The 2017 season was a disappointment for the Washington Redskins. The franchise regressed in the win-loss column for the second consecutive season after winning the NFC East in 2015 to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Everything seemed to go wrong, with 23 players landing on injured reserve and the organization failing to reach a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins.
The organization had major turnover at key positions, including quarterback, during the offseason and the new roster will have its first official practice Tuesday, when organized team activities begin. The team will have three sessions over the next three weeks before starting veteran minicamp June 12.
Here are five things to watch in the upcoming weeks of OTAs:
Alex Smith and the passing game: The Redskins traded cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith. The 13-year veteran is coming off a career year where he threw for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns with five interceptions. The team also brought in speedy receiver Paul Richardson via free agency and gave him a five-year, $40 million deal. Coach Jay Gruden is known for his prowess in the passing game, and the Redskins need to get that facet of the offense clicking as quickly as possible.
Rookie showcase: Washington hopes its top two draft picks will have an immediate impact on its two biggest weakness from 2017 — stopping the run and running the ball. Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne was widely considered the top run stopper in the draft, and the Redskins took him with the No. 13 overall pick. LSU running back Derrius Guice slipped to No. 59 overall, but the Redskins gave him a first-round grade and many analysts rated him the second-best back in the draft. Both will have every opportunity to start from Day 1. Fifth-round defensive lineman Tim Settle could find himself in the rotation early, as well.
Opportunities abound: A young group of recently drafted players are expected to take the next step and compete to be Week 1 starters. Second-year center Chase Roullier is already believed to have won the job after his rookie performance deemed former starter Spencer Long expendable in free agency. Long signed with the Jets this offseason. The top two cornerback positions behind Josh Norman are open, after Bashaud Breeland left in free agency and Fuller was traded away. Ten-year veteran Orlando Scandrick was signed in free agency, while 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau and fourth-year veteran Quinton Dunbar are also expected to compete for the open slots. Safety Montae Nicholson, the 2017 fourth-round pick, could push returning starter Deshazor Everett for the No. 1 slot on the depth chart.
Guarding the left: The Redskins were strangely quiet in addressing the left guard spot during the offseason. Starter Shawn Lauvao didn’t re-sign until May and it seemed like the organization was ready to move on from the oft-injured eight-year veteran. The team routinely said Arie Koundjio could handle the position, but he recently suffered a quad injury that required surgery and now is out of the season. There’s also been talk that tackle Ty Nsekhe could slide to left guard and win the job.
Injury watch: Tackles Trent Williams (knee) and Morgan Moses (ankle) are not expected to participate after surgeries, but should be ready for training camp. Tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring, toe) also is scheduled to be ready for training camp. Keep an eye out for status updates of defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (Lisfranc sprain), linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) and running backs Rob Kelley (ankle, knee) and Chris Thompson (fractured right fibula).
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