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2016 Redskins Position Battles: Offense


With training camp set to begin next Thursday,'s Stephen Czarda looks at some of the top position battles to watch on the offensive side of the football while the team is in Richmond.

One week from today, the Washington Redskins will open up 2016 training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va., with plenty of position battles that will have to be resolved.

Here are some of the competitions on the offensive side of the football that will be highlighted in the coming weeks:

Running Back
While the coaching staff is fully committed to making second-year running back Matt Jones the No. 1 running back this season, who ends up playing with him at the position right now is unclear.

Outside of Jones, only Chris Thompson has played in an NFL regular season game, and the 25-year-old has appeared in just 19 games in his career.

Seventh-round pick Keith Marshall along with Mack Brown, Robert Kelley and Kelsey Young are all hoping to make enough noise in training camp to earn a roster spot as well.

"They're an eager group of guys and the No. 1 thing because they are so young is the learning curves that we've got to get through and some pains that we'll have," Redskins running backs coach Rand Jordan said. "But they're a terrific group. They don't know everything with being really young, so they're receptive to teaching and learning new techniques. I'm really excited about this group."

Marshall recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time at February's NFL Combine but was sidelined for most of offseason workouts as he dealt with a hamstring injury.

Kelley played well in practices in his absence while Brown and Young are also trying to make good impressions, too.

Left Guard
For now, it appears that Shawn Lauvao and Spencer Long are in the driver's seat to claim the starting left guard position.

Check out the top photos of Spencer Long from the 2015 season!

Lauvao helped the Redskins rush for at least 160 yards in each of the team's first two games of the 2015 season before going down with a season-ending ankle injury in Week 3.

In his place, 2014 third-round pick Spencer Long filled in, starting 13 games and Washington's home Wild Card Round game against the Green Bay Packers.

"Well, Shawn Lauvao is going to be healthy here shortly I hope and I think that will be a great competition," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said during the offseason. "You know, Shawn was playing at a very high level before he got injured, so I'm not going to pencil in anybody as a starter right now. I want to make sure Shawn gets healthy first. I really like his ability, but I love the way Spencer came on at the end of the year. It's good to have two good guys at that position."

Lauvao spent the offseason rehabbing on the sideline, but is expected to be cleared at some point during training camp.

Along with Lauvao and Long, second-year Alabama product Arie Kouandjio hopes to nestle himself into the battle as well.

Kouandjio played just one snap last season, but took some reps with the first-team during mandatory veteran minicamp last month and showed flashes of potential.

"I've been really impressed and pleased with what he's done so far," Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. "He's always been a very powerful, stout guy in pass protection and I think you're seeing some improvements in his production in the run game. So we're excited with what Arie's shown through these first nine [OTA practices]."

Wide Receiver
Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson appear set as the team's top two wide receivers on the outside with Jamison Crowder already proving to be an excellent fit at the slot receiver position.

But just how will everyone get their playing time?

Josh Doctson was selected with the No. 22-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. While his first objective in the NFL may be learning behind Garçon and Jackson, the 6-foot-2, 206 pounder could be an instant contributor in the red zone.

"He'll get plenty of opportunities down there in the red zone," Gruden said the night the Redskins selected Doctson. "He's got to earn his stripes. We have a very good receiving corps, no question about it. We've got Pierre, we've got Ryan Grant, we've got DeSean, [Rashad] Ross came on and played big for us, Jamison Crowder's a good player. But adding a guy with his height gives you a little different dimension, and we're excited to work with him."

Along with Garçon, Crowder and Jackson, the Redskins also return Grant and Ross from a season ago.

Grant was inserted into the starting lineup last season while Jackson dealt with a hamstring injury. Ross, meanwhile, averaged 23 yards on his eight receptions.

Training camp may give an idea of how both will be used moving forward.

"You want everybody out there obviously, but if not, the good thing is other guys get work and they are getting a lot of work," Gruden said. "Ryan Grant's had a great camp, Rashad Ross is taking advantage of some reps and some of the new guys have done a good job. Maurice [Harris] has done a nice job so we're seeing other guys play and take advantage of them, so that's the good thing."

Reggie Diggs, Valdez Showers, Dez Stewart and Jarvis Turner also hope to make their names known during camp, too.

Tight End
Perhaps the deepest position on the roster, Richmond will provide the first glimpse at just how the Redskins plan on using the entire corps.

Jordan Reed, of course, is coming off a historic season and was rewarded for his efforts in the offseason with a multi-year contract extension.

Before the Redskins head to Richmond for training camp, check out who all is on the roster position-by-position. Today, it is the tight ends.

But Derek Carrier, Vernon Davis, Marcel Jensen, Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen all hope to carve their own niches on the offense in some capacity.  

Paul and Paulsen both returned healthy in the offseason after suffering season-ending injuries last August.

"Well those guys wanted to be involved so they were around a lot," said tight ends coach Wes Phillips, referring to the fact the pair of veterans were still around last year. "Sometimes a guy gets on IR and you don't really see him a whole lot, but we were fortunate to have two great guys like that who were trying to be around and still stay involved and make sure they were mentally staying in the game."

The Redskins also elected to sign the 32-year-old Davis – a two-time Pro Bowler – in March.

While Davis has quite a bit of mileage, Washington believes he's still got quite a bit of tread left on the tires to make an impact this season.

"He's been great," Phillips said. "Vernon is a really good person in the room and, of course we know how athletic he is still. I believe 32 years old, he's a genetic anomaly. He can really run and he's very powerful in the run game. He's transitioning really well in the room with the group of tight ends that we have and we're really pleased."

Carrier is still on the road to recovery from a torn ACL and MCL suffered in December while Jensen is hoping a full offseason with the Redskins will spring him up the depth chart. 

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