Breaking Burgundy examines the key issues heading into training camp, which begins July 28 in Richmond. First up, the apparent leader of an uncertain ground game.
by Emmanual Benton, special to Breaking Burgundy
The Washington Redskins
will find out very early in training camp just how much progress running back Matt Jones
has made. Washington is moving forward with the second-year running back entrenched as the leader of an extremely young positional group. It's up to Jones to ease concerns over the current state of the Redskins' backfield.
“We haven’t done a whole lot in year two yet," coach Jay Gruden said of Jones following an OTA session last month. "There are still a lot of things we have to improve on from pass protection to reading out the runs honestly to ball security. Catching the football, routes, there is a lot he can improve on. There is a lot he has improved on and will improve on. That’s the thing that young backs go through, and the great backs in the history of the NFL, they all just continue to get better and better and that’s what we think Matt will do. He will just continue to get better – bigger and better.”
With only one year under his belt and zero game starts, the University of Florida product is statistically Washington's current rushing leader (490 career yards). It's an unusual situation, to say the least.
The lack of experience in the Redskins' backfield has led many to believe that the team should sign a veteran. While that could very well be the case, it's not a high level need when you're expectations is that Jones can be an every down back.
Washington will know very early in camp if the power back with good hands is ready to carry the load. However, if progress doesn't show, the Redskins will likely have to explore other options.
In today's NFL, the transition from college to pro's for RBs has becoming more seamless. This is the reason most teams now draft running backs in mid to late rounds every year. This is also why having a young backfield may not be such a bad thing. Matt Jones showed sparks of explosion and big play ability last season. Now he just has to clean up the fumbles, continue working on his vision and improve his overall game. I expect him to do well. But it will all be a bit more evident early in training camp.
You can find Emmanuel on Twitter @manny_benton.
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