Washington Redskins: Kedric Golston

Examining the Washington Redskins' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)

Jay Gruden only had two quarterbacks in each of his three seasons with Cincinnati, but Griffin still needs to prove his durability. If something happened to him, they woulld still be in good shape with Cousins and McCoy. If they go with two then McCoy gets left off.

Running backs (4)

The Redskins could also stash Chris Thompson on the practice squad as further insurance. Thompson can easily bump himself onto the roster with a good summer; he’s a good fit in Gruden’s offense and the new coach liked Thompson coming out of college. But durability is an issue. By keeping four here, the Redskins can go with an extra player at another spot. This means Evan Royster is on the outs, but he doesn’t give the Redskins anything they don’t have in better players. He is insurance only.

Receivers (6)

I am not cutting Leonard Hankerson, rather I’m just not sold that he will be on the active roster at the start of the season. If he shows this summer that he can play, then, yes, I would have him on the 53-man roster. But the Redskins were not sure what to expect from him and when he might be healthy. Therefore, I can see him taking a little longer to return. Gruden likes Moss and they drafted Grant. Robinson needs to take a step.

Tight ends (3)

Rookie tight end Ted Bolser would head to the practice squad, where he can develop. He didn’t look close to a roster spot just based on how he looked this spring. Reed is firmly entrenched as the starter with Paulsen their top blocker and Paul a special teams ace.

Offensive line (10)

In reality, I could see them keeping only nine offensive linemen. It all depends on how Long and/or LeRibeus looks at guard. They love Long -- Gruden has said he could compete immediately -- so if he shows he can play, then they could cut Chester (which I don't think will happen; I think he'll start). Compton is a little surprise, but they like him as well. This position will be fluid and I’m not sold on the 10 I have listed.

Defensive line (6)

This one is fluid as well because it depends in part on Bowen’s health. I like Chris Neild and so do they, but can they keep him? Golston is more versatile and a key player on special teams, but he’s also 30 and they must get younger at some point. But he still helps in too many ways.

Linebackers (9)

As of now I’d have Rob Jackson out, especially if Jenkins develops as a pass-rusher. But this will be a close race. And I have them keeping an extra guy inside in Hayward because of his special teams ability.

Cornerbacks (5)
Chase Minnifield remains eligible for the practice squad. Richard Crawford is coming off a knee injury and it’s hard to place him on here without seeing him play. The one benefit for Crawford is that he can play in the slot; they need depth at that spot.

Safeties (4)

I really don’t feel good about this position and am not confident that I have this one right, at least for that final spot. Robinson’s special teams ability gives him the edge over Bacarri Rambo, who must have a strong camp. Akeem Davis can help on special teams, but with no NFL experience he will be stashed on the practice squad.

Specialists (3)

The Forbath selection is based on never having seen rookie Zach Hocker kick in an NFL game. If Hocker is consistent this summer and shows a strong leg, then he can win the job.

Redskins mailbag: Part 1

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
In Part 1 of this week's mailbag, the topics addressed: Robert Griffin III's accuracy, the kicker battle, differences between Jay Gruden and other first-year coaches I've covered and more. Enjoy. John Keim: Underrated? Maybe underpublicized is a better word for now. But that's because, in part, it involves kickers and there's not a whole lot to write about until camp begins. You can record their accuracy in practice - and we will, trust me -- but it's the games that matter (unless you're Shayne Graham and look horrible in practice, too). I think that's when it will become a bigger deal. Yes, a rookie kicker is a gamble. But Kai Forbath had never attemped a kick in an NFL game until signing with the Redskins in the 2012 season. Keim: Concerned? Not sure I'd go that far. I don't think he's going to turn into a Peyton Manning pinpoint accuracy guy (have said this before, but one general manager I spoke to before the '12 draft was worried about Griffin's intermediate accuracy). Griffin can succeed without being that sort of quarterback because of his ability to extend plays. He also can be a big-play quarterback with his ability to throw deep (which was not a strength last year, but was in 2012). But I think the concern would be if the Redskins want him to become just a pocket passer. They said that's not the case, and though that's what they did this spring, part of that was done because he needs to develop in this area. He will miss some throws, as he did his rookie year (he left a lot of yards on the table that season, too; some by not throwing the ball). But if he hits the deep ball with regularity and if the offense creates good running lanes after the catch, it will offset any accuracy issues. Keim: I've been around two other first-year coaches in Norv Turner and Jim Zorn (Steve Spurrier at least had been a college head coach). Gruden is a better communicator than both Turner and Zorn. Like those two, he's a nice guy who would make a terrific neighbor. But Gruden might have a better feel for being a head coach, though it's hard to compare considering he hasn't coached a game yet. Zorn was just a bit goofy and always seemed overmatched as a head coach. At 6-2, I remember him talking about getting players back healthy for the playoffs. Whoops. Turner had a terrific offensive mind but he also was insecure and often blamed others for losses or bad plays. I don't see Gruden being an excuse-maker; have not heard the same things about his offensive mind as I did about Turner's. Gruden surrounded himself with solid coaches. He seems to coach with less of an ego and that's to his benefit and I think that separates him. One knock on Gruden was his lack of organization; I think the other two were better in this regard. Still, when coaches think they have it all figured out, it can lead to, oh, three last-place finishes in four years. I don't know that any of the three first-year coaches I've covered are great disciplinarians. Definitely not the first two; we'll find that out about Gruden. Keim: Sure. It's not as if the defense that season was great; what they did was cause turnovers (and they did improve in most areas in the second half). And if the offense is scoring well, then it probably means they've cut down on turnovers, which will greatly help the defense. Also, if the offense isn't always playing from behind, then the defense could have better pass-rush opportunities. They bolstered the rush this offseason (they hope), so that should play into their hands. By the way, they had suspect inside linebackers last season, too. It was not a strength. The big difference has to be the pass rush. Otherwise, they will be in trouble and be forced to rely on an explosive offense and causing turnovers. Keim: He'll have to hope the Redskins keep six corners, because that appears to be his only chance (barring injuries to others). And then it depends on how Richard Crawford looks in his recovery from the knee injury. Crawford's chances would be better if he shows he can still be effective as a punt returner, but the Redskins might just opt for Andre Roberts in that role. That would improve Minnifield's chances. He showed last summer that he could help in press coverage, but struggled in a variety of other looks. He's feisty, and my over/under on camp fights involving him is three. As for practice squad eligibility, yes, he still has some. Keim: Hmmm, tough one for the offensive side and it depends on if they keep nine or 10. If they keep nine, I'd expect the backups to be Mike McGlynn, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus. But if there's 10, or if one of those four win a starting job, I could see Tom Compton making the roster as well. Defensively, if everyone is healthy and assuming the starters are Chris Baker, Barry Cofield and Jason Hatcher (and that's subject to debate), then the backups should be Jarvis Jenkins, Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston. If Bowen is healthy, the Redskins could opt for him at right end and save Hatcher more for rush situations. I think this group is fluid because of health situations.

