Joe Gibbs has gone about this offseason trying to provide more answers than questions. Need depth? Bring in veterans on both sides of the ball. Want to increase the level of competition? Make it clear that starting jobs are to be earned, not assumed.
That said, training camp will still have plenty of intrigue. Here are five questions the Redskins face as they gear up for a passing camp starting Monday, July 26 and the official start of training camp on Saturday, July 31. Click here for the complete schedule for
Redskins Training Camp Built by The Home Depot.
1. All eyes will be on Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey. How intense will the competition be at quarterback?
Brunell and Ramsey have forged a strong bond this offseason, but they're both intense competitors. Gibbs has always preferred experienced quarterbacks leading his teams--that's why Brunell was among the first players he considered adding to the roster this offseason. It's not often that a quarterback ranked No. 11 all-time in passer rating is available via trade.
Meantime, Ramsey is fully recovered from offseason foot surgery and seems determined to grab a hold on the starting job. Due to the surgery, he fell behind in on-field work this offseason, but he impressed coaches in the June mini-camp.
"We've thrown a lot at Patrick, much more than what we would have during a regular season and regular preparation," Gibbs said. "He's handled it well."
This competition could go right down to the final preseason game.
2. What are some of the other training camp competitions to watch?
One of the more intriguing competitions could be at center. Lennie Friedman impressed last season after replacing injured starter Larry Moore. Raymer has nine years of experience at center and knows what to expect from Bugel, having played for the Redskins' assistant head coach-offense when both were in San Diego in 2001.
Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete, a 15-game starter last year, said during mini-camp that he isn't going to give up his starting job without a fight. He'll compete with Matt Bowen and rookie Sean Taylor.
James Thrash, Darnerien McCants and Taylor Jacobs are expected to compete for playing time as third and fourth wide receivers. Left guard Derrick Dockery will have to work hard and show continued improvement to fend off challenges from veteran Kenyatta Jones and rookies Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro. And Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, John Simon and Sultan McCullough appear set to compete for backup jobs behind Clinton Portis.
3. What's going on at tight end?
Gibbs on March 3: "People used to say I was kind of weird when it came to tight ends. I carried about five or six, mainly because it's two positions on your offensive team. We have the H-back who is more of a pass receiver and then you have the tight end who is the really big blocker."
So that's why the Redskins have seven tight ends on the roster, plus Mike Sellers who is listed as a fullback. It's a solid mix of veterans
--Walter Rasby, Brian Kozlowski and Fred Baxter--and young players--Chris Cooley, Robert Royal, Leonard Stephens and Sean Brewer.
It's possible that up to six of these tight ends/H-backs could make the final roster and practice squad.
"A lot of teams right now are playing three tight ends," Gibbs said. "If you notice, the real good football teams do it because it's a different complication for the defense."
4. Who will emerge as the Redskins' top pass-rushing threat on the defensive line?
Here are some candidates: Phillip Daniels posted nine sacks as recently as 2001 when he played for Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache in Chicago. He has 44 career sacks. Regan Upshaw, entering his second season in Washington, has 34.5 career sacks, including three seven-sack seasons. And Renaldo Wynn, who has alternated between tackle and end, has 18 career sacks.
Young defensive linemen who could emerge include Greg White, a second-year player who posted four sacks in a 2002 preseason game, and Nic Clemons, a first-year player who developed his skills on the Redskins' practice squad last season.
5. How quickly will players adapt to the new offense and defense?
For any NFL team, when there's an off-season overhaul of the coaching staff and nearly 40 new players on the roster, an adjustment period is to be expected. One of Gibbs' goals this offseason was to ease that transition as much as possible.
Throughout mini-camps and off-season workouts, Gibbs has required a steep learning curve. He tested players' knowledge of the playbook by evaluating how well they retained what they learned and applied it on the field.
The Redskins will practice for three days starting on Monday, emphasizing the passing game in order to ensure the quarterbacks and receivers are on the same page. The team will also have five preseason games to iron out any kinks and develop cohesion on the offensive and defensive lines.
Simply put, if Gibbs has his way, the players' adjustment will not be an issue at all.