RICHMOND — The Redskins have now been in Richmond for over a week and the first preseason game is just six days away in Atlanta.
Washington made it to Friday afternoon’s practice with just one major injury (Junior Galette), which is good. That luck might not last, though. Meanwhile, there have also been some pleasant surprises so far at training camp.
Lack of drama
Okay, knock on wood for this one. This can change at any time given it’s the Redskins. But, for now, camp has been stable. No controversies, really, other than just old-fashioned football talk. And even there the quarterback drama is gone along with Robert Griffin III. Kirk Cousins is the starter. Period. And he’s had a solid camp overall. But the days of players making statements that coaches later have to clarify on the same day? Those are in the past. When your star cornerback getting beat a few times by top wide receivers is the biggest “story” of camp you know people are reaching.
It might be a stretch to label this a “surprise” but Breeland has been excellent so far with seven interceptions over the first seven practices. The Redskins expect him to be a productive starter. But if he makes a leap into stardom? Then Washington really has something at corner with Josh Norman signed to play outside, too. Breeland is still just 24 and came out of college a year earlier than scouts would have liked. There were some maturing issues early on. But he’s put in the work to get better. Hard to say exactly how a good camp will translate when the season starts for real, but Breeland is off to a nice start. He’s been physical and active and that’s a promising sign of things to come.
As good as the 2015 draft class was, we didn’t get to see Spaight for long. He made the 53-man roster last year as a fifth-round pick, but the Redskins didn’t have time to see if symptoms from a Week 1 concussion would subside and Spaight went on IR and missed the season. He’s not in contention to be a starter at inside linebacker yet. Will Compton is going to be the Mike linebacker and Perry Riley and Mason Foster are fighting for the other spot. But Spaight has fared well this camp against reserves. That’s a positive sign after a year of development was lost. There is a lot of youth at inside linebacker and Washington might need one of those players to develop quickly. Spaight is your best bet of the group. He drew praise on Thursday from coach Jay Gruden and broke up a pass at the goal line.
Obviously, this can change at any time, too – as Washington found out last year when one player after another went down with season-ending injuries during the preseason. And Galette’s injury cast an initial pall on camp even before it started. But since then there’s been only a few minor injuries, including a sore knee for left tackle Trent Williams and running back Matt Jones. Those remain ones to watch. The one caveat: First-round draft pick Josh Doctson hasn’t participated since OTAs in May with a sore left Achilles. His status is uncertain. But that’s also by far the team’s deepest position. So far, so good here save the Galette injury.
The D.C. native has starting experience with Indianapolis, but it looked like the numbers were stacked against him with Norman, Breeland, Quinton Dunbar and third-round draft pick Kendall Fuller forming a strong quartet. And Dashaun Phillips has received much of the time at nickel cornerback. But Toler has been excellent so far, physical and active. That experience at age 31 could prove valuable if injuries strike. The Redskins might have to either part ways with a younger player or juke the numbers so they can keep an extra corner. Toler is playing that well right now. It’s a good problem to have.
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