Camp Edition: 3 Camp Stories to Watch

Welcome back to the Burgundy and Gold Report. This week’s social media poll asked the question; What Training Camp position battles are you most interested in? Previous B&G Report polls have tended to be one sided with fans, but the results varied on this one. Over 300 readers responded and although left guard has been a position concern for years,  the consensus was that there isn’t just one battle that garners attention.

Let’s go through the Top 3 Camp stories to watch, in no particular order.

#1 Smith and Reed building Chemistry

Jordan Reed was seen running around catching balls and participating in non-contact 7 on 7 drills for the first day of training camp, which has given fans optimism. As fans we know all too well though, it’s very early in the offseason and a lot can change between now and September. What is paramount is that Alex Smith and Reed gain a sense of each other’s tendencies and habits. Smith showed, in Kansas City,  just how much he relies on his tight ends. So having a healthy ready is imperative to this offenses success. Reed mentioned how good he’s felt post-toe surgery to ESPN Redskins beat writer John Keim.

“I didn’t feel myself the whole year. That’s why I had to get the surgery and have the bone removed. I’m feeling 100% better.”“I can tell a difference because with the toes it was pain. I had pain all season and offseason, and that pain was shutting down certain parts of the body that I needed. So you remove the pain and now I’m building my body back up and feeling great again.”

Over the last five seasons, Alex Smith has been ranked in the top 5 for quarterbacks whose primary target has been the tight end. At his first Camp, presser Alex Smith was asked about connecting with Jordan Reed, who will be “brought along slowly” per Coach Gruden and will be eased into full contact 11 on 11’s. It was evident on day two of camp that the players were letting up on each other, while dealing with shotty field condtions. Due to the most recent CBA limiting the amount of contact practices, you can’t blame the players in saying that valuable opportunities for full contact are being lost.

When Smith was asked about his development with Reed, he had the following to say:

“He’s truly a unique gifted player. I’ve been working with him on the side as much as possible.”

Considering the sixth year tight end can’t seem to stay healthy, this may pose a major problem for Smith. According to Coach Gruden, assuming he’s 100%, Reed will be brought along slowly . Participating in 11 on 11’s was a big step in the right direction. Although Reed knows the playbook inside and out, working plays with his new quarterback is imperative.

The bright side might be second year tight end Jeremy Sprinkle potentially getting more first team reps. Let’s be honest though, Reed’s participation changes this offense from good to dynamic. His ability to find open spots all over he field is second to none. Reed’s CAP hit and missed time are a real issue according to ESPN Redskins beat written John Keim.

“Tight End Jordan Reed ($10.5 million cap hit, second among tight ends): The Redskins don’t always fall apart when Reed is out. In the last two seasons, they’re 8-9-1 with him and 7-7 without. It’s no coincidence that the Redskins’ best season–coincided with his most games played (they were 9-5 with him and 0-2 without).”

Keim explained just how valuable an asset Reed is to this team. Getting reps with Smith is camp storyline that needs to be followed closely.

#2 Competition at 3rd Running Back

The emergence of Chris Thompson last year gave fans optimism for the future. Other than often injured tight end Reed, Thompson seems to be the biggest playmaker in this Redskins offense. Adding Alex Smith to the mix creates an additional running threat. Truth be told, Thompson is more of a true scat back so adding Derrius Guice was big for this offense.

With the team presumably set with their bell cow back in Guice and 3rd down specialist, Thompson, who’s next on the depth chart? Many readers are fully aware of my prospect crush on UDFA Martez Carter. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he is ideally suited to back-up Thompson and has good value as a K/P returner. In the end, it’s an uphill battle with the talent this team currently boasts at RB. Coach Gruden has been clear in the past regarding his admiration for 3rd year running back Rob Kelly. Kelly was seen playing with the special teams coverage unit this week. Kelly looks visibly leaner and quicker.

Other than Kelly, Samaje Perine, Kapri Bibbs, Byron Marshall and rookie Martez Carter will be vying for the final running back spot on the 53. Surprisingly enough there has been a lot of chatter about Coach Gruden implementing a full back in the run game. Undrafted, West Virginia fullback rookie ElijahWellman will be given an opportunity but I just don’t see him getting a roster spot.

I’ve stated on many occasions that if the Redskins keep 4 running backs, a back up to Thompson is imperative. I’ve been vocal about my fondness of UDFA Martez Carter and Byron Marshall. I believe both offer tremendous upside and Carter in particular offers more versatility. The mighty might back from Grambling nicknamed Mr.Excitement by his previous coaches and teammates is raw but brings tremendous ability. Carter finished his final three years at Grambling with a 7.0 plus YPR average, 29 TD’s and 960 receiving yards with 9 TD’s adding a 13.0 per catch average. In the end, I believe the Redskins will go with Kelly and Perine as their 3rd and 4th running backs, but Kelly’s durability could open the door for others down the line.

#3 Left Guard Competition and Overall O-Line Health

Now, this is the hot topic among Skins fans. Who will start at Left Guard? Veteran guard Shawn Lauvau was brought back after former Skins guard Arie Kouandijo went down with a torn quadricep and subsequently was released after an injury settlement. At this point, it is assumed the starting left guard spot is Lauvau’s to lose. I believe that would be a mistake by Redskins’ coaches. Lauvau is a veteran whose presence might best be utilized as a reserve. The position should be an open competition with Kyle Kalis, Tony Bergstrom, Isiah Williams and Tyler Catalina, all getting a shot to see what they can do. Out of the aformentined group, Kalis is my favorite to win a a roster spot. I believe the former Wolverine’s ability to move in space, get his pad level low and explode off the snap, make him a logical choice.

The notion has also been floating around that if the other candidates disappoint, Ty Nsekhe could be transitioned to guard . When the question was posed to Coach Gruden at the Camp Presser he had the following to say:

“Will Ty work at guard, not yet we’ll need him at tackle. We’ve got some guys working hard and competing.”

This could be, once again, a position influx  for Washington. If Trent Williams and crew can return from their respective surgeries and play at a high level, whoever gets the left guard starting job might just have to play well enough for the Redskins offensive line to have success.

Thanks for checking out another Burgundy and Gold Report exclusive. Special thanks to new readers hailing from the United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, Mexico, Ireland, Thailand, China South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Guayana and Bahrain, and of course a thanks to all my Burgundy and Gold Report readers all over the USA! The B&G Report is quickly growing. Stay tuned for more Training Camp analysis, roster projections and much more. Until next time, Redskins Nation!

HTTR🏹🏈

Written By Adam Aniba

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