Redskins minicamp observations

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
Thoughts and observations after watching the Washington Redskins practice Tuesday:

1. David Amerson looks bigger and, indeed, he said he's added about six or seven pounds of muscle. Amerson does appear to have more toned arms. That will help when he plays press coverage and in run support. I'll have more on Amerson later this summer, but know this: He's had a good spring. Saw him stick with Pierre Garcon in a couple one-on-one occasions. Also, more importantly, saw him use his eyes better and more consistently. It was an issue last year.

[+] EnlargeDavid Amerson
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsRedskins CB David Amerson appears to have gained some muscle weight this offseason.
2. Did see Garcon get him on one crossing route. Amerson tried to jam him, putting his right hand onto Garcon's outside shoulder. But Garcon's strength helped him here as he wasn't knocked off stride and created separation running across the middle.

3. Saw this for the first time: a receiver doing a spin move at the line to get away from press coverage. Garcon tried that against Amerson, but it didn't work. Amerson stayed patient and, partly because he didn't try to jam Garcon, was not fooled by the move.

4. Garcon dunked a ball after a catch in the end zone. The Redskins had college officials at practice and one immediately threw a flag. Players can no longer dunk over the goal posts.

5. The offensive players were convinced Amerson should have been called for holding on a back-shoulder attempt to tight end Jordan Reed in the end zone. I was just finishing up an interview with Amerson after practice when Reed walked past with a smile and asked, "Did he tell you he held me?"

6. Rookie receiver Ryan Grant had a few nice grabs Tuesday, mostly on underneath routes against zone coverage. He's good at driving the defender off and then cutting. Did it a couple times Tuesday. I don't know when he'll be able to really help because he has to get stronger and, ultimately, prove he can beat press coverage.

7. One coach I will enjoy listening and paying attention to this summer: outside linebackers coach Brian Baker. Yes, I know, I've mentioned him a few times, but after watching him work with the players I'm even more convinced of his impact. Just a detailed coach. I'll have more on that later this week. But he is good and isn't afraid to chastise anyone. Heard him ping rookie Trent Murphy during a drill Tuesday morning.

8. Murphy was juked out by Reed on one route. He can ask other veteran linebackers how that feels because that's what happened last year. Once more, Reed was among the last off the field after working more on his game. Nothing has changed since last year in that regard.

9. Reed also had a nice block on Murphy, getting his hands into the rookie's chest and pushing him to the ground.

10. With linebacker Brian Orakpo out (sickness), this was a good chance for Murphy to work against veterans. He also went against left tackle Trent Williams a few times. Murphy's spin move worked well against Moses, but Williams was able to stop it on the one time I saw it tried. The coaches like what they've seen from Murphy overall, especially off the field in terms of work ethic.

11. Rookie running back Lache Seastrunk, who lost the ball on a handoff in practice, stayed afterward to work on handoffs with fullback Darrel Young playing the part of the quarterback.

12. Kedric Golston worked at nose tackle with the first defensive line. He's done that in previous workouts this spring with Barry Cofield sidelined. And if he shows it's a spot he can help at during the summer, then it'll be tough to cut him. Golston adds experience and toughness up front, two qualities that should be welcomed. Add a little versatility and it makes him even more valuable, and it also makes it tough for Chris Neild to make the roster.

13. The quarterbacks worked on slant passes during drills with receivers. The quarterbacks dropped back, looked down the middle and then turned toward the receiver running the slant. It's a little thing, but I point it out for this reason: Robert Griffin III's last interception in 2013 came on a slant route. He eyed the receiver the whole way, who then got a good break to make the pick. Sometimes you have to eye the receiver off the line because the pass is coming right away. But in this case it led to the pick.

14. Wasn't able to spend a lot of time watching rookie right tackle Morgan Moses, but did see him get beat by second-year Brandon Jenkins to the outside on one occasion. Moses was too upright and a bit slow with his feet.

15. Jenkins failed to use the proper technique on an inside run, staying too wide and creating a gap inside. The coaches, um, reminded him of the mistake.

16. Said it last week and will continue to point out how much more energy there is during these practices. Some of that could just be because change brings a new energy. But some of it is the style of coaches they now have on staff. Raheem Morris was always vocal under Mike Shanahan, so his ribbing of players and coaches is nothing new. But things were just more lively Tuesday, with trash talking and banter.

17. The field goal kickers attempted three kicks apiece (from 39, 44 and 50 yards) at the narrow goal posts (about half the width of regular ones). Rookie Zach Hocker made all three attempts -- the ball jumped off his foot on the 50-yarder. Kai Forbath missed two of three but on regular goal posts he would have made each attempt.

18. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a nice bullet to receiver Aldrick Robinson; the pass arrived just before safety Bacarri Rambo for a touchdown.

