NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - INSIDE SLANT
Five players on hand at Redskins rookie minicamp had been selected earlier in the draft than Baccari Rambo, but although second-round cornerback David Amerson, third-round tight end Jordan Reed and fourth-round safety Phillip Thomas all attracted some media attention after the open session on May 5, the biggest throng surrounded the sixth-rounder from Georgia.
That was true in part because Rambo had been projected as an early-round pick before he was suspended for the start of a second straight Bulldogs season after failing another drug test.
But the other reason for the focus on Rambo is that, along with Thomas, he has a decent chance to start at the position that was Washington's biggest weakness during its 2012 NFC East championship season. Tanard Jackson, who was supposed to start at free safety last year, remains on an indefinite NFL substance abuse suspension. Madieu Williams, who filled for Jackson in 2012, wasn't re-signed.
"Their ball skills were very evident over the last few days," coach Mike Shanahan said of Rambo and Thomas. "We do a lot of different things with our secondary. We put a lot of pressure on them mentally as well as physically. You've got be able to play both (strong and free safety). They've got the size and the athletic ability to play both positions."
Rambo, who was second in the nation behind Amerson with eight interceptions in 2011, came up with a nifty pick along the sideline during the final minicamp practice.
"I kinda knew the system because we run the same system at Georgia with (former Redskins linebackers coach Kirk) Olivadotti," Rambo said. "I really learned a lot from him and it carried over. I just follow the scheme and do what the coaches ask me to do. Once you do that, it allow you to make plays, it allow you to play full speed. It's just natural once the ball's there to go it and make a play. I want to be the greatest at my position so I know there's things I need to improve on like tackling, taking better angles, so I pay real close attention to those things."
One would think that Shanahan pays close attention to drug issues after having Jackson, cornerbacks Phillip Buchanon and Cedric Griffin, tight end Fred Davis, and offensive tackles Jordan Black and Trent Williams suspended during the past two seasons and linebacker Rob Jackson for the first four games of 2013.
"We do a lot of background checks," Shanahan said when asked about gambling on another player with substance abuse issues. "We talk to (the player and his) coaches. We felt very comfortable with (Baccari). We have different tests that they take that tell us what type of mental quickness they have, what type of dedication, commitment, those type of things that are very important to us. (Thomas and Rambo), one had a 10 and one had a nine out of a 10-point (scale)."
Rambo claimed that his off-field issues are a thing of the past and that Olivadotti helped make him a Redskin.
"I know Coach Olivadotti had something to do with it, told 'em what kind of player I was and about my true character," Rambo said. "All that's behind me. I've moved on from that. It helped me grow (into) the person I am today. I'm just a regular, cool guy. I know I still got things I need to improve on ... just to show 'em, 'Hey he's not that guy. He grew from that.'"
And if he either he or Thomas can grow enough over the next four months to keep holdovers D.J. Gomes, Jordan Pugh and Jordan Bernstine on the bench, the Redskins might have fixed their biggest deficiency from last season.
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - NOTES, QUOTES
Tight end Jordan Reed, Washington's third-round pick, and running back Chris Thompson, a fifth-rounder, were held out of rookie minicamp as they recover from knee injuries, but coach Mike Shanahan said that they should be ready for training camp in late July. OTAs being on May 20.
"It's six months since (Thompson) had the ACL," Shanahan said. "Doctors say the ACL is looking great. You can see him run. I'm very impressed. He's a guy that we think can help us. He's got big-play capabilities and a guy that we had ranked very high. I believe if he didn't have that injury, he would have been a first-round, second-round draft choice."
As far as Reed's status is concerned, Shanahan explained, "He had a little bit of a pull with a quad, a little bit of soreness in the knee because of the quad. We're going to put him through a little bit of rehab and hopefully he'll be able to go in a couple of weeks. We just don't want to push him too hard because it's a little bit sore right now. He hasn't done anything in about two-and-a-half, three weeks."
