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Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot at stake in 2016

Jun 19, 2016, 6:40 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 19, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 161 days ago. It will be 85 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 39; Preseason opener @ Falcons 53; Final roster cut 76

Hot topics from the Redskins Week that was

All NFL players are under pressure to perform. But some have a lot at stake personally in 2016. Here are five Redskins who are under pressure this year both on and off the field.

QB Kirk Cousins—The Redskins’ defense and running game may improve but they are still a passing team in a passing league and a lot of games will come down to Cousins’ right arm. If he plays the season out under the franchise tag he will be trying to make his case for big bucks; if he signs he will be under pressure to live up to it.

RB Matt Jones—It doesn’t look like the Redskins have a backup chute here; the running game will live or die with Jones. He will need to add nearly a yard to the league-worst 3.4 per carry average he had last year and cut down significantly on his fumbles if he is going to get it done. This is probably his one shot; running backs rarely get more than two seasons to develop. If Jones can’t get it done in 2016 the team will search for another solution in 2017 and Jones could end up fighting for snaps.

WR DeSean Jackson—There is a lot going on here. The Redskins offense was at its best last year when he was in the lineup and functioning at 100 percent. Jackson needs to stay healthy and in the lineup and play well. He put a big target on his back by deciding to skip a good portion of offseason workouts. On a personal level he will turn 30 late in the season and he needs to have a good year if he is going to get another lucrative contract, whether it’s in Washington or elsewhere.

CB Bashaud Breeland—Earlier this week Breeland said, “my opinion is that I can be the next Darrell Green.” It’s not as though the guy needed to put any more pressure on himself. Playing opposite Josh Normal is likely to cause plenty of passes to be thrown his way. Plus he has one more year before he is eligible for a contract extension. Breeland could be set for some time to come if he plays well in 2016.

S DeAngelo Hall—The Redskins are cautiously optimistic about Hall’s ability to lock down a safety job but the emphasis has to be on caution. He’ll be 33 in November, he has missed 19 games due to injuries in the last two year, and he’s playing a new position. Hall doesn’t have a huge contract but he doesn’t come cheap either, with cap hits of just over $5 million in each of the next two years. The team will be able to show some degree of patience as he adjusts to playing safety but his rope will not be unlimited.

Is there anyone you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

In case you missed it 


  1. redskins12thman - Jun 19, 2016 at 6:56 AM

    Hard to argue with any of your selections for players under pressure to perform, but for different reasons, you could consider the following five too (more on defensive side of ball):

    Paea – disappointing play last season and disappointingly not engaged at times this off-season

    Riley Jr. – still not recovered from injury; being out-played by Foster

    Lavao – improved second season with team but can he recover from serious injuries?

    Ihenacho – played less than 20 defensive snaps in two seasons due to inability to remain healthy

    Galette – wants to land big contract in 2017 but will have to prove he can stay healthy; hope he can and has major impact that is expected of him

    • abanig - Jun 19, 2016 at 9:35 AM

      Yeah, I was expecting a similar list

    • Mr.moneylover - Jun 19, 2016 at 2:13 PM

      Yea Joe Barry said he wanna see Stephen paea use the same strength he use in the weight room to translate it on to the field he missed mini camp so that’s not good unless he’s been having a great Off-season

  2. skinsgame - Jun 19, 2016 at 7:35 AM

    Happy Fathers Day to all the dads

    Of all the names up there the one I’m worried most about is Hall. If he doesn’t work out well there is not much else behind him to be hopeful for. Safety is a spot where you can help out at a different position but you never hear of a defense scheming to mask a hole at safety. Cousins not stepping up would have a bigger negative impact but there is good reason to be optimistic for Cousins’ upcoming season. Hall didn’t look very good at S last year. If he figures it out, the defense could be one of the best. I’m pulling for him.

    • abanig - Jun 19, 2016 at 9:39 AM

      I think with the Redskins moving Blackmon to FS and with the additions of Bruton & Cravens to go along with Ihenacho that our depth at safety is better than it has been in a decade.

      Bruton played FS in college and Blackmon might be better suited as a FS rather than a corner because like Hall, he doesn’t have the speed he once did 3 to 5 years ago.

      Cravens can also play SS and we could play one of the other 3 at FS.

      So if Hall doesn’t play well at FS – and I can’t imagine he won’t, the position seems tailor maybes for him – we do have more depth than we’ve had since 05 or so at the safety position.

    • troylok - Jun 20, 2016 at 7:36 AM

      I agree with you on Hall but for different reasons. He played pretty well last year, I thought. The problem was he was trying to anchor safety while also lending a hand to our depleted corner back corps. I worry about Hall solely because of the injury history. He was throwing his body around late last season and not sure how long he will hold up with doing that.

