The Camp Battles series rolls on with a look at the defensive line unit. If you missed the earlier posts, they are below:
The Redskins’ defensive line has the chance to be the teams deepest and best unit. The front office has been building their defensive line ever since Mike Shanahan was hired in 2010 and he made the decision to convert the Redskins defense from a 4-3, with 4 down lineman and 3 linebackers to a 3-4, with 3 down lineman and 4 line backers. They have been transitioning to a 3 down defensive line for 3 years now and it is believed they now have the talent to perform at expected levels. If the Redskins defensive line can avoid the injuries it faced the past two seasons then it can finally reach its full potential.
Just getting players back from injury will help bolster the line. The return of Adam Carriker at left defensive end to split time with Jarvis Jenkins will be huge. Stephen Bowen at right defensive end, and Barry Cofield at nose tackle return a group that have experience playing with each other the past two seasons. Add to that reserve veteran and team leader Kedric Golston — who was brought back on a three year contract to add veteran depth — to go with young talented nose tackles Chris Baker and Chris Neild and the Redskins defensive line has everything you need. They have continuity, versatility, veteran leadership and developing youth. They also retained Doug Worthington, and added Ron Brace and Phillip Merling in free agency for competition at defensive end.
Behind Cofield at NT, Chris Baker has flashed some potential as has our 7th rounder in 2011 Chris Neild. It is believed that Baker can also play DE, so there is a strong possibility the Redskins keep Baker even if Neild beats him out at NT. Versatility is a great thing to have in the NFL and Baker can certainly bring that.
The Redskins have their top five defensive linemen along with Golston returning for this season. The key position battles for the Redskins defensive line will be for the starting left defensive end position between Adam Carriker and Jarvis Jenkins, the reserve defensive end position behind Stephen Bowen between Kedric Golston, Doug Worthington, Ron Brace and Phillip Merling and lastly at reserve nose tackle between Chris Neild and Chris Baker.
At this point I see the Redskins depth chart as this:
RDE: Stephen Bowen, Kedric Golston
NT: Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Chris Neild
RDE: Adam Carriker, Jarvis Jenkins
Washington’s defensive line is definitely set for the 2013 season, and more than likely for at least the next 2 years. And with key guys coming back from injury, this group should be a strong suit for a defense looking to vastly improve.
NEXT UP: Running Backs