With training camp opening in just two days, the Redskins over the next few weeks will have to make tough but important decisions as to who makes the 53-man roster for the regular season.
Each and every training camp takes on its own identity, and this year will be no different for the Washington Redskins when they open up practices Thursday afternoon at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
2016 marks the fourth year in a row that the Redskins have called Richmond home during one of the most important times on the NFL calendar. While the team, of course, spends a majority of the year at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., being away from home helps create a unified roster.
"One of the reasons we love getting away for training camp is the players all get to know each other better," Redskins President Bruce Allen told ESPN 950 on Tuesday. "And I think the chemistry that [head] coach [Jay] Gruden and the team developed last year really did start in Richmond and we've got to get after it again this year."
Entering the second season under Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan, training camp will also be the start of quite a few position battles on a talented roster.
By September, the Redskins will have to cut down the roster to just 53 players. That means a lot of good players will be looking for new teams.
"You've got to get these guys mentally prepared and the strength staff, and the players individually, have to get themselves physically ready to go," Gruden said. "Then we have to make the tough decisions with the 53-man roster, we have to find out the guys who can play. You never want to cut good players, you don't want to cut anybody, but you have to do it and you want to make sure those decisions are right."
Gruden added that in order for the best possible roster to be built, everyone needs an "equal opportunity to show what they can do in the preseason games."
"It's important to do that so we make the right decisions," Gruden said.
Among the position battles that will be highlighted during training camp this year is the inside linebackers corps.
Will Compton and Mason Foster worked well together as a starting tandem during the final month of the regular season, but a returning Perry Riley Jr. will certainly put up a strong fight to keep a starting spot.
With similar traits to the quarterback position, just on the defensive side of the ball, making smart roster calls at inside linebacker will pay off in the long run.
Regardless, Gruden believes there's quite a bit of depth at the position.
"You have to see blocking schemes and react fast and both Mason and Will do a great job of that," Gruden said. "They're very smart football players. We get Perry Riley back from an injury and we've got some young linebacker, Steven Daniels from Boston College, [Martrell] Spaight [is] coming back from an injury last year. We've got [Terence] Garvin from Pittsburgh who is big and he can run, so very excited and hopefully I am not forgetting anybody but I'm sure I am, but I feel great about the linebacking corps."