Analyzing the Redskins' salary cap

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
Not a lot going on, so it's a good time to catch up on some salary-cap numbers and scenarios. All numbers are from ESPN Stats & Information:

Cap space available: The Redskins have $2,551,306 left against the salary cap. Only three teams have less room against the cap (Detroit, New Orleans and San Diego). The Giants have $6.9 million available, but both Dallas ($10.2 million) and Philadelphia ($20.2 million) are in strong shape. Don’t forget, teams can carry cap space into next season. Also, as of now only the top 51 players count against the cap in the offseason.

[+] EnlargeStephen Bowen
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsThe Redskins would save $5.5 million against the cap if they cut Stephen Bowen after this season.
Cap savings: If the Redskins really wanted to save a few extra dollars, they could always look at right guard Chris Chester. If they cut him, it would save $2.7 million against the cap. But, again, someone has to beat him out. If they felt that confident about someone else they likely would have made a move by now. But they do have some young options here between rookie Spencer Long and third-year players Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis. However, while Long obviously has never played, the other two have limited experience. Tyler Polumbus' release would save $1.5 million, but that means that either rookie Morgan Moses or third-year Tom Compton is ready to start. It’s hard to imagine Moses being at that point and Compton was not there at the end of last season.

Another place that will be interesting is the defensive line. The Redskins kept six at this spot each of the past three seasons. If they only keep that many this year, it means a veteran could be in trouble. They clearly aren’t going to cut Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher or Chris Baker. Also, as long as Stephen Bowen is healthy he’ll stick around.

Yes, the Redskins could have re-worked his deal (which counts $7.02 million against the cap) but they have wisely been reluctant to spread money into the future for players who may only be around another year or so. That’s the case with Bowen. He has one year left on his contract and is coming off microfracture surgery. I don’t care how optimistic you are about him, can you trust he’ll be around and playing at a solid level in two years? No. The way they’ve done things in the past they could ask him to take a pay cut, but they typically did that before this point. Just so you know: Bowen would save $5.5 million against the cap if cut after this season.

So if Bowen sticks, that gives the Redskins four. If they keep six again, that means they’d have room for two among Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston and Clifton Geathers. Here’s the savings for each player: Geathers ($600,000), Golston ($1,005,000), Jenkins ($1,027,184). Nose tackle Chris Neild also would be in trouble. His savings would be $645,000.

Highest paid: Brian Orakpo ($11,455,000) followed by Trent Williams ($10,980,393). By the way, both players will count more against the cap than all the players at five other positions: safeties ($5.1 million), tight ends ($4 million), running backs $5.6 million), quarterback ($7.1 million) and cornerback ($8.6 million).

Lowest-paid starters: Running back Alfred Morris will count $600,775 against the salary cap. Next up: safety Ryan Clark ($635,000) and tight end Jordan Reed ($642,778). Clark’s base salary is $955,000, but he counts less because of the veteran minimum cap benefit.
An update on two injured Redskins: receiver Leonard Hankerson and nose tackle Barry Cofield:

1. Still no idea when Hankerson will return. And I doubt there will be a better idea next week.
That's why when asked if he has any indication Hankerson will be ready for camp, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “None whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, Hankerson said, “I'm feeling pretty good right now, out here moving around a whole lot more. Probably got a couple months to go. Should be good by training camp, but you never know.”

The Redskins don't need Hankerson to rush back after tearing his ACL and LCL last season. It's not just about the starters, but they at least have experienced backups in Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson.

Hankerson looked to be running better than he did two weeks ago. This past week he was able to run some routes off to the side. But he was certainly not running them at 100 percent speed (nor should he be). This is a big year for Hankerson, who will be a free agent next offseason. The first thing he must do to get any sort of deal is prove he's healthy.

2. Meanwhile, Cofield, who underwent hernia surgery, participated more this week than a week ago. He was still held out of full-team drills, but he did work before that point. During the team drills, he performed some agility work off to the side. Cofield won't be a full participant until training camp.

“He's further along than I think he anticipated even, and I think the trainers,” Gruden said. “But we're still going to modify what he's doing. We have to pull him back a little bit and make sure he's 100 percent ready for training camp.”

Cofield shares that thinking.

“I'm just playing it smart,” Cofield said. “It was a wear-and-tear type of injury. It's all connected so you get nagging injuries here and there and it manifests with the surgery. It's an easy recovery. I feel good.”

The good news for Cofield is that he might not be needed on quite as many plays as the past couple of years with the increased depth on the line. Not just the addition of Jason Hatcher, but the continued improvement of Chris Baker.

That depth is important for an aging line, with potentially four players this season being at least 30 years old: Cofield, Hatcher, Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston. Two of them will be coming off surgery, too. (Bowen had microfracture surgery on his knee.) They could use more production from Jarvis Jenkins.

