Redskins Training Camp Preview: Defensive End
Today we continue our annual survey of the Redskins roster, seeking to determine which players are most likely to make the final 2013 team and which are not. We will look at every position on the roster and today we cover defensive end.
ON THE ROSTER: Chris Baker, Stephen Bowen, Adam Carriker*, Kedric Golston, Jarvis Jenkins**, Phillip Merling
STARTERS: Chris Baker, Stephen Bowen
BACKUPS: Kedric Golston, Phillip Merling
ON THE BUBBLE:
ANALYSIS: The loss of Adam Carriker, probably for the entire season, and Jarvis Jenkins, for the first four games of the season, has thrown LDE into turmoil. Carriker was very effective in 2011 and was the starter in 2012 until the second week of the season, when an injury shelved him for the remainder of the campaign. He has tried to rehab his injury in the offseason, but complications have continued to arise and now he’s out 4-5 months, at least. Next up for the unfortunate lineman is his third offseason surgery for the injury to his right quadriceps tendon. At this point, we have to wonder if Carriker will ever play in the NFL again, much less for the Washington Redskins.
The loss of Carriker isn’t terribly surprising considering his terrible offseason thus far, but the loss of Jenkins, if only for the first four games, came as a shock. Jenkins was suspended for violating the NFL’s drug abuse policy and now the Redskins have lost their top two players at left defensive end. Moving in to fill the gap, at least temporarily, is Chris Baker, who made the team last year as a backup to nose tackle Barry Cofield. Despite being a converted nose tackle, Baker is not unfamiliar with the DE position in a 3-4 defense — he played it in college. I suspect the transition will be relatively smooth for Baker and he will not embarrass himself or the Redskins at hsi old/new position.
Bowen was a fairly strong run defender last year, but fell far short on the pass rush. You don’t normally expect your 3-4 DE to get a ton of sacks and Bowen did not  last year, but there were too many plays where Bowen provided little or no pass rush at all. Both games against the Eagles, as well as games against Minnesota, New York [first game] and Dallas [first game] were examples of Bowen giving the team virtually nothing against the pass. He did play very well against the Rams in week two, the Panthers and the Giants [second game], so it wasn’t a terrible year for Bowen. However, it wasn’t a strong season and the Redskins need him to get back to his 2011 level for the defense to truly recover. With the other DE position so thin, much will be asked and needed from Bowen this year, particularly in September.
PREDICTION: Baker wins the LDE spot opposite Bowen, who also starts. Golston will work in a platoon with Baker and when Jenkins returns, he and Baker will platoon and Golston will go back to subbing on all DL positions. If he plays well, Baker may hold the starting spot away from Jenkins, at least until Jenkins can get back up to speed. Merling will make the team as a backup.
* Injured, out for the season
** Suspended for first 4 games of 2013 season