After an abbreviated offseason, NFL training camp and four preseason games, it's finally time for the Redskins 53-man roster to be revealed. Saturday is the league-wide NFL cut day, where teams must go from 80 players to 53. This year, more than ever, the Redskins have some tough decisions to make.
Here now is our projection for which players will make up the Redskins' 53-man roster. Eight more can be signed to the practice squad, but they must clear waivers first. For a full list of rules on NFL practice squads, click the link.
Quarterback (2): John Beck, Rex Grossman
The names here aren't surprising, but the biggest question of the summer has still yet to be answered: which QB will start come Week 1 against the New York Giants? It's a toss-up at this point, but the thought here is the coaching staff may still lean towards Beck.
Mike Shanahan has historically kept two quarterbacks on his roster since his Denver days, and it wouldn't be surprising in this case if he does so again, especially given the crowded situation at wide receiver.
Offensive line (9): Trent Williams (T), Jamaal Brown (T), Sean Locklear (T), Kory Lichtensteiger (G), Chris Chester (G), Artis Hicks (G), Maurice Hurt (G), Will Montgomery ( C ), Erik Cook ( C )
The starting five has been set in stone for some time now, but depth is still a concern. Assuming the team won't scour the waiver wire for veteran interior lineman, it looks as those the team will go with the likes of Hurt - a rookie guard who's struggled this preseason - as well as Cook at center. These are not the flashiest of names, so the team has to hope that the starting five are able to stay relatively healthy the entire season, or things could unravel in a hurry for this group.
Running backs (5): Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu, Darrel Young (FB), Keiland Williams (FB)
At the time of the Hightower acquisition from the Arizona Cardinals, most thought he could serve as the team's primary third-down back. Three preseason games and a Torain hand injury later, he enters Week 1 as the starting tailback. Torain returned in the final preseason game and showed the same downhill running style that made him effective in the latter part of the 2010 season, and there's no reason to believe he won't be an effective changeup to Hightower. Then there's Helu, who showed very quickly that he is by far the fastest running back among this group, showing his great one-cut ability and footwork that made Shanahan trade up in the fourth round of the draft to select him.
As for the fullback position, the Mike Sellers era looks to be over. It appears the job now belongs to Young, a converted linebacker. The team has tried using Williams at running back, and should they choose to keep five backs, it wouldn't be surprising to see Williams make it over Sellers.
Tight ends (3): Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
No surprises here. This has been the Redskins' position of strength for the last few seasons, and this year should be no different given that Cooley can rebound from his knee injury.
Wide receivers (7): Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Terrence Austin, Niles Paul, Brandon Banks
This is likely the toughest position for the coaching staff to evaluate. With such a deep stable of receivers and plenty of them making their case this preseason, it'll be hard for the team to fit all the guys they want onto this roster. The likes of Moss, Gaffney, Armstrong and Hankerson seem to be locks to make the squad. Austin looks to be in the lead for fifth spot with a solid preseason performance.
Then it gets interesting. Paul had an excellent camp, but didn't flash as much in the games. The question for the Redskins is this: if Paul is released, will he be able to clear waivers and land on the practice squad? If the answer is no, then they have to find a way to keep him.
That could prove to be difficult with Banks finishing the preseason on a high note with a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Buccaneers. Banks' health has been an issue, but if he can show that his knee is responding well, he has to be on the roster, as he's shown that he's the team's most dangerous threat to score with the ball in his hands. The resolution to the Paul/Banks conundrum may be to put them both on the roster, designating Banks as a return specialist and expanding the receiving corps to seven.
Defensive line (7): Stephen Bowen (DE), Adam Carriker (DE), Kedric Golston (DE), Darrion Scott (DE), Doug Worthington (DE), Barry Cofield (NT), Anthony Bryant (NT)
The only surprise name in this group is Worthington, who could make the roster thanks to rookie Jarvis Jenkins' season ending ACL tear. Other than that, this upgraded group looks poised to have a much better year than in 2010.
Seventh-round pick Chris Neild is one man who would be off the team.
Linebackers (8): Lorenzo Alexander, London Fletcher, Keyaron Fox, Rob Jackson, Ryan Kerrigan, Rocky McIntosh, Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley
This is another group that looks to have both quality players to go along with quality depth. The starters are set: Orakpo, Fletcher, McIntosh and the rookie Kerrigan. From there, there is plenty of depth, with special teams captain Alexander, second-year man Riley and two players who really flashed in the preseason in Fox and Jackson.
That leaves seventh-round pick Markus White as the odd man out.
Safeties (5): Laron Landry, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Reed Doughty, Chris Horton, DeJon Gomes, Kareem Moore (PUP)
The main concern is the fact that Landry, Atogwe and Moore are all dealing with injuries right now. Moore is still on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list and looks likely to stay there as the season starts. Meanwhile, Landry and Atogwe are both dealing with hamstring injuries, which could test this group's depth early. Doughty has been a fixture for the past six season as a backup safety, and could be needed once again if either if the starters are out. Gomes, the rookie, had a strong preseason and may very well have played his way onto the roster over Chris Horton.
Cornerbacks(4): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook, Phillip Buchanon (suspended)
What will be key for this group is how they play during the four games that Buchanon is out from his suspension. It appears Barnes will be counted on to play as the team's nickel corner, which will give him a big opportunity to show the coaching staff just how improved of a player he has become this offseason. Westbrook has always been a solid special teams player, but this preseason he excelled at corner. If he can carry that improved play over into the regular season, it could further soften the blow from Buchanon's suspension.
Draft pick Brandyn Thompson is one of the odd men out.
K - Graham Gano
P - Sav Rocca
LS - Nick Sundberg
KR - Brandon Banks
PR - Brandon Banks
None of these picks need much elaboration.
Last Men Out
- LB Markus White
- RB Evan Royster
- CB Brandyn Thompson
- NT Chris Neild
- FB Mike Sellers
- WR Donte Stallworth
Four of these names are rookies, all of whom should be able to clear waivers and make the practice squad. It wouldn't be surprising to see the team treat these players similar to how they did a year ago: start them out on the practice squad and promote them to the 53-man roster if there is an injury or if the coaching staff simply feels like they are ready to contribute.
Donte Stallworth would be a tough release for the team, but he's an older player on a team that wants to get younger at the skill positions. He showed he can still play, but it looks like it won't be for this team.