Still unclear how safety, O-line will shake out
The biggest question hasn't changed since Jan. 9. Will Robert Griffin III be ready for the start of training camp? If not, will he be ready to open the season? Now that the offseason workouts are finished, the answer to the first question remains a bit uncertain. While there's confidence he will be, nobody knows for sure.
However, it's hard to imagine at this point anyone else opening the season as the starting quarterback. That's not the only question the Redskins face as they enter the last stage of the offseason, with training camp set to begin July 25 in Richmond. Here are the others:
1. How will Griffin evolve as a quarterback? » For the offense to become a consistent force, Griffin must continue to develop as a passer. He'll never just be a straight drop-back passer; with his legs, why confine him to the pocket? But Griffin needs to improve reading his progressions and going through them faster before deciding to scramble. He can help himself by going through them faster -- and that stems from experience, knowing whether or not his main options will be available based on the coverage. Having a healthy Fred Davis and Pierre Garcon also will help Griffin evolve in this area.
2. Who will start at safety? » It's asking a lot for one of the rookies, fourth-rounder Phillip Thomas or sixth-rounder Bacarri Rambo, to open as a starter -- or even end the season in that role. Here's why: Defenses are more complicated and they also must learn both the free and strong safety positions; offenses are tougher to read; and they need to prove they can tackle from the deep middle. It can be done, but there's a long ways to go. It could be that the other starting safety, assuming Brandon Meriweather is healthy, will come from a rotation -- which is what they did in the second half of 2012.
3. Will Tyler Polumbus start at right tackle? » It appears that way. He allowed too much pressure last season because of a combination of physical skill and technique breakdowns. Line coach Chris Foerster said second-year player Tom Compton will stay on the left side for now, backing up Trent Williams. That means Polumbus' competition is Jeremy Trueblood and Tony Pashos. Trueblood struggled during the spring workouts and minicamp at times. Pashos did not play last season because of an injury and has plenty of rust to remove.
4. Will Brian Orakpo stay healthy? ?» That's impossible to know at this point, and while Orakpo and the coaches are optimistic, until his arm is tested in games, it's uncertain. There's little doubt he's been one of the most energetic players this spring. They absolutely need his pass-rush skills, but they also missed the energy and passion he brought -- during games and, even more so, in practice. If he stays healthy, the pass rush is much, much better. It needs to be.
5. Will the third-year players be a big factor? »
The 12-member 2011 draft class was hailed as an impressive one, but thus far only linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has become a quality starter. Can Kerrigan turn into a double-digit sack player? Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins spent the offseason working on his first step to improve his pass rush. Receiver Leonard Hankerson looked good this spring, but it's the spring and he needs to become more consistent in the fall. And running back Roy Helu must stay healthy; if he does, he'll be a factor as a third-down back.