Mailbag: Rookie standouts, running back challenges and Tanard Jackson


Will Roy Helu be looking over his shoulder this offseason?

The Redskins on Sunday wrapped up their rookie minicamp, and now offseason workouts resume for the veterans, while the rookies scatter back to their respective homes. They can return for the start of organized team activities.

This week’s mailbag topics include the rookie minicamp, position battles, undrafted free agents and more.

Here we go!

Any word on which tryout players stood out at the rookie minicamp?  Do you expect that we will sign any of them?

 – Rich Wickman

Mike Shanahan indicated that no signings were imminent. He said the Redskins have good depth right now, and because the roster currently stands at the offseason limit of 90 players, they would have to cut someone to add one of those tryout players. Shanahan was asked what he said to those 48 tryout players at the completion of the minicamp. He said, “I tell them that I can’t tell them for sure. Sometimes a guy will get hurt. Sometimes we’ll lose a player. I just tell them to stay in shape. I tell them to believe in themselves. If they believe in themselves, the opportunity will come sometime, if not from us, from another team. There’s a number of teams next week working a lot of these guys out, so they’ll have some opportunities to go other places and show people what they can do. But there’s a number of players out here today that could be in the National Football League that we won’t be able to sign. I just told them to believe in their dreams and just don’t let people tell you you can’t do something if you believe in yourself.”

Do you think that Roy Helu Jr. or Evan Royster are more threatened by the new running back picks?  Thompson looks like a serious threat to be a third-down back, but he is coming off of two season-ending injuries.  And Jamison looks like more of an early-down back, with good quickness and strength but not elite speed.

 – Kyle Lyons-Burke

I think Thompson (the fifth-round pick out of Florida State) is more of a threat to Helu. The Redskins could’ve used Helu’s speed and pass-catching abilities last season, but he spent the majority of the year on injured reserve. He has yet to prove that he can stay healthy. Thompson possesses great speed, elusiveness and receiving skills, and also did well in pass protection at Florida State. He too is coming off injury (torn anterior cruciate ligament last season), but Mike Shanahan said doctors are confident Thompson will be fully recovered by the start of training camp. The Redskins feel like they got a steal in Thompson. Shanahan believes he would have been a first- or second-round pick had it not been for his injury.

Royster is a different kind of back. Rather than speed, he uses his vision and picks up chunk of yardage. He can move the chains, but isn’t a home-run threat. He struggles with consistency in pass protection. Jamison (5-7, 203) possibly could compete with him for a roster spot, but Royster has more size (6-1, 216) and more experience.

Long-time Redskins fan (since 1970). … Last year at the beginning of the season you guys wrote a story about rookie team and league record stats, listing the current holders of the various categories. I printed the list off to try to follow how our new quarterback might fare. I tried to capture Robert stats, but I couldn’t find them all in the media print. And I haven’t seen any follow-up to that story. I still have the printed list with the information I found. … From my view, Robert set all for the Redskins team records and a bunch of the league ones. What’s the official story?

 – John MacFarlane

Okay, here’s the rundown of all of the league and franchise records that Griffin set last season:

NFL rookie passer rating: 102.4

NFL record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted by a rookie: 1.27

NFL record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback: 815

Redskins franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback: 815

Redskins record for yards per carry by a rookie: 6.79

Redskins record for pass attempts by a rookie: 393

Redskins record for passes completed by a rookie: 258

Redskins record for rookie passing yards: 3,200

Redskins record for rookie passing touchdowns: 20

Redskins record for completion percentage by a rookie: 65.6

Redskins record for yards per completion by a rookie: 8.14

Rushing record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback: 7

Redskins record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback: 138

Is safety Tanard Jackson allowed to practice with the team during training camp, or does he have to wait until after Aug. 31? If he cannot participate in training camp, what is your estimate as to how long it will take him to get into football shape and be a legitimate factor in the secondary, if he is reinstated (especially considering he missed all of last season due to his suspension)? Also, what are you hearing from people with knowledge of the situation on how contrite Jackson appears to be for his past indiscretions, and how determined he appears to be not to get entangled in substance abuse issues if reinstated? 

