Overview: In Gibbs' first go-around with the team, this was largely an anonymous, blue-collar group and it's much the same this time around. There are no Pro Bowl candidates, although Chris Cooley may be pretty well known around the league by the end of the year. There isn't much competition here; there will be six players in camp and four or five of them will make the team.
Depth Chart: Robert Royal starts at tight end and
it's second-year player Chris Cooley as the starter at H-Back. Mike Sellers is
the big bruiser at H-Back who replaces Cooley in running situations (although
Cooley will then often shift to tight end). White and Baber will provide depth.
Chris Cooley (6-3, 265, Utah State, one NFL season):
If the Redskins' offense is reasonably efficient, a big beneficiary of that
development will be Cooley. Even in the Redskins dink and dunk, sputter and
clunk offense of 2004, he still managed to catch 37 passes including six
touchdowns. Yet he had games like the one against Pittsburgh where he caught
seven passes for a grand total of 31 yards; overall, he averaged 8.5 yards a
catch. If Joe Gibbs succeeds in opening up the offense as he plans to, Cooley
will find lots of wide-open spaces to exploit. His yards per catch could
increase by a good two or three yards and his touchdown total could double.
Mike Sellers (6-3, 260, Walla Walla CC, five NFL
seasons): Don't let his number 45 fool you; he's really a third offensive
tackle in a back's number. He caught just one pass all of last year, in Week 2.
That's not to say that he didn't have an impact on field position. His generally
stellar special teams play was, on a few occasions, marred by Sellers drawing a
15-yard flag at the end of the play for some variety of foul or unsportsmanlike
Manuel White (6-2, 244, UCLA, rookie): White played fullback and tailback at UCLA and showed some good pass-catching ability with 47 receptions for 454 yards in his last three seasons there. If one puts any stock in the awards given out at collegiate postseason banquets, White would seem to possess some intangibles that will help his pro career as he twice won the N.N. Sugarman Award for Best Leadership and following his senior year he was awarded the Paul I. Wellman Memorial Award for All-Around Excellence,
Billy Baber (6-4, 260, Virginia, 4 NFL seasons):
Baber was active in just one game for Tampa Bay last year after seeing
considerable action, mostly on special teams, for seasons in Kansas City. He
could be a tight end in the Terry Orr mold, one who does a lot of different
things and occasionally catches a pass because nobody is expecting him to.
Billy Palmer (6-3, 256, Notre Dame, rookie): One
start and four catches for 34 yards on an Irish team that wasn't exactly a
powerhouse doesn't seem to be much of a resume to carry into an NFL training camp,
but it evidently was enough for the Redskins to give Palmer a contract. He's
certainly the longest of shots to make the roster, but the odds were against
him making it this far were pretty slim, too.
Robert Royal (6-4, 257, LSU, three NFL seasons): After spending all but six games of his first two NFL seasons on injured reserve, Royal stayed healthy last year and made his way into the starting lineup. As opponents started targeting Cooley in the red zone towards the end of last year, Royal became a viable alternative. He caught a touchdown pass in each of the last three games of the season. Royal is a decent enough blocker, but nothing special there.