Redskins' starting D should include several changes this year

The Washington Redskins open training camp July 28 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia. Here's a starting lineup projection:


Quarterback (Kirk Cousins): In the final eight games last season, Cousins owned the NFL’s best passer rating and was second in QBR, but he has yet to defeat a team with a winning record in 26 career starts.

Running back (Matt Jones): This would be his first year as the starter, and Jones must improve last season’s yards-after-contact number (1.44), which ranked one spot behind ex-teammate Alfred Morris but 45th among all backs.

Receiver (DeSean Jackson): Since joining the Redskins before the 2014 season, Jackson leads the NFL with an average of 19.73 yards per catch.

Receiver (Pierre Garcon): He was a clutch target on third downs in 2015, with 26 of his 29 catches resulting in first downs.

Receiver (Jamison Crowder): Coaches were excited about his progress after he caught 59 passes as a rookie -- but only 17 came in the final seven games.

Tight end (Jordan Reed): Cousins’ passer rating throwing to Reed on 113 attempts was 130.1 -- better than any other receiving target on the roster.

Left tackle (Trent Williams): Williams has made four straight Pro Bowls but is seeking his initial first-team All-Pro bid.

Left guard (Shawn Lauvao): This assumes Lauvao is healthy, which is not a guarantee, but his importance is big; the Redskins averaged 4.61 yards per carry in three games with him last season.

Center (Kory Lichtensteiger): He has proved to the Redskins that he’s recovered from nerve damage in his shoulder that cost him 11 games last season.

Right guard (Brandon Scherff): The fifth overall pick in 2015 started every game at this position as a rookie after opening his first camp at right tackle.

Right tackle (Morgan Moses): Started all 16 games last year, his second season, after making one start as a rookie and appearing in just eight of the 13 games for which he was healthy.


Defensive end (Chris Baker): Coming off his best season, with six sacks and excellent play overall, and is entering the final year of his contract.

Defensive end (Stephen Paea): Signed a four-year deal in 2015 but lost his starting job to Baker after three games and missed the last five games with a foot injury.

Nose tackle (Kedric Golston): The 11-year veteran has started eight games in the past five years, but the Redskins likely will use only a nose tackle around 20 percent of the time.

Linebacker (Junior Galette): He had 22 sacks in 28 games with New Orleans in 2013 and '14 but missed last season with an Achilles’ injury.

Linebacker (Ryan Kerrigan): He has recorded at least 7.5 sacks in four of his first five seasons, including 13.5 in 2014, but hasn’t appeared in the Pro Bowl since 2012.

Linebacker (Will Compton): The Redskins love his passion, communication and leadership, which offset the former undrafted free agent being a little undersized at 230 pounds.

Linebacker (Mason Foster): This is a tough one; Foster will be pushed hard if Perry Riley is healthy, but people forget that Foster is an experienced player with 59 career starts.

Cornerback (Josh Norman): The Redskins made him the NFL’s highest-paid corner in April at $15 million per season, helping turn this position into a strength.

Cornerback (Bashaud Breeland): The ex-fourth-round pick has started 29 games in his first two seasons, intercepting four passes and forcing five fumbles.

Safety (David Bruton): In seven seasons with Denver, the special-teams standout started only eight games, but he played a career-high 446 snaps last season.

Safety (DeAngelo Hall): The longtime corner switched to safety midway through last season, playing eight games with four starts at his new position.

Special teams

Kicker (Dustin Hopkins): He was one of their best pickups last season, making 25 of 28 field goal attempts and recording 52 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Punter (Tress Way): He ranked fifth in yards per punt and fourth in net yards per punt over the final eight games last season (he was 13th and 20th, respectively, overall).

Long-snapper (Nick Sundberg): He's been a steady performer through his first six seasons with the Redskins.

Punt returner (Jamison Crowder): He excelled in this role at Duke but not as a rookie in the NFL, averaging just 5.3 yards on 30 returns.

Kick returner (Rashad Ross): Chris Thompson and Keith Marshall are options -- and there's a chance Ross would be inactive, but he averaged 24.4 yards on 28 returns last year, including a 101-yard touchdown.