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Defensive Tackle Anthony Montgomery Should Survive Final Cuts

The Washington Redskins lose to Jacksonville in their final preseason game, 24-17.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Sept.3 -- Roster cuts are looming, the regular season opener is approaching and, as usual with the NFL, rumors are swirling. So here's an impromptu edition of "Here's what I think."

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Here's what happened: Apparently, there's a lot of buzz out there about the possibility of defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery being one of the surprising cuts Saturday as the team sets its 53-man roster.

Here's what I think: From what I gather, the thought goes that Montgomery is unhappy about the probability of having a reduced role and is expendable because of the supposed depth along the defensive line.

I spoke with a few people in the organization about Montgomery, and he's definitely not pleased about things at the moment. With the arrival of Albert Haynesworth, Montgomery, who played a lot last season, might not be active very often as the fourth defensive tackle on the roster, which would be disappointing to anyone. Also, Montgomery only has a one-year contract, which also hasn't brightened his mood. He needs to play to showcase himself to other teams, and that could be tough to do being so low on the depth chart.

Of course, Haynesworth, who did not accompany the team on the trip after experiencing stomach problems this week, hasn't played a full 16-game schedule since he was a rookie, received a knee injection during the preseason and is not expected to reach the goal of playing 70 percent of the snaps (it's quality with Big Al, not quantity). Cornelius Griffin, who turns 33 in December, sat out two games last season because of a shoulder injury and an abdominal strain and has also battled hip injuries.

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache likes to have depth, and he knows he can't ride Haynesworth and Griffin every down. Kedric Golston is ahead of Montgomery in the rotation, and versatile tackle-end Lorenzo Alexander has earned a much bigger role on the strength of his outstanding camp and preseason. Surprising stuff sometimes happens with the final cuts, but based on conversations with guys in the organization, I expect Montgomery to remain with the team. They could really need him late in the season.

Here's what happened: Based on his performance, Malcolm Kelly distanced himself from fellow second-year wide receiver Devin Thomas.

Here's what I think: Kelly should be the starting flanker opposite split end Santana Moss when the Redskins open the season at the Giants on Sept. 13. I know, I know. I said Thomas was the guy at the outset of camp. And he was. Even Zorn acknowledged Thomas held a slight edge over Kelly, who was trying to regain the form he had as a junior at Oklahoma after his rookie season was ruined because of a knee problem. As Kelly continued to get back in gear after having microfracture knee surgery in the offseason, Thomas was running with the first team.

But then Thomas seemed to disappear mentally for a couple of weeks during the preseason, several people in the organization told me. The lack of maturity that contributed to his unproductive rookie season resurfaced, prompting some to wonder whether he will ever "get it." Meantime, Kelly displayed the big-time receiving skills and athleticism that excites Zorn.

Several people reached out to Thomas in an attempt to get his head back into the game, and he responded with a nice performance against New England. But it could be too little too late because of how Kelly has brought it every second he has been on the field. Kelly is the Redskins' new No. 2 wide receiver. That's clear.

STAYING HEALTHY: Coach Jim Zorn seemed pleased that his team got through five weeks and four preseason games without injury. He held a couple of tight ends out of Thursday's preseason finale at Jacksonville as a precaution, he said.

Chris Cooley, who had a bruised thumb, said after the game that he could've played if needed. And Fred Davis alerted coaches before the game that he had a tight hamstring. "I'm certainly not going to put him out there and get him injured. . . . I just shut him down," Zorn said.

Linebacker Robert Henson suffered a bloody nose, guard Will Montgomery took a finger to the eye and cornerback Doug Dutch suffered a stinger in the shoulder.

"We just have to evaluate and see how they come out," Zorn said. "No major issues, which, I think, is a good sign for both teams."

-- Jason Reid and Rick Maese


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