Cleat Geeks

REDskins Zone: Will Josh Norman be worth it?

It’s not hard to see the recent struggles of the NFC East, but one thing is clear for the Washington Redskins and their division brethren. It’s going to take some real, old-fashioned defense to climb to the top.

Consider what the rest of the division brings to the table, even given some of the weaknesses in each squad.JoshNorman

The Giants have a gunslinger in Eli Manning and a superstar in Odell Beckham to catch passes.

The Cowboys, with Tony Romo back in the mix, and their own star in Dez Bryant, can put big points on the board.

Even the Eagles, through an off-season with some turmoil, have productive skill players and a big-play type of offense.

A big part of keeping these passing games in check falls on the shoulders of new Redskin Josh Norman, a household name for his play with defending NFC champion Carolina who cashed in on that success with a big free agent deal with Washington.

Norman signed for five years and $75 million, one of the biggest contracts in NFL history. All for a guy that some think played above his head a year ago for the Panthers.

Needless to say, with that comes great expectation.

“It’s just like going to a new school; you’ve got to make new friends all over again,” Norman said. “But, for me, I think it was easy because I was open. I was here to listen. Just because I got paid and I’m one of the highest paid guys on the squad, it’s no different. I don’t feel like I’ve got the money, to be honest with you, because I’m still working. I’m still trying to be better at something, man. What that is, I don’t know yet, but I’m still trying to climb and elevate my level of play.”

Veteran DeAngelo Hall mans the free safety spot, David Bruton is in line at strong safety and third-year man Bashaud Breeland and veteran Greg Toler are battling on the other side of Norman with rookies Kendall Fuller and Dashaun Phillips progressing as well.

Will they be ready for the challenge?

A lot remains to be seen.MattJones

 

Carrying the load

The running back situation was up in the air coming into camp, and two weeks of practice against teammates hasn’t changed a whole lot of that.

For now, second-year man Matt Jones tops that list, with Chris Thompson and rookie Keith Marshall getting the second and third-team reps. But the roster goes even deeper than that, with second-year man Mack Brown and a trio of rookies in Robert Kelley, Kelsey Young and Joe Kerridge further down the depth chart.

“As far as running the football, we’re going to see that on game day,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “You know, some guys I’ve seen in shorts, running backs like, ‘Holy cow, this guy can’t be tackled,’ and then he gets into a game and he gets tackled and runs backwards the wrong way. So we’ll see how it works out.”

 

Preseason week 1: at Atlanta Aug. 11

kirk-cousins-jay-grudenIn the obvious statement of the week, preseason games are far less about result on the scoreboard and much more about how players are developing on the field.

“This isn’t like a typical game week,” Gruden said. “We don’t do a whole lot of preparation for the Falcons until probably Tuesday or sometimes even Wednesday. We’ll give them a good plan. We’ll try to have something ready for them so they can shine and play to the best of their abilities. It will be simple and basic so they can all perform at a high level and we can get a look at them.”

Still, there can be some translation to that good play leading to good results. The Falcons are a team needing to see some of that success after an 8-8 season in 2015. They’ll be taking a good look at players like Keanu Neal, a first-round pick at safety out of Florida and tight end Austin Hooper, who they hope can become a red zone threat for Matt Ryan this year.

For the Redskins, it’s unlikely quarterback Kirk Cousins or the starting offensive line is in there for more than a series or two. However, the mix of running backs looking for playing time and receivers trying to fill out the roster figure to get quite a lot of field time as players try to make an impact under the lights of a game-type situation.

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