Is RG3 Ready for Week 1 Against the Eagles?

Is RG3 Ready for Week 1 Against the Eagles?

Two situations spring to mind when I think about Robert Griffin III under center for the Washington Redskins just eight months removed from a torn ACL, not to mention without attempting so much as a single pass in a preseason game this summer.

First, I think of Donovan McNabb in 2007, less than one year after his torn ACL. It was not Five’s finest season, particularly the first few weeks while he was shaking off the rust. McNabb posted passer ratings of 60.7, 74.5, and 61.0 in three of his first four games back – all losses – and the Eagles wound up finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs.

Next I think of Michael Vick in 2012, when he more or less missed the entire preseason with injuries. Vick attempted all of seven passes between two exhibition games, and when the regular season arrived, it showed. He completed 51.8% of his passes and threw four interceptions while narrowly escaping Cleveland with a 17-16 win, a sign of things to come as it turned out.

Although it would seem there are multiple forces at work against Griffin, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan reiterated on Monday that Griffin will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Eagles next week. Having seen signal callers in similar situations before, I have to wonder whether the second-year player will be ready for live action.

For what it’s worth, his head coach and teammates sound impressed by what they’ve seen from Griffin. Shanahan claims he wouldn’t put his 23-year-old franchise quarterback on the field if they weren’t confident he was able to do everything they asked. According to the guys inside the huddle, like Villanova product Darrel Young, it’s the same RG3.

 “You guys [the media] aren’t out there [at practice], but let me just tell you this: He looks damn good,” fullback Darrel Young said. “The way he’s moving around, making plays . . . he’s full go with everything.”

If he is truly as good as new, that’s great news for Griffin and for football fans. After watching Adrian Peterson run wild over the NFL less than a year removed from the same type of injury, it certainly looked like players can come back faster than ever.

Even if it’s not a question of physical limitations for Griffin though, what about the lack of a preseason? Griffin only began practicing 11-on-11 against the Redskins defense a few weeks ago, but even had he been going against them all training camp, they can’t simulate a live pass rush that’s coming to get the quarterback, or what it will be like the first time he takes a hit.

Vick has come to understand the importance of getting some work in during the preseason since last year's disastrous opening-day performance. In Reuben Frank’s story for CSN, the four-time Pro Bowler talks about how much more prepared he is for this season over last.

“Honestly? Yeah, I think it did affect me, a lot,” Vick said, referring to last year's preseason. “It takes a while to get adjusted, and yeah, I’ve been in the game a long time and I’m a veteran and I know what it feels like to be in the game, but sometimes there’s really no way of simulating that -- the game-type atmosphere.

To be fair, Griffin may already be a more well-rounded player in year two in the NFL than Vick ever was, but does that mean he’ll be ready to hit the ground running on September 9? That’s a little difficult to take on faith based on the historical and anecdotal evidence. Even Peterson didn’t really hit his stride until a month into the season, and there’s a lot less going on for a running back.

Granted, Griffin is a rare breed, but will he be as ready as possible for Monday night when the lights go on? It seems like a stretch.

>> RG3 determined to be even better [WaPo]
>> Can improved preseason be key to Vick's success? [CSN]

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

The Eagles might not have any top-flight cornerbacks, but they certainly have a lot of guys with some talent.

Many of them are young, and all of them are battling for just several roster spots.

That hodgepodge of talent has made the corner position one of the more intriguing spots at this year's training camp. We're not sure how it'll all shake out, who will be the starters, who will be the depth players.

But one thing's for certain: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants all of them to be aggressive.

"It's going to be fun to watch the corners compete," Schwartz said after practice Tuesday. "We have some guys that can cover. We have some guys that have a great opportunity here. If they'll get up and they'll challenge receivers, like I said before, if you can cover — you can't cover many people if you don't want to challenge guys. That's God's honest truth. I could play the deep ball. I'd get my ass 50 yards deep and you couldn't get one over the top of me, but I couldn't cover anything else.

"There's a fine line in there. And the fine line is you obviously have to play the deep ball in this league, but if that's the only thing you're worried about, you're not going to cover anything else."

Schwartz said he's happy with the blend of veteran and young players on the roster, before rattling off five names: Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, JaCorey Shepherd and rookie Jalen Mills.

The one notable omission from that list of names is second-year player Eric Rowe, who finished last year as a starter, but has been somewhat of a forgotten man this spring and summer. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson mentioned some "hiccups" Rowe encountered learning the new defensive scheme (see story).

Even with Rowe buried on the depth chart for now, there are still plenty of talented, young corners fighting for jobs.

Carroll, on the other hand, isn't young. He's 29 and a returning starter from last year. Schwartz praised Carroll's smarts and said he's been a resource for younger players. But Carroll is also coming off of a fibula fracture and subsequent surgery. That's why he's one of the select vets that reported to camp early.

"This is important for him now," Schwartz said. "It's a good opportunity for him to come back before the full club gets here, just to sort of test it out and see how he's feeling. You don't want to judge too much. He might need a day here or there. It helps that he's a veteran player."

It seems Carroll, on a one-year deal, has a decent shot of being a starter opposite McKelvin. During the spring, Brooks worked outside in the base package and moved inside to the slot. At times, the rookie Mills also played in the slot.

Schwartz said corners in the slot need a different set of skills than the ones outside. They need to have the "courage" to take on big-bodied running backs and the occasional pulling guard. They also need to cover differently.

"It's very rare that you're getting the same routes," he said. "You're not getting the same routes from the slot as you are from the outside. So there's a different skill set. Some guys can play both, some guys can't. So it's our job to determine over the next six weeks where all the guys fit in that."

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup Tuesday night, batting fourth against Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler. 

It's the second start in three games for Howard, who has actually been productive lately when he's gotten a chance to start. He went 2 for 3 on Saturday and had a homer in three of his previous five starts. Over that span he's gone 6 for 21 with three home runs and five RBIs as the Phillies' starting first baseman.

One of those homers was against Koehler last week at Citizens Bank Park, a two-run shot.

Howard's struggles this season have been well-documented and he's still hitting just .165, but he and Tommy Joseph have produced from a power standpoint. The only team in the majors that has more home runs from its first basemen than the Phillies (24) is the Cubs (26).

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

And for the Marlins:

1. Ichiro, CF (four hits away from 3,000)
2. Martin Prado, 3B
3. Christian Yelich, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Chris Johnson, 1B
6. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
7. Jeff Mathis, C
8. Miguel Rojas, 2B
9. Tom Koehler, P

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Wayne, Pa. -- Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q+A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime.