Wednesday, August 4, 2010

4 other reasons to be pumped for camp

Welcome back ladies, gentlemen and everyone else out there not named Haynesworth. This marks the official commencement of Blog on the Warpath's second year and that right there is undoubtedly the fifth best reason to be pumped for Redskins training camp...


Moving on.

Here's number four: Defensive position battles. Washington's new management decided to finally make the defensive transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and Shanahan has made it clear that open competition will dictate new starting positions.

In the secondary alone, both former starters Chris Horton and Reed Doughty are returning from injuries, Landry might move back to strong safety, third-year player Kareem Moore could start at free, and Jim Haslett will be looking for unproven draft picks Kevin Barnes and Justin Tryon and/or newly acquired Phillip Buchanon to push starters Hall and Rogers for playing time.

And the secondary was supposed to be the least revised unit from last year.

At linebacker, the Skins are currently 11-deep (Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter converted). Orakpo and Fletch are no-brainers but where will 2009 starters Rocky and Carter fit in? It's been rumored ex-DL/OL/TE/FB and special-teams Lorenzo Alexander will start opposite Orakpo meaning Carter could be demoted to spot-duty. Will rookie Perry Riley have any impact?

Defensive line seemingly all depends on the teammate formerly known as Albert. If Haynesworth-less does play will it be at the nose or an end? How will Maake Kemoeatu fare coming off a season-ending Achilles injury? That leaves ageless vets Vonnie Holliday and Phillip Daniels, youngsters Adam Carriker, Jeremy Jarmon and Kedric Golston, and a few others to fall in elsewhere. At least they'll have more than enough bodies this year for a change.

#3: The rebirth of the running game. Shanahan's ground games in Denver didn't always produce all-stars but they always produced- Clinton Portis just happened to be one of those stars. Joining him in 2010 will be two-time Pro Bowlers Larry Johnson and Willie Parker and possibly even Brian Westbrook. And don't forget the name Ryan Torain- he turns 24 next week and Shanahan has a history of adopting no-namers.

The offensive line has also been retooled and they couldn't have waited any longer. Fourth overall pick Trent Williams replaces former stonewall and future Hall of Famer Chris Samuels at LT. Dockery and Rabach return from 2009 at LG and C. Artis Hicks, Chad Rinehart and possibly Edwin Williams will compete for Mike Williams' spot at RG after blood clots surprisingly ended his season. Lastly, two-time Pro Bowler and former Saint Jammal Brown will likely be replacing Stephon Heyer at RT... (applause for Bruce Allen).

Did I mention Kyle Shanahan, architect of top-five offenses in each of the last two seasons, will be replacing Jim Zorn and friends as bingo... I mean play-caller?

#2: Number five.

McNabb is the most reliable dude to start at quarterback for Washington since Norv Turner started Brad Johnson in 1999, McNabb's rookie year. He has the confidence Campbell lacked, the charisma Brunell lacked, and without question more talent than any other QB to start for Washington in the 21st century.

The obvious and unchanging difference between Washington and Philadelphia in the past decade has been the disparity in talent at quarterback. As a result, excluding '05 when McNabb was injured, Washington is 6-14 against Philly since he was drafted out of Syracuse in 1999.

McNabb made it happen in Philly with specific weapons. He favored speedy WRs (we got those: Moss, Devin Thomas, Mike Furrey and Terrance Austin), athletic TEs (definitely got those: Cooley and Davis), sure-handed veterans (got those too: Joey Galloway and Bobby Wade) and RBs out of the backfield (you guessed it: Willie Parker, Torain, and possibly even Brian Westbrook).

With the Shanahans implementing a run-heavy derivation of Andy Reid's west coast offense in DC, look for McNabb's rebirth in Washington to go wayyy smoother than LeBron's in South Beach.

#1: Someone has finally dethroned Daniel Snyder.

"Too often the currency at Redskins Park has rewarded talent instead of commitment. Shanahan is changing the currency, restoring the value of daily dedication."

After analyzing every move Shanahan's made so far this offseason, this observer can't deny he's made each decision based on something the Redskins organization has devalued every year since the first Joe Gibbs go-around: professionalism.

Immediately after taking over, Shanahan "encouraged" every player to participate in offseason activities whether they were mandatory or not. The players that attended were rewarded with more reasonable two-a-days in training camp as opposed to full pads, full speed practices. Justifiably so, the player that skipped is in the midst of losing all credibility and camaraderie with his teammates, opponents and fans.

Then, Shanahan realized he had a familiar prima donna at RB so instead of bickering with him to get his best as he did in Denver, he brought in two former Pro Bowlers to make him earn his starting spot.

Most importantly, the casual aura left over from the Zorn era, and even the Gibbs and Spurrier eras before that has finally been restored with (excuse the cliche) a sense of urgency- just ask Jason Campbell, Fred Smoot or Colt Brennan.

Zorn's "stay medium" is out. It's official. Shanahan's "show up, shut up, keep up," or walk around the sidelines in a baseball cap is now in.

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