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Five Redskins Primed to Break Out In 2011

Posted Jun 20, 2011

Which young Redskins player could emerge in 2011? Third-year cornerback Kevin Barnes should have an opportunity on the Redskins' defense.


Every year, it seems there’s a Redskins player who emerges with a breakout season.

A year ago, who would have thought that Anthony Armstrong would end up starting 10 games in 2010?

Looking at the current roster, here are five Redskins players primed for productivity:

-- KEVIN BARNES, CB

Barnes alternated between cornerback and safety last year. Now in his third NFL season, he is excited to go back to his natural position of cornerback since the Redskins signed free agent safety O.J. Atogwe to fill that position.

Barnes, a University of Maryland product and 2009 third-round draft pick, played in 10 games last season filling in for injuries in the secondary. With cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon uncertain to return, Barnes may get an opportunity to step in and be the second corner next to DeAngelo Hall.

Even if the Redskins use free agency to add a veteran at the position, Barnes could still see valuable time as the nickel back.

-- LEONARD HANKERSON, WR

In today’s NFL, rookie wide receivers see no disadvantage moving from college to the NFL. Players like Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, Philly’s DeSean Jackson and more recently Dallas’s Dez Bryant and Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams established themselves as top receivers in their rookie campaigns.

Hankerson could be next to join the list. He has the athleticism. He has the speed – he had the fourth best 40-yard dash of receivers at the combine. He has hands that are compared with Godzilla. And he’s a Hurricane, just like Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson.

Hankerson has the tools to be a quality receiver for the Redskins. He just needs to know who is throwing the ball to him this fall.

-- RYAN KERRIGAN, LB

As the Redskins’ first-round draft pick, Kerrigan leaves his old position of defensive end in college and joins the NFL as an outside linebacker.

Converting to a new position could brings struggles, but with Brian Orakpo already living this familiar story – Orakpo converted to OLB from his DE position in college – Kerrigan should have all the help he needs.

If the stories play out the same, Kerrigan could be looking at back-to-back Pro Bowl selections to start his career, like Orakpo has done. Kerrigan lining up opposite of Orakpo could benefit both players and leave quarterbacks with nightmares.

-- KORY LICHTENSTEIGER, OL

Head coach Mike Shanahan has always liked Lichtensteiger as an offensive lineman. He drafted him in 2008 while in Denver. Then, in one of his first moves as the Redskins coach, he signed Lichtensteiger who was a free agent.

Lichtensteiger played in all 16 games last season, starting 14 at left guard replacing Derrick Dockery in Week 3. His play improved through the course of the season, even though the offensive line often featured a different look each week.

His play impresses the coaches who see him work every day, so he is playing with something to prove.

-- RYAN TORAIN, RB

Torain has the strength to plow through defenders – like in the Week 7 win at Chicago when he ran for 125 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per rush. He has the quick feet and speed to punish defenses after breaking through initial contact – like in the Week 14 game vs. Tampa Bay when he ran for 172 yards, including a 54-yard scamper.

The key for Torain is staying on the field. He battled a hamstring injury in the middle of the season and was sidelined for four games.

The competition at running back is wide open with rookies Roy Helu and Evan Royster also competing for the job, so Torain will need to produce early.