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Redskins Position Battles: Who will become second wide receiver across from Terry McLaurin?

Redskins Position Battles: Who will become second wide receiver across from Terry McLaurin?

This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will examine some of the more critical position battles you'll see on the Redskins over the next few months.

Next up? That second outside receiver spot across from Terry McLaurin.

Contenders

Kelvin Harmon, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Cody Latimer, Cam Sims

JP's outlook

*Before we dig into the position battle at wide receiver, let’s establish what we know. McLaurin will be the lead dog and Steven Sims will lead the work at the slot. Antonio Gibson could get some slot receiver work too, which will be an interesting wrinkle, but it’s important to identify the actual position battle in play. Those guys aren't exactly involved in this particular discussion.

*McLaurin’s going to play the X receiver position, even if he’s learning all the different positions, as he explained last week: “ I’m excited to play wherever they put me, to be honest. X is kind of like your boundary receiver, your one-on-one guy. Your Z is kind of like your flanker who moves with the formation and your S is like your typical slot, he can move anywhere as well. In this offense, which is nice, I can be the X, but really I’m the Z in a certain formation, so that versatility is really important for what I think Coach Turner and our offense is trying to get done this year.”

*Now, let's get down to business. The position battle here shapes up to be between second-year wideout Harmon and rookie wide receiver Gandy-Golden. I think Harmon wins the battle, and here's why. 

*Gandy-Golden has a lot of potential and physical tools, but at least early on, the jump from Liberty University to the NFL will be significant, especially without a normal offseason. 

*McLaurin is a playmaker. Sims is too. The Redskins hope Gibson will be. Harmon can make tough, contested catches even if he doesn't have deep speed. There's a role for that with a young QB that can trust somebody on 3rd down. Dwayne Haskins has known Harmon for more than a decade from growing up in New Jersey; with no offseason and a new offense, that familiarity could help. 

OTHER BATTLES TO WATCH: LEFT TACKLE | TIGHT END | QUARTERBACK

 

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Pete's outlook

*Like JP, I think Harmon wins this battle for 2020. His comfort level with Haskins, his bigger body and his ability to make a difference as a blocker all make him an appealing cog in this offense. While McLaurin has his straight-line speed and Sims has his shiftiness, Harmon brings his toughness. That element will matter.

*Going off of that last point, I'll never forget what Harmon told me at his first rookie minicamp last May: "I'm always trying to bully the guy in front of me, whether I have to block him or win the route." Ron Rivera is going to love that attitude more than I love making pico de gallo (it's a hobby I've picked up in quarantine and I really love it, just so you know).

*Now, while I certainly see Harmon edging out Gandy-Golden this year, I still like AGG's ceiling more in the long run. He and Harmon have very comparable college stats, yes, and their speed is similar as well, but I like Gandy-Golden's frame and penchant for highlight reel catches to eventually make him a more productive option. I still expect Harmon to carve out a very nice NFL career, but give me Gandy-Golden to finish with more yards and catches (let's talk in like 10 years to see if I was right or not).

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The six weeks that forever changed the Washington Football Team

The six weeks that forever changed the Washington Football Team

For the most part, the month of July is rather quiet for NFL teams. Though training camp begins toward the end, the month acts as a buffer before the news begins to intensify as the season gets underway.

The Washington Football Team's July -- and now the beginning of August -- was anything but that. The team has not played a single snap of football in 2020, and yet still dominated the news cycle for close to six weeks with off-the-field events that never seem to stop. 

The past 39 days have forever changed the franchise in Washington. Things will never truly be the same in Ashburn, Va. Here's a look at the breathtaking timeline of events that have occurred since July 1.

July 1

Owner Dan Snyder has faced pressure over the years to change the moniker that many found offensive, but his stance on the issue never really wavered. That was until the first domino fell on July 1 as a collection of 87 shareholders and investment firms asked major companies, such as Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo, to end any relationship with the team until the name was changed.

The group was worth over $600 billion, and it was clear that the movement to change the name was picking up steam like never before.

July 2

Just one day later, FedEx, which owns the naming rights to Washington's stadium, sent a formal request to the team asking for the name to be changed. FedEx Ceo Frederick Smith is also a minority owner of the team (more on him later).

It didn't end there, as Nike also removed all Washington merchandise from the team store on its website. At this point, it became clear that the companies were not making any sort of empty threats. They wanted the moniker switched, and they wanted it done quickly.

July 3

Realizing the issue was not going away, Washington announces that they will conduct a 'thorough review' of the name

In a statement Redskins owner Dan Snyder said, "This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field."

A report then surfaced that the review essentially meant that a name change was coming. 

