In four days, the Washington Redskins take the fields down in Richmond for their first training camp practice.
Together, Jay Gruden, his assistants and his 90-man roster will begin laying the foundation for the 2017 season. After receiving their introductions to the systems during the spring, position battles will begin in earnest during training camp.
Now we’ll see the 53-man roster begin to take shape. Things could change on a weekly, or even daily, basis, especially once they get to the preseason games. But here’s a stab at how things could shake out in the next month:
Quarterbacks – 3: Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld
Back together for a second straight season. The pecking order seems likely to remain the same as well. Sudfeld offers some potential, but he’s still not game ready. McCoy, however, could step in and keep things afloat if something were to happen to the usually durable Cousins.
Running backs – 4: Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Mack Brown
A year after they let Alfred Morris walk and handed the job to him, Matt Jones seems like the odd man out. Kelley opens the year as starter. But will rookie Perine eventually eat into his carries? Thompson remains as the reliable third-down back, and Brown’s special teams play makes him valuable.
Wide receivers – 5: Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris
The talented Crowder takes on a larger role this year, and Pryor should help move the chains and also solve red zone struggles. Finally healthy, Doctson can do the same. Grant is beloved in the eyes of Gruden and Ike Hilliard, and Harris has good size and versatility. Can either 2016 practice squad member Kendal Thompson or sixth-round pick Robert Davis do enough to force his way onto the 53-man roster?
Tight ends – 4: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle
Reed and Davis will remain a productive duo, and Paul will help with his ability to play tight end and fullback and contribute on special teams. Sprinkle has work to do but just might offer enough promise to best out veteran Derek Carrier, who has struggled to stay healthy.
Offensive line – 8: Tackles Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe; guards Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio; centers Spencer Long, Chase Roullier
One of the better lines in the league last year, look for more improvement thanks to another season together and the direction of Bill Callahan.
Defensive line – 7: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, Anthony Lanier, Joey Mbu, Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis
Counting on a number of new faces, the Redskins hope to improve against the run and pass. Coaches expect Allen to make an immediate impact. They still need to identify a starting nose tackle. Mbu, who got most first team during the spring? McGee, who played there in Oakland? Could Phil Taylor, who hasn’t played since 2014, force his way into the mix at nose?
Linebackers – 9: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Junior Galette, Will Compton, Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Chris Carter, Martrell Spaight
A team can never have enough pass-rushers, but the Redskins will go with four for now. (Trent Murphy will miss the first four games, so he won’t count against the initial 53.) Coaches have to settle on their starter opposite Kerrigan and their starting inside linebackers. Compton, Foster and Brown are duking this one out. Carter and Spaight will make the cut primarily as special teams leaders.
Cornerbacks – 5: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Joshua Holsey
Norman and Breeland return as the starters at cornerback, and Fuller seems likely to fend off Dashaun Phillips to remain the nickelback. Third-rounder Fabian Moreau’s availability is in question because of a torn pectoral muscle. Otherwise, he would be a lock. For now, we have him opening on the PUP list, but if he returns to action sooner than expected, he could bump Holsey to the practice squad.
Safeties – 5: D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens, DeAngelo Hall, Deshazor Everett, Will Blackmon
Swearinger and Cravens give the Redskins more youth and athleticism at safety than they’ve had in a long time. Cravens could go through some growing pains, however. Hall is likely to open camp on the PUP list but could make it on to the field before the end of training camp. Coaches like Everett, who has a nose for the ball and contributes on special teams, and Blackmon is a reliable veteran with good versatility. Fourth-rounder Montae Nicholson is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and could open up camp and possibly the season on the PUP list. If healthy, he could change things.
Specialists – 3: Place kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress Way, long snapper Nick Sundberg
This trio remains intact. Hopkins struggled a little midway through last season, but officials saw no need to bring in competition.