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Need to Know: Week 1 backups who could become starters for the Redskins

Jul 5, 2015, 5:28 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 5, 25 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Backup to starter?

Here are five Redskins who could be backups in Week 1 but could be starting at some point as the season wears on.

—ILB Martrell Spaight—Some fans think he will jump in and start Week 1 but it would be highly unusual for a fifth-round pick to come in and knock out an established starter like Perry Riley. But the coaches seem to be pretty high on Spright and Riley is just a guy. It’s possible that Spaight could push into a starting job alongside Keenan Robinson at some point in the second half of the season.

—WR Jamison Crowder—I guess slot receiver technically isn’t a starting position but the Redskins will frequently line up with three receivers. If Andre Roberts can’t fix the case of the drops he had last year (seven, most on the team) and make some big plays (average of 12.6 per catch), Crowder could get a shot.

—OLB Preston Smith—I don’t see Smith knocking Trent Murphy out of the starting job on the right side during training camp. But as Smith gains experience and learns the tricks of the trade while playing 30 or 40 snaps a game in sub packages he could narrow the gap and eventually overtake Murphy.

—CB David Amerson—He started 15 games at cornerback last year and he could be starting again by the time the season is done. Amerson certainly isn’t going to push Chris Culliver to the bench. But if (and this is a big IF) he matches Bashaud Breeland’s off-field preparation habits he could well end up starting in front of last year’s rookie surprise at some point.

—DE Chris Baker—My faith in the ability of Jason Hatcher to both stay healthy and play effectively for 16 games is very much on the low side. If he falters Baker will be ready to step up from his sub role into one as a starter.


—It’s been 189 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 70 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 25; Preseason opener @ Browns 39; final cuts 62

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  1. skinsgame - Jul 5, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    I’m very interested in seeing Spaight play in a preseason game. What I saw of his college highlights looked like a career special teams player at best, and a long shot at that. Looks like a good tackler that can’t cover at all and often trailed on run plays.

    • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      I question the thought that Spaight will leap frog Will Compton. Compton played the run well and was solid in pass coverage last year when he played. I think if anyone unseats Riley, I think it will be Will Compton. Heck, Compton almost beat him out towards the end of last year.

      • bangkokben - Jul 5, 2015 at 10:24 AM

        Different system; different coaching staff. Compton is starting from square one. Sucks for him but people like you have faith in him. Not saying it couldn’t happen.

        • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 10:37 AM

          The defensive scheme isn’t going to be drastically different than what we’ve had 5 years running.

          And last time I checked, he’s not the only player on defense learning some new concepts right?…

          Spaight has to learn an entire new defense, get acclimated to the nfl speed and game and isn’t as good in coverage as Will Compton…

          Advantage Compton!

        • bangkokben - Jul 6, 2015 at 10:25 AM

          My point is that Spaight is picked by this organization; Compton is a leftover back-up – and one with very limited experience. I see whatever advantage Compton had going into the season evaporated with the coaching change, management change, and drafting of a player in his position. It’s not like Compton is a left-over 3rd rounder. He’s an UFA from previous management with his limit success in a different system under different coaches. He COULD be a surprise cut. I think that is a more likely scenario than him winning the starting job over Riley.

      • ET - Jul 5, 2015 at 12:27 PM

        Compton has a lot of heart, but he’s just a guy. Backup and/or spot duty seems perfect for him. I don’t see him as a solution at ILB.

        I’m looking forward to good things from Spaight in a year or two, but I don’t think it’s realistic that he’ll crack the starting lineup right away.

        • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 12:35 PM

          I think it’s unlikely that either Compton or Spaights unseats Riley his season, at least as a starter. Compton will probably see more time in passing situations.

          I agree with you that if anything it will be a few years until Spaights will challenge to be a starter.

          I’d say it’s near 100% that our future ILB that plays next to Robinson when Riley is gone is not on the Redskins roster right now.

        • ET - Jul 5, 2015 at 12:55 PM

          I agree, the long-term solution next to Robinson is likely not on the roster right now.

          But Spaight has the football IQ to eventually become a Fletcher-like linebacker, so I wouldn’t count him out. His coach at Arkansas claims Spaight was incredibly talented at picking up offensive cues and “knowing” plays beforehand.

