2012 training camp preview: Washington Redskins

The SportsXchange

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Training camp goals

1. The Redskins go to camp without knowing who will start at either safety spot for the first time since 2003. Coach Mike Shanahan, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris won't have a rangy, hard-hitting and fast duo like the late Sean Taylor and then-rookie LaRon Landry, who manned the spots during the Redskins' last playoff season back in 2007. Holdovers Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes and free-agent signees Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson have combined to start 226 games and only Williams has turned 30. However, Meriweather, Williams and Jackson likely wouldn't be Redskins if their previous employers had tried to keep them, and Doughty and Gomes aren't considered bonafide starters as 2011 regulars Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe were when healthy.

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Roy Helu is in the running for the starting RB job in D.C. (AP)

2. For the second straight year, Washington doesn't have a 1,000-yard back on its roster. Forced into a running back by committee approach because of injuries to Tim Hightower and rookie Roy Helu (and by Ryan Torain's ineffectiveness) last season, the Redskins still improved from 30th to 25th in rushing. Shanahan would like to settle on a starter from among Hightower, Helu and 2011 rookie Evan Royster while finding roles for the others. Hightower's 3.8 yards per carry average and one touchdown didn't come close to his 4.5-yard average and 13 scores the previous two years with Arizona. Helu might be more of a third-down back. Royster was drafted later than Hightower or Helu, but might be a nice blend of their skills, that is if he doesn't get knocked off the roster by sixth-round draft pick Alfred Morris.

Player to watch

London Fletcher, DeAngelo Hall, Brian Orakpo, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss all have Pro Bowl experience. Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan are expensive free-agent additions. However, there's only one player to watch this summer: rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the athletic Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor for whom the Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to draft him second overall. Griffin was named the starter before the veterans even took the field this spring and is expected to be Washington's quarterback for many years to come. Griffin doesn't have to turn the Redskins, 15-33 the past three seasons, into an instant contender, but he needs to play well in order to offer teammates, coaches, management and fans hope for the future.

[Related: Reasons why RG3 should follow Cam Newton's footsteps]

On the hot seat

When Washington gave $28 million guaranteed to Garcon and Morgan during the first hours of free agency, that was a sign to seven-year starter Moss that not only was his reign as the No. 1 wideout likely done (the since-released Jabar Gaffney was more productive last season), but that he would have to fight to start and perhaps even make the team, considering his $4.317 million salary-cap number. Moss, who turned 33 in June, dropped 15 pounds in hopes of fending off the newcomers and Father Time. If the offseason is any indication, Moss could begin the season ahead of Morgan and 2011 rookie Leonard Hankerson and should fall to no worse than fourth in the Redskins' pecking order at receiver.

Full Redskins team report

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