As training camp continues to pick up, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will come up with, and then respond to, some burning questions facing the 2020 Washington Football Team.
To start, they each answer the following: Who will be a breakout player in Burgundy and Gold?
JP's choice: Daron Payne
I’m not sure a former first-round pick counts as a breakout player but I think Daron Payne is poised to have a monster season. He has wild strength in his hands at the point of attack, to the point I remember one AFC scout telling me he was the strongest player in the 2018 draft.
Payne has played well, but not great, through two years in the NFL. In those two seasons, he has seven sacks and nine tackles for loss. Honestly. I think he should get to those totals in this year alone.
Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio pride themselves on preaching an aggressive philosophy, particularly up front. The plan is to defend the run on their way to the quarterback.
There is nobody on this roster that shapes up better for that approach than Daron Payne. Add in the presence of Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat (and the attention those guys will attract) and you'll realize why you should prepare yourself for a big, big year from D-Payne.
Pete's choice: Antonio Gibson
I wanted to put Steven Sims here. I also wanted to put Antonio Gandy-Golden here. But in the end, I put Antonio Gibson here. And I feel really good about that, too.
Sure, I'm a bit concerned about Gibson having to split time between running back and receiver. RBs coach Randy Jordan recently told the media that in his meetings, he's having to remind Gibson to focus on his duties in the backfield instead of on the outside. Jordan said it while laughing, but I do think there is something to the third-rounder perhaps being stretched too thin as a rookie.
Then I remember that Gibson scored 12 touchdowns on 71 offensive touches last year for Memphis.
That leads me to remember that Washington, who had the only offense IN THE LEAGUE last year to average FEWER THAN 17 POINTS A GAME, is going to need someone like Gibson to spark drives.
Then I also remember that Ron Rivera and Scott Turner are now in charge of this side of the ball, and they loved using Christian McCaffrey in Carolina, and they're going to need someone dynamic to replace Christian McCaffrey in Washington.
Then I also also remember how unproven the majority of the receivers are on this roster, which means Gibson could see a lot of targets regardless of where he lines up.
Right now, Gibson is someone who's a bit of a mystery, even to Washington fans. Come December, though, that mystery will disappear and give way to a whole bunch of production.
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