Nickel Package

John Keim reports on five current Redskins Topics. This week in the Nickel: Devin Thomas the Kick Returner, The NFC East appears less difficult, the Marcus Mason love affair, the Redskins' new backup Center, Will Montgomery and Jason Campbell's improvement in the eyes of a talent evaluator.

1. It's hard to imagine the Redskins not giving Devin Thomas more time as a kick returner. He looked good in that role and would be a threat to break one almost every time. This is not to say Rock Cartwright shouldn't return kicks, but it would be helpful to have them both back deep. It also helped Thomas get into a groove offensively. He remains an inconsistent receiver at this point, but if he could find a way to contribute while still learning it would benefit him.

2. The NFC East appears less difficult than previously feared. The Giants have a great pass rush, or at least they should (assuming more guys don't walk out of camp angry). But they have major questions at receiver. From what we've heard, nobody is sure who will emerge. That's not a good sign. And the Eagles could have defensive issues with MLB Stuart Bradley out for the season. He was an emerging force in the middle for Philly. They will take some time adjusting to other personnel losses and the death of coordinator Jimmie Johnson. And the Cowboys? They, too, have issues along the line – age, mostly. But does anyone trust Roy Williams to be the dynamic receiver they need?

3. The love affair for Marcus Mason is a bit much. The guy just can't pass block and that's been evident for two summers. He's done a terrific job as a runner; very patient. But he missed two blocks Friday and a guy in his situation can't do that. People want to cut Ladell Betts for him? Won't happen. One thing I'll say about Betts: he's better as a starter than as a backup. He is not the change of pace runner other teams have. He gets better with more carries.

4. Good to hear that Will Montgomery will be the Redskins' backup center. He deserves it. Montgomery played with more of an attitude than last year and is the only backup linemen who, in all honesty, has played worth a darn. Despite what the Redskins may say about the others. Montgomery did a decent job vs. Vince Wilfork a couple times last Friday.

5. Talked to a talent evaluator today who wasn't buying that Jason Campbell is all that improved. Said he still looks mechanical to him; maybe not as much as last year, but certainly more than he'd like to see. But he still thinks the Redskins have the chance to be a good team. He likes their run defense. However, he's not sold on the corners and the pass protection.

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