Redskins injury updates

May, 29, 2014
May 29
ASHBURN, Va. -- A few injury updates:
  • Receiver DeSean Jackson tweaked his left hamstring, but coach Jay Gruden called it a minor pull. Gruden said Jackson has had a good camp so far and that they just want to make sure he’s “right” when it comes to his health.
  • Nose tackle Barry Cofield had hernia surgery recently and will miss the rest of the OTA sessions. Gruden said they are hoping to have him full-go by the start of training camp and said, “He should be in good shape.”
  • Chris Neild and Kedric Golston worked as the first two nose tackles with Cofield out of the lineup.
  • Receiver Leonard Hankerson also continues to rehab his ACL injury. Both he and cornerback Richard Crawford, who tore multiple ligaments, ran on the side Thursday. Hankerson was not running as fast as he could and still looked affected by his knee. “We don’t want to rush him back,” Gruden said. “Let’s get him back 100 percent, whether the time is the start of training camp, middle of training camp, third game.”
  • Safety Phillip Thomas is practicing after missing last season with a Lisfranc injury. It can be a tricky injury to recover from, especially if the athlete has surgery, as Thomas did. But Thomas said he feels normal when running on the field.
  • Defensive end Stephen Bowen, recovering from microfracture surgery, did a little work off to the side. He did not expect to return by now, so his limited work is not a surprise.
  • Cornerback Tracy Porter, recovering from shoulder surgery, also ran off to the side.
Some thoughts from ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay on the Redskins' draft:
  1. In a conference call with NFL Nation reporters last week, I asked McShay about who would represent the best value at 34 as far as pass rushers go. I should have clarified that it could also apply to an interior rusher. It would not surprise me if the Redskins went in one of four directions with this pick (pass rusher, safety, right tackle, inside linebacker). But by pass rusher, that could mean an outside linebacker or someone inside to help more in the nickel. My thought has been more about finding additional interior help. The line has four players who will be 30 or older this season: Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston.
  2. If they took an outside linebacker, and they had several visits with them, then that player would obviously sit behind Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo for a year at least. Not sure how wild they are about Kyle Van Noy, but his versatility could help (though, personally, I've liked other players more than him).
  3. McShay said about pass rushers at 34: "That might be the sweet spot in this class in terms of outside guys. I don't know if they'd spend that pick on an outside linebacker. You have [Jeremiah] Attaochu, [Demarcus] Lawrence, who played a hybrid role, and Dee Ford. I've seen him play with his hand in the dirt and from a two-point stance. All could be around when the first round is done. If you're looking for value, it's a good spot."
  4. In their mock draft Thursday night, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had the Redskins taking Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland at 34 and tackle Jack Mewhort in the third round. Not sure about Borland; there are definite parts of his game I like, but not sold that he's best for Washington. Mewhort is fine as a right tackle prospect.
  5. Here's what McShay said of Borland: "He wouldn't be a bad choice at all. I picture him more as a middle linebacker being protected. He can do a lot of the same things inside in a 3-4 scheme. After [C.J.] Mosley and Borland, there's a real drop-off at that inside linebacker position. You get down to the fourth round probably before you'd feel good about an inside linebacker."
  6. McShay said Preston Brown and Shayne Skov would be options starting at that point, though he said Skov is more a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
They’re hardly a new Over the Hill Gang, but they do have a lot of thirtysomethings on their roster. Which can be viewed in multiple ways: A) They didn’t get younger after a season in which they went 3-13 and needed to rebuild, at least defensively; B) A lot of teams ahead of them in this ranking are quite successful; with age comes experience and savvy.

September will be when we’ll start to see which way the Redskins go. But, for now, we’ll just take a look at their players who are at least 30 years old. Washington is tied for eighth in the NFL with nine such players, according to ESPN's Field Yates. Oakland leads the way with 13, and you never want to be in Oakland’s company, but among the other teams ahead of Washington: San Francisco (12), New Orleans (11) and San Diego (10). All made the postseason. Arizona (10) went 10-6; Chicago (12) and Pittsburgh (10) both went 8-8.

But at the other end: Super Bowl champion Seattle has three such players while AFC champion Denver has six.

So what does it mean? Your players over 30 had better produce. Seven of their nine thirtysomethings play defense; four play along the line. Is it good that a defense coming off a tough season has that many older players? The Redskins appear to have taken a win-now approach with the hope of finding young guys in the draft to groom. That’s fine, but it had better work, otherwise they’ll just be old and slow.

Another note: The Redskins have four players who are 29 (three on offense, all linemen). Their offensive nucleus is young and can help now and in the future. But elsewhere the roster will be in transition for a couple years.

Anyway, here’s the Redskins' thirtysomethings:

WR Santana Moss (34): He’s not a lock to make the roster and if he does it’ll be as a backup, barring injuries. If Leonard Hankerson is healthy Moss would have to be sixth on the list at receiver (also behind Aldrick Robinson). At this point Moss is insurance.

S Ryan Clark (34): Pittsburgh felt he had lost a step and opted for a younger player in Mike Mitchell. The Redskins did not want to overpay at this position and valued Clark's experience. He’ll be the defensive leader, or should be. And if the younger players pay attention, they’ll improve.

DL Jason Hatcher (31): Coming off his best season and expected to help the pass rush. He did not look like a player slowing down last season. The Redskins worked his contract so that he could be cut after two years and they’d gain cap relief. A wise move. But he should help.

G Chris Chester (31): Not coming off his best season, but in 2012 he was steady and viewed as a smart player. The Redskins wanted to upgrade their interior and he’s still around, at a higher cap figure, too, so they still value him. But he must play better this season. They have young backup guards; are any ready to challenge him? After three years, one of them should be ready. If not ...

S Brandon Meriweather (30): Signed back on a one-year deal. With Clark here, he’ll be able to play more in the box, where he’s best suited. But he needs to improve his consistency with tackling and positioning. Maybe a year further removed from knee surgery will help, too. But his troubles didn't all stem from being slow or late. Had Phillip Thomas not been hurt last summer, Meriweather might not have returned. But he was hurt, so the alternative was to re-sign Meriweather or find another player in free agency. They did not view the non-expensive options as better. As for Thomas, Lisfranc injuries can be tricky, so it’s tough to know how he'll look this summer.

CB DeAngelo Hall (30): Did play well last season, earning a new contract, and has matured. Played better in press coverage. When corners start to go downhill, it can happen fast. It’s hard to see that happening this year.

DL Kedric Golston (30): Valuable and inexpensive backup; prepares and works hard. Good special-teamer, too. Tough to let guys like that go. At some point you need young legs coming off the bench, especially with an experienced (aging) group of starters. But Golston can still help.

DL Barry Cofield (30): Still agile, quick and capable of being a quality starter. Hatcher’s presence in nickel situations should result in more one-on-one matchups. He’s taken a pounding the last couple years, but it’s reasonable to expect him to play at a solid level this season and even next.

