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Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot to prove as training camp approaches

Jul 26, 2016, 5:09 AM EDT

DeAngelo-Hall-tackle

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 26, two days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. It will be 48 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 16; Final roster cut 39; Cowboys @ Redskins 54

Five Redskins with a lot to prove in 2016

QB Kirk Cousins—If you need any explanation here you haven’t been paying much attention this summer. He’s on a one-year contract that he could turn into a very lucrative long-term deal. Or he could end up being a journeyman.

RB Matt Jones—With four lost fumbles and a league low of 3.4 yards per carry last year, Jones didn’t really do much to justify getting handed the starting job. But that is what is happening so it’s up to him to keep it and perform up to his abilities. Either he establishes himself as a solid starter or the Redskins will begin the search for alternatives.

C Kory Lichtensteiger—It is likely that Lichtensteiger heard the talk that the Redskins would have drafted Alabama center Ryan Kelly if he had been available in the first round. Combine that with the fact that he missed 11 games with a neck and shoulder injury last year and you have a player who has to prove that he still belongs. He’s probably safe for this year but if he wants to continue his career beyond 2016 he needs to stay healthy and perform this season.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—After signing a big contract extension just as training camp started Kerrigan struggled with an ailing knee and, later in the season, a broken hand. With Junior Galette now out for the season he will be under the gun to come up big to make sure that the Redskins keep the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

S DeAngelo Hall—Hall is undergoing a position switch and he has a lot to learn. At age 32 he has two years left on his contract and with cap hits of $5 million per season his learning curve is expected to be short. This season will go a long way towards determining whether or not Hall can extend his career for a few more seasons or if this season will be the end of the line.

Note: When I wrote the first draft for this post yesterday afternoon I included OLB Junior Galette, who was on a one-year contract and out to prove that he had returned to his 2013-2014 form. Now he has to rehab a torn Achilles for the second offseason in a row.

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  1. redskins12thman - Jul 26, 2016 at 5:37 AM

    Your players have as much to prove during the season as they do during training camp; for different reasons, you could consider the following six with a lot to prove too:

    Paea – should have already established himself as a clear cut starter on the defensive line; I’m extremely disappointed if this is not the case by the end of camp

    Riley Jr. – needs to establish himself as a key linebacker option even if he can’t beat out Foster for a starting job; otherwise, he may not make the 53 player roster cut

    Lauvao – needs to demonstrate that he has recovered from injury and can contribute at left guard this season, ideally as the starter

    Ihenacho – played less than 15 defensive snaps in two seasons due to inability to remain healthy; due to the addition of Bruton, Ihenacho may not start but will he be healthy enough to contribute to the Redskins in any shape or fashion?

    Jackson—in a “contract year,” he needs to show he can stay healthy and play well

    Breeland—the man has set his own lofty goal to be the next Darrell Green which is awesome; playing opposite Norman, he’ll get his chance to demonstrate his worth; it would be great if he has a better season than Amerson does for the Raiders; I like Breeland’s attitude and upside!

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 2:35 AM

      I think Riley and Ihenacho are done no matter what they do. They’re probably not getting cut this year, unless some of the young guys REALLY step up. But there’s no way they’re in the long term plans.

      Ihenacho is WAY too big of an injury risk. I’m usually the guy who says people throw around “injury prone” way too often. But he is. And, even if he stays healthy this year. Would any of you feel comfortable signing him and hoping he doesn’t get hurt again? He really wasn’t even that good to start with. A complete liability in coverage.

      Riley is too expensive and underperforms. But he’s at least competent vs the run and that’s a weak spot for us. It’s sad that he’s probably one of the better Will linebackers on the team, but he is. So we’re probably stuck with him this year but should be able to move on my next year. Which will clear some cap room too.

      It could really give this team a spark if any of the young safties or ILBs step up and play well.