July 4

If a new name was to come, when would it be? That's a question many had at this time. Head coach Ron Rivera shared some insight with the Washington Post, saying that he was hoping a rebrand would come before the season began.

"We want to do this in a positive way," Rivera said.

July 6

More big names, including Target and Walmart, announced that Washington gear will no longer be available for purchase at their websites until the team changed its name. If the pressure wasn't already impacting the speed of a decision on the moniker, it was now.

July 8

Remember Frederick Smith? Here's where he comes back into play. The FedEx CEO and two other minority owners of the team -- Robert Rothman and Dwight Schar -- were reportedly trying to sell their stake in the franchise. Additionally, they tried to get Snyder to sell his majority stake.

That didn't work, and frustration only grew for the three.

Also, Amazon said it would no longer sell Washington merchandise on its website. 

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July 10

FedEx continues to demand a name change, now citing that it will remove all signage from the stadium following the 2020 NFL season if something was not done. Washington had a deal with the company through 2025. 

July 13

The day finally comes, and the name is retired -- sort of.

Washington announced that the previous moniker and logo would be more, and then proceeded to use that name and logo numerous times in the press release. 

Either way, it was a day of monumental change for the franchise.

July 14 and 15

In the days following the release, the attention quickly shifted away from the name. This was due to numerous vague teasers from D.C. area reporters implying that a "bombshell" type story was about to drop, and it wasn't going to be good.

Rumors spread like wildfire throughout social media as everyone consistently refreshed Twitter waiting for something to happen.

Longtime team broadcast Larry Michael retired almost out of nowhere at this time, leaving many wondering who was about to be exposed when the news dropped. 

July 16

The Washington Post releases a scathing report that accuses former staff members of serious allegations of sexual harassment toward female employees. Among the names involved were former personnel executives Richard Mann II and Alex Santos, who were fired a week before the news broke. Michael was also included in the claims.

Snyder was not explicitly mentioned in any of the accusations, he was still the man in power that allowed the dysfunction to exist in the organization. However, it is believed that the news will not be enough to force Snyder out of Washington

In the span of 15 days, Washington was in search of a new name and Ron Rivera was in search of a way to break away from the past problems in the organization. 

July 17

A day after the report surfaced, the NFL announced that it will 'take any action' if necessary following the conclusion of the investigation into the culture in Washington.

The team hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to conduct a "deep dive" into the organization the day prior, which raised some skepticism considering franchises typically don't get to choose the personnel for league investigations. 

On the same day, former Washington safety D.J. Swearinger shared screenshots of text messages that were allegedly between him and former head coach Jay Gruden. The messages showed Gruden using explicit and unprofessional language toward Swearinger. Compared to the larger issues, it was a relatively minor fued between two people no longer with the organization. But it did speak to the culture in place at the time. 

With so much going on in Washington, many would not be surprised if Rivera had regrets about taking the job in January. The head coach put that notion to rest explaining that he had none despite the circumstances surrounding the franchise. 

July 18

Since it was announced that the name would be changed, speculation on what that would be took over social media. Warriors and Redtails got the initial support, but Red Wolves quickly became the fan favorite - on social media anyway. Some players also showed some love for the moniker.

Despite the suggestions, Washington showed no signs of a favorite. That left Dwayne Haskins and many others wondering when a new name was coming. 

July 20

Washington hires Terry Bateman as its new executive vice president and chief marketing officer to head up the name change process. Bateman had already worked for Snyder in the past, leaving many to question if things were really going to change in Washington.

July 21

Washington hires former NBC Sports Washington anchor and reporter Julie Donaldson to lead the radio broadcast team, serve in other on-air roles and hold an executive position as senior vice president of media.  Donaldson is set to be the first woman to be a regular member of an NFL team's radio broadcast booth as the franchise takes a step in the right direction.

Former Washington player Logan Paulsen shares a story about how former team executive Bruce Allen would show players a PowerPoint to defend the team's former name.

"You'd get Bruce Allen coming in and he'd give you a presentation about how the Native American tribes, 95% of them support the name," the ex-tight end told the hosts. "You always felt like he was trying to sell you something there."

July 23

Speculation over the new name comes to a halt when the team announces it will be known as the "Washington Football Team" for the 2020 season. The temporary name change allows the team to move on from the past while also taking the time to figure out the next step in the rebrand.

Logos, jerseys and more are unveiled and social media becomes a battling ground for the two factions: Those who like the move and those who believe it was a failure by the organization to not have a new name ready. 

