Here is everything you need to know about every position on the roster.
Quarterback (3): Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen
Fitzpatrick, a 17-year veteran, will stretch the field with aggressive throws and probably turn the ball over more than the team’s quarterbacks did last season, but offensive coordinator Scott Turner said he is okay with added risk as long as it leads to more chunk plays.
Heinicke, the former math student who started the team’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay, will be the backup and Allen the third-stringer. The team lost practice squad passer Steven Montez to Detroit after cutdown day and has not replaced him.
Running back (3): Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Jaret Patterson
The spotlight is on Gibson, a second-year converted wide receiver, to develop into the three-down back the team needs him to be. He is still working on the finer points of the position, such as pass protection and pressing the hole in short-yardage situations, and his main complement on third down will be McKissic, a fellow converted receiver who probably will see a decline in workload after breaking out for 165 touches and 954 total yards last season.
Patterson, an undrafted free agent who impressed in the preseason, is the team’s most natural back. He showed vision and burst, and he could be a regular, situational presence.
Wide receiver (7): Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, Dyami Brown, Cam Sims, Dax Milne, DeAndre Carter
The wide receiver room was Washington’s biggest pandemic home renovation. The only holdovers from last season are McLaurin and Sims, and the new additions are about speed (Samuel and Brown) and comfort for Fitzpatrick (Humphries). Carter probably will return punts and kicks, and Milne, a seventh-round pick, will apprentice in the slot and at returner because Humphries and Carter are on one-year deals.
Samuel, one of Coach Ron Rivera’s highest-profile free agent signings, was supposed to be a natural fit in this offense after excelling in it with Carolina. But a groin injury and a stint on the reserve/covid-19 list have prevented him from participating in team drills for the better part of four months, and it’s unclear whether he will be ready for the opener Sunday.
If he’s not, Washington’s top three probably will be McLaurin and Humphries with either Brown or Sims.
Tight end (4): Logan Thomas, John Bates, Ricky Seals-Jones, Sammis Reyes
In 2020, Thomas’s totals for catches (72), receiving yards (670) and touchdowns (six) were more than double what he had for his career entering the season. Tight ends coach Pete Hoener said he believes Thomas can take another leap forward this season, and the unit probably needs him to because the depth — Bates, a fourth-round pick, and Seals-Jones, a career spot starter — isn’t as strong as at other positions.
Reyes, a Chilean who had never played football before this year and became a star in camp, is probably at least a year away from contributing. He could serve in a reserve blocking role.
Offensive line (9): Charles Leno Jr., Ereck Flowers, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Sam Cosmi, Cornelius Lucas, Wes Schweitzer, Tyler Larsen, Saahdiq Charles
Washington implemented an overhaul at tackle this spring by drafting Cosmi, signing Leno and cutting last year’s Week 1 starters, Geron Christian Sr. and Morgan Moses. The team traded for Flowers to improve its depth at guard, locked in Roullier at center with a new four-year deal and punted on negotiations with all-pro right guard Scherff again by giving him the franchise tag for the second year in a row.
This unit has the team’s strongest reserves. Lucas, the swing tackle, started eight games for Washington last season, and Schweitzer, the swing guard, started 13. Charles, a fourth-round pick in 2020, can play any position but center and is, like Cosmi, a high-end athlete.
Defensive line (9): Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Tim Settle, Matt Ioannidis, Casey Toohill, James Smith-Williams, Shaka Toney
Expectations are high for perhaps the most talented front four in the NFL. Young and Sweat have talked about breaking the sack record for a duo — believed to be 39, set by Keith Millard (18) and Chris Doleman (21) of the Minnesota Vikings in 1989 — and Allen signed a four-year, $72 million deal just before camp.
The concern here is depth on the edge. After losing franchise great Ryan Kerrigan, the team replaced him with two second-year players (Smith-Williams and Toohill) and a rookie (Toney). Toohill missed all of the preseason with a toe injury, and his timeline to return is unclear.
Linebacker (5): Jamin Davis, Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic, Khaleke Hudson, David Mayo
The question here is how long it will take Davis, the first-round pick, to adapt to the demanding role of middle linebacker. He hesitated on some plays in the preseason because of what he called processing rather than playing, and though Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have expressed confidence that he will figure it out with more reps, it’s fair to wonder how many he will need before he is at full speed.
In the base defense, which Washington played about 39 percent of the time last season, according to Sharp Football Stats, Davis will be flanked by Holcomb and Bostic. In nickel, Davis could pair with either based on the situation.
Cornerback (6): William Jackson III, Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St-Juste, Torry McTyer, Darryl Roberts, Troy Apke
The team remodeled this unit by signing Jackson to a lucrative contract in free agency and drafting St-Juste, a long outside cornerback who reminds Rivera of former Chicago Bear Charles Tillman. St-Juste could play a lot as a rookie and at times shift Fuller back into the slot, where he excelled during Kansas City’s Super Bowl run in the 2019 season. McTyer and Roberts are depth pieces who can play inside or outside; Apke, a converted safety, is seen as more of a standout on special teams.
Safety (4): Landon Collins, Kam Curl, Bobby McCain, Deshazor Everett
Logjam alert. The team likes Collins, the league’s second-highest-paid safety; Curl, its second-best rookie last season; and McCain, a seventh-year veteran who was surprisingly cut by Miami. Collins and Curl are more physical, in-the-box safeties and McCain is a center fielder, but Washington rotated all three at strong and free throughout camp. It’s unclear which combination will start, though the team could find ways to play all three at once, with Curl or Collins at slot cornerback in the team’s big nickel subpackage.
Everett, a natural strong safety who started six games at free last season, will be the primary backup. Fifth-round pick Darrick Forrest is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and is eligible to return in Week 4.
Specialists (3): Dustin Hopkins, Tress Way, Camaron Cheeseman
On the field goal unit, Pro Bowl punter Way is in between struggling kicker Hopkins and rookie long snapper Cheeseman. The trio is in its first season together after Way, Hopkins and longtime long snapper Nick Sundberg spent six years with one another. Hopkins missed three of his seven field goal attempts in the preseason, but each time, Rivera supported his kicker and declined to bring in competition for him.