As the Washington Redskins get ready to open training camp for the 2018 season, we will take a look at the stories that will make or break their season. Today, we preview a player in each phase of the game that will be vital to the success of the team this season.
Offense: Chase Roullier – Center
While most talk about uncertainty with the offense centers around the wide receiving corps, the running back log jam or new quarterback Alex Smith. However, I believe the middle of the offensive line will determine how good this offense will be. Tackle Trent Williams looks like he is fully healthy and recovered from his patella surgery. Opposite tackle Morgan Moses is also ready for camp after ankle surgery, and right guard Brandon Scherff is also ready to go with no concern. While the Redskins re-signed guard Shawn Luavao and he is penciled in as the starter, Rouiller will be the wild card on the offensive line. The team obviously thought Roullier was good enough as they let Spencer Long go and didn’t draft an inside lineman. The 2017 sixth-round pick Roullier played in 13 games while starting seven, and for the most part, he did a good job. The center has the blocking responsibilities for the entire line so Rouiller will be important. Health obviously hurt the offensive line last season, but if the continuity around Rouiller is there the line could take off. We need to see Roullier’s mastery of the offense and his blocking call assignments.
Defense: Montae Nicholson – Safety
Another 2017 draft pick will be the most important player on defense. While in the draft, the team addressed the biggest issue, the defensive line, but the safety position will be the most important piece to the team’s success. When Nicolson played, the secondary was fast, aggressive, and dominant. However, when Nicholson was out, the safety opposite DJ Swearinger was manned by committee, and the affect on the entire secondary was slower and less aggressive. Nicholson played in eight games, starting six, and his speed and range was impressive. His best game last season was the Sunday night game versus the Oakland Raiders, where he ranged to get his only interception of the season, which virtually shut down the deep ball threat of the Raiders. Nicholson’s concern is his health and more importantly his concussion concerns. He missed the last six games recovering from a concussion. In camp, we need to see a healthy Nicholson and the secondary will have a chance to be really good.
Special Teams: Dustin Hopkins – Kicker
Kickers are the guys you never think about until you need them. Hopkins has had an up and down time with the Redskins. Last season, Hopkins made 14-of-17 field goals and 18-of-19 extra point attempts. Hopkins has been know to be shaky with his accuracy while his strong leg leads to a lot of touchbacks. Hopkins only played in eight games last season because of a groin injury and was replaced by Nick Rose, who did fairly well. Rose was 10-for-11 in field goals and 18-for-20 in extra points. When Hopkins came back they chose to release Rose, who was picked up by the Los Angeles Chargers. If Hopkins struggles in camp, look for the Redskins to sign someone.