DL Stephen Bowen (30): It’s tough for players when they hit this age and are coming off microfracture surgery. Heck, it’s tough for any player coming off that surgery. He’s still in their plans, but his cap number ($7.02 million) makes him a candidate for some sort of restructuring – or a release and re-sign. I have not heard they’re going to do so, but it’s logical to wonder. Just like it’s logical to wonder what he’ll be able to do. When healthy he can still help against the run, but he has not provided the needed pass rush since 2011.

Contract breakdowns: Moss, Geathers

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
Santana Moss is not a lock to make the team. The Washington Redskins expect Clifton Geathers to be on the roster. That’s the assumption one can make after checking out their contracts.

Neither one of those statements is a big surprise; when Moss was signed, myself and others wrote that he was not guaranteed anything. His contract backs that up as Moss only received a veteran minimum deal -- a $65,000 signing bonus and a base salary of $955,000 (but he would only count $635,000 against the salary cap if he makes the roster. The minimum salary benefit takes effect so his base, for cap purposes, would be $570,000).

The only guaranteed cash in the deal for Moss is the signing bonus. The Redskins still think he might be able to help, hence the sort of contract he signed. But I doubt their quest to add another receiver will end; indeed, Kenny Britt is visiting Tuesday. Also, if Leonard Hankerson is healthy and looks good in training camp, that wouldn’t be good news for Moss, unless the 34-year old shows he can still play. But Hankerson and newly-signed Andre Roberts can play in the slot. Aldrick Robinson can as well, but not to the same level as the other two.

As for Geathers, his two-year deal came with a $500,000 signing bonus. The base salary of $1.075 million is more than what veteran Kedric Golston will receive -- this year or next. And they’d be out $750,000 if Geathers is somehow cut. Geathers was a backup in Philadelphia last season -- he had the fifth most snaps of their lineman with 321 -- and is now with his sixth team at age 26.

The Redskins currently have eight defensive linemen on the roster who could be fighting for six or seven spots; they kept six entering the 2012 season and seven entering 2013. Here are the eight Geathers, Golston, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild, Chris Baker and Jarvis Jenkins.

A lot of this will depend on Bowen’s health, but it also means that Adam Carriker, released two weeks ago, would have to show an awful lot if the Redskins do grant him a workout in June to gauge his progress.

Here is Geathers' contract breakdown, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:

Base salary: $1.075 million
Cap hit: $1.35 million
Note: $250,000 of his base salary is fully guaranteed. He also receives a $25,000 workout bonus.

Base salary: $1.575 million
Cap hit: $1.85 million
Note: The cap hit also reflects a $25,000 workout bonus in addition to his prorated bonus.

Redskins re-sign Chris Baker

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
Late in the season Washington's Chris Baker had clearly started to play well. But when this was pointed out to him, Baker said nothing had changed. The defensive lineman was only getting more time to show what he could do.

Looks like he’ll start to get even more time now that he’s returned. Baker signed a three-year contract worth $12 million and $4 million guaranteed Thursday. Baker does more than give the Redskins insurance; there’s a chance he’ll end up opening 2014 as a starter at right end with questions surrounding both Stephen Bowen (knee) and Adam Carriker (quadriceps). If nothing else Baker will be a prime contender for that job.

Baker’s a good example of developing and then taking care of your own. Though he did not come into the league with Washington, he had appeared in only two NFL games before arriving in 2011. By helping him develop, the Redskins won’t be forced to spend big money at this position. If Bowen and Carriker can’t play, or are released and not re-signed, then the Redskins still would need more depth.

But Baker gives them a potential starter along with Jarvis Jenkins. Veteran Kedric Golston adds veteran depth. Baker also helps because he can rush in nickel and play nose if necessary.

“I’ve been waiting for my chance ever since I signed as an undrafted free agent in Denver,” Baker said. “Sometimes you have to remain patient and wait your turn. I remained patient and kept grinding. I finally got my chance and took advantage.”

He started the last three games, recording 12 tackles, including six solo stops in the season finale at New York. Baker did a good job of playing with leverage, using his lower body strength and penetrating. He’s agile as well.

But he did have to learn that, in a 3-4 defense, sometimes getting upfield too fast was not a good thing as gaps can be created for the offense.

“I had an opportunity to gain the coaches' trust and I did the best I can,” Baker said. “I showed them if I’m given the opportunity to be out there consistently I can make plays, whether it’s in the run game or if it’s against the pass and pushing the pocket. I’ll prove to the coaches that they can trust me at any time on the field.”

Baker said there wasn’t a strong desire to wait until March 11 and test the market.

“I always felt if I could get a deal done with the Redskins, then I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I’m comfortable with our defense. I like our staff and they like me. They helped me become the player I am today. I really didn’t want to leave.”

Catching up with: Lorenzo Alexander

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
The ex-Redskin made a difficult decision to leave Washington last offseason, but considering the difference in offers and the chance to start, it was the right one. However, Alexander suffered a season-ending Lis Franc injury to his right foot on Sept. 22. Alexander’s family moved out to Arizona to be with him during the season, but they maintained a house in Ashburn, Va. He also will host a Celebrity Bowling Benefit in Maryland next month.

I caught up with Alexander this week to talk about a number of issues, from his foot to what happened in Washington. I'll have a little more from him Saturday. For now, here’s Alexander on:

His recovery: My foot is doing pretty well. I’m almost four months from the injury date and I just started running on the unloader (a machine that straps you in and can take 100 pounds off your body weight and ease the stress on the injured part). I’m expected to be back for OTAs and not miss anything.

How hard last season was: I try to look at it in a positive manner. Obviously I was upset and sad I couldn’t play. My body was still in the motion of, ‘It’s Sunday, it’s time to do something,’ for the first two or three weeks. I’ve seen a lot of guys get hurt and I’ve always believed the best way is to be productive and focus on the positives. I had to figure out a different way to be effective with the team, more being a vocal leader and helping the young guys and coaching them up. I also worked on things for my post career, so it was a great precursor for me. I’m on the back end of my career, whether it ends next year or four or five years from now. How would I attack it and be productive and not be depressed and go through things guys tend to go through.