  2. abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    I disagree about Crowder and Spaight. I think it’s a pipe dream thinking either of those two will be starting (or in Crowder’s case slot we) unless there are injuries.

    Roberts is having a great offseason and Grant is really improving as well. Just because Crowder is quick like Moss used to be doesn’t mean he’s going to be more reliable and affective as Roberts and Grant.

    • mr.moneylover - Jul 5, 2015 at 11:54 AM

      I herd andre roberts only catch the ball the when the defenders not bein physical with him and you really cant tell if his game change until they play they scrimmage against the texans….andre Roberts got mad at breeland last year in practice because breeland was bein physical with him and wouldnt let him catch nothing…its easy to say andre roberts look good now when there cant be no contact…wait until training camp you will hear about his drops thats why agree with rich on Jamison Crowder

    • ET - Jul 5, 2015 at 12:39 PM

      Roberts had a good offseason last year, too, then he didn’t show up come game-time. So my faith in his abilities is not strong. I’d love to see Grant get more snaps this season—I think he’ll quickly prove his worth.

      • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 12:58 PM

        I blame as much of that on the qb carousel than on any of the wide receivers. Let’s remember that Garçon & Reed were both inconsistent in 2014 after being very consistent and extremely reliable in 2013.

      • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        Put it this way, in the 6 games that Kirk Cousins played in last year, Andre Roberts caught 21 of his 36 passes on the year and both of his 2 touchdown passes on the season.

        If the qb play is more consistent, Roberts is going to catch more than 40 passes (maybe 50) as the Redskins 3rd wr and 3/4 TD passes.

        • ET - Jul 5, 2015 at 1:35 PM

          Yeah, there is something to that. Garçon looked off at times last year, and I firmly believe he’s a top-notch receiver.

          But Roberts seemed skittish over the middle last season, while Garçon seems to relish those routes where a receiver might get dinged. Having said that, if Roberts has a better season this year, I’m happy to be wrong. I’d love to see the sure-handed guy we saw in the 2014 preseason.

    • Chappell - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:00 PM

      Crowder has the the best combination of any of the slot wide receivers he’s quick nd explosive grant is a possession catcher and Roberts is what he is

  3. bangkokben - Jul 5, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    Tim, I’m off to work so I’ll have to get to your responses much later.

    • skinsgame - Jul 5, 2015 at 11:46 AM

      My immediate thought when you said you were off to work was that you were a pastor of a church, with it being Sunday and all.

      • bangkokben - Jul 6, 2015 at 10:04 AM

        Yeah. Can you imagine? Off to St. Snarky’s.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 5, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      that’s why it takes me so long to respond. I’ll check back later. Unless its something knew or significant I probably will just read your response and move on. I’ve pretty much said all I have to say on the subjects. I will spend some Time today looking for a Breakdown of sacks attributed to each position. I’m still hoping someone will post the TIME TO PRESSURE Stat so we can see just how long the Oline is holding there Blocks. Everyone keeps talking about Time To Throw stat but that stat is flawed due to the nature of different QB abilities…ie.. Payton Manning is a Statue and his Time to Pressure stat will be close to his Time to throw stat. While a running QBs Time to Throw stat will be further apart from the Time to Pressure stat because he is able to avoid the rush longer..

      • bangkokben - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:43 AM

        The link posted last week from football outsiders is much more accurate than a simple time to pressure stat.

        • abanig - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:37 PM

          Very true and last year was last year anyways. Why people keep bringing up the play of the last years OL is beyond me…

          It means nothing in terms of how this year’s OL will perform. Time to focus on 2015.

        • bangkokben - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:56 PM

          abanig, I completely agree about moving forward and focusing on 2015. The three of us on this thread all support the starting quarterback. Yet, I think Tim still feels that Griffin was unjustly criticized for last year – so much so that any historical reference to Griffin’s performance needs to be put through the lens of the o-line. Of course Griffin is moving forward and 2014’s o-line is not.

        • abanig - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:44 PM

          Yeah, which is crap unless he thinks he knows more about football than guys like Doc Walker & Chris Cooley who I listen to every day and have said for the past year that Griffin is as much to blame about the sacks he took last year as any of those people blocking for him.

          Griffin was more scared in the pocket last year than Jason Campbell or Patrick Ramsey ever were. At times his pocket presence was the worst I’ve ever seen.