--Two names stood out among the 48 players who participated in minicamp on a tryout basis. Birmingham-Southern running back Shawn Morris is Alfred Morris' younger brother while Western Illinois center Andrew Robiskie's father, Terry Robiskie, was an assistant to Shanahan with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988-89 and was the Redskins' interim coach in 2000.
"Same personality, for sure," Shanahan said of Shawn Morris. "I'm not sure they both run the same, but what a quality young man."
While Shanahan didn't particularly try to bond with the younger Morris, he did with the younger Robiskie.
"I talked to him for about 10-15 minutes and shared some stories about me and Terry when I first got the Raider job," Shanahan said. "A class young man, you can see that he handles himself just like Terry. Very smart, just coming off (a right knee scope) and he did a heck of a job in our camp."
--While franchise record-setter Alfred Morris is set at running back and backups Roy Helu and Evan Royster combined for six games with 100 rushing yards in 2011 before Morris' arrival last year, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan sees a definite role for Thompson, the first of Washington's two fifth-round picks out of Florida State.
"Chris is a guy that could excel against nickel defenses," Shanahan said. "He could be that third-down back. He's got great hands. He's got great elusiveness. He averaged a little over 7.5 yards per carry in his last year. He's the type of guy, I think, that can do it all."
The 5-7, 192-pound Thompson led the Seminoles in rushing in 2010, had his 2011 season ruined by two broken vertebrae and returned in 2012 only to suffer a season-ending left knee injury in October.
"That offense, I could feel real comfortable there, being able to be in the gun and do those things like the read option that are real dangerous," said Thompson, who has run 4.32. "With my speed and my ability, it could be a real great option."
--Eight spots after Thompson, Washington selected his Seminoles teammate, outside linebacker Brandon Jenkins, who racked up 21.5 sacks as a sophomore and junior before having his senior season end with a foot injury in the opener.
"I don't regret anything," said the 6-2, 251-pound Jenkins. "It made me a better person and player on and off the field. I'm ready to go to the Redskins and show what I've got. Nobody's life is perfect. You've got to fail to succeed. You've got to go through things to make you stronger and that only made me stronger. I'm in the door and I'm going to make sure I stay in the door. I'm bringing pass rushing dependability, great character on and off the field, and a hard worker."
--Washington's last pick was another vertically challenged running back, Rutgers' 5-7, 203-pound Jawan Jamison. After red-shirting in 201, he ran for 1,972 yards and 13 touchdowns the past two years despite ankle issues in 2012.
"Jamison is a guy that I thought would be going much earlier. We weren't really looking for that running back in that seventh round, but when he was there, we just thought he was too good to pass up," Shanahan said. "Not only could he excel in the nickel package, but he could be a first-down runner as well."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If they believe in themselves, the opportunity will come some time, if not from us, from another team. There's a number of teams next week working a lot of these guys out, so they'll have some opportunities to show people what they can do. There's a number of players out here today that could be in the National Football League that we won't be able to sign. I just told them to believe in their dreams and don't let people tell you you can't do something if you believe in yourself." -- Coach Mike Shanahan on the four dozen tryout players at rookie minicamp last weekend.
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Redskins signed a dozen college free agents on the eve of last weekend's rookie minicamp. They include receivers Skye Dawson of TCU, Chip Reeves of Troy, Jason Thompson of New Haven and Nick Williams of Connecticut; tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi; offensive linemen Jacolby Ashworth of Houston, Xavier Nixon of Florida, Tevita Stevens of Utah and Kyle Wilborn of Troy; and linebackers Marvin Burdette of Alabama-Birmingham, William Compton of Nebraska and Jeremy Kimbrough of Appalachian State.
A closer look at the Redskins' picks:
Round 2/51 -- David Amerson, CB, 6-1, 205, North Carolina State
The Redskins passed on a more immediate need at free safety to go for the ball-hawking Amerson, who picked off 18 passes during his two full college seasons as a starter but also got burned by going for the big play so often.
Round 3/85 -- Jordan Reed, TE, 6-3, 243, Florida
Washington again opted to look ahead to 2014 with top tight end Fred Davis unsigned beyond this year. A high school quarterback, Reed made All-SEC with 45 catches for 559 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, his second year at tight end.
