With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, CSNWashington.com reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.
Who will be the surprise of training camp?
Every summer, someone captures the imagination of Redskins coaches and fans and earns the unofficial title of ‘Training Camp Phenom’. Sometimes, it’s a late round draft pick or an unheralded college free agent. Other times, it’s a forgotten veteran attempting reestablish himself. Who will it be this year? And will he have staying power or fade into obscurity like the Colt Brennans and Lache Seastrunks of years past?
El-Bashir: I know this really isn’t going out on a limb considering his eye-opening performance during OTAs, but I think fourth-round rookie Jamison Crowder is going to be the star of training camp and perhaps the biggest surprise of 2015.
The Redskins are already stacked at wide receiver with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, but I think Crowder has the talent to come in and begin pushing Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant for playing time right away. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Crowder were the No. 3 option at wide receiver by the time camp breaks.
The Redskins also haven’t had a legitimate threat at punt returner in years, but I expect Crowder to change that thanks to his burst and scintillating ability to make opponents miss. The Redskins haven't had a punt returned for a touchdown since 2008. Crowder just might end that drought.
Okay, now I’m ready to go out on a limb. For my completely off the radar Training Camp Phenom candidate, I’d like to nominate undrafted inside linebacker Terrance Plummer out of Central Florida. Plummer isn't particularly big or fast, but he was a very productive player in college and will be competing at a position where there’s some room for upward mobility.
Tandler: I like Crowder but his Camp Phenom credentials are suspect. A mid-round draft pick usually doesn’t qualify. And most are long gone by the time Week 1 rolls around despite the fan hype they generate. Crowder is a lock to make the team.
I’m going to go with undrafted rookie running back Trey Williams to be the legit 2015 Training Camp Phenom. These players are often catch the eye of the fans by being very tall or very small. At 5-7, 195, Williams fits in the latter category. He has blazing speed and will make some moves that will have the crowd in Richmond cheering wildly. He could well be the leading rusher in the preseason and break a few long runs in the process.
However, Williams faces long odds when it comes to actually making the team. Alfred Morris and Matt Jones are set. It appears that Chris Thompson and Silas Redd are competing for the third running back job. It would take quite a performance for him to claim a spot on the 53.
I’m also going to keep an eye on another guy with the same first name. Trey Wolfe spent some time on the practice squad last year and his ability to make spectacular interceptions is legendary (check out some of his highlights here). If he makes a few one-handed picks, they hype machine will hit overdrive.
Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:
- Who will start at strong safety?
- Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- Who will be the third down back?
- Which rookie will have the most impact?
- How will the carries be divvied up?
- What will the QB depth chart look like?
- Who will the third running back be?
- Which free agent will have the most impact?
- Which new assistant coach will have the biggest impact?
- What team is the biggest threat to win the NFC East?
- Will Jason Hatcher live up to his contract?