Jay Gruden trying to keep an open mind on bubble players

For some players, tonight’s preseason matchup between the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens represents their final opportunity to showcase their skills to the team’s coaches and talent evaluators.

By Tuesday’s first cut deadline, 15 players will have lost their jobs, although the moves could come sooner. Coach Jay Gruden said the team could make most of the cuts Sunday, which the team has off.

Some players riding on this first bubble will try to confirm to decision-makers that they belong in the top 75. Others will try to change the evaluators’ minds so they can survive to Thursday, where they would get another audition as Washington closes out the preseason at Tampa Bay.

As he gives players a final opportunity tonight, Gruden said he and his assistants strive to keep open minds on all of the players. Although the picture is pretty clear at some positions, there are others where the decision could go either way, and that’s what Gruden wants.

“You try to not lean. You try to let the players play it out,” Gruden said. “You let the games take care of themselves and then you try to evaluate after every practice to see who is maintaining their level of play and who is slipping from a day-to-day basis. So I’m just going to leave it up to that. I don’t like to predetermine my roster spots at all. I like to let these guys compete. They deserve that right, they’ve earned that right. It’ll be a big game in Baltimore for the starters, not only the backups in the third and fourth quarter but the starters in the first quarter, see how they’re doing. And, then of course Tampa will be huge again for a lot of the guys that are competing for the 53.”

Although there are some situations where Gruden knows which players have better chances, and which have no shot, the coach said he always finds the decisions difficult to carry out.

“Some of them have panned out to be a little bit more clearer than most other cuts will be, but it’s never easy,” the coach said. “You know, you get to know these guys, they work hard, they come to meetings, they’re on time, they’ve done everything right and then when you tell them it’s over, it’s very tough. So it’s never easy. I think some of the position battles have played themselves out where you know it’s pretty simple to see, but still it’s going to be hard to let some of them go.”

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