WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Evan Silva, senior NFL editor for RotoWorld.com and writer for NBC Sports and ProFootballTalk.com, joined Holden and Danny Friday to voice who he thinks will be the Redskins breakout players this upcoming season.
Silva has been breaking down film of the 2011 season, and with the Redskins training camp less than three weeks away on July 26th, Holden started the interview asking about Silva’s thoughts on wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and running back Roy Helu.
Silva said with Hankerson only starting twice last season and “playing extensively in only two games”, he noticed how comfortable Hankerson was going over the middle.
“Some receivers have a little bit of tentativeness when they go across the middle, but it was like his home away from home,” Silva said on Hankerson’s nine receptions over the middle.
Hankerson is a big target at 6’2” and 209 lbs, and Silva said Hankerson plays a little bigger than that with his long arms and huge hands.
“I would tap the breaks a little bit on maybe calling him a break out player because I don’t know if he’s going to be a starter this year,” Silva said. “I think that he might have a little bit of trouble beating out Santana Moss, especially if Moss is in the condition that he should be in, but I think that he has a very, very bright future.”
Danny asked with the Redskins packed receiving core – including Josh Morgan, Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and now Hankserson – are the other starter positions set.
“No, it’s going to be a training camp battle,” Silva said.
He also said if he were to guess who the main three wide receiver set would be he would say Garcon and Moss and the third receiver job is open between Hankerson and Morgan, but Hankerson has more big play ability.
Both Hankerson and Morgan are coming off injuries that cut their seasons short last year. Hankerson suffered a hip injury during Week 10 and recently underwent hip surgery while Morgan is still recovering from a broken leg he suffered last October with the San Francisco 49ers.
Holden asked what Silva saw on film with Garcon and how that would translate to playing with quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“[Garcon] can do a little bit of everything, he can go deep, he is excellent after the catch,” Silva said. “Pierre garcon is a young player who struggled with inconsistency early in his career … He was kind of forced into a bigger role after Marvin Harrison kind of physically broke down … and he made a lot of mistakes and I think that he has turned the corner a little bit and I think that his best football is in front of him because he’s so talented and he’s still very young.”
Garcon had 188 catches for 16 touchdowns and a 13.4-yard average in four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.
Moving to the running back position, Danny asked if there is a “20-carry, 20-touch-per-game guy in the back field.”
“I don’t know, and I don’t even know if the redskins know that yet. Evan Royster was productive when he played late in the season; they seem to be a little infatuated with Tim Hightower, I don’t see it myself. I think he’s a very ordinary running back. I think they like him in pass protection, he has a history of fumbling, he’s never had big play ability and now he’s coming off a torn ACL. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that he would be playing a big role as a ball carrier,” Silva said.
However, he said running backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster are the two to watch in terms of handling the football as Helu “shows power to move the pile” with his excellent acceleration and Royster is a “hard-charging, upright runner” that can get yards after contact.
Helu had 151 carries with 640 yards rushing, a 4.2-yard average and two touchdowns last season.
Royster had 56 carries with 328 yards rushing, a 5.9-yard average zero touchdowns.