Round 4/119 -- Phillip Thomas, SS, 6-0, 210, Fresno State
After taking the Football Bowl Subdivision leader in interceptions in 2011 with its second-round pick, Washington again looked for a ball-hawk in the secondary by bringing in the player who led in that category last season. Thomas had eight interceptions, 84 tackles and four forced fumbles as a senior.
Round 5/154 -- Chris Thompson, RB, 5-7, 192, Florida State
Seeking a change-of-pace back for their option-based offense, the Redskins took a running back who tore the ACL in his left knee on Oct. 20 but should be ready for the start of training camp. Thompson had 657 yards and five touchdowns through six games.
Round 5/162 -- Brandon Jenkins, DE, 6-2, 251, Florida State
Graded by several scouting services as a potential selection in the first two rounds before last season, Jenkins broke his left foot in the opener and missed the rest of the year. After picking up 22.5 sacks in 40 games, he'll move to outside linebacker in the Redskins' 3-4 scheme.
Round 6/191 -- Bacarri Rambo, FS, 6-0, 215, Georgia
A pair of suspensions for drug-related incidents in college sank Rambo's chance of going higher, but the Redskins were pleased to scoop him up in the sixth round. He finished second to Amerson with eight interceptions in 2011 and had 73 tackles and three interceptions through 10 games as a senior.
Round 7/228 -- Jawan Jamison, RB, 5-7, 203, Rutgers
A running back who is adept in pass protection and catching passes out of the backfield, Jamison ran for 1,075 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, his redshirt sophomore season. He'll fit in well in the Redskins' zone-blocking running scheme.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (6)
--OT Jordan Black will miss the first game of next season under an NFL suspension and wasn't that great in his limited duty in 2012. Borderline to return.
--OT Jammal Brown, a starter in 2010-11 on the right side, missed all of last season following hip surgery. Brown will be 32 in March and had his contract voided this month. He's almost surely an ex-Redskin.
--TE Chris Cooley is one of the greatest tight ends in franchise history, along with the late Jerry Smith. However, Cooley hasn't been the same since knee surgery in 2011. He was cut last summer, made little impact after being re-signed and doesn't figure to be back.
--CB Cedric Griffin was decent as the nickel corner in his Washington debut before serving a four-game suspension following a positive drug test. The cap-strapped Redskins are thin at corner and will likely try to keep Griffin.
--S Madieu Williams was a disappointment as the fill-in free safety last year after Tanard Jackson was suspended. His career could be over at 31.
--DE Chris Wilson had a chance to become a starter after Brian Orakpo was hurt in Week 2 last season. Instead, Rob Jackson took the job and ran with it. Wilson, 30, could still return as a backup and special teamer.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--WR/KR Brandon Banks (not tendered as RFA) had a second straight down year as the return man and lost those duties in December. Don't expect the NFL's smallest player (5-7, 150 pounds) back in Washington.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--NT Chris Baker: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation; $1.323M/1 yr.
--TE Fred Davis: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Kedric Golston: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Rex Grossman: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB DeAngelo Hall: FA had been released by Redskins; $2.25M/1 yr.
--LB Rob Jackson: Potential RFA; $715,000/1 yr.
--LB Bryan Kehl: UFA; terms unknown.
--G Kory Lichtensteiger: Potential UFA; 5 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Logan Paulsen: Potential RFA; $3.41M/3 yrs, $1M SB.
--OT Tyler Polumbus: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--P Sav Rocca: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LS Nick Sundberg: Potential RFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--FB Darrel Young: Potential RFA; $6.2M/3 yrs.
--CB E.J. Biggers: UFA Buccaneers terms unknown.
--NT Ron Brace: FA; terms unknown.
--DE Phillip Merling: FA; terms unknown.
--T Tony Pashos: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Darryl Tapp: UFA Eagles; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--T Jeremy Trueblood: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--QB Pat White: FA; terms unknown.
--LB Lorenzo Alexander: UFA Cardinals; $9.5M/3 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--CB D.J. Johnson (released).