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12th's 2008 Five to Watch

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Old 08-03-2008, 04:28 PM   #1
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12th's 2008 Overview and Five to Watch

On the day of the Washington Redskins first preseason game of 2008 ( preceded by the induction of two Redskins greats, Art Monk and Darrell Green, into the NFL Hall of Fame yesterday), I thought it fitting to give an overview of the upcoming 2008 campaign.

Before we delve into what's ahead for the Redskins, who could ever forget the roller coaster season last year. On paper the 2007 Redskins will go down as a team that finished third place in the NFC East and scrapped their way into the playoffs, only to lose a heartbreaker in the first round to the Seattle Seahawks. On paper.

Hollywood couldn't have written a script that could capture the ups and downs, the joy and sadness that marked an unforgettable season. For starters, who could ever forget watching Jon Jansen writhing in pain during the season opener against Miami. The offensive line would never fully recover as it played consistently with two, sometimes three starters missing from the lineup. Or how about Sanatana Moss' fumble late in the game on the soggy Green Bay field that handed the Packers a victory. A game many felt the Skins had in the bag. From the botched time outs late in the game, to the emergence of veteran back-up QB Todd Collins, to the sudden and unexpected retirement of Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, 2007 was a season the Redskins and it's fans will never forget.

But nothing will be forever branded into our memories and hearts like the untimely death of star saftey Sean Taylor. There was a growing consensus among NFL circles that Taylor was on the cusp of becoming one of the more dominant football players in today's game. Known for his bone crushing hits and his unrivaled passion for the game, Taylor's tragic passing caused thousands accross the nation to grieve and mourn his death for weeks, even months. Sean Taylor's death not only reverberated throughout the NFL, but athletes in nearly every sport expressed their condolences. No one, however, stood more grief stricken than the Redskins organization and it's fan base accross the country. Sean Taylor will live on in Redskins lore as one of the most beloved players to ever wear the burgundy and gold.

Predictions aside, at least for this thread, I want to list five players whom I believe we should all keep our eyes on this year. As with any short list of fives, there are potentially five or six more names that could easily be added. For instance, while Jason Campbell is a player everyone will undoubtedly be watching, he's a player the Redskins need to succeed, so I'm generally inclined to keep Campbell off my list of fives. If for no other reason, he's the obvious choice. Laron Landry would also be an obvious choice given how he ended the season. So here are my "12th's Five to Watch" in 2008:

Jon Jansen: When I think of the Iron Man award, I think of players like Brett Favre, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, or even Redskins Hall of Famer, Darrell Green. Players that have proven to be durable and have endured injuries, or the lack thereof, throughout their NFL careers. When I think of iron will, the first player that comes to mind is Redskins offensive tackle Jon Jansen, the longest tenured among active Redskins. I don't know many offensive lineman or players, for that matter, that have suffered two season ending injuries in the past four years, played another with two broken thumbs, and have still mananged to come back and compete for his starting job.

Although Jansen has stated he's not quite 100%, he looks to regain his form and his starting spot. Look for Jansen to do everything in his power to keep second year tackle Stepon Heyer on the bench for at least another season and to anchor the right side of the Skins offensive line.

Jason Taylor: One of the critisims of this year's draft class was the Redskins lack of focus on a pass rushing defensive end to bolster the line. Immediately following the injury of defensive end Phillip Daniels on the opening day of training camp, panic ensued. Within hours of Daniels' season ending injury, the Redskins announced Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor would be coming to Washington. Now that Michael Strahan has officially retired from football, Jason Taylor is proably the most prolific defensive end in the league over the age of thirty, and leads among active defensive players in total career sacks. But that only tells half the story. Taylor, with his long wing span, also has a knack for batting down passes, causing disruption in the pasing game, and has a nose for the end zone once he get's his hands on the ball. All of this should free up Andre Carter coming of the edges and relieve some pressure off the secondary.

Chad Rinehart: I would be remiss if I didn't put a rookie in the mix. No one is quite ready to pencil Rinehart in as a starter, but we all know from last season this team could be one bruised knee away from seeing this kid in the line-up. Two weeks into training camp, Rinehart has already raised a few eyebrows and has quickly earned the respect of teammates. I chose him not so much on what I think his ability is, although there does appear to be a lot of upside, but probably more out of intrigue. Rinehart also infuses some youth into an offensive line where all the starters are at least 30 years of age or older. Something about this kid has Hog written all over him and I'm hoping he can bring the nasty back to the Washington offensive line. And oh by the way, don't be shocked if you see him in the starting line up before the season's over.

Jim Zorn: In the world of math, 'X' stands for the unknown variable. In Redskins math, 'Z' (orn) is that unknown variable. While this is team that returned most of it's starters on both sides of the ball from 2007, this year's new kid on the block will be it's head coach. Let's face it, Zorn's success or failure will either make team owner Daniel Snyder look like a genius or confirm everyone's initial suspicion about how botched up the coaching search was from the very beginning. I'm of the opinion that most fans have very short memories and if Zorn can get to the half way point of the season with more wins than losses, all will be well in the Nation's Capital.

The Fans: I struggled to come up with a fifth player. I thought about the rookie punter from Georgia Tech, Durant Brooks. That 76 yard punt against UNC was a thing of beauty. Or one of the new offensive weapons we added through the draft. Certainly Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas are worthy of some love. And how could you leave Clinton Portis off any list, for crying out loud. But I'm going with the beloved 12th Man. After watching yesterday's Hall of Fame ceremony and the sea of burgundy and gold, for a moment I thought I was watching the ceremony at Fed Ex field. After witnessing such an outpouring of emotion for two Redskins greats, I think the fan base has to be re-energized. Let's hope that same tanacity will transfer into a few home field playoff games!

Last edited by 12thMan; 08-03-2008 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:31 PM   #2
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

Here's a guy that I think will contribute greatly, especially on defense. LORENZO ALEXANDER.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:34 PM   #3
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

Yeah, I was just thinking of Zoe today. Good call on that one.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:38 PM   #4
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

Great post. Well written, and fun to read.

I'm so freaking pumped to finally see some football -- even if it is only the pre-season! I feel like I want to break something.

Go Skins!
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:45 PM   #5
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

Malcolm Kelly is one guy to watch out for this year. I believe that he will be our starter for the first game of the season at split end with Randel El in the slot barring any injuries. I also believe before the seaon is out Devin Thomas will make his mark as our best receiver. This kid is a beast that needs only some coaching. I do believe that our receivers could be better with a better receivers coach but anyway we have to move forward. Go Skins!!
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:47 PM   #6
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean"Big Hurt"Taylor View Post
Malcolm Kelly is one guy to watch out for this year. I believe that he will be our starter for the first game of the season at split end with Randel El in the slot barring any injuries. I also believe before the seaon is out Devin Thomas will make his mark as our best receiver. This kid is a beast that needs only some coaching. I do believe that our receivers could be better with a better receivers coach but anyway we have to move forward. Go Skins!!

Wow, those are some serious predictions. I'd like to see it though! I think if Campbell can get some time back there, he's going to have a seriously good year.
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Old 08-03-2008, 05:49 PM   #7
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

Fred Davis: With defenses already looking for Cooley, Moss, ARE and one of the rookie WR'S. Teams will forget about Fred on the opposite side and that will let him have a breakout year if he can hold on to the ball.
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Old 08-03-2008, 10:49 PM   #8
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Re: 12th's 2008 Five to Watch

La'ron Landry is going to come up big with this new pass rush..
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