  2. redskins12thman - Jul 26, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    Is tomorrow the day Redskins players “weigh in” and attempt to pass physicals and conditioning drills? Will that information be made available publicly?

  3. colorofmyskinz - Jul 26, 2016 at 6:07 AM

    The Jounior Gallette news is truly horrific for us. It would have been different had we not placed 35-40 lbs. on to the body frame of Murphy. Everyone is try to fart rainbows on the fact that we did not have him last year either. But what no one is pointing out is that last year we had Murphy and Smith sharing the other side to Kerrigan. Now we only have 2 OLBs capable of starting where last year we had 3 when this happened. There is no way we can place Murphy out there at 295 now. So we are in a worse position than last year in a big way.

    There is no way we can enter the season without adding an edge rusher now. No possible way. At least we had Kerrigan, Murphy, and Preston for rotation to keep our edge more fresh. Not the case this year now.

    We are in desperate situation now. My guess is we lose a draft pick and some $$$ trying to find an edge rusher for the 3rd rotation.

    Major problem now. Bummer.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 26, 2016 at 2:07 PM

      I completely agree man. But, you know, losing money or a draft pick won’t be so bad if we actually find a decent edge rusher to play opposite Kerrigan. Seriously. Those are the guys it’s OK to give up assets for.

  4. redskins12thman - Jul 26, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    Perhaps Jefferson, Trail or Bates can step up or Scot continues to work his magic and find good fits after training camp cuts and even vets available as the season progresses?

    • colorofmyskinz - Jul 26, 2016 at 6:52 AM

      Really need a rabbit out of Scots hat…

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 2:43 AM

      I’m sure Scot will grab another OLB for us. Probably sooner than later. And then he will continue to look at who gets cut after the pre season. Because there’s a sim chance we find anyone near Gallette’s level this time of the year. Edge rushers are maybe the second most valuable position in football, next to QBs. So this is like Green Bay fans hoping they could find a decent replacement for Aaron Rogers if he got hurt tomorrow. Anyone with even a sliver of potential is on a team and probably overpaid.

      The sobering truth is that we’re probably going to have to do without. Our best 3 options are 1) a veteran like Dwight Freeny (or someone else obvious I’m not thinking of). But he would be a very limited and situational guy. More for depth and leadership. He played well in AZ last year but with a much better defense. 2) the OLBs already on our team: guys like Bates and Jefferson have already been learning the system and know the team. This is where my money is. Or 3) Trent Murphy starts to rapidly lose weight and moves back.

      I give 1 and 3 a very slim chance. And if #2 happens then probably the best we can hope for us a guy who doesn’t blow his assignment. And we’re completely screwed if Smith or Kerrigan go down. Pray that our interior pass rush improves; a lot.

  5. sidepull - Jul 26, 2016 at 7:03 AM

    Wow Gallette gone already. I read that we only have a couple days until training camp opens up and thought ” I hope they get through it without any major injuries”. Continued to read and saw that Gallette out for the season and thought “typo”, that was last season. When it dawned on me, hes talking about this year……What they hey, camp has even started. Well there is an opening for an OLB already and its starting to look like Jr. is going to be in for a frustrating season as the Redskins look to reload. Not a great way to start things off. Romo, Manning and whoever in Phillly are happier this morning.

    • Mr.moneylover - Jul 26, 2016 at 12:01 PM

      He has a thing were he works to hard to come back and when you work to hard sometimes you injure your body…the good news is it was the other leg not the same leg if it was the same leg he injured last year it could be career ending but he will bounce back he need somebody watching him 24/7 next year to make sure he not over working…junior G. Work so hard jay gruden said he was gonna watch junior G. Closely to make sure he get to week 1 unfortunately didn’t make it to the first day of training camp

      • ET - Jul 26, 2016 at 12:52 PM

        Not sure I agree with you—popping two Achilles tendons is pretty severe regardless of the side they’re on. It’s a big bummer, at any rate. I think we all hope he can come back next season, but Galette’s window of opportunity is now pretty small. (I’m glad the guy got a huge payout from the Saints, at least. I hope he’s been investing wisely.)