Post-career aspirations: I enjoy the media so broadcasting, whether TV or radio it doesn’t matter. I hope to have financial freedom when I’m done playing, but I want to serve people, whether working through a non-profit or my church. That’s where my heart is.

How weird it was to watch both teams’ seasons unfold without him: It was hard to watch the Redskins play because I have so many great relationships with the guys and some of the coaches. You don’t want to see anyone go through that hardship, guys like Kedric [Golston] and London [Fletcher] and Perry [Riley], Ryan [Kerrigan], [Bob] Slowik. All guys I had great relationships with. I thought they would be a playoff contender and to see London go out the way he did was hard. You never want to see a player that great go out from a team perspective the way he did.

My team was bittersweet for me. You wanted to be out there and we had a chance to go to the playoffs. You want to be part of that. You don’t want to be the guy on a team that goes to the Super Bowl and people ask were you on that team and you’re like, ‘I was hurt.’ I struggled with that. Then, when you sign a big deal and get hurt [people say], ‘They gave this dude all this money and he’s hurt.’ I felt that pressure internally. No one ever said anything to me or made me feel that way. But being an undrafted guy and seeing guys get contracts and then get hurt… I was letting them down because they invested in me. But I was reassured based on how they guys took me in that I still felt like I was a Cardinal -- from ownership on down.

How long it took for him to consider himself a Cardinal and not a Redskin: Once we started playing games. Obviously you’re in one place for so long. I’m trying to correct the way I talk when I say we or us with the Redskins. You have to go through those mental gymnastics, the way you speak and the words you use. It took a while. But once you start playing games and go out there and are fighting for a common goal, that’s when it gells and you become part of that organization….Everything worked out for the best.

If he saw the Redskins’ collapse coming: No. It was crazy. I thought they would be in contention to win the division. It’s hard to repeat what you did the year before in any circumstances. A couple teams are pretty good year in and year out but teams can jump out of nowhere or fall out of grace really easily. Atlanta, Houston... there were a lot of teams that were great and weren’t good this year. It happens.

What stood out to him about playing in Washington: What we were able to do last year. That seven-game run to get in the playoffs and change the culture, I guess temporarily looking at it now, of being competitive. That was the most fun I’ve had. It was a Pro Bowl season for me, I played a lot more defense, guys were out there balling and we had fun.

The tough part about playing in Washington: The biggest thing for me was the inconsistency from a culture standpoint because I went through three head coaches, three defensive coordinators. The great organizations have stability in the coaching staff and things like that do create some continuity. But it’s already established, like what the Patriots have done and the Green Bays and the Steelers. They have a culture and no matter who’s there or not they usually win year in and year out. There’s no off-field drama. That’s the biggest thing that was so draining. It doesn’t take away from you preparing, but I was tired of answering questions about something that has nothing to do with the game.
ASHBURN, Va. -- They expected the news, yet it still resonated. For weeks the Washington Redskins players answered questions about Mike Shanahan’s job fate. For days they read he was going to be fired.

When it finally happened Monday, the news still hit the players.

"It just got real," defensive end Kedric Golston said.

"Everyone expected it, but it doesn’t make it that much easier," tight end Logan Paulsen said.

"It definitely becomes a lot more real and makes the situation more sad," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said.

Shanahan was fired shortly after 9 a.m. Monday morning as players were trickling in for their end-of-season physicals. Others were already packing up the belongings in their lockers.

It comes at the end of a 3-13 season, which is why the firing wasn’t much of a surprise. They finished 24-40 in Shanahan’s four seasons.

"Frustrating," fullback Darrel Young said. "We failed a Hall of Fame coach. It was a lack of execution by the players this year."

The players know that few, if any, current assistant coaches will stick around. The firing impacts coaches the players had relationships with, in some cases for four years. But the players also know there's a bottom line for them, too. Some players won’t fit what a new coach wants to run, whether offensively or defensively. So their futures are at stake, too.

"It’s also difficult because we have to learn a new scheme," Paulsen said. "We have to adapt to a new coach, a new coach who you might not fit their system. So a lot of guys might be gone. That's always difficult. It will be a complete culture change. But right now I just feel for coach and the staff and hope it works out for the best for them."

And, as players who have been around here know all too well, a new coach doesn't always bring results. The Redskins will be looking for their seventh full-time coach under owner Dan Snyder, who bought the team in 1999.

"Just because you change coaches doesn't mean that all is fixed," Golston said. "You have to now start the work to build something to be successful.

"Whenever you have a coaching change it's tough because you have new philosophies. You have to understand their communication, understand what he means when he says something and what his pet peeves are, what his practices are like, what his offseasons look like. All those things are new to you, so it brings uncertainty so you have to adapt on the fly. It’s never a good thing."

The Redskins' season unraveled in a hurry. They were 3-5 after a home win versus San Diego and then blew a 13-point second-half lead at then 1-7 Minnesota. There was a palpable difference in the locker room after that game, as if the players knew they had blown their chance. They never won again.

"The turning point was the Minnesota loss," Young said. "I [still] went into every game thinking we were going to win, but to look back now that was the turning point in the season. It felt like we were playing good football … and all the emotions that go into it changed a lot for us."

Last year at this time the Redskins were preparing for a playoff game against Seattle, coming off seven straight wins and full of confidence -- about that game and the future. Despite Robert Griffin III’s knee issues in the offseason the rest of the roster felt good and were buoyed by what they considered a strong training camp.

"And then to be where we're at now," Golston said, "to lose in the ways we lost some games, it's been unfortunate just because you don’t have many years in this business to let one slip away and let something like this happen."

