Sunday, July 31, 2011

Redskins shuffle the backfield

So here’s something weird. Mike Sellers appears to be a tight end now.  And Keiland Williams is a fullback.

Now it’s true that sometimes coaches will experiment with something for a few practices just to see how it works. If this was an OTA in May I’d think that may be what’s going on. But given the abbreviated schedule the Redskins are working with I can’t imagine the Shanahans would be shuffling guys among positions unless they really meant it. And there’s even less chance of the moves being reversed now that Keiland’s spot among the tailbacks has been filled by the trade for Tim Hightower.

Sellers has of course lined up at tight end (or motioned there) plenty of times before, so it shouldn’t be overly new to him. In fact, in contrast to his steadily declining lead blocking ability he has held up a bit better on the line of scrimmage, so maybe there’s a certain logic to it.  Or there would be, if the Redskins didn’t already have a good blocking tight end in Logan Paulsen, who performed very well as a rookie last year.

My first thought here would be that Sellers is in trouble. Rich Tandler, however, is quite adamant that Sellers is a lock to be retained, largely due to his special teams ability.  And yet its hard to see Paulsen losing his job.

That would be simple if Darrel Young was simply inheriting the fullback job. Last year the Redskins kept three tight ends and two fullbacks, so with four and one the math would be the same – it would even be the same guys.

Except, oddly enough, Keiland Williams is a fullback all of the sudden.  He learned pass protection skills rapidly as a rookie, and is already comfortable as a receiver out of the backfield. His skills as a ballcarrier are efficient but not particularly exciting, so perhaps the idea is to find him a job that uses his more unique skills as the Shanahans search for more big play upside out of the tailback position. Of course, I have absolutely no idea if he will be able to lead block effectively.

Assuming the Redskins will still keep a maximum of five guys out of the combined TE/FB pool, the conclusion is obvious: Sellers, Paulsen, Young, and Williams are likely competing for one roster spot.

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