Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Redskins final(ish) 53 man roster

The cuts are in, and at last the Redskins 53 man roster is not just hypothetical. 

It may not be entirely final though... alot of players have hit the street today and it would not be at all surprising if some of these survivors get bumped for newcomers (there is already speculation about T.J. Houshmandzadeh).

So for now at least, here are Your 2010 Washington Redskins:

Tackles: Maake Kemoeatu, Albert Haynesworth, Anthony Bryant
Ends: Adam Carricker, Kedric Golston, Philip Daniels, Vonnie Holliday, Jeremy Jarmon

The pleasant surprise here is that Jeremy Jarmon has survived.  Despite minimal expectations he performed quite well as a rookie prior to his injury.  But when the new coaches changed the defense he had to deal with being converted to linebacker during OTAs and then back to lineman to start training camp.  His play in the preseason games was unimpressive, but apparently the Redskins are betting that he can improve his performance as he more fully recovers from his ACL.  The fifth end is not going to see much action, and I imagine he would be inactive for many game days, at least early on.  But given some of the age (Daniels, Holliday) and injury (Carricker) issues ahead of him on the depth chart, there is a good chance he can be a significant contributer by 2011.

Inside: London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, H.B. Blades, Perry Riley
Outside: Brian Orakpo, Andre Carter, Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Wilson

No real surprises here; these eight guys were fairly easy to predict.  Although many 3-4 teams carry more than eight linebackers, this is one of the few areas of the team that injuries are not a major concern (Rocky seems to have gotten over the chronic knee problems that plagued him early in his career) so given that this crew is pretty well-stocked with competence there's no need for superfluous depth here.  Robert Henson may have earned himself a spot as a fifth inside 'backer with his out-of-his-mind play in the final preseason game, but sadly the knee injury he suffered very late in that game made it a moot point.

Cornerbacks: DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers, Philip Buchanon, Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook
Safeties: LaRon Landry, Reed Doughty, Chris Horton, Kareem Moore

Justin Tryon, a year after taking over the nickel corner job, has been traded to the Colts for undisclosed terms but apparently peanuts.  I am not all that surprised that only four safeties were kept - Doughty has plenty of experience in the free safety spot (although he is better at strong) and I assume this means the team has confidence that Kareem Moore's injury will not be a long term affair.

Tackles: Trent Williams, Jammal Brown, Stephon Heyer
Interior: Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Artis Hicks, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery

I think most people are surprised that only eight linemen were kept, but I guess the coaches decided quantity was no substitute for quality.  With Heyer as the only backup tackle, we are reminded that Hicks has played four offensive line positions in his career and can slide outside if needed (in fact he was the starting right tackle before Jammal Brown was added).  If an in-game injury occurs, I wonder if Heyer steps in or if Hicks slides out and the backup guard comes on?  I don't think the coaches have much faith in Heyer so the latter scenario would not surprise me.

On the interior we have two guys - Lichtensteiger and Montgomery - who can play both guard and center (since you can usually only activate one backup interior lineman on gameday, versatility is key here).  In the first two preseason games Lichtensteiger played center and Montgomery guard.  In the last two preseason games they switched.  Lichtensteiger impressed me at center but looked awful at guard - don't ask me why the difference was so dramatic.  I'll be interested to see who is activated for the Dallas game.

Rookie Selvish Capers is supposedly destined for the practice squad.  Given that he is considered highly talented but raw, there would seem to be some danger that he might be claimed off waivers by another team.

Santana Moss, Joey Galloway, Anthony Armstrong, Devin Thomas, Roydell Williams, Brandon Banks

I am very surprised that Terrence Austin did not make the roster.  Unlike Brandon Banks, Austin showed that he has the hands and route-running ability to contribute as an actual receiver, not just a kick returner.  And there are more problems here with age (Galloway, Moss) and injury (Galloway again, Moss again, Thomas, Williams), so even the receivers far down the depth chart may need to see playing time.  Because I am boring, I guess, I even preferred Austin over Banks as a returner.  I consider a punt returner's job to be to require the offense to make one fewer first down before scoring.  Return touchdowns are a bonus and even from an exciting player like Banks to rare too be counted on.  And the fumbles/muffs could hurt the Redskins more than the big returns help.  Most of all, Austin showed enough in preseason, both as a returner and a receiver, that I'm worried other teams may have noticed him.  I will be quite annoyed if some other team snatches him off waivers before he can safely find his way onto the practice squad as intended.

Devin Thomas has survived, for now.  He is probably the most talented receiver on this roster, and he needs to find a way to climb the depth chart and push Joey Galloway out of the split end job.  I'm not saying it will happen, I'm saying we should want it to.  If another receiver, like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, is added later it could possibly be bad news for Thomas.  My first instinct would be that Roydell Williams would be the first to go, but the Examiner's John Keim keeps repeating that Mike Shanahan has a very low opinion of Thomas... Devin probably does not have much margin for error.

Tailbacks: Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, Keiland Williams
Fullbacks: Mike Sellers, Darrel Young

The big story here is keeping two fullbacks.  It is clear that a succession plan needs to be in place for Sellers, who is 36 years old and whose play has visibly declined.  And Young looked pretty decent in preseason given that he's been learning the fullback position on the fly (he was recently converted from linebacker).  But there's no way both could be among the 45 active players on game day, and Young would certainly be able to clear waivers.  So why not stash him on the practice squad so that another player like Austin, Capers, or Ryan Torain, who may be more enticing to another team, could be protected?

Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen

This one was interesting.  I had speculated during the offseason that to free up depth elsewhere the Redskins might keep only two tight ends.  This was because Mike Sellers spent alot of time at tight end under Joe Gibbs and Jim Zorn; and they had drafter Dennis Morris, who had played tight end in college before they converted him.  So perhaps the fullbacks would occasionally be pressed into service as a blocking tight end.  I revised that after two things happened: Dennis Morris proved he had little to offer, and I watched all the preseason games without once seeing a fullback line up at or motion to tight end. 

As late as early this afternoon, however, it appears the Redskins were in fact ready to go with only two tight ends.  Lee Vickers, who had been engaged in a virtually neck and neck competition with Logan Paulsen, was cut early in the day.  Then not much later it was reported that Paulsen was gone too.  But according to 106.7 beat reporter Grant Paulsen (no relation, I assume) via Twitter, at about 4pm this afternoon Logan got a last minute reprieve and was told he would be on the final roster.  I would not mind knowing what led to this last second decision.  It would appear Chad Rinehart is the guy who lost his job just at the stroke of midnight - he apparently had made the team and was axed just after this aftenoon's practice.

Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck

There had been speculation for much of the offseason that Shanahan might keep only two quarterbacks, but McNabb's injury and Beck's contract extension ruled that out before the cuts were due.  Speaking of Beck, a third string quarterback is not given a three year contract because you expect him to be a third stringer for all three years.  So this probably means two things.  First, Rex Grossman looks like a one year Redskin.  Second, if contract negotiations go poorly with McNabb, the Redskins can gain a little leverage by pointing out that they have not one but two younger, cheaper quarterbacks who they apparently would trust to execute this offense in 2011.  Not sure how much credibility that argument would have, but it would certainly be used.

Kicker: Graham Gano
Punter: Josh Bidwell
Long snapper: Nick Sundberg

There was no drama here, as the only competition had been at long snapper and James Dearth got booted in the first round of cuts last week.  Sundberg caught a lot of flak based on media reports of multiple botched snaps in training camp, but he has survived so far.  If he misses one in a game, though, I will personally lead the rioting until Ethan Albright is brought back.

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