Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.
Training camp report date: Rookies: Tuesday; Veterans: Friday
Training camp location: Bon Secours Training Center, Richmond, Virginia.
Offseason in a nutshell: An excellent draft by first-year GM Scot McCloughan led to a division title and a playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. Washington kept the momentum alive by signing arguably the best defensive player available in free agency (former Panthers cornerback Josh Norman) and loading up on more wide receiver talent in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. There are still plenty of question marks remaining in Washington, but for the first time in half a decade, the team seems to be pointing in the right direction.
Player to watch: Wide receiver Josh Doctson. Labeled by some scouting services as the most pro-ready wide receiver in this draft, Doctson joins a crowded house of Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder -- but that is what makes this August so fascinating. Doctson was working through some nagging injuries during minicamp so deployment is still a question. At the moment, we'd expect him to be heavily involved in short yardage and goal line-type situations (it's not difficult to learn a red zone fade and as Washington's biggest wide receiver, he'll probably need to). Jay Gruden's offense complements his personnel well, which is why we're eager to find out if Doctson is in their immediate plans or if he is waiting in the wings once free agency picks apart this wide receiver unit in 2017.
Three burning questions:
Jones' rookie season was filled with potential and had us drooling over his combination of size, speed and receiving ability out of the backfield. However, his fumble rate was nearly 3.5 percent, or 5 in 144 carries. Jones addressed his issues head on during the team's stretch run last season and can hopefully carry his lessons over into training camp. Washington allowed Alfred Morris to walk this offseason, gambling on the development of their 2015 third-round pick.
Gruden's system did a wonderful job of developing tight end Jordan Reed and now Washington theoretically has five playmakers that could warrant touches on any given down. Any coach in football would want this problem, but we saw it crumble a Colts team that tried to force feed the ball in 2015. As we noted above, there's a good chance Doctson is brought along slowly enough that we don't notice the problem. However, this is a lot of weight on Kirk Cousins' shoulders as he heads into his second season as a full-time starter.
Padless practices, as they often do, brought out high praise for in-shape veterans. Galette was no exception. The troubled former Saints pass rusher tore his Achilles tendon last year but could add a dynamic Washington's pass rush was missing during their brief playoff run. At the moment, there is still a chance he starts camp with a lighter workload so we might have to wait until late August to truly find out.
UPDATE: On Monday, one day after the original publication of this story, NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported that Junior Galette again tore an Achilles and is out for the season.
Way-too-early season prediction: The NFC East will be worlds better than it was last year, when Washington exploded offensively down the final stretch to take the division. Are the improvements good enough to fend off two teams with top 10 quarterbacks?