A closer look at the Redskins’ initial 53-man roster for 2013 season

Darrel Young, Robert Griffin III

There were a few surprises as the Redskins’ 53-man roster came together. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The cuts are in, and the Redskins’ initial 53-man roster for the 2013 season is set.
An interesting day indeed for the Redskins. Few could’ve predicted the team would carry four quarterbacks. And no one expected the release of Chase Minnifield – the first-year cornerback and former U-Va. star who missed all of last season after knee surgery but impressed coaches during training camp.

Things could change in the coming days after the team scans the waiver wire tomorrow and sees what talent is on the streets.

But let’s take a closer look at the roster as it stands today:

Quarterback (4): Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman, Pat White.
Notes: White makes the team in the biggest surprise of the day. Washington keeping four quarterbacks never seemed like a real possibility, but White showed enough improvement and potential to convince Redskins brass to do just that. We’ll see how long this lasts. It’s always possible that the team could deal him. Or it could keep White another week just to help prepare for Philadelphia, because like Michael Vick he is mobile and left-handed. White also gives the Redskins insurance for the time being as Kirk Cousins is still working his way back from a mid-foot sprain.
Running back (4): Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Chris Thompson
Notes: Morris and Helu were locks, and Royster wrestled the third running back spot from Keiland Williams after a strong performance Thursday night at Tampa Bay. Thompson entered the week on the bubble after fumbling in back-to-back games. But a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown, plus solid running in a reserve role Thursday, locked up his roster spot. Seventh-round pick Jawan Jamison is expected to return to the team as a member of the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Fullback (1): Darrel Young
Tight end (4): Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed
Notes: The Redskins keeping four tight ends was never in doubt. The abilities of Paulsen and Paul to play fullback help give the team flexibility. Davis appears poised for a strong comeback season. Paulsen also has proven he can handle the starting duties. Paul is the team’s special teams ace – both on kick returns and on coverage units – so that made him a sure thing. Reed boasts athleticism and playmaking ability similar to that of Davis, who is playing on another one-year deal.
Wide receiver (5): Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
Notes: All of these players were considered locks. Dez Briscoe would’ve had a shot had he been healthy, but he suffered a shoulder injury after a strong start to Thursday’s game. Moss remains the top slot threat, and also can help out on punt returns should Thompson struggle. Undrafted rookies Skye Dawson and Nick Williams didn’t make the cut, but Williams is expected to sign to the practice squad.
Offensive line (8): LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus, T Tom Compton, G Josh LeRibeus, G Adam Gettis
Notes: The main question about the line was would the team carry eight or nine. Right tackle Tony Pashos didn’t convince coaches of the need to hold onto him as the only veteran backup tackle. He didn’t have the ability to play left tackle. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan thinks Compton can handle the duties as a swing tackle if need be. Lichtensteiger or Chester would serve as backup center. Also, Maurice Hurt (guard-tackle) is on the PUP list, and could become available after the sixth week if healthy. It will be interesting to see how the line holds up. If healthy, the starters will pave the way for success. If one of them goes down, there is not an experienced player behind them at any position. Tackle Xavier Nixon and guard Tevita Stevens, both undrafted rookies, were cut but are expected to sign to the practice squad.
Defensive line (6): DE Kedric Golston, NT Barry Cofield, DE Stephen Bowen, DE Chris Baker, NT Chris Neild, DE Phillip Merling
Notes: Merling had a strong game on Thursday to lock up a roster spot. Jarvis Jenkins’s four-game suspension also helped open the door for him. Golston will start at left end until Jenkins returns. Neild played well as Cofield’s backup in his return from a torn ACL that sidelined him all of last season.
Outside linebacker (4): Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Darryl Tapp, Brandon Jenkins
Notes: The Redskins showed during the preseason that they will take advantage of the depth at this position and feature all four on the field at the same time in certain packages. Rob Jackson will spend the first four games on the suspended list. Vick So’oto, who was released, never really seemed to have a shot at overtaking one of the aforementioned four.
Inside linebacker (4): London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Nick Barnett, Bryan Kehl
Notes: This is a veteran group, and because of it, the Redskins shouldn’t skip much of a beat if Fletcher or Riley get banged up. Barnett still is gaining comfort in the system, but coaches love him and he could take over for Fletcher as the ‘mike’ linebacker next season if Fletcher, 38, decides to retire. Kehl’s special teams play and his ability to play outside and inside linebacker help him. Rookies Will Compton and Marvin Burdette didn’t make the cut, but Compton is expected to rejoin the team as a member of the practice squad.
Cornerback (5): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, David Amerson, E.J. Biggers, Jerome Murphy
Notes: The surprise at this position was the release of Chase Minnifield, who had worked his way back from last year’s ACL surgery and got off to a strong start in training camp. However, he struggled in the last two preseason games. The team hopes to bring him back as a practice squad player. Haslett spoke highly of Murphy and his instincts, physicality and skill set. Biggers can play on the outside, backing up Hall, or in the nickel, where he would back up Wilson. Wilson will likely start on the outside at right corner before sliding over into the nickel role, and Amerson would take over at right corner.
Safety (5): SS Brandon Meriweather, FS Bacarri Rambo, SS Reed Doughty, SS-FS Jordan Pugh, FS Jose Gumbs
Notes: Gumbs made the team after joining as a free agent on the first day of training camp. A physical player with good coverage skills as well as big-hit capability, Gumbs overtook third-year pro DeJon Gomes for the final safety spot. Pugh returns for his second year, and the reliable Doughty’s spot never was in jeopardy. It remains to be seen if Meriweather can remain healthy, but if so, he gives the secondary a boost. Rambo started from Day 1 of training camp at free safety and has shown steady improvement.
Special teams (3): PK Kai Forbath, P Sav Rocca, LS Nick Sundberg
Notes: Forbath went 7 for 7 in the preseason with a long of 53 yards. Rocca has returned to form after having meniscus surgery this offseason. Sundberg is his usual reliable self. Paul remains the top kick return threat despite his size, and Thompson has taken over at punt returner after cornerback Richard Crawford was lost for the season.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

● Practice squads can be assembled beginning at noon Sunday.

More about the Redskins and the NFL:

Pat White makes Redskins’ 53-man roster

Pashos, Gomes, Minnifield among Redskins’ cuts

NFL takes no immediate action on T. Jackson’s suspension

The Early Lead: Tebow vows to keep pursuing QB job after release by Patriots

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