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Need to Know: Five under-the-radar players to watch during Redskins training camp

Jul 29, 2015, 3:51 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 29, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Of course I’ll be watching all of the big names during training camp; there will not be a lack of scrutiny of Robert Griffin III, Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith and the other top draft picks and new players. But here are five who are under the radar on whom I will be keeping a close eye:

WR Andre Roberts—He dropped 11 percent of the passes thrown in his direction last year. No other NFL player who was targeted 55 times or more had a drop rate of as much as 10 percent. I will be interested to see if he spends more time playing catch with the quarterbacks and snagging balls shot out by the JUGS machine. And, of course, how many passes he drops during drills.

LB Perry Riley—He just turned 27 but some are starting to write him off already. Earlier in his career it looked like he might play at a level that would earn him an occasional trip to the Pro Bowl. But he hasn’t taken the next step and he still struggles in coverage. I don’t think that a mediocre or even a bad camp will cost him his starting job but he needs to act like it will.

TE Niles Paul—He showed last year that he can catch the ball. This offseason he put on some weight to try to improve his blocking ability. That is always going to be a challenge for a converted wide receiver but he wants to be as good at blocking as he can be. I’ll keep an eye on him during team drills as well as individual blocking drills to see how he’s doing.

G Shawn Lauvao—The Redskins are going to switch to a run blocking scheme that emphasizes power and that should help Lauvao, who played in such a system in Cleveland. But Jay Gruden has said that the team will mix in zone runs so it will be worth watching to see if he has improved on the stretch plays. His pass blocking needs improvement as well; it will be interesting to watch him go one-on-one against, say, Terrance Knighton.

CB David Amerson—He has all of the physical talent he needs to succeed but he needs to get better prepared mentally. I am hearing that he is taking the game more seriously so we will see if that translates onto the practice field.

Today’s schedule

—Jay Gruden news conference from the Bon Secours training center in Richmond, approx. 3:45


—Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg was born on this date in 1987.

—It’s been 213 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 46 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 1; Preseason opener @ Browns 15; final cuts 38

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  1. gonavybeatarmy - Jul 29, 2015 at 6:55 AM

    That’s an amazing stat on Roberts. The signing of both Lauvao and Roberts are a real indictment on Allen’s personnel acumen.

    Kai Forbath: His distance on kick offs in both practices and preseason games.

    Jordan Reed: His health. Under very small sample sizes he has been brilliant. He’s entering the third year of a four year deal and making the league minimum, so there’s all the incentive for him to perform this season.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 29, 2015 at 10:56 AM

      G Shawn Lauvao actually didn’t do that bad in Pass Blocking. He was only credited with 4 sacks

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 29, 2015 at 1:03 PM

        That’s a valid point on sacks Tim but a better measure of his pass protection is how many pressures were caused by him? Lauvao also struggled in his run blocking throughout the season. The fact that he is the 17th highest paid guard in the NFL while having a recent guard ranking of 37th; I’m not sure if he is performing up to his 4 plus million dollar yearly salary. Prior to last season he was ranked 71st among 80 NFL guards. This was when he was a Cleveland Brown working in a power blocking scheme. We fared much better on the left side as a whole when TW was blocking along side Lich’. So since we moved Lich’ to center I thinke we have seen a noticeable decline in guard play on the left side. I know some of that may have been related to TW’s own injury issues but much of it looks to be related to who replace Lich’

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 29, 2015 at 3:19 PM

          Very good point. Especially about the pressures.

    • weneedlinemen42 - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:20 AM

      Roberts is interesting because at the time he was signed he was one of those bit-part, back-ups that got looks from a lot teams in free agency, hoping that he might step as a starter. I don’t think anyone was expecting it to be as bad as it was. Maybe he got exposed by the additional playing time. Maybe he just had a freakishly terrible year, and will be better in his second year here.

      Lauvao is a different manner. It was hard to find anyone who didn’t think we had massively over paid for a player that had struggled in Cleveland.

      Hope that he will improve in a system that is more similar to the one he was in in Cleveland seems misplaced. Lauvao struggled in Cleveland and their fans were glad to see the back of him. The only justification for signing him was that he might be better in a stretch-zone scheme than he had been in Cleveland.