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 2:47 AM

          I would imagine Galette is basically done. At least in Washington. Why waste the roster spot or cap space at this point? Draft the replacement (or two) next year.

          Someone may give him another shot after he gets back to full health. But he relied on that speed. He’s not as powerful in his upper body as some of the other guys who returned from this injury. It’s sad but he’s probably done.

          Jarrett is the guy I genuinely feel awful for. He played his ass off and it never paid off. I hope the team does something for him.

  6. cpst123 - Jul 26, 2016 at 7:16 AM

    Preston Simth now has a lot to prove. I think he is plenty capable but he longer has the luxury of watching and learning.

    It’s a shame that Jr came in here, got a Redskins tat and a bunch on injuries. Hopefully the team can find him a position coaching slot. The lump above his shoulders seems fine, it’s the rest of his body that is failing him.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 2:53 AM

      You’re right about Smith. I understand the excitement around him. He had a great rookie season. But he was only great for a rookie. He still has a long way to go. I believe in him and think he can do it, but he needs to show us sooner than later. And most of that is going to come from his preparation. Which includes being a little more disciplined on the field. Because he also doesn’t have the luxury of being a surprise anymore. Teams will study him and know his tendencies. He better study just as hard and know how to best those tackles or else it’s going to be a long year.

      As far as Galette, I’ll pass on the coaching. I’m not one to believe a former play can just come over and coach anyway. But Junior is a pretty immature guy. And after everything that happened with the Saints, if he’s not playing, I don’t want him around my team. Maybe his ego will shrink after he’s away from the game a couple years. But, for right now, nobody needs an unproven-first-year-coach with a reputation for causing trouble in the locker room.

  7. rlundy1123 - Jul 26, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    What are the options for Galette at this point? Are they able to cut/waive him so there is at least roster space for another guy? Would they be inclined to keep him on the team for the year in case they would want him next year (I can’t imagine that scenario, but it’s a possibility)?

    • sidepull - Jul 26, 2016 at 7:55 AM

      Doesnt he become a FA next March? Heck why wouldn’t they try to sign him to the same deal again next year?
      If not the Redskins, somebody will roll the dice on him. Didnt D Hall have two torn ACL’s? He running around just fine now. I dunno its next man up. Just say no to any urge to sign that knuclkehead Hardy please.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jul 26, 2016 at 8:39 AM

        Hall had 2 Achilles ruptures on the same leg. Gallette now has one on each. Different.

      • bangkokben - Jul 26, 2016 at 6:50 PM

        I’m with you. The reasons they decide not to roll the dice on him are: a) he does something stupid between now and then, b) the Redskins find a comparable replacement this season, and c) the Redskins wind up with a high draft pick that ensures that have a chance on a premium edge rusher.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 2:56 AM

          Would he figure into the conditional picks category if we held on to him then let him walk? That could influence the decesion.

          I wouldn’t think they could cut him until he passes a physical. But I’m not sure. I know there’s a way to cut injured players in the offseason but I’m not sure about this time of the year.

          One way or the other, I think the Junior Galette experiment is over in DC. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. Which sucks. Nobody was more excited about him than me.

        • bangkokben - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:35 AM

          Hey Trey, away for awhile so I’m catching up on the blog. Concerning Galette and getting a conditional pick, not likely. He unfortunately isn’t going to get too many lucrative offers — if any — coming off the back-to-back injuries. At best he gets the same incentive laden offer by the ‘skins or another team which cost the cap $1.1 million. That’s worth the risk for a potential pro-bowler on the edge. So if the Redskins let him sign elsewhere for that money, in order to get a conditional 6th/7th round draft pick in 2018, they would have to not sign another free agent with a contract of equal value — average per year.

