The Washington Redskins don't anticipate a drop-off in their passing game, even with the loss of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. They replaced them with Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson -- both talented, but each with more, or something, to prove.
As the Redskins begin their organized team activity sessions Tuesday, the development of both players with quarterback Kirk Cousins will be scrutinized. Cousins had a good rhythm with Garcon in particular and used Jackson for big plays down the field. But Jackson's route-running led to an inability to always fully trust him.
Will that be different with Pryor, still learning the position, and Doctson, limited to two games as a rookie? There's a long way to go before that question can be fully answered. But this week provides another step in their development together. Is Cousins hitting them in stride? Is he able to throw with trust to them at this point? They've been able to work against no defense; now they're able to do so and that will help them progress.
Here are four other things to pay attention to as the Redskins' OTA sessions get underway Tuesday (practice is open to the media Wednesday):
How the rookies fare: It's simply an initial look of the rookies working with the veterans and nothing more. But it provides a base of knowledge on which to build. Defensive end Jonathan Allen, linebacker Ryan Anderson and running back Samaje Perine will be ones to watch in particular. It's very, very tough to get a good read on running backs until the games begin, because there's no hitting in practice (they're in shorts and helmets during OTAs). You can see footwork and balance and their ability to catch the ball. But you obviously don't see the ability to break tackles. Sometimes a back stands out in the spring and becomes a factor (Robert Kelley); sometimes they're a mirage (Larry Johnson in 2010). But with Allen and Anderson, you'll be able to see a little more. Does Allen stay consistently low, for example. How does Anderson move in space and how does he look rushing off the edge?
Competition battles: Depth charts mean nothing in May considering games aren't played for another three-plus months. But it'll be the first chance to see who lines up where, especially on defense. There will be position battles at inside linebacker and outside linebacker opposite Ryan Kerrigan. It's natural at this point for Will Compton and Mason Foster to work at the two inside linebacker spots with the first unit considering Zach Brown doesn't yet fully know the defense. It'll be interesting to see how much Foster works at Compton's spot (I've said this many times, but Brown has not called signals in the past and I don't expect that to change here). This will be a good one to watch as they progress.
Safeties: The Redskins signed D.J. Swearinger and moved Su'a Cravens to his more natural position of safety. If all goes well, this will be the likely pairing this season. Swearinger played some deep middle at Arizona last season, which is important because prior to that he was just a strong safety. And Cravens must show he's ready for a full-time job. Again, it's all about how they move and how comfortable they look.
Developing players: Receiver Maurice Harris and defensive end Anthony Lanier will be among the young players to watch over the next few months. The Redskins would benefit greatly from Lanier's development -- and that of second-year lineman Matt Ioannidis. The latter was moved to nose tackle last offseason, a new position that he wasn't quite ready to handle. Also, quarterback Nate Sudfeld struggled as a rookie last summer in practices. After an offseason of study, will that change? Along these lines, it'll be a chance to see whether Kelley has made strides in the pass game. They only need him to be a bigger threat when in the game -- he clearly won't take away time from third-down back Chris Thompson. It could enable Kelley to hold off Perine in their competition.