Five ‘Kids’ to Watch in the Redskins Preseason Opener
Jarvis Jenkins: Perhaps the talk of Redskins training camp, Jenkins has dominated a plethora of Washington’s offensive lineman in one-on-drills, which – it should be noted – are designed in a way to benefit defenders. But he looks strong and quick enough to have been worthy of the 41st overall pick, which is where the Redskins drafted him in April amid speculation that they may have reached just a little bit. Will Jenkins carry his excellent play in practices over to the game? Will he look more pedestrian when going up against another offensive line? His cameo in tonight’s game will begin to answer those questions.
Terrence Austin: Still just 22 years-old and coming off a rookie year that saw him play in five of the Redskins’ final six games, Austin has a solid chance to crack the Redskins’ roster at receiver. The UCLA product has had a strong training camp and possesses the special teams versatility that could benefit his chances to squeak onto Washington’s roster. With four receivers ahead of him considered locks (Moss, Gaffney, Armstrong and Hankerson), Austin is likely battling with a half-dozen guys for the final two spots on the Redskins’ receiving chart. Making the most of his chances on special teams would really benefit his cause. Remember, Austin caught 10 passes for 146 yards and scored a touchdown in the preseason in 2010.
Roy Helu: Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan says Helu is a home run threat who will provide Washington’s offense with a big play capability the running game has been lacking. Helu, fourth on Nebraska’s all-time rushing list and the author of a 300-yard game in college, was drafted in the fourth round because he can complement Ryan Torain’s power-rushing style with speed. He’s a one-cut back who is expected to thrive in the Redskins’ zone-blocking scheme. Try to monitor his comfort at finding developing holes while stretching plays laterally in the Redskins’ backfield.
Niles Paul: Helu’s college teammate at Nebraska, the rookie wide receiver is in a battle for one of Washington’s final wide receiver spots. A training camp standout who has the type of size the Redskins have been looking for in a young receiver (6-foot-2 and 225-pounds), Paul returned both kicks and punts in college. If he can prove that he could be a difference maker on special teams in the NFL, he could make Washington’s roster in a role comparable to the one Brandon Banks handled last season. (Banks may have something to say about that). Paul hasn’t put the ball on the ground at all in training camp and he possesses a nice blend of size and speed.
Maurice Hurt: The 217th player chosen in April’s draft, Hurt is a 7th-round pick who will be trying to earn one of the last available offensive line spots on the Redskins’ 53-man roster. He’ll start the preseason on the outside looking in, but a strong showing at guard, and at tackle if he gets any game-reps where he spent much of the early part of training camp, could dramatically improve his chances. He’s versatile enough to have played on both the inside and outside of the University of Florida’s offensive line. But the SEC is not the NFC East. Can he crack Washington’s roster? His performance over the next few weeks will determine that.