  8. troylok - Jul 26, 2016 at 8:14 AM

    I know you had to only pick five for your list but there are a lot of players that have something to prove.

    -How about Trent Murphy? He’s making a major shift from OLB to DE, he put on a lot of weight to bulk up, and now he has to prove that his abilities are more suitable for a position he hasn’t played in a few years.

    -How about Houston Bates? A huge opportunity just presented itself for Bates with Galette going down. The most common reason I have heard for keeping Bates was special teams contribution but last preseason he flashed as a pass rusher. Let’s see if he can build on that in the preseason and solidify a position in the OLB rotation.

    -How about Lavauo? Dude has tremendous pressure on getting all of the way back from injury and showing he is worth the contract he’s under.

    -How about Ihenacho? He’s in the same boat as Lavauo.

    • ET - Jul 26, 2016 at 1:04 PM

      All great choices.

      It’ll be interesting to see if Bates or Jefferson can step up and earn some OLB snaps. This may also be a golden opportunity for Cravens to get OLB snaps on a situational basis—Barry’s pass rush schemes could get very interesting out of necessity. At this point, I prefer to remain positive.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 26, 2016 at 4:22 PM

      Trent Murphy has never played DE just FYI. He played OLB in college.

      But I agree he (everyone else you listed, and then some) have a lot to prove.

      Bates did show some ability in the pre season but that’s preseason. It’s not the same. I’m as hopeful as anyone that he can get going. My money is on Jefferson though. What we need in the replacement, most of all, is a disciplined player who doesn’t blow his assignments. I have to think Jefferson’s experience would help him there.

      We also better hope the interior pass rush improves. That’s probably our best bet.

  9. kenlinkins - Jul 26, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    Rich, With the talent / depth at both CB and WR, could the Redskins trade for a OLB edge pass rusher? I just do not see any team willing to trade away a top of the line edge rusher so the Redskins would be looking for a 2nd level / back up / Depth type player. Most teams will not even consider trading a young pass rusher who has only just flashed so that leaves Vets who have priced themselves out of the market, troubled players, guys working their way back from injury, or guys who are just like the depth now on the Redskins roster. Looks like the Redskins GM has just added “Edge rusher” to his “to Do” list for the 2017 draft, (but that might have been the plan all along). Could Perry Riley be tried at edge rusher in training camp?

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 3:06 AM

      I say no to Riley. I don’t think he has the right kind of speed to rush around the edge. He’s honestly a little small for that anyway. Which would be fine, if he was more gifted elsewhere. But he really doesn’t have experience setting the edge, lining up across from linemen, or edge rushing. We would probably be better off with Bates or Jefferson since it’s what they’ve actually been doing.

      Speaking of too small: Su’a Cravens. He’s a wild card to get the job. I’ve seen people bring up his name. I don’t see it, but it’s a possibility. He’s quicker than most of our linebackers. But smaller and less experienced. I think I would rather teach him the role they envisioned him in and play the OLBs in the depth chart. We’re not going to have an elite pass rush this year. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t blow up progress elsewhere to try. We’ll get through this and reload next year.

  10. skinsdiehard - Jul 26, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    Lichtensteiger MUST be replaced. PLEASE.

    • Skulb - Jul 26, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      Better him than LeRib I suppose. At least Kory gets the snaps off in the right direction.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 26, 2016 at 1:33 PM

        Yep. For this year, at least, we need to hope Lichty stays healthy.
        ~

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 3:09 AM

      You must be a regular reader at Hogs Haven. I can’t even read those guys anymore because if the non-stop rhetoric about centers. They’re really overstating our issues at center. Cory is not that bad. We’re absolutely screwed if he gets hurt. But we’ll be fine if he can get back to form. He’s not great, but he’s average and reliable. There’s absolutely no reason to freak out about how he must be replaced.