In the end, though, something wasn't working.

"None of these coaches played a down this year," Kerrigan said. "It’s all on us. We can complain and say we all like this coaching staff and don’t want them to be fired, but if we played better we wouldn't be in this situation. That’s what hurts me."

Redskins vets deal with noise, again

December, 12, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- They've been around for situations that rivaled this week, which is why some veteran Washington Redskins players knew how to handle the craziness. But it's also something they hoped would not return.

It's not just a quarterback change. It's the stories about all the relationships in the building, whether or not the head coach was going to quit a year ago, and possible ulterior motives for the latest move.

"Each week it seems like it's something new we're dealing with, some type of outside noise whether we bring it on ourselves or not," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. "There's always something we're dealing with. You thought we were away from that. Last year a lot of that stuff had died down. Now it's back. We have to focus on not letting that stuff affect us."

Receiver Santana Moss, who joined the franchise in 2005, is not surprised by what's taken place in recent weeks.

"It's the life I've been going through a lot being a Redskin," Moss said. "It's always something. That doesn't deter what we have to do on the field. [But] the stuff that goes on around the team doesn't bother you from going out and playing football. The thing that bothered this team the most is always the questions about Robert every week. But Sunday that wasn't on our mind. We had to go out and play football…. When it's all over, I want to know what you're going to have next to talk about."

Defensive end Kedric Golston has learned how to cope with this, having arrived in Washington as a sixth-round pick in 2006. Most of it centered on the craziness of Jim Zorn's final season.

"You can allow life to frustrate you if you want to," Golston said. "Part of being a professional is understanding things you can control and can't control and focus on your job. I focus on what my defensive line coach says and what my defensive coordinator says. Anything else can distract you from what the ultimate goal is."

As for the latest move, Moss said he doesn't think Kirk Cousins subbing for Robert Griffin III will provide the offense a shot in the arm.

"It's been a tough season," Moss said. "No player wants to be in Robert's situation right now. You feel for him having to go through it but if it helps him and takes a little off him and give him more time to say this season is behind me let's get ready for next year. Other than that, I don't look at it as a morale booster. Regardless of who the quarterback is, we want to get a W."

Redskins Gameday: Ten Thoughts

November, 7, 2013
1. It's the same as last week: If the Washington Redskins want to consider a late-season playoff push, then they must beat Minnesota Thursday night. They absolutely need to prove that they can play well in consecutive games, something they have not done all season. It's a big difference from last season and it's why any talk of a turnaround can't begin until they do so. Minnesota is not a good team, but that doesn't matter. Playing well does. If they play well and get to 4-5, it makes the following week's game at Philadelphia a huge one.

2. A big factor in Thursday's game? Health. And the Redskins easily have the advantage in this area. Minnesota might be without two starters on the offensive line and already lost solid tight end Kyle Rudolph. Their secondary is ailing. Still, no team that's 3-5 should feel overly confident. That's why I loved the Santana Moss quote that NBC-4's Diana Russini tweeted Thursday morning: “How is this an easy game for us when we aren't even that good?!"

3. The Redskins have done an excellent job against Adrian Peterson in their previous four meetings, though one ended prematurely because of his torn ACL. Still, in four games, his longest carry has been for 32 yards. Last season on his 17 carries against them, the Redskins used an eight-man box on all but four carries. Three times the Vikings spread the field and forced six in the box, but Peterson only gained a combined seven yards.

4. The key? The ability of nose tackle Barry Cofield and end Stephen Bowen in particular of holding double teams. Time and again the inside linebackers, at least one of them, was unblocked and able to fill a gap. When a lineman would peel off the double team to block, one of the defensive linemen would help plug the middle (Jarvis Jenkins and Kedric Golston helped here, too). This happened time and again; the double teams were slow to break. Also, Minnesota has struggled this season when it comes to its double teams. The Redskins say Peterson's showing last week was helped by how Dallas' front four play, more intent on getting upfield. The Redskins' front wants to play more lateral and it can disrupt the double teams better.

5. Another key last season was that the Redskins did an excellent job swarming Peterson and forcing him to cut back inside. One run that exemplified what must happen occurred in the first half. On a run up the middle, both London Fletcher and Perry Riley were unblocked, forcing Peterson to try and bounce wide. As Peterson tries to get outside, corner DeAngelo Hall comes up aggressively and takes him down with a low hit. They need that sort of run support from the corners against a guy like this.

6. Whether you like Jim Haslett as a defensive coordinator or not is up to you. But he understands this is a player's league. I was struck by his answer Wednesday regarding the goal-line stand when he referred to the defense as "them." Well, he's part of it, too. And trust me when I say: some coordinators here in the past would not have said it like that. But Haslett realizes they're the ones that had to make plays and did so. (What he didn't mention: Hall was covering Antonio Gates on the fade stemmed because of a change in their goal-line package from the previous week when they got caught with one defensive back as Denver passed the ball). Haslett has his flaws. But he has a good understanding of the players' mentality.

7. Left tackle Trent Williams knows the challenges of playing in a dome against a pass-rusher such as Jared Allen. He only has three sacks, but Williams isn't about to relax. Playing in a dome removes the chance to disrupt timing through snap counts. “He always gets a great jump off the ball, so that becomes magnified,” Williams said. “You always peek at the ball, but [now] you try to time it up better and you have to be on your technique. One false move and he's on the quarterback.” On the other side, watch for end Brian Robison's spin move; used it to sack Dallas quarterback Tony Romo last week. Right tackle Tyler Polumbus can't let him get his hands into his chest.

8. Quarterback Robert Griffin III needs to build on last week's game with another strong outing. It'll be tough to match his completion percentage (71.8), but he needs to be efficient and avoid bad decisions, or take too long, as he did the previous week against Denver. Like the entire team, you can't say Griffin suddenly found himself because of what he did last week -- just like you couldn't say he was never going to develop because he played poorly versus Denver. Again: He's a young quarterback still enduring growing pains as a passer. But the Vikings represent a good chance for him to gain more confidence. They haven't applied enough pressure (17 sacks in 332 pass attempts). They allow a lot of completions (67 percent) and they're missing two defensive backs Thursday. Griffin should play well, if he's patient.

