Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said roster evaluations for key positions likely will extend to the fourth preseason game because of the lack of an offseason program this past summer. But in reality, the starting positions appear to be locked up for the most part.
Heading into Thursday night’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, the obvious position battle is quarterback, where John Beck and Rex Grossman are expected to split time with the starters, although Shanahan still won’t say who will start.
The handwriting is on the wall for many of the other position battles, but here’s how they stand:
Running back: Tim Hightower has has looked very impressive, but Ryan Torain still has an outside chance to unseat him. He has to get healthy first, though.
Second wide receiver: It hasn’t officially been nailed down, but Jabar Gaffney has lined up opposite Santana Moss and, despite a solid showing by Anthony Armstrong, the veteran appears to have the job locked up.
Left defensive end: Adam Carriker and Jarvis Jenkins have been duking it out for this job, and have looked pretty solid in the process. But Carriker hasn’t been helped by blisters on his heels. This could go down to the wire.
Inside linebacker: Rocky McIntosh and Perry Riley were supposed to be competing for this job, but Jim Haslett on Tuesday said Riley still has a lot to learn and has been hurt by not having OTAs. Asked if Riley would see time with the starters Thursday, Haslett said, “I think we’ll probably go with who we have.”
Place kicker: Graham Gano (who is 6 for 6 this preseason) technically has a competitor in camp, but Clint Stitser didn’t attempt a kick in what would have been his Redskins debut last Friday.
Kick/punt returner: You would think Brandon Banks would have this job if he was healthy and able to continue to produce like he did in the preseason opener. But since he’s still hobbled, the questions about his durability continue. Terrence Austin, whom Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan and special teams coach Danny Smith all are high on, has a shot to instead win this job. Austin did everything the coaches could have hoped for against the Colts, and coaches have pointed out that he also is a more dynamic receiver than Banks.
Nickel corner: This appears to be Kevin Barnes’s job thanks partly to solid play during training camp and the preseason, and partly because Phillip Buchanon is expected to miss the first four games while serving that mysterious suspension.
Mainly, guys are battling for the difference between second- and third -string jobs — and when it comes to the young players — for practice squad spots.