- Richard

Stephens City, Va.

Since Jackson was suspended indefinitely, he isn’t allowed to have contact with the Redskins or be at Redskins Park for workouts or practices. (This is different than a player like Rob Jackson, who has to miss the first four games of this coming season. He’s allowed to be there for offseason workouts and practices.) So, if Tanard Jackson is reinstated, the Redskins won’t get a look at him until around Aug. 31. It’s hard to say what kind of shape he will be in. And attempts to interview him have been unsuccessful, so it’s hard to say how contrite he is. He seemed like he had learned his lesson when talking to him at training camp last year, which was reportedly months after his last failed drug test. (He had failed it early in the offseason, but the appeals process wasn’t complete until Aug. 31, when his suspension was announced). If he’s smart, he will have been training and preparing for a comeback while remaining on the straight and narrow.

Which of the undrafted free agents can you see making the 53-man roster?

 – Anthony Lawrence

It’s really hard to say right now because it’s still extremely early. The players still were very much in the learning process during Sunday’s practice, the only glimpse that the media was allowed. They will continue to familiarize themselves with the system, and a week or two into training camp is when we outsiders should start getting an idea of which of them are players, and which are merely offseason bodies. There are a number of guys that have a chance to make a name for themselves. On Sunday, wide receiver/return men Nick Williams (Connecticut) and Skye Dawson (Texas Christian) seemed to stand out among their fellow pass catchers. Both have good speed and hands. We didn’t get to see their return skills, because the team didn’t work on special teams during the rookie minicamp. But that’s where one or both of them can make their mark – initially on special teams, and then possibly as a slot receiver. Florida offensive tackle Xavier Nixon is a guy at a position of need. He has good size (6-6, 314) and athleticism, and would look to compete with Tom Compton, Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood for one of the backup tackle spots. Work ethic and consistency has been the biggest knock against him, so it remains to be seen if he can improve in these areas. Inside linebacker also seems to be a spot where Washington could possibly keep a guy and groom him behind London Fletcher, Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson. Jeremy Kimbrough (Appalachian State) and Will Compton (Nebraska) are two undrafted guys looking to make their mark.

There was a lot of buzz on the internet advocating that the Redskins sign Dominick Reyes, a safety from Stony Brook, as an undrafted free agent, or at least give him a tryout. So far the Redskins seem oblivious to the fans’ suggestions. Can you provide any insight as to whether the Redskins are aware of Mr. Reyes’ athletic accomplishments and whether they are willing to bring him to the rookie minicamp for a tryout?

Jay Jennings

No, Dominick Reyes wasn’t among the tryout players at the rookie minicamp. The Redskins have at least 10 people in their front office, in addition to Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, who are paid to evaluate talent, and then they have another 15 assistant coaches who also watch film of draft prospects leading up the draft. They check out every player out there. So it’s safe to say that they are fully aware of Reyes’s accomplishments, as well as any shortcomings in his game. They really don’t put any weight into what fans suggest. They eat, drink and sleep this. Their livelihoods depend on it. So, they definitely know better than the average fan whether a player fits into their system or not. It’s fun to play GM, but rest assured that the Mike Shanahan & Co. passed on Reyes for good reason.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in the Monday Mailbag.

More Redskins coverage from The Post:

Opening Kick: Did rookie camp change your opinion on anything?

D.C. Sports Bog: RGIII at Derby, Buffalo Wild Wings

Reid: Rambo is a chance Redskins can afford to take

Rookie defensive backs impress Shanahan at camp

Insider: More rookie camp observations

Photo gallery from rookie camp

A veteran’s view on what lies ahead for rookie safeties

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Sports
Stats, scores and schedules
Next Story
Keith McMillan · May 6, 2013