The lesson was learned long ago: Don't take too much of what you see and hear during the spring as truth. Guys who look great in the spring often wilt in the summer heat. Though the memory of receiver Anthony Armstrong lingers; he was a spring star who parlayed that into a good season.
Still, all this time of the year should do is provide, perhaps, some new faces to watch during training camp when the pads come on.
But until that point, there’s still something to watch – and learn. Here’s some of what I’ll be watching for during OTA sessions (though the players begin today, the media gets their first look Thursday):
Quarterback Robert Griffin III. By all accounts he’s moving well and looks reinvigorated. It could stem from the coaching change, but also because he’s a year further removed from surgery, lost the knee brace and couldn’t work on his game at all last season. Most likely it’s a combination of everything. But this will be the first glimpse for the media to watch him. It’ll be interesting to see how much different he is in terms of planting and throwing – and, yes, his weight transfer. Is he more accurate? Last summer his accuracy, in part because of altered mechanics, was more sporadic and it continued through the season. It won’t matter until the pads come on and the rush is in his face, but this provides one step in the process.
DeSean Jackson. How much can you see the explosion even during a spring workout? Jackson’s full impact might not be seen completely, but we should get a glimpse of his speed and how the Redskins plan to use him.
The injured players. We’ll get updates on where certain players are in their recovery. I’m curious to hear from/see safety Phillip Thomas, who is coming off Lisfranc surgery. I’ve heard that linebacker Keenan Robinson (torn pecs) has looked good this spring. I would not expect defensive end Stephen Bowen (knee) or receiver Leonard Hankerson (knee) to do anything.
The starting competitions. It’ll be interesting to see the rotation at inside linebacker. The Redskins signed Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan to compete for the job (Sharpton received the stronger contract between the two; Jordan is not an every-down linebacker). Robinson will be in the mix, too. At defensive end, the Redskins have Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker and Bowen (who will not be participating). How is the rotation at guard? Not just the starter because I assume Chris Chester will still be in that role this week, but among the backups.
Who will line up as the third corner with Tracy Porter still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery?
Is there anyone pulling a Josh LeRibeus this offseason – showing up looking out of shape? The word is that LeRibeus has had a good offseason, but last year’s memory will linger. How do others appear? Or is anyone along the line noticeably bigger – Kory Lichtensteiger or Adam Gettis, for example? Both needed to add weight.
Lichtensteiger at his new position: center.
Jordan Reed. How is he moving around – and is the team focusing more on certain routes with him? Reed was becoming more of a downfield threat when he was injured last season.
Jay Gruden’s style with the vets around. We saw him with the rookies so I don’t imagine it’ll change much. Still, this is the first chance with the entire team. What sort of presence does he have?
How the rookies fare against the veterans. Who knows how much they’ll have certain rookies face starters – if guys aren’t ready for that it makes no sense to put them in that situation. But at some point they’ll face starters or at least veterans. With each rookie there will be questions as to how they’ll handle this scenario.
The offensive sets – how much different will they be? Can’t report a lot of that stuff – it’s off limits – but it’s still worth noting.
I would expect the second-year players to look better, including corner David Amerson. He worked on playing press coverage last year and improved during the season. Has that continued? It’ll be tough to accurately measure other players’ progress, such as safety Bacarri Rambo, until the preseason games begin.
Who is working at returning punts and kickoffs? This was an issue last season and there are still question marks regarding both spots. You can throw in the kicker competition for good measure. It's tough to win a job at that spot in the spring, but you sure can lose it.