          He needs to dramatically improve in that area and that’s not on the blockers, that’s on him. From reports out of mini camp – the last 3 days before it ended – Griffin was doing a great job of moving up & down/sliding in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield and reading defenses, getting to his second and third reads.

          Let’s hope that keeps up. We won’t know if he’s finally taken the next step with this until the real bullets fly in the regular season. I think Cavanaugh & Ragone were great hires for all three of our Qbs, but especially Griffin. Let’s hope their coaching and the hard work pays off and he played better this fall.

        • bangkokben - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:36 PM

          I’m going to let you have the last word on this.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 7, 2015 at 12:22 AM

          I do feel he is being improperly blamed for the sacks when all the stats and what I’ve seen points otherwise and how is that stat more accurate than the Time Till Pressure? The Time Till Pressure shows how long they held their block that would settle the dispute on how long RG3 held the ball. Ive already explained why that pressure stat doesn’t reveal how the Oline played. And why Cousins was ranked higher even though they were both ranked pretty low. Which shows the Oline was bad. The argument isn’t how they played with pressure theargument is who caused the sacks. That article shows nothing pointing to who caused the sacks. Ive posted multiple stats that back up what I’m saying. You 2 just state your Opinion with no stats to back up that it was RG3.

        • bangkokben - Jul 7, 2015 at 12:36 PM

          The stat is more accurate because it shows how much pressure a QB faced, how the offense did when he faced pressure, and how they did when he did not face pressure. It doesn’t just state that he faced pressure.Tim, if you need me to paste how many times each QB was sacked then I will do it. There are multiple stats including that one which shows that RG3 was the problem when it came to sacks. 13.0% sack rate – the 2nd highest in history. If ONLY Griffin played last year you could easily state: “it was the o-line.” But since three QBs played with the same o-line with three different sack rates the evidence points to Griffin. Russell Wilson faced much more pressure than both Griffin and Cousins yet was better than both – both in handling pressure and when there wasn’t pressure. A healthy Griffin playing in the same system should make strides both handling pressure and not facing pressure.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 7, 2015 at 12:31 AM

          And Bang if you want to know who caused the Sacks not only did I provide a link that broke it down by Olinemen but I will be posting Football Outsiders QB True Sack Rate which breaks it down by who’s at fault but I will also Be posting the Time Till Pressure stat that will show how long till Pressure got to the QB. That will show whether I was right about RG3 getting mowed over right off of the snap….. I don’t know what these stats say but if Im wrong I will admit it but if they bear out that you 2 are wrong will you 2 admit it?

        • bangkokben - Jul 7, 2015 at 12:48 PM

          Yeah. I will look over the stats and it may say that you have a case – even a strong case. But as abanig said, it doesn’t matter. The 2014 o-line will not be blocking in the future. What you don’t seem to realize that most people who follow the team do – fans, employees, and media, is that even if what you say is 100% accurate – even if it exonerates Griffin in every sack and every pressure, it in no way suggests that Griffin doesn’t NEED to improve.

  4. mr.moneylover - Jul 5, 2015 at 11:45 AM

    Martrell spaights next to keenan Robinson OMFG they will be the most dangerous LB combo in the NFL heres why…martrell spaights love tackling he is known to be a hard hitting and dont shy away from bein physical just like Keenan Robinson…the thing martrell spaights got to work on is his pass coverage skills but he cant be any worst then perry Riley who struggle in that area for years and if jay gruden continue to give perry Riley the starting job then hes gonna make everybody job on that defense more difficult then what it should be…I remember the giants games he let the TE score three times and breeland had to leave his guy just to help perry Riley cover his guy and it creates miscommunication for the whole defense especially on the back end of the defense

  5. mr.moneylover - Jul 5, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    I think will compton will start week 1 …but martrell spaight will be the backup

  6. mdownes311 - Jul 5, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    I think the Redskins will draft another linebacker next year in the hopes that Spaight,Compton, or someone else unseats Riley. If for no other reason than Riley is scheduled to make $5 million next year with a $1 dead cap charge. If they for some reason cut him this year they would save almost $2 million.

  7. Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    I`m not sure if you`ve covered the enemy yet Rich, but when will you brave the thin ice and give us your division predictions?
    I have New York winning it and Dallas finishing last. Then a toss-up between Philly and Washington for second place. Obviously that`s not what I`m hoping will happen, just what I think will happen. I also think it`ll be very close again. The two weakest teams last season seem to have improved and the two best seem have been weakened a little. At least Dallas has.

