Redskins coach Jay Gruden often claims that starting jobs are open come training camp. But this year, he really meant it. Washington has the NFL’s most expensive offense at $118.9 million, but the team still must decide on a starting quarterback, receiver and left guard — and maybe left tackle, too. A half dozen running backs also are vying for snaps. Meanwhile, there’s a serious competition on defense at outside linebacker. Most likely, nothing will be decided for a while. But here are five positions to watch as the Redskins’ Aug. 8 preseason opener in Cleveland approaches.


Today, the pecking order is Case Keenum, then Colt McCoy, then rookie Dwayne Haskins. Tomorrow, it could be different. Same goes for the next day. But as the club prepares for Cleveland, Keenum has been getting the nod in practice, working with the regulars the most. His deep ball is the best of the trio. Keenum and McCoy are placeholders until Haskins is ready, or until the regular season falls apart, but the veterans’ experience gives them the edge for now. Haskins has been inconsistent, but has had “wow” moments. Gruden will go with experience in September, but the future by November.

Outside linebacker

It’s now or never for 2017 second-rounder Ryan Anderson, who has been a big disappointment. He did improve some last season after an injury-plagued rookie year, but recorded just two sacks in two years. Anderson needs to triple that number or find the bench. First-rounder Montez Sweat’s speed and size are frightening. He’ll be the team’s best pass rusher by 2021, maybe sooner. The key is whether Sweat learns the scheme in time to start on opening day. Otherwise, it will be a steady progression. If Sweat can pressure passers opposite Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins will blitz opponents regularly.

Left tackle

While waiting for Trent Williams to end his holdout or force a trade, the Redskins are deciding whether they can get by for one year before drafting a replacement. Incoming veteran Ereck Flowers was awful as first choice, so they signed 36-year-old Donald Penn, whose career is on fumes. Watch free agent Corey Robinson, who worked with the first line this week. Who’s playing left tackle will impact who the Redskins pick to be QB1. After losing two passers to injuries last year, blind-side protection is paramount, and they wouldn’t want to put a rookie behind a faulty offensive line.


Don’t assume veteran Josh Doctson will start over rookie Terry McLaurin. Doctson, a 2016 first-rounder, is a short-timer in Washington after three lackluster seasons. Some days he looks decent, then drops a simple pass in practice. Washington expects to move on from Doctson in 2020, so why not do it now if McLaurin is ready? It doesn’t hurt that McLaurin is a preferred receiver by fellow Ohio State product Dwayne Haskins, but McLaurin is earning the job himself with solid, athletic receptions. He has shown great speed and the ability to get the ball over a cornerback.

Running back

The Redskins have six options and probably four slots. There’s competition on two levels. Adrian Peterson has shown no signs of becoming Derrius Guice’s backup, and each has looked strong in camp. The Redskins might open with A.P. while Guice eases into the season slowly after missing his rookie year with a torn ACL. Meanwhile, Samaje Perine wants that last slot over Byron Marshall behind third-down back Chris Thompson. Perine barely played last season, but can bang away inside if needed. Bryce Love will open the season on the injured list, but he’ll eventually be the fourth back.

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