Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 22, one day before the Washington Redskins start OTAs on May 23.
It’s been 141 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 111 days.
—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 22
—Training camp starts (7/27) 66
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 80
Who will surprise in 2017?
Here are four Redskins who I think will surprise in 2017; two who will exceed expectations and two I think will fall short of expectations.
OLB Preston Smith—If you have been reading this space for a while you know that I have predicted that Smith is on the verge of a breakout multiple times. Here is one more time.
We have seen the good-to-great version of Smith on multiple occasions—the last four games of the 2015 season including the playoff game, when he terrorized Sam Bradford and saved that Vikings game with an interception, and against the Bears when he blocked a field goal. I think that competition from rookie Ryan Anderson will give him the jolt he needs to become a consistent defensive force.
CB Bashaud Breeland—Breeland never quite seemed to find his groove last year. When he started off the year he was guarding the likes of Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant as teams took advantage of Joe Barry’s reluctance to have Josh Norman follow the opposition’s top receiver. Later in the year he reportedly had disputes with former secondary coach Perry Fewell over how he was being utilized.
This year he should be more comfortable defending mostly No. 2 receivers. That, and the fact that he is entering the final year of his rookie contract, should propel him to a solid year.
TE Vernon Davis—I don’t think that Davis will fall off terribly at age 33, even though Father Time is undefeated. But he isn’t going to sneak up on anybody this year and the added attention from defenses could depress his production. His numbers (receptions, yards per catch, catch percentage) all fell off in the second half of 2016 compare to the first half. The stats could take another dip in 2017.
DE Jonathan Allen—No, Allen is not going to be a draft bust. He will be just fine. But some are expecting him to be the second coming of J.J. Watt right off the bat. Watt was good as a rookie, recording 5.5 sacks, but not great. It wasn’t until his second season that he started to rack up double-digit sacks and became a perennial All-Pro.
So, don’t be surprised if Allen doesn’t wow you immediately. There is a big adjustment when going from college to the NFL, even after playing in the SEC. Allen will put in the work it takes to develop into a very good player. But the work may not bear fruit until towards the end of this season or may not until 2018.
Tandler on Twitter
Good K for Strasburg but he needs one-pitch outs. Can’t give the bullpen a chance to blow this one. #Nats— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) May 21, 2017
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