  3. brianm0419 - Jun 19, 2016 at 7:54 AM

    Rich, why would you say DeSean has a target on his back because he missed a good portion of offseason workouts. For starters its voluntary! Second he lives on the west coast not yet it’s an excuse where he lives but he has a toddler back home. I just don’t get it when a guy doesn’t show up for voluntary workouts the media well local media makes it a big deal. Its voluntary for a reason which means NOT mandatory. He came to 2 voluntary minicamps you should be pleased with that and when it came to mandatory minicamp he was there! It seems like you have nothing else to write about except DJax no showing up to voluntary workouts it’s nothing new with him and besides if Jay Gruden and his teammates are ok with it even if not behind the scenes he has to work that out with organization/teammates your only a beat writer not a GM, Coach, Player, or Disciplinary Rich!

    • bk70 - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:10 AM

      Is the target there because he’ll need a new contract year in 2017 somewhere or decide to retire at 30?

    • servingparents - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:20 AM

      I don’t think the workouts are as big of a deal, as the question “Will Jackson show up healthy despite missing workouts”? I think there’s a correlation.

    • Rich Tandler - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:39 AM

      He’s the only one with younger players at home? By my count 89 players, many of whom live far away and have young children, made the sacrifice to to go OTAs. I mean, we’re talking three days in the middle of the week. That’s when many fathers are working, right? When one chooses not to show up he has a target on his back.

      And as a writer I am entitled to have an opinion. By your reasoning, since you’re not a writer you have no standing to criticize what I do.

      • abanig - Jun 19, 2016 at 9:43 AM

        Actually, as a writer your opinions are up for critique just as any other public figure.

      • abanig - Jun 19, 2016 at 9:51 AM

        I have to say, in my personal opinion as a lobbyist for a labor union, I don’t think anyone should even have the right to complain about a person or athlete missing a “voluntary meeting” or “voluntary workout.” For those who don’t know why they are “voluntary” and not “mandatory” it’s because that was bargained over in the collective bargaining agreement.

        So, when your complaining about someone missing a “voluntary” anything, it just seems wrong to me on every level. For one, it’s voluntary therefore, you are required to show up. It would be nice if you did but you aren’t required to. Two, the CBA that the players bargain with the league over gives them this right, what right is it of anyone whether your a writer or fan to complain about someone else’s contract that they have through their employer?

        It all seems wrong and petty to me.

        • John - Jun 19, 2016 at 12:31 PM

          Mandatory means its required unless injured or excused.

          Voluntary means you can show up if you want to but its not required.

          Jackson is free to do whatever he pleases on his own time, even if voluntary workouts are occurring. Perhaps the Jacksons took a family vacation and that was the time everyone was able to get together. Its really none of the medias business to pick at it like some wart. There are other stories that can be told or are the media so bereft of material to talk of?

        • renhoekk2 - Jun 19, 2016 at 11:27 PM

          I think you are all missing Rich’s point. It’s not the missing voluntary work that put the target on his back. It’s the fact that everyone else, many with similar circumstances, decided to to make the effort and show up. When one is not like the others…….it stands alone and stands out, Hence the target.

        • abanig - Jun 20, 2016 at 9:15 AM

          It’s still voluntary though, I understand the argument that he should be there but the players and the NFLPA bargain the OTAs to be voluntary therefore there’s no real right for anyone to complain about them missing them.

          Remember when Portis, Sean Taylor, Moss, Springs and others all skipped voluntary work outs a decade ago?

          Some talked about it and how they should be there with their teammates but no one made this big a deal about it.

          If you pay attention coaches and front office people don’t really come down on players for skipping voluntary OTAs why?

          Because they know they can’t because it’s a bargained for voluntary work out in the players union contract.

          Coaches will say we wish they were here and we want them here, but they can’t go much further than that.

      • mattphillipsdc - Jun 19, 2016 at 11:16 AM

        Rich, I agree with you 100%.

    • mattphillipsdc - Jun 19, 2016 at 9:18 AM

      GM’s are not going to gamble with a guy that is more concerned about his free time then developing timing with his qb, is getting old, is injury prone and is not a very smart person (only a fool leaves $500K on the table for very little work) or football player (e.g. Dallas game).

      • John - Jun 19, 2016 at 1:32 PM

        What a player does on his own time , even during voluntary workouts is his business. As long as he’s not doing something stupid or getting in trouble with the law who cares?

