NFL training camp is a fun time. For one, it's great to see your favorite squad back in action with the new additions it made in free agency, but it's also when position battles really begin. Whether it's the starting free safety or the starting signal-caller, all 32 NFL teams have training camp battles that are important for establishing a depth chart.
The Washington Football Team is coming off of an impressive season. Despite a 7-9 record in the first year with Ron Rivera at the helm, Washington still won the NFC East for the first time since 2015 and showed the league it has one of the best defenses in the NFL. With some of the additions it made on the offensive side of the ball over the past few months, fans are optimistic Washington could be a sleeper in the NFC.
Below, we will break down three training camp battles to keep an eye on as the Football Teamers kick off the 2021 preseason. Let's start with the one that's obvious, yet interesting at the same time.
Rivera said a couple months ago that newly acquired veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will enter training camp as the starter, but "there will be a competition." Barring any injury or act of God, Fitzpatrick will be the player leading Washington's offense onto the field in Week 1. Still, I'm very intrigued to see the other two quarterbacks duke it out to determine the depth chart behind Fitz.
Kyle Allen replaced Dwayne Haskins in Washington's fifth game in 2020, but he was knocked out for the season with an ankle injury after four starts and a 1-3 record. Taylor Heinicke had an impressive showing off the bench in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers with 137 yards and a passing touchdown, and then of course had a borderline legendary outing in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 306 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception and 46 yards on the ground with another touchdown. He gave the eventual Super Bowl champions a run for their money. While Fitzpatrick is an exciting gunslinger, if he can be consistent for a full 17-game season is a legitimate question. That makes who wins the second-string spot even more interesting.
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Wide receiver order
Washington did a great job addressing the wide receiver position this offseason in order to help out Terry McLaurin. It scored on former Panthers wideout Curtis Samuel, but also signed a veteran slot receiver in Adam Humphries and drafted former UNC wideout Dyami Brown in the third round. This is a solid group, but Washington also returns an intriguing wideout in Kelvin Harmon, who missed all of last season with an ACL tear. While he caught just 30 passes for 365 yards during his rookie season in 2019, he's an athletic weapon with a ridiculous catch radius. Washington also has second-year player Antonio Gandy-Golden battling for reps along with Cam Sims, Steven Sims Jr., Isaiah Wright and rookie Dax Milne. That's not even everyone, as Tony Brown and DeAndre Carter are also fighting for roster spots. Washington is obviously going to have to make some cuts at this position, but how the depth chart fills out is going to be interesting to see. All we know for sure right now is that McLaurin and Samuel are the top two guys.
Washington has a solid offensive line entering 2021 with new left and right tackles. Chase Roullier will be at center and Brandon Scherff at right guard, but what about left guard? Ereck Flowers was formerly known as a huge bust as a left tackle, but has quietly turned into a decent offensive guard. He started all 16 games for Washington in 2019, but was poached by the Miami Dolphins in free agency last offseason. They clearly saw potential, as they gave him a three-year, $30 million deal. After just one season, however, Washington traded to get him back. Flowers is who I think will start Week 1, but he will have to prove he's better than Wes Schweitzer, who took over the left guard spot last year for Washington.