    • captblood3000 - Jul 5, 2015 at 2:38 PM

      Why the G-Men? They couldn’t keep Eli upright last year, and they lost Will Beatty for the season. I have to think that either Dallas or Philadelphia will win the division, though both teams have plenty of question marks.

      • Chappell - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        What about the Redskins they’ll have the best defense in the division and it’s everyone second year in the offense plus a Improved o line and a motivated QB and head coach

        • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:47 PM

          Obviously all four teams could win the division. The games haven`t been played yet I mean. But the Redskins have a big ? at QB and so does Philly. IF the QBs play a consistent game then those teams can win too. But you know you`re gonna get some consistency from Romo if he can stay healthy and that Eli has a high ceiling if he gets at least some protection. So the most likely to win are Dallas and New York. And I`m predicting a Dallas collapse so it has to be New York:)

      • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:09 PM

        I think it’s Dallas’ division to lose, Philly has no qb. Their qb situation is worse than the Redskins but no one wants to admit it because people have blind faith in Chip Kelly

      • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:14 PM

        Their receivers are very good now I think. It will certainly help Manning to have good players to throw to. Besides it`s time for the quadrennial Giants Superbowl win isn`t it?

        I`m sticking with 6-10 for the Skins and third place in front of Dallas. Giants on top.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 5, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      Dallas now has 4 1st round Talented Olinemen how did they get weaker?

      • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:12 PM

        Runners, receivers and defense. But it`s just my guess.and no big deal. You`re free to make your own.

        • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:18 PM

          Oh and Romo is getting a bit long in the tooth. If he gets injured again they`re definitely in trouble.

        • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:49 PM

          Definitely. I think the Eagles are going to be worse than people think but the Giants don’t really scare me outside of ODBJ.

          I think if the Redskins can just get “consistent” qb play, they can take the division.

        • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:57 PM

          That`s a big if though. If we`re being objective the Skins and the Eagles are pretty even going into 2015, with some of the same problems too. And I think Dallas will have a tough year and that the Giants will surprise a few people so that`s why I think this is how it`ll shake out.
          And I also know that the exact opposite can happen. Apparently anyone can win this division any given year, whether that`s because it`s a good division or a bad one. I`m hoping for a dominant Redskins season though. I`m just not feeling it. Like you said, it hinges on QB consistency.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 5, 2015 at 5:10 PM

          If McFadden stays healthy we have a problem he will produce if he can stay healthy. If not virtually any RB will do well running behind 4 1st roundpicks. Randle is no slouch either. They could still sign a guy before the season starts.

          Brynt, Williams, and Beasley is a pretty good group. Add Witten and Hanna and thats not a bad group.

          They have added one of the top rushers in the league, although we don’t know how long he will be suspended if its for only a few games they will have atleast 1 dominant pass rusher for some of the season. They also Drafted a guy allot of people thought was going in the top 5. They Drafted some CB help to improve that unit. Plus Sean Lee will be back. So their D sould be improved.
          Im hoping Romo Chocks as usual or goes on IR so Weeden comes in otherwise they will be our toughest opponent in the Division.

        • berniebernard666 - Jul 5, 2015 at 9:39 PM

          Skulb… let me understand believe Dallas Receivers got worse? your didn’t communicate very well. You just listed Runners, Receivers, and defense. and something about your guess. If you could learn to communicate better I probably wouldn’t be unclear about your thoughts. But either way, Dallas has the same solid receiving corp they had last year and it all revolves around Tony Romo and that stout O line.

        • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 9:47 PM

          Look, football debates are a lot better in hindsight. I`m almost sure I`ll look like a fool come November anyway. But it`s summer and we have to talk about something:)

      • captblood3000 - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:13 PM

        They lost DeMarco Murray, Tim. So running back is a big question mark for the Cowboys.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:24 PM

          I think they will be fine with the running backs they have if they stay healthy. 4 1st round talent on the Oline will make any running back or QB look good.

      • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 3:16 PM

        Running back

        • abanig - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:45 PM

          Most people are overlooking the fact that the Eagles have the worst qb situation in the NFCE.

          Griffin has proven he can stay more healthy and be more as affective or more when healthy as Bradford.