  11. Mr.moneylover - Jul 26, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    I’m sorry but I just got to say this …its soooo funny ppl crying over a guy who didn’t play a game last year…the defense played really well when Preston Smith got what he was suppose to do on the field and that’s when players couldn’t double team Ryan Kerrigan… Knowing Redskins GM Scot its a Big lost but he’s not gonna over react to what happend to junior Gaullete what he’s gonna do is see Willie Jefferson and Houston Bates in Training Camp watch closely if they don’t look ready then Scot M. Gonna see if its the best option to make a trade or bring in a free agent …personality I would like for us to groom our young players because then other teams not gonna know what that new player is capable theres no game tape of him…Believe it or not Preston smith could’ve had way more sacks if he took the game more serious this year Preston smith eager to show he came back better and the best part about it the guy came back in better shape.. last year i heard it was conditioning problem he had witch made him not get much playing time early in the season…. Now with junior G. Out the cool whip is his now to drive hopefully he cash in again…because he got rewarded after the season he had last year…Don’t panic ppl redskins still have a squad a damn good squad its up to the coaching staff to make things work

    • redskins12thman - Jul 26, 2016 at 12:19 PM

      I didn’t think the Redskins’ defense played that well last season especially compared to the other playoff teams; out of the 32 teams, the Redskins’ defense was among the worst in yards conceded against the run, the pass and (obviously) in aggregate. It was in the middle of the pact in terms of points conceded. So it was necessary for the defense to vastly improve its performance compared to last season. Hatcher retired and Pot Roast went to the Pats; we haven’t really found their replacements yet although Golston and RJF, who were on the team last season but didn’t start, might have the upper hand.

      On the plus side from the offseason, was the addition of Josh Norman, Su’a Cravens and (we thought at least) Junior Galette. In addition to them, Paea and Murphy need to step up, and new additions Bruton, Hood and Reyes need to make major contributions. I’m not saying this won’t happen, but Galette was going to be one of the three major additions to the defense this season and help with pressuring the QB. Baker, Kerrigan, Smith, Compton, Foster, Hall and Breeland are expected to contribute but we need more than just them to take the defense to the next level. As much as I want and hope Jefferson and Bates and even Trail to contribute, I would be amazed if they will contribute as much as a healthy Galette would have. If not, hopefully Scot continues to work his magic!

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 3:15 AM

      It’s astonishing that you think the Redskins 2015 defense played well. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

      We’re upset about Galette for the same reason we would be upset if Norman got hurt. Potential. They didn’t have to play for us last year for us to know what they offer. If 17.5 sacks is good (Smith + Kerrigan) then 27-28.5 are better (what Gallette can add). And you’re insane if you think Bates or Jefferson could play as well or better than Galette because there’s no tape on them. There’s no tape because they don’t play. They don’t play because they’re not good.

  12. RussianBreadMaker - Jul 26, 2016 at 1:04 PM

    “With four lost fumbles and a league low of 3.4 yards per carry last year, Jones didn’t really do much to justify getting handed the starting job.” – I have a hard time disagreeing with this, but you failed to spotlight his presence in the passing game.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 27, 2016 at 3:16 AM

      His primary job is running the ball. We have plenty of guys go catch it. Including Chris Thompsom. And fumbles happen in the passing game too.

  13. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 26, 2016 at 9:03 PM

    So the Cowboys lost Randy Gregory, I guess that makes us even in “pass rush suffered even before training camp.”
    ~

  14. colorofmyskinz - Jul 26, 2016 at 9:14 PM

    A torn Achilles for a 190 lb. man is much different than for a 260 lb. man with major explosiveness. One on each leg for a guy like that is not good period. The lighter the person the better. It is pure physics, speed, and leverage. Not good for Gallette at all. Totally different story for a guy like D Hall. Wishing Gallette the best.

  15. colorofmyskinz - Jul 26, 2016 at 9:15 PM

    Keep in mind when we lost him last year we had 3 potential starting OLBs after he dropped

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