Reporting David Elfin
The Washington Redskins open training camp Thursday with so many unanswered questions.
Will such free agent starters as longtime No. 1 receiver Santana Moss, No. 2 cornerback Carlos Rogers, inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh and right tackle Jammal Brown return? If not, Washington doesn’t have a proven player with experience – other than right tackle Artis Hicks — ready to step in at any of those spots
That leads many observers to see the Redskins making a big push to lure such free agents as Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes to Washington thanks to owner Dan Snyder’s always-flowing millions.
So, for argument’s sake, say that the Redskins land Asomugha, Holmes and Denver Broncos right tackle Ryan Harris (to replace Brown) while letting Lorenzo Alexander, a starter at outside linebacker last year, duel with Perry Riley for McIntosh’s old job.
While Asomugha is a star, the others aren’t the kind of players who are the kind of upgrades that will turn a team that was 6-10 last year and 12-30 since midseason 2008 into a serious playoff contender.
Washington still enters camp with: one of the NFL’s worst quarterback choices (the unproven John Beck or sure-to-return free agent Rex Grossman); no reputable player at what coordinator Jim Haslett calls the most important position on his defense, nose tackle; a shaky interior offensive line of guards Kory Lichtensteiger, Casey Rabach and Will Montgomery; a running back corps that hasn’t even combined for a whole season of NFL starts; little experience among the reserve receivers; and the league’s worst kicking game of 2010.
That’s a whole slew of problems that won’t be fixed in the six-plus weeks before the season starts on Sept. 11 against the New York Giants, one of Washington’s three NFC East rivals with many fewer problems. And I haven’t even mentioned the albatrosses wearing Nos. 5 (Donovan McNabb) and 92 (Albert Haynesworth).
On top of all these concerns, the Redskins don’t have a locker room that has won together. If Moss and Rogers depart, only Rabach, fullback Mike Sellers, tight end Chris Cooley and reserve defensive end Phillip Daniels will know what it’s like to celebrate a Washington playoff victory. And of the players under contract now, only Alexander, inside linebacker London Fletcher and safety LaRon Landry can be added to the list of those who have made the playoffs as Redskins.
That’s a far cry from those Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys who have experienced postseason success with those teams.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.