The Redskins are expecting a bump in production from their defensive line this year, specifically in terms of pass rush. To help facilitate this, they’re switching to a 1-gap penetrating system, allowing the line and linebackers to rush more freely without having to worry as much about keeping containment as they have in the past.
The addition of Jason Hatcher, from the Dallas Cowboys, should help this cause. Hatcher had 11 sacks last season, as many as the Redskins D-line had the last two seasons combined. So, obviously, he and the other big name player, Barry Cofield, will get a lot of attention from fans and media.
But I’d rather focus on defensive end Chris Baker. Baker will most likely be starting at left end, due to Stephen Bowen recovering from knee surgery. I’d rather the Skins line Baker up at nose tackle, and move Cofield to end, because of Bakers freakish size and athletic ability. He would terrorize opposing centers, like a former number 92 was supposed to do, but let’s not even go there.
But Baker can still cause damage from the defensive end spot. The 6’2, 333 lbs. end has the ability to wreak havoc on less athletic right tackles this season. If Haslett and company really do “unleash the dogs,” then expect Baker to make an impact and a name for himself among even the casual Redskins fan.
Baker will most likely split time with Jarvis Jenkins, who I’m also expecting good things from. Jenkins was off to a great start before he tore his ACL in 2011. Now three years removed from that injury he can take that next step that many hoped he would have taken by now. He played much better during the latter part of the 2013 season and should only continue to get better.
Another sleeper on the line is former Redskin, Jumpy Geathers nephew, Clifton Geathers. This kid is huge! The 6’8, 340 lbs. fourth year pro can really move, and he has good athletic ability for his size. He’ll turn some heads during training camp and preseason. Make sure to watch out for him. He always intrigued me whenever I watched him play for the Eagles.
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