Thursday, May 1, 2014
Quick Takes: Redskins under pressure
By John Keim
A little this and that:
Senator Harry Reid, and many others, have used the NBA’s decision on Donald Sterling to continue their fight against the NFL and the Washington Redskins’ nickname. But the NBA felt compelled to act because Sterling threatened its brand and, therefore, its pocketbooks. Multiple sponsors dropped the Clippers and if this had continued, others would have followed suit. Finances were affected.
Regardless of what your stance is on the Redskins name -- this is not my battle one way or another -- my guess is the only way it will change is when sponsors start doing the same in the NFL. The NBA made the right decision without a doubt, but it also placated Sterling for years, despite evidence of worse wrongdoing than what he said on a taped conversation. When the business and brand was threatened, the NBA acted. If players start threatening not to play for the Redskins because of the name ... if sponsors pull out ... then there will be intense pressure and a chance for change.
The Redskins will hire Bret Munsey to help with scouting and other areas. Munsey currently is a scout with Philadelphia, but has ties to coach Jay Gruden. They worked together in both the Arena Football League and the United Football League.
I will be curious to see if anything happens with receiver Anthony Armstrong, who is in the Redskins' minicamp this week as part of a tryout. The Redskins need receiver depth as well as one who, if the fifth or sixth guy at this position, can play special teams.
This is a few days old, but Chip Kelly said the release of DeSean Jackson was a football decision. Of course, how a player fits in the locker room and conducts himself falls into that category because it impacts a team. It would be tough for Kelly to point to production considering Jackson set career highs in catches (82) and yards (1,323).
If Kelly truly feels this way, he owed it to Jackson to say so much sooner rather than let so many rumors and stories about gang ties circulate about his off-field life. (That said, it’s not like teams were surprised by any of them; there’s a reason those who were interested were not willing to trade for him.) Otherwise, your silence gives these stories credence and lets the question build. And, while Kelly said he didn’t make a statement when they released other players, this one was dramatically different.
While there was no access to the Redskins minicamp this week, it’s tough to gauge things in practices at this time of the year. It’s helpful to measure progress by players coming off injuries. It’s also helpful to see what kind of shape players are in (last year in early May it was clear that Josh LeRibeus was in bad shape and it set a storyline for his entire season).
So there’s no way to really know who looked good or who did what or how the changes in Robert Griffin III's fundamentals have helped. But considering there’s still three months before camp, you could only take away so much.
I did see a shot on Redskins.com of safety Phillip Thomas backpedaling in one drill; he looked bigger than I remember, but that could have been due to the sleeveless shirt he was wearing. I liked him coming out of college – seems to be a smart player -- but that Lisfranc injury is a tricky one, especially if you’ve had surgery to repair it (as he did). If he regains his game and his foot is stable then Thomas is someone the Redskins clearly can develop as a starter.
Saw corner Richard Crawford at Brian Orakpo’s golf tournament on Monday and he was optimistic about his recovery from torn ligaments in his knee. Crawford even did a little backpedal in the parking lot to show what he could do. The key, of course, is regaining explosiveness and the ability to cut. He said he’s able to cut, but it has to be done at a certain level. For now, he feels good where he’s at and told ESPN980’s Chris Russell and me that Dr. James Andrews said he could play in a game “tomorrow” if necessary.
Crawford, though, is not participating in the voluntary minicamp this week. No need to rush anything. Still a long way to go for him. I did like the improvement he had shown covering in the slot before his injury. He’s a smart player. But he’s not a big corner and now coming off a knee injury. So I have no idea what to expect from him this summer.