2018 NFL Training Camps: Expect Redskins, Jets to be feisty this season, and more notes
Both teams have showed team unity and a certain toughness, as well as some unsung talent
RICHMOND, Va. -- If nothing else, the Redskins and Jets provided pugilism fans with more than they could have ever hoped for this week. During the three practice sessions I watched between these teams before Washington broke camp at Richmond and headed north there was no shortage of scuffles and fireworks.
Even on Tuesday, which was supposed to be a lighter day in shells and shorts, there were still a few incidents and occasions when emotions almost got the better of any number of players, and a meme or two surely came from Skins trash-talking safety D.J. Swearinger taking a faux swing at ex-Skins receiver Terrelle Pryor, with Pryor flinching before stalking the safety to the sidelines.
Let's just say that these two teams have no shortage of animated characters and were certainly ready to stand up for teammates and mix it up. Did it go too far at times? Certainly. But deep down inside at a certain level, as much as both coaches disdained the repeated flare-ups, on some level the concept of defending teammates and showing team unity bodes well. I expect these two teams to be feisty this season. Both seem to have a quiet chip on their shoulders as they are largely afterthoughts in the 2018 NFL conversation and the Jets flashed more speed and energy than some may be expecting, while the Skins, who have been run over far too often in recent years, showed a certain toughness that I wasn't banking on.
Bottom line: if you weren't originally planning on watching much, or any, of the preseason game between these teams on Thursday night you may want to keep an eye out. All of a sudden there is a lot of history between these two teams.
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Final Jets/Skins observations
- It's well known around league circles how hard Alabama players are pushed by coach Nick Saban and how frequently many of them enter the league already somewhat bruised and battered. It's a common theory thrown around as to why quite often these players who combined to dominate college football don't pan out as expected in the pros. The success of Washington's season could well come down to how healthy three Crimson Tide products remain. They are banking on a trio making this front seven more stout and formidable than it has been in a long time. Rookie first-round pick Da'Ron Payne -- considered the strongest Alabama player in years -- is already battling injuries and 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen came into the NFL with injury woes. Along with Ryan Anderson, a 2017 second-round pick, they could be the key pieces on that side of the ball. If all three are in the lineup week in and week out playing to their ability, then this team could have the necessary spine and ability to set the edge that has been lacking. And if not, it might be looong season in Washington.
- I'm very bullish on the Jets' receiving group. They are under the radar, but by and large they are very young and cheap and they will be impactful. Jermaine Kearse has been a perfect fit since coming over from Seattle, he is a natural in this Jeremy Bates offense and provides mentorship, too. Robby Anderson can be a game breaker, and while I have serious character reservations, if he stays out of trouble he is a big-time deep threat. Quincy Enunwa had a breakout season in 2016 before missing all of last season to a neck injury, and even at less than 100 percent for now, Pryor is getting healthy and flashing some ridiculous size-speed possibilities. His hands looked better, too. It's a great mix all around, and believe it or not in this era of bloated receiver contracts, they count a grand total of about $13.5 million against the cap and earn about a combined $13.5 million. That's just $1.5 million more than Donte Moncrief is likely to extract from the Jaguars this season.
- It will take some time for the Skins running back situation to sort out after the loss of Derrius Guice for the season to an ACL tear, but I was impressed by Samaje Perine in his work with the starters. It wasn't just catching the ball in the flat, either. Expect to see a revolving door in the final three preseason games as the coaches settle on a pecking order and rotation.
- A couple of lesser-known tight ends had nice weeks of practice. I'm intrigued by Jets third-year tight end Eric Tomlinson, whom they signed off the Houston practice squad late in the 2016 season. He was strong as a blocker and making an impact in the running game. At 6-feet-6, 260 pounds, Tomlinson had softer hands than expected and was catching more balls than normal with New York thin at tight end. Skins 2017 fifth-round pick Jeremy Sprinkle is impossible to miss and he appeared even larger than Tomlinson. He's stuck behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis -- who is still a freak of nature and in ridiculous condition at age 34 -- but made an impact in some practices. He was able to get downfield and break away more than I expected. I'm interested to see if he can follow that up in the preseason games. Sprinkle had just two catches for 13 yards in his rookie season.
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