RELATED: RIVERA WORKING TO CHANGE CULTURE WITH ACTIONS

July 24

It is reported that the NFL is investigating Washington again. this time in relation to how recent hirings correspond to the league's "Rooney Rule". The rule requires NFL franchises to consider minority and/or female applications for executive positions within the franchise. 

The Fritz Pollard Alliance had sent inquiries to the NFL and the team regarding their hiring process after Washington announced the hiring of Bateman.

In an on-field surprise, quarterback Alex Smith is cleared for full football activities by his personal doctors, marking an incredible display of perseverance by the veteran after he suffered what many believed to be a career-ending broken leg during the 2018 season. Though he still has a ways to go, Ron Rivera isn't ready to rule out Smith being a part of the team's future plans at quarterback. 

July 25 - August 6

Name suggestions, logo ideas and photoshops flood the internet as fans debate the impending permanent name change. Red Wolves is still winning the popularity contests, but numerous other options exist and have their own levels of support.

Players begin reporting to training camp amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For the first time in over a month, football-related storylines start to take over. Things seem a bit quiter off the field after erupting for more than three weeks. That calm would not last.  

August 7

Washington running back Derrius Guice is arrested on domestic violence charges and promptly released from the team.  

The release of Guice becomes the latest sign that Rivera is actually following through on changing the culture in Washington, and he's using actions rather than just words.

One of the most promising young players on the roster, a 2018 second-round draft pick who has struggled with injuries but showed such promise on the field late last season, was suddenly gone. In this crazy summer, it hardly matches what came before. But it's worth noting how big this story alone would be in a normal NFL offseason or training camp for most teams. 

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder filed defamation lawsuits in India and in Los Angeles to defend against the rumors that spread about his ownership prior to the Washington Post story being released. 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    

After Friday's latest round of breaking news, and with the actual season creeping closer to its start date, deciding on the No. 1 quarterback or which wide receivers step up are the storylines expected to be covered in Washington. But, in this summer of uncertainty and change, it's probably better to just wait for the latest bombshell. If the past 39 days are any indication, with a temporary name, a new head coach, an ongoing pandemic and almost daily seismic shifts in the organization, news could break at any second. 

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Derrius Guice's career in Washington consisted of much more promise than production

Derrius Guice's career in Washington consisted of much more promise than production

A little more than a week ago, running backs coach Randy Jordan was asked for his opinion on where Derrius Guice was in his career. Jordan's response was creative and also completely apt.

"I always tell him this," Jordan said. "'The only thing you did this past year is you were an appetizer. I want the whole steak. I want the whole lobster. I want the whole thing.’"

But after an out-of-nowhere Friday night — in which it was revealed Guice is facing domestic violence charges, news that was shortly followed by the Washington Football Team cutting him — it's now clear that Jordan, along with everyone else within the organization or who supports it, will never get the whole thing from the 23-year-old.

And that is, from a football perspective, what will define Guice's career in Washington: All promise, no production.

For the most part, injuries are what prevented the 2018 second-rounder from building on his spectacular LSU career. Constant, constant injuries.

In his first preseason contest, Guice's best carry against the Patriots — the one that showed both surprising speed and brute power — was also the last of his entire year. What was originally thought to be a sprained MCL turned out to be a torn ACL. There would be no rookie campaign for No. 29.

13 months later, Guice made his true NFL debut in Philly, where he promptly suffered a torn meniscus on one of his 10 rushing attempts. He returned to the injured reserve, a stint that ended up spanning eight games.

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Guice came back yet again, however, and finally began to deliver. He turned a short screen pass into a 45-yard score versus the Jets and then took over a matchup in Carolina with 129 yards and two touchdowns. Those kinds of feats were what everyone had been craving.

But a week later, he had to leave Washington's meeting with the Packers because of a sprained MCL. The team put him on I.R. again soon after, which ended his 2019 and gave him the same amount of trips to that list as he had trips to the end zone.

2020, though, was supposed to be his legitimate breakthrough. He was declared ready to go just as camp began, and this time, people knew what he was capable of when right. As the franchise looked to develop a young core, Guice figured to be a major part of that effort.

Now, suddenly and shockingly, he's gone. Legally, there's still a ways to go in determining his guilt (his attorney has denied all allegations) yet Ron Rivera didn't feel the need to wait or have to wait. Guice won't be a part of his rebuild.

Some will fairly point to Guice's NFL numbers up to this point — five appearances, 245 rushing yards and three total TDs — and wonder why such a stir is being made over his release. Those are stats an average running back can compile in September, after all.

Well, the reason is that Guice was expected, and skilled enough, to do so much more. The glimpses were about to become the norm. The fan favorite was approaching his peak.

That peak obviously won't come with Washington anymore. And at this point, who knows if it will ever come, really. 

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