Redskins 53-man roster: A look at how things appear to be shaping up entering week of cuts

August 26, 2013

Mike Shanahan and his staff have decisions to make this week. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Redskins this week must make two rounds of cuts to get to the league-mandated 53-man roster. First, the team must trim down the roster to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. Then, the team must get down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon.
The current roster has 88 players listed, but safety Phillip Thomas, linebackers Keenan Robinson and Jeremy Kimbrough and cornerback Richard Crawford are all lost for the season, so that leaves Washington with 84 healthy players.
Things could change between now and Saturday, particularly if someone lights it up on Thursday night, to earn a roster spot. But let’s take a crack at the 53-man roster given what we know already.
Below is my best guesses, with a couple of questions and notes included. Who makes your 53-man roster?

OFFENSE
Quarterback – 3 – Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman
(Note: While Grossman may not be the best starting-caliber quarterback, he very well may be the best third-string passer in the league. If they had to throw him in a game for an emergency, Redskins coaches have every bit of confidence that Grossman could get the job done. Pat White simply isn’t ready.)
Fullback– 1 – Darrel Young
Running back – 3 – Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Keiland Williams
(Note: Tough call here. I like the smooth-running Royster, but Williams seems to have overtaken him, having gotten more opportunities and tasting success, as well. Rookies Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison haven’t done a lot. Thompson has two fumbles, but could help himself with special teams play – mainly returns. Not sure you can justify keeping four running backs, though.)
Wide receiver – 5 – Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson
(Note: Another tough call. The Redskins like 12th-year pro Donte Stallworth, but needs in other areas could make it hard for the team to keep six receivers. Undrafted rookies Skye Dawson, Nick Williams and Chip Reeves haven’t been used much as wideouts or return men. Update: Reeves has been released).
Tight ends – 4 – Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed
(Note: Yes, four tight ends. Davis appears to be fine, but question remains about whether that Achilles’ tendon will hold up. Paulsen is the best blocking tight end of the group, and at times lines up in the backfield like a fullback, and Paul has good versatility. Reed is becoming more comfortable and has started showing big-play potential.)
Offensive line – 9 – Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Tony Pashos
(Note: Here’s another tricky area. Can they get away with going eight here, so they could get six receivers or four running backs on the roster? Compton has practice squad ability, but if Williams goes down, you then have to take right tackle Polumbus and put him at left tackle if no other left tackle is on the roster, and then you would have to put Pashos at right tackle. Maurice Hurt could help provide guard/tackle depth. But he remains on the PUP list. LeRibeus has disappointed thus far, but being a third-round pick will probably buy him some more time.)

DEFENSE
Defensive line – 6 – Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Kedric Golston, Chris Neild, Chris Baker, Phillip Merling; (Jarvis Jenkins suspended)
(Note: Jenkins will open the season on the suspended list, and that could give Merling an opportunity to make the 53-man roster, at least temporarily).
Outside linebacker – 4 – Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Brandon Jenkins, Darryl Tapp; (Rob Jackson suspended)
(Note: The opening day number would be four in this scenario, with Jackson suspended the first four games of the season. But what happens when he returns?)
Inside linebacker – 4 – London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Nick Barnett, Bryan Kehl
(Note: Roddrick Muckelroy opened camp with a chance to make the roster, but has been sidelined by a shoulder injury that has kept him out of two games now. Barnett had a quiet preseason debut, but his experience and Fletcher’s age help his case for a roster spot. Kehl’s versatility serve him well with an ability to play ‘mike,’ ‘jack,’ and special teams.)
Cornerback – 6 – DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, David Amerson, E.J. Biggers, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy.
Safety – 5 – Brandon Meriweather, Bacarri Rambo, Reed Doughty, Jordan Pugh, DeJon Gomes
(Note: Another position of uncertainty thanks largely to Meriweather’s health issues. So far, there have been few surprises at any positions. Could Jose Gumbs – a hustler on special teams and decent open-field tackler and coverage guy – unseat Gomes or Pugh for a spot?)

SPECIAL TEAMS
3 – Place kicker Kai Forbath, punter Sav Rocca, long-snapper Nick Sundberg
(Note: Because of the numbers needed at safety and offensive line, it’s hard to imagine the Redskins being able to carry a return specialist. Chris Thompson or Reeves could’ve gotten that spot otherwise. Robinson, Moss, Hall and Wilson all have handled return duties in their careers. It is possible to go with eight offensive linemen – Compton as a swing tackle even though he’s only worked at left tackle – instead of nine to make room for Thompson as a punt returner.)

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mark Maske · August 26, 2013

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