NFC East champ Washington enters FitzMagic training camp
CAMP SITE: Richmond, Virginia
LAST YEAR: After Dwayne Haskins was benched, Kyle Allen got injured and Washington started 2-7, Alex Smith took over to help the team win five of its final seven games behind a strong defense and capture the NFC East. With Smith unable to play in the postseason, Taylor Heinicke impressed but Washington ultimately lost in the wild-card round to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, CB William Jackson, WR Curtis Samuel, WR Adam Humphries, LB Jamin Davis, OT Sam Cosmi, WR Dynami Brown, G Ereck Flowers, OT Charles Leno, EDGE Shaka Toney, DB Benjamin St-Juste, LS Camaron Cheeseman.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: QB Alex Smith, OT Morgan Moses, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Fabian Moreau, EDGE Ryan Kerrigan, LB Ryan Anderson, OL Geron Christian, WR Dontrelle Inman, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, LS Nick Sundberg.
CAMP NEEDS: Coach Ron Rivera regretted not having a quarterback competition in 2020 when Dwayne Haskins was essentially handed the starting job early in camp, so that competition is definitely happening this time. Fitzpatrick goes in as the frontrunner, but Heinicke and Allen will be in the running. There’s a hope Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young rounds into form quickly and takes a leading role for that unit after skipping some voluntary offseason workouts. A new-look offense also needs to coalesce.
KEY CAMP COMPETITIONS: Beyond the QBs, the two offensive tackle jobs and outside linebacker bear watching. Cosmi, a second-round pick, is in a three-way competition with newcomer Leno and holdover Cornelius Lucas for the tackle spots. Davis, Washington’s first-rounder, is in the mix at linebacker with Khaleke Hudson.
EXPECTATIONS: Rivera will undoubtedly try to lower expectations after winning a weak division under .500. Moves made in the offseason weren’t necessarily setting up Washington to win now, and a step back is possible. But with the Giants and Eagles now potentially further away from contending and the Cowboys a bit of an unknown getting Dak Prescott back, Washington should be in the race for a playoff spot, either as a division winner or NFC wild card.
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