        These voluntary workouts are for rookies, free agents new to the team and folks switching positions. Its not as if Jacksons position is in any danger. In any case its not as if his not being there is keeping the QB and receivers from building timing. That will come during training camp and the preseason, when they become more exclusive towards the final 53 and game 1.

        • mattphillipsdc - Jun 25, 2016 at 10:27 AM

          You missed my point. It’s about his next contract and if don’t think GM’s don’t take those things into consideration you are mistaken. You DeSean sympathizers just don’t get it that demand sets the market and projecting future returns on your investments. Logically if you’re a GM and you’re interested in a player, but a $500k bonus can’t get him to come to 90% OTA’s, he’s on the wrong side of thirty and is injury prone will effect how much you’re willing to pay that player. Football players have a limited window to earn life changing money and you would think a person with a half a brain would try to maximize that potential by doing everything possible in that window of time.

      • Jimmy kubas - Jun 19, 2016 at 2:56 PM

        Nobody won’t be worried bout djax when he’s blowing the top off of defenses scoring on the long ball.haul to the redskns!!!!!

  4. bk70 - Jun 19, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    Thanks for great articles even during the offseason Rich. I agree with the pressure on your five listed.

    I am watching four players that I think are on the bubble for the 53 man roster in late August:
    Will Logan Paulsen make the squad even if we keep 4 TE on the roster?
    Will Terence Garvin make the squad of 5 ILB or be ousted by Martell Spaight and Steven Daniels?
    Will Greg Toler make the cut as CB or be bumped by Dashaun Phillips (who may help out as PR also)?
    Will Ziggy Hood impress enough during training camp to make the roster as DL?

    Watching another three players who may not be ready at the start of the season and end up on PUP:
    Derrick Carrier, Shawn Lauvao and Kyshoen Jarrett.

    • Mr.moneylover - Jun 19, 2016 at 2:24 PM

      I heard that jay gruden think that Shawn lauvao might not be ready at the beginning of training camp they think he still might need to rehab when he come back they hoping he make big process over the next five weeks but if he’s still not ready they feel comfortable with starting Arie Kouandjiou Spencer long or Takoby Coldfield… My guess is that they gonna give the snaps to Arie Kouandjiou at LG in training camp because they want Spencer long to take over at center if he have too

  5. kenlinkins - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    I also have guys like Hall, Blackmon, Toler and maybe even Bruton on my list of concerns. I would hope that the GM understands that 2016 is not the year for a Super Bowl run and over looking young talent that can play for many more years is not smart in the long run. Out of the pack of guys like Carrington, Cooper, Phillips Harris Everett, Jarrett and Matias-Smith a few guys should break out and only require a season to be ready play a lot. You can not have so many 28 plus year olds in you defensive back field and win the test of time.

    • bangkokben - Jun 19, 2016 at 10:08 AM

      Yeah. Let’s go 6-10 and play a bunch of inexperienced youth because we can’t win the Super Bowl.

      Utterly ridiculous.

      Carrington, Cooper, and Harris: CBs that are currently behind Norman, Breeland, Fuller, Dunbar, & Phillips BEFORE Toler. (Phillips is currently taking the first team reps as the slot corner.) Only Harris has a chance to make the 53 — barring injury. Carrington and Cooper’s best chance is making the practice squad. ONLY NORMAN is 28.

      Everett played 200 snaps on ST last year; 38 on D. He has potential to be a ST leader.
      Jarrett’s career is on hold due to the nerve damage.
      Matias-Smith is behind EVERYONE.

      The thing about young potential (if defined by the players you listed) — you can always find it!

      Since when has 28 become the new 31?!

      • kenlinkins - Jun 19, 2016 at 3:49 PM

        Well, D. Hall will be 33 before the half way point in this season and Blackmon is 31 so both are a long way from 28. IMO the Redskins have a ton of young talent on the roster at DB. Last year Blackmon was sitting at home waiting on a call when the season started and Hall has missed 19 games in two years which should tell you that both could be targets for young DB’s to push off the roster. I think that the odds are good that either Hall or Blackmon do not make the 53 man roster (unless the injury bug hits the young guys and they find themselves om I/R.) It will be very hard to keep Hall and Blackmon with maybe one year in the tank if some of these talented young guns show they could be the long term answer and if it takes going 6-10 in 2016 so the Redskins can go deep into the play-offs in 2017, 2018, 2019 2020 etc. then IMO it would be worth it. Besides, if the Redskins go 6-10 in 2016 no matter who is playing Safety if would mean more them just the Safety position had problems.