  2. redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 29, 2015 at 7:09 AM

    A few I’d include:

    Chris Thompson – free of being hampered from injury will be his biggest test. How he performs injury free will be a close second.

    Silas Redd – He proved most wrong last season by making the team. Can he take it to the next level by becoming a consistent contributor?

    Josh LeRibeus – Can he extend his game to playing two positions? Can he prove he is worthy as a backup guard?

    Chris Baker – He just may thrive in the one gap 3-4 Under system. Baker is not his best absorbing blocks for linebacker. He’s quite athletic and could bring much pressure under the new scheme.

    Phillip Thomas – Can he overcome injuries and inconsistencies to be the player he showed he was at Fresno State?

    • weneedlinemen42 - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      I agree with the first 4, but Phillip Thomas was really, really disappointing last year.

      In fact, in the brief time we saw him before he got injured, in his first pre-season, he had demonstrated alarmingly poor instincts.

      I hope he turns it around but he’s shown nothing since he got drafted.

      • ET - Jul 29, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        Thomas is a big bummer, for sure. And he’s got a very crowded position group in which he has to stand out. It’d be close to a miracle if he makes the final roster.

  3. mr.moneylover - Jul 29, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    People dont realize Texans coming to town is a BIG deal because the name people dont bring up is vince wilfork that big guy destroy O-lines….going against them will be the true test on were the team is…and I think perry Riley starting job is on the hot seat he was part of the mess that happen last year…if the media keeps up with the LBs I think by the end of training camp jay gruden will change his mind and go with will compton instead…I think the only way perry Riley keep his job is if he improve on coverage and be in better shape…I tell ppl all the time look at Keenan Robinson body frame and then look at perry Riley you can easily tell who is in better shape and who workout more…people might have forgot perry Riley came in with a weight problem and mike shanahan wanted him to lose a few pounds

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:23 AM

      I thought Compton was better in coverage too, but I guess the team wants one of the two ILB spots filled by a certified run-stuffer.

      Compton is only 25, maybe he can step it up.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:52 AM

        You’re correct about Riley’s role expected to be more of a run stuffer. From reading how the new 4-3 Under defense works, Perry is going to be taking on lineman more focusing on the run. He shouldn’t be required to handle coverage as much as was needed in prior defensive schemes. This could work to his advantage if he can shed the blocks of those big boys.

        • ET - Jul 29, 2015 at 1:03 PM

          Riley was put in some horrible coverage situations last year, which I blame largely on Hazlett. But he’s still not good in coverage. Will Barry’s scheme play more to Riley’s strengths? I sure hope so.

          Overall, though, our ILBs are one of the weaker units on the team, especially if anything happens to Keenan Robinson.

      • weneedlinemen42 - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:29 AM

        I thought Compton looked promising but I still think there is a big role for Perry Riley.

        Riley lacks lateral agility, and really struggles in coverage but I think he has very good straightline speed.

        He’s actually pretty decent at blitzing, and can be very effective as a run stuffer.

        He is limited for sure, but keep him out of coverage and going forward towards the LoS and he can be a playmaker.

    • mr.moneylover - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      I thought that will compton stepped up really well when perry Riley got hurt and the media ask jay gruden will he keep will compton in as the starter and jay gruden left that decision to jim hasslet instead of taking charge and say yeah we gonna see if he can keep up the good work hes doing…last year jay gruden couldnt check on different groups because he was focus only on the QB groups so last year players was getting away with murder this year he will be keeping a close eye on every position last year he trusted his postion coaches to put the best players on the field and they fail jay gruden and I think thats why jay gruden wanted to clean out most of the problems and bring in coaches that can teach these guys and not just motivate them

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 29, 2015 at 10:04 AM

        Media shouldn’t have to inform the coach about who needs to be the starters on the team. I think Gruden has many more issues with coaching other than inferior assistant coaches from last year. I think most of these hires is the GM’s doing and not Gruden. Gruden has never done well with the running game even as a OC. Since the team took a huge step backwards in that category, it certainly doesn’t make me feel anymore confident about Gruden making the decisions in any area other than the passing game. Gruden was definitely in over his head last season. Can he turn it around as a head coach? Maybe, but I think he is a hot seat candidate this season.