9. One reason the Redskins can feel a little better about the second half of the season is the quarterbacks they won't be facing: elite guys who are difference makers. In the first eight games they faced Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. Only Stafford and Cutler aren't among the top-seven rated passers this season. In the second half, the Redskins play only one quarterback currently rated in the top 15 (Atlanta's Matt Ryan).

10. The Vikings' numbers against the run look solid: 3.8 yards per carry allowed. However, they've faced only two teams that currently rank in the top 18 in terms of rushing in Chicago and Green Bay. They allowed 4.7 and 4.3 yards per carry, respectively, in those losses (and a combined 309 yards). The Redskins are running the ball well.

Redskins mailbag: Part 1

September, 27, 2013
In Part 1 of this week’s Redskins mailbag, we take a look at, who else, Robert Griffin III, Antoine Winfield, Niles Paul and, of course, Jim Haslett. All questions were submitted via Twitter.

@Fertzy asks: Are the Redskins effectively prepared to write off this season while RG3 gets fit, even if losses pile up?

John Keim: The season isn’t about Griffin. There’s not a single player or coach who will say, “It’s OK if we lose as long as Robert gets healthy for next season.” London Fletcher probably doesn’t have a next season. DeAngelo Hall is a free agent after the season. Fred Davis is playing for a contract. Etc. Do you really think they care more about Griffin getting fit for 2014 than winning -- or their own livelihood? Not a chance. Man that would be a dangerous precedent for a team to take that approach.

@ADEckman asks: is def’s yards allowed being exaggerated greatly by off’s inability to sustain drives? Or is it that bad?

Keim: You just can’t blame it all on the offense. Yes, the offense has not helped at all but it’s not like the defense was stopping Philadelphia early and just wore down. The Packers could have scored 50 points if they wanted to. And against Detroit the defense played better, but they still allowed 27 points, 441 yards and surrendered six plays of 20 or more yards. This despite the offense controlling the ball for 31 minutes, 12 seconds and gaining 420 yards of their own. It would definitely help if the offense did more, but when you see the inability to stop teams and the breakdowns, it’s just not because of the offense’s inability to do much. They’re allowing 6.9 yards per play; that’s terrible.

@enkay85 asks: Never mind Rhodes, why can't this team entice A. Winfield to join? Seems like he'd be a tremendous help.

Keim: I’m sure Winfield would love to join a team that’s 0-3 for his last go-round. I really like how Winfield plays and thought he had as good a game against Washington last year as any corner. But I don’t know how much money he would want; the Redskins still don’t have a lot of cap room.

@mikeyvanilli asks: I know onside kicks are rare, but isn't he on the roster to be a ST guru? Shouldn't he know that rule?

Keim: Of course he knows the rule. The problem on the kick is that the ball was not going to go 10 yards; the players are supposed to try and get it in the air. I’m not making excuses for him, but if he lets the ball go then it hits on the ground after eight yards -- or a Lions player catches it (one was right there). Either way it wasn’t going to work. Calvin Johnson also was approaching too, with Reed Doughty trying to box him out. Have a hunch Johnson wins that battle.

@JalfredoC10 asks: Any chance we have a new DC after the bye week ?

Keim: If they start 0-4 and the defense has another terrible game -- against a backup quarterback in Matt Flynn no less -- well, I think we’ve all been around long enough to know nobody should feel comfortable. But I haven’t heard those sort of rumblings; I’ve heard more the opposite (to this point anyway). I know you can place blame all over the place; to suggest it is just Jim Haslett’s fault is just wrong. The tackling was bad; rookie mistakes have really hurt a secondary that wasn’t strong to begin with and there are some players just not having the start they needed. But coaching is always part of the equation; failures like this start are a cumulative effort (yes, throw in the cap mess and the inability to adequately upgrade in the secondary). Haslett was not considered an elite coordinator; his reputation based on many I’ve spoken with -- people with far more knowledge than I -- is that he’s pretty good, but one criticism was the soundness of his defense’s coverages, how they meshed with blitzes, etc. That said, who would you replace him with? Bob Slowik had a failed tenure as a defensive coordinator in Denver. That leaves Raheem Morris. He’s energetic and perhaps this ultimately will be his job -- here or somewhere. But his group hasn’t flourished either. Haslett and his coaches improved the defense last year and will have to resort to weekly maneuvering to do so this year, more so than most teams.

@RolandWNoBrakes asks: With LF59 slowing down & Barnett working his way into the D, do you think he will be LF59's replacement in '14?

Keim: No, I don’t. Or, right now, I haven’t seen enough evidence to suggest he should be that guy. It’s tough to measure Barnett because when we saw him play this summer he was still recovering from offseason knee surgery. Barnett struggled last season in Buffalo, particularly in coverage, according to Bills’ insiders I spoke with. Barnett is a good insurance policy for this season; he’s smart and prepared and knows the defense. But I think they’d be wise to keep looking after the season. They think Perry Riley can handle play-calling duties, but he's well-suited for where he's at now. Even if they wanted to move him, they'd still need a replacement on that side.

@TMM75 asks: Do you think Jenkins' return will make any real difference? I feel he hasn't shown much for us to miss him.

Keim: Not sold that it will. Jenkins will add depth at a key position; that’s always welcomed. He won’t be the reason the defense turns it around; it’s not as if starter Kedric Golston has been a problem. He just didn’t show he could be a difference-maker in 2012. But he did improve against the run. Jenkins can play in the nickel, though he has not shown good pass-rush skills. He worked on that in the offseason, but against starters this summer I didn’t see a difference.