          The Eagles traded away Foles who was equivalent talent wise to Kirk Cousins – so they have no qb who’s potentially an elite pure pocket passer, not injury prone and has a lot of upside anymore.

          Then, they’re back up Mark Sanchize is equivalent to our 3rd qb Colt McCoy. I have NO idea why anyone who writes nationally or analyses the NFCE for their job believes the Eagles are going to be better than they were last year. The Eagles are going to be .500 or worse.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:39 PM

      Not yet, haven’t really thought it through. If I had to guess right now I’d put them in the same order they finished last year and that’s highly unlikely.

      • Skulb - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:43 PM

        Thanks anyway Rich. I`ll be waiting for you then.

        PS: I was hoping to provoke you by making my own amateurish prediction but you`re too cunning for me…

    • mr.moneylover - Jul 5, 2015 at 5:52 PM

      They best pass rusher jpp just suffered a major hand injury on the fourth dealing with fireworks…they already lost one of they best O-line….If its gonna be a two man race to win the division ill pick redskins and eagles with dallas trailing by a game or two

  8. timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 5, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    I think Arie Kouandjio OG has a good shot at playing sooner rather than later. We need better play along the Oline and by all reports so far he is doing great and takes coaching well. I would like to see him start at LG.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:47 AM

      For everyone who thinks the Oline wasn’t that Bad 41 Sacks where attributed to the Oline. Count them up yourselves. A lot of fans where saying the TEs and RBs counted for some of the 17 remaining sacks that doesn’t leave a whole lot on the QBs does it?

      • abanig - Jul 6, 2015 at 7:19 AM

        Moat of them were on QB. It’s more like an even divide between Griffin, the OL & other blockers.

        I don’t think anyone is saying the OL was great last year or anything, I just think most fans just take the easy route out and blame any sack on the OL without analyzing the plays and what else happened on a given play that attributed to a sack.

        Cooley talks about it every week and he put about a 1/2 of the sacks or so on the OL last year. He blamed Griffin and the poor blocking of the backs and TEs as a bigger issue.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 6, 2015 at 10:16 AM

          I put all the info you need to count up the sacks by individual linemen it adds up to 41 there were 58 sacks that leaves 17 on the QBs, TEs, and RBs, the Pass Blocking was ranked 31st its on the Oline they were getting mowed over just like most people who are objective saw. I provide all the stats to show this but some people would rather go off of someone’s opinion instead of unbiased stats. Later in the week I will also post the Time Till Pressure and Thrue Sack Rate stats. If Rich would write this artical like Ive bin asking him to do with these stats and theones I’ve provided there wouldn’t be a debate

  9. kenlinkins - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Rich, May I ask why Cousins or McCoy didn’t make the top 5? Are both so far behind RG3 from what you have already seen or are the Redskins so committed to giving RG3 the starting role that unless he gets hurt the back ups have no shot, or something else? (or maybe you just wanted to write about someone other than RG3 as you never did say these were the top 5).

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      Ken, a little of all of the above. I just don’t see either of them being better alternatives this year. It certainly could happen but I though the ones I list were more worthy of discussion.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 5, 2015 at 4:28 PM

      It has also bin reported that the other 2 are doing much worse than RG3. I believe Rich commented before that Cousins was not only throwing interceptions in games he was also doing it in practice last year on a regular basis.

  10. berniebernard666 - Jul 5, 2015 at 9:48 PM

    Nobody knows NUTHIN… to speak. Just a bunch of speculation regarding the Redskins. You can count on Romo. He’s good. You can count on the Dallas O line and Bryant and Witten for Dallas. They are solid. Can we count on Griffin???? Jordan Reed??? Offensive Line??? Play calling???? Can we count on Andre Roberts to lead the league in drops again or is he going to be better??? Is Trent Williams injury healed and can he stay healthy for a full season for about the first time in his career???

    NUTHIN. That is about what we know regarding this Redskins offense. But I am hoping for SUMTHIN.

    • abanig - Jul 5, 2015 at 10:34 PM

      Can you count on Darren McFadden??

      And Romo has a horrible back! Every time he gets hit – ala the Redskins vs Dallas game in Oct – Romo could be done for the year.

      Romo’s back is a bigger problem than any part of Griffin’s body that every Redskins worries about. Archives

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