one.
Josh Doctson - No panic yet with regards to the first round pick missing nearly all of the offseason practices due to a lingering Achilles injury. There's also little doubt the missed time slowed the rookie receiver's learning curve, though hardly detrimental. Showing up at training camp healthy is the top priority.
Final roster spots - Fourth tight end? Sixth wide receiver? What about eight defensive linemen or 12 defensive backs? Does Nate Sudfeld make the 53-man roster as the third quarterback or end up on the practice squad because the Redskins want an extra running back?
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