The Washington Redskins released their first depth chart of the regular season. Here are some of my initial thoughts and reactions to the current depth chart.
-This really isn’t that shocking to see, despite what some fans might have wanted. Rex Grossman was always going to be the number two quarterback this year, regardless of how good Kirk Cousins looked in preseason. The Redskins aren’t going to want to turn to another rookie if for some reason Griffin couldn’t play. Grossman for all his faults as a starter can be a solid back-up quarterback, especially given his knowledge of the offense.
-Again this maybe isn’t that shocking to anyone, with the exception of a few fans. Royster had earned the starting job in camp, and was the starting running back in both the Bills and Bucs preseason games. He likely would have been in the Colts game as well, had he not been a bit injured. Though Roy Helu has more big play ability, Royster runs with better vision and cut back ability, which is crucial in a zone blocking scheme. Rookie Alfred Morris has a similar skill set, and probably runs with even more power, but he’s still raw in a lot of areas. Royster is probably a better pass protector which I’m sure factored in quite a bit in the decision making process. Despite Royster getting the “starting” job, all three running backs are expected to contribute and share duties.
-Free agent pick-up Josh Morgan, hasn’t had a spectacular training camp according to reports as he recovered from injury. His preseason performance while solid, came mainly against back-ups. Despite this he’s apparently won the starting job opposite Pierre Garcon. Now on some level this is just for show, as I’d imagine Leonard Hankerson will split snaps with him. It is still noteworthy though, since many have panned the Morgan signing since it occurred. One can still question whether it was necessary with Hankerson sitting on the bench, but at least it appears that Morgan could show value for the money paid to him. Though Hankerson ran with the starters throughout preseason, Morgan is more of a veteran and is probably a better run blocker. That might seem small, but could be enough of a reason for Mike Shanahan to chose him over Hankerson.
–Niles Paul is listed ahead of Logan Paulsen as the 2nd TE. Like many positions who actually takes the field will be dependent on the situation and play call. On running plays and short yardage passes, Paulsen is more likely to come in as a blocker. And in some situations both Paul and Paulsen will be on the field, given how much of a liability Fred Davis is when it comes to blocking. Paul is likely listed as the 2nd TE, given his ability to move around the field. Paulsen is the stronger blocker, and fits well as an inline tight end, but you can’t really move him around. The Redskins can utilize Paul split out wide, or out of the backfield in an H-back role, or just as a plain inline blocking TE.
-The first thing that stood out in looking at the offensive line depth chart, is the fact that Kory Lichtensteiger not rookie Josh LeRibeus is listed as the back-up center. Part of the justification of the LeRibeus draft pick was to make him a versatile interior lineman, who could be a primary back-up and potential starter at three spots. There were even some fans who wanted to see LeRibeus get a crack at the starting center job, despite never playing it in college. Those plans have obviously been scrapped as, LeRibeus is not considered a viable center option at this time. His experiment at center basically ended when Lichtensteiger went down in training camp, which makes some sense, but now that Lichtensteiger is back you would think it would start up again. Though he is listed as the 2nd string LG, LeRibeus probably wouldn’t come in if something happened to either Will Montgomery or Kory Lichtensteiger. Maurice Hurt started for the Skins down the stretch last season at LG, and worked with the first team all preseason when Lichtensteiger went down again. If there was a hole at a guard spot, Hurt would almost certainly slide over from his tackle position. Speaking of Hurt, seeing him listed as the 2nd string left tackle is a scary thought. Hurt has almost zero tackle experience, and he doesn’t do well versus speed. So the idea of him needing to protect Griffin’s blind side is very frightening. Though, in all likelihood if Trent Williams couldn’t go, Tyler Polumbus would slide over from right tackle (not exactly a comforting thought in it’s own right), and Hurt and Jordan Black would fight it out for right tackle.
-If you are looking for Brandon Banks‘ name you need to head over to the Special Teams depth chart, as his name doesn’t appear on the offensive one. So much for the proclamation that Banks will need to prove himself a capable offensive player to make the team. The Redskins can try to involve him in as many gimmick plays as they want, it doesn’t make him part of the offense. Particularly if he’s not successful on those plays, or ends up as a liability (i.e. he fumbles or can’t block to protect Griffin). Banks will have to prove his worth in the return game, something he didn’t come close to accomplishing last season.