The final auditions have taken place, and now coaches have to make some hard decisions as they select the 53-man roster.
The toughest calls are at running back and safety. As you’ll see, I’ve changed my mind on this spot each week, and I have twice since last night’s game. (Editor’s note: And since we first published this ‘You make the cut’ quiz, which has since updated.)
Safety is another tough spot because of long-term uncertainty hovering over Meriweather (risk of suspensions) and Thomas (injuries).
But here’s one final stab at the initial 53-man roster.
Quarterback – 3: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy.
(Last week: Griffin, Cousins, McCoy)
This projection remains the same. Jay Gruden again spoke highly of McCoy and his contributions to the room, and he also is the insurance policy if Griffin, who in Game 2 displayed his reckless side again, can’t remain healthy and Cousins has to take over.
Running back – 5: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Silas Redd, Lache Seastrunk, fullback Darrel Young
(Last week: Morris, Helu, Royster, Young)
The two rookies pulled off the upset, in my mind. Redd averaged 5.6 yards a carry and had a touchdown, as well as a catch for eight yards. He’s faster than Evan Royster (his former Penn State teammate and close friend) and more effective running between the tackles. Seastrunk showed he has fantastic speed and that home run threat, taking a pass 80 yards to paydirt. He also is a more effective runner than Thompson because he is a little bigger and stronger. Another factor: Durability. Seastrunk practiced for two weeks on a bad foot that caused a lot of pain. Thompson has a long injury history. He does have practice-squad eligibility. I really like Royster, so this is a hard call. I like Thompson, too. Tough, tough call, and my job doesn’t depend on it. Imagine being RB coach Randy Jordan, who actually choked back tears when I asked him about how tough a decision this was going to be.
Wide receiver – 6: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Ryan Grant
(Last week: Garcon, Jackson, Roberts, Moss, Robinson, Grant)
This group remains unchanged. Throughout camp and the preseason, this has been pretty clear regarding the top six at this position. Lee Doss and Nick Williams both have practice-squad eligibility.
Tight end – 3: Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul
(Last week: Reed, Paulsen, Paul)
Ted Bolser never had a strong chance of making this roster with the talented Reed, seasoned Paulsen and versatile Paul ahead of him.
Offensive line – 8: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Josh LeRibeus
(Last week: Williams, Lauvao, Lichtensteiger, Chester, Polumbus, LeRibeus, Moses, McGlynn, Long, Compton)
McGlynn didn’t survive the first cuts, but quickly signed with the Chiefs. Compton seemed to regress. Moses had a very up and down night at right tackle, but Compton hasn’t been significantly better.
Defensive line – 6: Chris Baker, Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers.
(Last week: Chris Baker, Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Neild, Kedric Golston)
Chris Neild’s ACL injury opens the door for Geathers. Golston and Baker can both back up Cofield at nose, and I still have Stephen Bowen opening the season on the PUP list.
Linebacker – 9: Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley Jr., Brian Orakpo, Trent Murphy, Adam Hayward, Will Compton, Everette Brown, Akeem Jordan
(Last week: Kerrigan, Robinson, Riley, Orakpo, Murphy, Hayward, Compton, Jackson, Sharpton)
In a mildly surprising move, Washington cut Rob Jackson. Everette Brown stood out on special teams more. Sharpton would’ve beaten Jordan out had he been healthy, but he missed the final three preseason games with a high-ankle sprain. However, if it turns out Jordan’s knee injury from last night is serious, then I’d put Sharpton back on the list.
Cornerback – 5: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, E.J. Biggers, Bashaud Breeland, Tracy Porter
(Last week: Hall, Amerson, Biggers, Breeland, Porter)
Porter battled injuries off and on this preseason (as he has all his career), but coaches like his experience. Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield just didn’t seem to make an impact.
Safety – 5: Ryan Clark, Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson, Akeem Davis
(Last week: Brandon Meriweather, Ryan Clark, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo)
Because of his suspension, Meriweather will not count against the 53 for the first two weeks. Thomas’s fragile health helps Robinson, who can play both positions and plays special teams. Akeem Davis was stellar on special teams last night. He also showed he has a nose for the ball on defense.
Specialists – 3: Kai Forbath, Robert Malone, Nick Sundberg
(Zach Hocker, Robert Malone, Nick Sundberg)
The veteran Forbath stood tall under pressure while rookie Hocker whiffed on a big kick.
Follow Jones on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news on cuts leading up to Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to trim the roster from 75 to 53 players.
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