Meriweather, Compton, Reed will get chances

Adapted from John Keim's mailbag at Redskins Confidential. Read more at

Can Brandon Meriweather be counted upon to play this year? - @ICEMANVA

John Keim » Yes. He tore his ACL in November, so he won't return until training camp. We'll learn a lot more about his knee and what his outlook is for the season at that time. But both coach Mike Shanahan and Meriweather have been optimistic about his return. The question will then be about his durability over 16 games. But yes, you can expect him to play. I know he had issues at the end in New England and in Chicago (he was a poor fit for a disciplined cover-2 scheme), but he looked good last summer and in the one game he played last season. He'll help here -- if healthy.

I keep hearing the coaches are high on [Tom] Compton. If [Tyler] Polumbus is so bad, why has he yet to see the field? - Timothy Tribbett

John Keim » Because he was a rookie sixth-round pick last year. Guys like that don't come to the NFL ready to play immediately. Also, they're high on what they think and hope he can become when he's a finished product. When I saw Compton last summer, he struggled with counter moves. I wondered if he lacked the foot speed to handle NFL athleticism. However, the coaches love his footwork and say his issues were due to needing to get stronger so when he'd thrust his arms at a rusher, he'd knock him off stride and make the double move easier to combat. We'll learn a lot this summer about Compton and where he's at in his development.

As always, thanks for the great work. How do you see the tight end situation playing out by the time the season starts? Does the drafting of a tight end have implications on team plans for [Fred] Davis, [Niles] Paul or [Logan] Paulsen? Thanks. - Andrew D. Eckman

John Keim » Thank you. I certainly don't see the first two tight ends changing. Davis is the obvious No. 1 and Paulsen is a good blocker in an offense that requires that from the tight end -- the stretch zone fails without it. But for the other two, it depends on Paul's development and how draft pick Jordan Reed looks against NFL talent. There's no way of knowing either situation right now. For Paul, now that he's had a year playing the position, will he improve? But I certainly think Reed could help them even if Paul does get better. Reed is a more fluid athlete than Paul, who has better straight-line speed, but quickness matters more. Reed runs better after the catch, too.

As for the future, I don't see Reed as a viable replacement for Davis if he's unsigned. Reed is a mismatch tight end, but has a long way to go as a blocker. He's further behind than Davis was when he entered the NFL. If he's asked to block along the line right now, he'd have major issues. As a blocker on the move? He can help there, much like how they used Paul last year. There's a definite spot for Reed in this offense because of his versatility.