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Robert Henson could be a “special” player

Robert Henson could be a “special” player

As the Washington Redskins' sixth-round draft choice, linebacker Robert Henson knows that he will have to wait his turn to play with the defense and contribute on special teams in the meantime. He has been down that path before.

For three seasons at TCU he got three starts on defense and played on virtually every special team unit. He performed so well that he received honorable mention All-Mountain West honors all three years.

Finally, his senior year his chance to start came up and he made the most of it. Henson recorded up 73 tackles, nine of them for losses, and intercepted two passes. His performance earned him first-team all conference honors. It also propelled TCU's defense to a #2 national ranking and the Horned Frogs to an 11-2 record and a final ranking as the #7 team in the country.

Robert went back home to Longview, Texas (getting some nice local TV coverage while he was there) after the Redskins' minicamp to prepare for OTA's in June. He was good enough to answer a few questions about his minicamp experience and his adjustment to the NFL:

Rich Tandler: Which are you finding to be more challenging, the physical aspect of the NFL or the mental, playbook aspects of it?

 Robert Henson: Honesty the physical game was easy to adjust to, of course we have not put on pads just yet. I have struggled a bit with the mental aspect of the game, for example getting everyone lined up with only seconds before the ball is snapped.

 RT: Last year Coach Zorn commented that some of the rookies came into training camp not physically or mentally ready to handle it. What will you be doing in between now and the end of July to make sure that you're not one of "those guys"?

 RH: I really believe in the weight room and so far it has not failed me yet, so I am sure preparing my body for the rigors of the NFL is a must. Then second of all I believe you have to be mentally tough in order to be successful, it's a long season and you have be prepared in every way possible.

 RT: Is there a current Redskins player who you think has a game similar to yours? Or, if not, who in the NFL is your game modeled after?

 RH: I have always tried to model my game after two current NFL linebackers. I have always tried to play with a high emotion and motor like Ray Lewis. He is always wired up and in attack mode. I also love the way that Brian Urlacher prepares mentally. He is rarely caught out of position and studies the game so well he always knows what is coming.  

 RT: What linebacker positions are you learning with the Redskins? You said in your Facebook update that you're moving up the depth chart—any details you can share?

RH: Right now [linebackers coach Kirk] Olivadotti has me playing "Mike" Linebacker, which is the middle linebacker in the defense, it is very good position I feel very comfortable playing there. Ultimately I will have to learn all three linebacker positions. I also know in order to make the team better I will have to contribute as well as focus on my play in the in the kicking game. So because of my effort on special teams I have moved up a little on the depth charts for these teams.

 RT: What is the main thing you need to work on as far as technique goes?

RH: The things I need to work on technique wise are footwork and learning how to approach and take on blockers. Coach Olivadotti has done a great job tearing down my bad habits and rebuilding technique to make me more effective and productive. I am constantly asking veteran London Fletcher how I can improve also, so between two great influences like them I can do nothing but learn and reach full potential.

RT: What special teams units did you play at TCU? What do you enjoy about playing special teams?

RH: When I was at TCU I played on all special teams units, except extra point and field goal. I love the special teams phase of the game for 2 reasons. It can change the momentum as well as the outcome of the game very quickly Also it is man to man most of the time and there is nothing like beating another person and making a play, it gets the whole team pumped and motivated.

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency


In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."


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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.