        • sidepull - Jul 29, 2015 at 10:26 AM

          Yup Gruden is going to have to show a leopard can change its spots. Last years comment regarding being known as a smashmouth running team was pretty much just lip service. Cincy was well aware of this shortcoming and when Gruden left they were pretty happy that they might get an offensive coordinator that appreciated a good ground game.

          When he came here, we saw what they saw minus the QB development. Hope he is able to be open minded but I doubt it. We are still short an offensive coordinator as long as he has McVey handcuffed. Be an offensive coordinator or a head coach but not both. He even tried being the QB coach as well last year and that was a disaster. Hopefully for him, and the team, he will see the light before the my way or the highway stubborn attitude of his derails the Skins again.

    • weneedlinemen42 - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:25 AM

      I agree with the first 4, but Phillip Thomas was really, really disappointing last year.

      In fact, in the brief time we saw him before he got injured, in his first pre-season, he had demonstrated alarmingly poor instincts.

      I hope he turns it around but he’s shown nothing since he got drafted.

      • weneedlinemen42 - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:26 AM

        Sorry, under the wrong post.

      • brucefan1 - Jul 29, 2015 at 5:39 PM

        Gotta agree with that he has been a huge disappointment for a guy the coaches were expecting more from.

        And when I read Rich’s quote ” I am hearing that he is taking the game more seriously”, enormous bright red flags go up in my mind.

        Why would any player who has done NOTHING to establish any credentials in the NFL have to find a way to take his job more seriously?

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 29, 2015 at 3:25 PM

      It’s not just Wilfork man. Brian Cushing, Clowney if he’s healthy, oh and a guy named JJ Watt. Just to name a couple. I’m not expecting a lot from Scherff and Long vs JJ in the pre season. It’s just too early for them to have to go against the best Dlinemen in the game and be judged for it. However, if they manage to have some success, that could be exciting. Hopefully that would be a glimpse of things to come and not a fluke.

      • mr.moneylover - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:06 PM

        But going up against jj and vince wilfork will be a good test in training camp it will definitely prepare them to go up against suh in week 1

    • bangkokben - Jul 29, 2015 at 10:57 PM

      My sources have Riley being a regular at Lifetime in the off season. Just saying. Maybe he’s just in the pick up basketball games.

  4. Skulb - Jul 29, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    Personally I would have Niles Paul as an obvious starter after his last two seasons. Good hands, fast and strong. What´s not to like?

    • warpath1 - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:20 AM

      cant block

      • Skulb - Jul 29, 2015 at 10:47 AM

        I knew there was something…Still, if he´s gained a few pounds maybe that will help.

      • bk70 - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:31 AM

        Niles Paul is a better blocker than Jordan Reed.

        • warpath1 - Jul 29, 2015 at 12:11 PM

          lets not set the bar that low. 90 percent of being a good tight end is being a good blocker

        • ET - Jul 29, 2015 at 1:25 PM

          90% of being a good tight end was blocking … in 1978.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 29, 2015 at 3:29 PM

          @ET. No man, no. Blocking is still a huge part of being a TE. Huge. It doesn’t show up in fantasy stats but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Especially on a team where everyone was complaining about the OLine. TEs, FBs, and RBs all have to contribute to blocking and protection. There are some really talented RBs out there who don’t get a lot of snaps because the team can’t trust them to block for the QB. Same goes for TEs. If a TE can’t block, then he’s basically a slot receiver. If that’s all you want out of the guy then why not just put another receiver on the field?

        • Skulb - Jul 29, 2015 at 11:45 PM


          Just so I´ve asked, how do you find out who doesn`t block? I can tell when people are doing things but I´m not quite as good at telling when they´re not doing stuff.

  5. rtcwon - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Let’s watch TRob, free safety of the future?

  6. bangkokben - Jul 30, 2015 at 8:35 AM

    Wonder how long it takes – if ever – before people complain that Brandon Scherff never earned his job. Griffin came into a similar situation in 2012 and now three years later some clown every three weeks or so is complaining that he never had to earn it. Back to Scherff, who “earned” the Redskin’s starting right tackle job the last three years?That is why he didn’t have to earn the position and it’s the same reason Griffin ‘earned’ the starting QB position in 2012. Archives

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