        • ET - Jun 19, 2016 at 6:11 PM

          It’s likely that both Blackmon and Hall DO make the roster despite their respective ages. They both have great experience, play well under pressure, and most importantly, have the smarts and flexibility to play anywhere in the backfield. Now, next year you may be right, and they’re both likely gone in two seasons. For right now, though, the vets are important (and underrated) piece of the puzzle. There’s a great crop of young hopefuls in place, too, and they’ll eventually displace Blackmon and Hall. But I doubt that happens before the second half of the ’16 season.

        • bangkokben - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:42 PM

          Ken we are far apart on this. The first and most important one is the level of talent we assign these young players — particularly safety. Hall and Blackmon are playing safety this year and provide the ability to cover one-on-one in a pinch. Jarrett played great last year but his career may be over. Everett still needs time to develop but starter isn’t even on the radar for this year or the next. That doesn’t matter he has a role on the team and that can increase as his knowledge of the game increases. Even Cravens lacks the speed to play a traditional safety but the team will have a role for him and one that can maximize his strengths. There’s no reason to jettison key contributors UNTIL there are replacements. We may not like the fact that there aren’t better options but exaggerating the potential of young players doesn’t compensate. That is EXACTLY what happened in 2013 when Thomas and Rambo were the starters throughout training camp and the defense reverted to the horrible levels it preformed in 2011. THIS IS one of the often overlooked factors to the utter failure of 2013.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    Our defense is supposed to require each safety to either play in the box or else help in coverage down the field on any play.

    I guess that can’t be the case this year?

    We have strong safeties David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho competing for one spot and converted CBs Deangelo Hall and Will Blackmon for the other.

    • Rich Tandler - Jun 19, 2016 at 9:06 AM

      We’ll see. They are saying that they need to be able to play either, depending on the formation. Hall did play some strong last year. I’m more concerned about Bruton or Duke playing free than I am about D-Hall or Blackmon playing strong.

    • John - Jun 19, 2016 at 12:55 PM

      They have a free and strong safety, however, according to D Hall, they switch off, if someone goes in motion.

  7. Mr.moneylover - Jun 19, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    I don’t think djax put a lot of pressure on his self by missing OTAs he always miss OTAs its no news or breaking news when he miss OTAs ….he had a big year his first and last year he get injured and now ppl tryna bash him for missing some OTA days…its only a big year for him because he’s in the last year of his contract and tryna get another big deal witch I think he will end up getting…his arms looked like they got bigger like he’s been really working hard in the weight room they not skinny like they was last year…i think its a big year for Chris Baker because now they feel like they got depth in the secondary next off-season they gonna really be focusing on fixing the D-line they going into the season witch question marks and the way jay gruden talk about Trent Murphy its seems like this training camp is big for him jay gruden said he gotta come back and show he making progress…ESPN reporter john keim said Trent Murphy did not standout to him during OTAs or mini camp so that’s not good jay gruden said yeah he gonna make some but we wanna see if he make progress they don’t think he’s making progress anytime a coach say that its not good

  8. wncskinsfan - Jun 19, 2016 at 2:52 PM

    Second year of a rebuild, a point of big transition for the team. One could argue that a lot is at stake for the entire squad, cetainly a large percentage of it. There is a lot of opportunity here to become a cog in the juggernaut that Scot M is looking to build. Very exciting as a fan!

    In terms of the little bit of controversy over DJax missing some time. I was, at first, concerned about this til I read about all the young guys getting valuable reps for it . . . they need them more, maybe a good thing. And when the man did show up, he vipped around, showed good skills, health and conditioning . . . it’s all good. No concern.

  9. gurnblanstonreturns - Jun 19, 2016 at 7:43 PM

    It would be great if the league and the union could negotiate an offseason schedule that does not include “voluntary” sessions. First, unless a player is a lock to make the team, the sessions are not really voluntary. Second, if a player is a lock like Jackson, then missing any voluntary sessions is blown up into an issue. Most likely, this arrangement serves the league’s interest in manufacturing drama to stay in the news during the offseason. Everyone, except the league’s media machine and reporters desperate for any NFL news during the long, barren summer, would benefit from eliminating the farce of “voluntary” workouts.

    • bangkokben - Jun 19, 2016 at 8:50 PM

      Or the fans could educate themselves of the context. They could then not respond to sports radio asking for their opinions and they could read the articles without making comments with so much vim and vinegar. Then maybe the cycle would be broken but it exists because the fans CARE. They care so much that they care what kind of “color rush” uniforms a team will wear. No, a little self government might help because the players have no vested interest in negotiating voluntary sessions out because they know exactly what it means. Archives

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