The Redskins arrived Wednesday for their annual training camp in Richmond, which will kick off on Thursday at the Redskins Training Center. It's year five of the team's trip to the River City to begin its preseason program, and this year's version of the Skins comes with no shortage of story-lines. Here are some things we'll be watching as camp kicks off:
1) Jordan Reed's health- We discovered Wednesday that Reed will begin training camp on the Phyiscally Unable to Perform list. Reed has toe pain/soreness, per a team spokesperson, and he's being evaluated further to prevent any long-term issues. Reed is arguably the best tight end in the NFL, so he's obviously a crucial piece to Washington's hope for success in 2017. He can come off the PUP list at any time during camp, so hopefully for the Redskins his time away from workouts is minimal. Reed can still participate in film sessions and meetings, and he was a full participant in mandatory mini-camp last month.
2) Kirk Cousins' reception- For the second straight year, Cousins will play under the franchise tag, the first quarterback in NFL history to do so in back-to-back seasons. This year's version will pay the quarterback just shy of $24 million. So how will the fans react when they see Cousins for the first time? Will he receive mostly cheers? Or hear some frustrations that a long term deal is not complete and he could walk at season's end? Cousins has always handled himself in the utmost professional manner, and always seems to say the right things, so I would assume he'll be well-received, but I'm interested to see and hear for myself.
3) Fan attendance- Last year we saw a pretty drastic decrease in attendance to the point where the Redskins stopped giving us daily attendance figures. If you're headed out to training camp, we're interested to hear about your experience. Did you wait in long lines for food? Did you feel crammed in? Did you feel like you had plenty of room and that your accommodations were acceptable?
4) Jonathan Allen- The rookie defensive end out of Alabama is considered to be one of the steals of the draft, with the Redskins taking him 17th overall. He's had some reps in OTAs and mini-camp, but I'm curious to see him against NFL offensive linemen. Allen is a guy who could definitely come in and have an immediate impact on the field, so he's a guy to watch at camp during those drills and 11-on-11's.
5) The wide receivers- Gone are DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, making way for more action for Jamison Crowder, a healthy Josh Doctson, and newly acquired Terrelle Pryor. Another key factor will be Ryan Grant, who put together a solid off-season. Kirk Cousins loses a lot of receptions and yards in Jackson and Garcon, but seems to have the necessary weapons to replace them. I expect a more cohesive unit despite the loss of the Redskins' two top receivers. Few things irritate me more in football than a guy who's shaking his head and barking at his quarterback seemingly after every play in which he doesn't catch a pass. With a seasoned Cousins and this particular receiver corps, I think we could see quite the air attack in the nation's capital.
6) Gruden returns to play calling- With Sean McVay's departure as offensive coordinator to become head coach of the Rams, Jay Gruden will assume play calling duties. Like his players, he'll get some much-needed reps in calling plays during camp. Matt Cavanaugh assumes the offensive coordinator role on Gruden's staff. Keep an eye on how smooth the offense runs, especially early on in camp, and when they practice high-pressure game situations.
Of course there are many other areas to watch, but these headline what I'll be keeping my eye on during the first few days. Enjoy camp, as football season is right around the corner!