The busy portion of free agency is completed. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview. The 90-man offseason roster is full, as well. Now comes the difficult part for second-year head coach Jay Gruden: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin Tuesday, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler have spent the past few days examining the top items on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the Redskins for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
We wrap up the series today with...
Redskins OTA to-do list: Specialists
Tandler: For the time being at least Kai Forbath doesn’t have a serious challenger; undrafted free agent Ty Long out of Alabama-Birmingham is very unlikely to unseat him. But Forbath needs to work on his kickoff distances or he could wake up one morning to find another veteran kicker on the roster. Punter Tress way can boom the ball but he needs to learn some directional punting and how to prevent touchbacks and outkicking the coverage. He was first in the NFL in gross punting average last year but was 10th in the stat that really counts, net average. Special teams coach Ben Kotwica will be working to help Way master the finer points of the game so he can pin opponents deeper.
El-Bashir: Barring something unforeseen, Forbath will be the Redskins’ kicker in 2015, Way will be the punter and Nick Sundberg will be the snapper. Sure, Forbath needs to stay healthy and improve the hang time and distance on his kickoffs. But he’s reliable on field goals, which will matter a little more this season with the PAT getting moved back. Way needs some fine-tuning, but he’s got a big enough leg to challenge for a Pro Bowl berth. The battle I’ll be watching om the coming weeks is at returner. Andre Roberts, the incumbent, ranked 19th in kickoff and punt return average in 2014. Quite simply, they can and need to do better. Rookie Jamison Crowder was a dangerous punt returner at Duke, taking four back for touchdowns the past two seasons. I’ve got to imagine he’ll receive strong consideration. The Redskins, by the way, haven’t returned a punt for a touchdown since 2008. As for kickoff return duties, Crowder doesn’t have a ton of recent experience in that area. But you’ve got to figure he’ll get a look there, too, along with Roberts, Chris Thompson, Trey Williams, Rashad Ross and others.