- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

By Ryan O’Halloran | The Washington Times

Sunday: Receivers | Monday: Special teams

Who’s back: Starters Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El, second-year players Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and late-season addition Marques Hagans.

Who’s new: Seventh-round pick Marko Mitchell and long shots Roydell Williams, Trent Shelton and Keith Eloi.

2008 review: Moss had 1,044 yards with 79 catches and six touchdowns; Randle El finished third on the Redskins with 53 receptions and second with four touchdowns. The other receivers combined for only 27 catches. Thomas did little (15 catches), and Kelly did nothing (three) although his excuse was a knee injury.

Offseason review: Two developments — Kelly underwent surgery but returned for the final set of organized team activities, and veteran James Thrash was released because of a neck injury. Thrash’s departure opens a roster spot for a player who can produce on special teams.

Three issues

1. Who is more likely to make an impact this year, Thomas or Kelly? The Redskins want both 2008 second-round picks to raise their level of play, but Thomas is more likely to seize the No. 2 spot from Randle El because Kelly’s knee is always going to be an issue. Training camp is the time Thomas can show Jim Zorn he’s worthy of more than the 20 snaps a game he got last year.

2. How can the Redskins better utilize Moss downfield? Moss posted three games of at least 140 yards in the first half but no games of more than 72 yards in the second half. Two things would help Moss: the emergence of Thomas or Kelly that defenses have to respect and better pass protection. Moss is a deep threat who needs time to get downfield. If Jason Campbell is scrambling after protection breaks down, he can’t throw long.

3. Which player is the favorite to fill Thrash’s role? It may not be a receiver. In recent years, the Redskins have carried five receivers on the 53-man roster and activated four on game day. Hagans should be considered the favorite for the No. 5 receiver spot, but Zorn could opt to carry an extra running back because of special teams play. The 6-foot-4 Mitchell brings size but probably needs another year on the practice squad.

Key statistic

138 Passes on which Santana Moss was the intended receiver (tied for 11th in the NFL), according to Stats.

Want more Redskins? Follow Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter at @ryanohalloran and read our Redskins 360 blog at www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/redskins.

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