In a game day version of the mailbag, the topics include special teams, Bashaud Breeland and potential trades, along with more offensive line talk. Enjoy.
#JKmailbag how has special teams looked overall? Big concern and lots done to address, but tangible progress?— Zeus White (@Zeus_White) August 21, 2014
John Keim: They've made some mistakes this summer, but so has the offense and defense. Special teams will never be perfect. But they have to cut down on the big plays allowed and generate more from the return game. I don't know that we'll see the full impact of their offseason devotion to special teams until the regular season. It's probably the hardest unit to put together because the coaches don't always know who they'll have to play special teams until after final cuts. At least in some cases. I like that they emphasized improving this area in the offseason. And the players have bought in much more than last year in part, I think, because the organization bought in as well. So big picture, I think they'll be better. But I can't say right now how much they've improved (I have concerns about the punting). They're far from a finished product.
Keim: Bashaud Breeland has had an excellent camp, and the Redskins are excited about his future. However, there's still a lot he has to learn, starting with playing in the slot. It's a different ballgame in the slot -- receivers have more options on their routes, etc. -- and Breeland had never played there until training camp. The versatility that the other two offer probably keeps them ahead. But it's not as if either one of those players has been impressive, so it's not like he's that far behind. Porter's durability is an issue and I know early in camp he was not impressing the coaches.
Keim: Chase Minnifield would be their sixth corner right now, but if Tracy Porter keeps getting hurt (career-long problem) then he has a shot, yes. The Redskins could use Porter because of his ability to play the slot. The Redskins can work others in here, including rookie Bashaud Breeland. But it's tough for young guys to play in there if they're not used to doing so (Breeland did not do it in college). Minnifield has been OK. I've seen more consistency from him in coverages other than press man and he remains feisty.
Keim: Not a whole lot, unless they want to swap from a spot where they feel they have some depth (maybe running back or linebacker) and receive a player who perhaps could help them at another spot (defensive back?). I can't imagine anyone giving up a draft pick for, say, linebacker Akeem Jordan, but maybe they'd give up a player they were likely to cut from a position of strength. Same is true for running back Evan Royster, if the Redskins wanted to go with the younger players. He's a backup running back with little speed, but is a capable player who knows how to run the ball. I have a tough time believing someone would give up a draft pick for Royster -- and if they did it would be a seventh-rounder. Once you start shopping players at this time, then teams know they'll likely be cut so they'll wait to see if they come free. Not in every case, but often that's how it goes. By the way, there's no way they'd trade Kirk Cousins -- and if a team really wanted him they'd have traded for him in the spring when he could learn their offense (now, if there's an injury in Cleveland and the Browns get desperate. ... But, still, if I'm the Redskins the only way I'd trade him is if I'm sold on Robert Griffin III's durability and his future. Otherwise, why do it?).
Keim: There is more competition, but whether there's solid depth remains uncertain. There's a lot of inexperience behind the starters -- only Mike McGlynn has started an NFL game among the backups. They'll also have two rookies and then another player or two with limited experience. So, how deep is it? Eventually, if players such as Spencer Long and Morgan Moses develop then there's good depth. But for now there's little proven depth. I was hoping to see more from Tom Compton and Josh LeRibeus this summer. LeRibeus looked good at times in training camp; would like to see him play a solid game against Baltimore.