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Final 53 Man Roster Prediction For the Redskins

August 29, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Quarterbacks: 3 – Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

-I don't see how the Redskins can go with only two QB's. Between the Griffin injury risk, and wanting to have another arm in practice it just makes too much sense to go with 3 QB's.

Running backs: 4 – Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Lache Seastrunk

-Alright we know Morris and Helu are locks, but that leaves two open spots for four backs. As good as Silas Redd looked, Evan Royster has looked better this camp/preseason. Royster is also more versatile and of course Redd has practice squad eligibility. Heading into the game I thought Seastrunk's job could be on the line, but his 80 yard screen TD reception is tough to ignore. He's still not a guy you count on as a receiver out of the backfield, but his speed and big play ability is going to keep him on the roster. Chris Thompson had a decent game, but I don't see how you keep him over any of the other three.

Fullback: 1- Darrel Young

-Young is a lock, no doubt about it.

Tight End: 3 – Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

-These three  are all set and there isn't any reason to think they are in danger of being cut.

Wide Receivers: 6 – Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson

-The Redskins don't really need 6 wide receivers, but barring a Robinson trade, there is no way they could cut any of this group. They have too much set talent at the top and the back-ups have all played extremely well in camp and the preseason.

Offensive Line: 9 – Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton

-The only questions here are will the Redskins keep 9 offensive linemen and if they do is Tom Compton that ninth guy? I think given the uncertainty of the line the Redskins have to keep 9 offensive linemen, so the question becomes has Compton earned that 9th spot. The Redskins need another tackle, particularly with Morgan Moses not 100% after the knee injury he suffered in the Ravens game. The only other tackle on the roster is Maurice Hurt, who hasn't been bad, but he's never played LT. Compton should get the nod here unless the Redskins can grab someone after cuts.

Defensive Line: 6 – Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers

- Five of these six spots were set, but the one open spot unfortunately got a lot easier to figure out after back-up NT Chris Neild suffered an ACL injury and is feared to be out for the season. Though Neild wasn't a lock to make the team, he had a chance versus Clifton Geathers and Frank Kearse. Geathers had a really strong game which pretty much locks him into a roster spot.

Linebackers: 9 – Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Trent Murphy, Adam Hayward, Everette Brown, Will Compton, Akeem Jordan

-We know the four starters are set and Trent Murphy and Adam Hayward are set. Back-up ILB Will Compton is pretty much a lock as well. That leaves just 2 LB spots (assuming they keep 9) up for grabs. The 4th OLB spot is down to Everette Brown and Gabe Miller. Both players have had nice camps, but Miller has practice squad eligibility which gives Brown an edge here. The final ILB spot will come down to Akeem Jordan and Darryl Sharpton. Sharpton has missed the past 3 preseason games due to a high ankle sprain, while Jordan has played in every game and has made plays on defense and special teams. What complicates matters is that Jordan suffered a knee injury in the final preseason game and depending on the severity of the injury the Redskins could keep him or cut him. If the Redskins do cut Jordan, I actually think that opens the door up for Gabe Miller so they can avoid exposing him on waivers.

Cornerbacks: 5 – DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers, Bashaud Breeland

-No real surprises here. If the Redskins had the chance to keep a 6th corner I'd guess it would be Chase Minnifield over Richard Crawford. I don't really see them having the chance to keep a 6th corner though due to needs at other positions.

Safeties: 4 – Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo

-With the news about Thomas's injury more promising, I think the Redskins only keep 4 safeties. Now Meriweather's 2 game suspension opens up another spot when that goes into effect on Monday. At a that point I think Trenton Robinson gets the nod over Akeem Davis.

Long Snapper: 1 – Nick Sundberg

-Only long snapper on the team, making this an easy decision.

Kicker: 1 – Kai Forbath

-I've been leaning Zach Hocker in recent weeks, but now I'm thinking Forbath keeps his job. Hocker's 35 yard missed field goal in the 4th preseason game didn't help his case, but the main reason I'm going with Forbath is the fact that he had to get beaten out and I don't think Hocker did that. Their kick-off distances are closer than most people think and the accuracy is about even or maybe slightly in Forbath's favor. Without a definitive advantage I think it is hard for Hocker to unseat Forbath.

Punter: 1 – Tress Way

-I've been predicting Robert Malone the entire way, but that was mainly just a default pick as Malone hadn't done anything to really impress me. Way came out last night and had two really nice punts to start the game including one 50+ that had really nice hangtime allowing the coverage unit to get down there. Malone had a short punt later in the game that really didn't help his cause. The Redskins may still look to scour the waiver wire to see what other punters get released, but if I have to pick between the two guys on the roster, I'm going with Way.

Predicting the Redskins 10 Man Practice Squad:

August 27, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. CB Chase Minnifield-

-In my latest 53 man roster prediction I have the Redskins keeping only 5 corners meaning that Minnifield is on the outside looking in for a roster spot right now. Minnifield has had a nice camp and preseason, and would be a good guy to hang on to given the cheaper contracts handed out to guys like Tracy Porter and E.J. Biggers. Minnifield may never be a star or even a starter, but he's a guy who could provide cheap decent depth going forward.

2. S Akeem Davis-

-With the safety position in flux right now given Brandon Meriweather's suspension and Phillip Thomas's injury situation it is important the Redskins keep some extra depth around. Davis was better on special teams than on defense in the preseason, but he at least knows the system and can be quick replacement if the Redskins suffer any more injuries to the position.

3. OLB Gabe Miller-

-Miller has been a great story at camp for the Redskins as he's showing natural pass rush ability and some intriguing potential for the future. He has an outside shot of making the 53 man roster, but given that he can be kept on the practice squad the Redskins will likely try to stash him here.

4. CB Richard Crawford-

-Under the new practice squad rules the Redskins can keep Crawford around for a year to see if in 2015 he has regained the promise he had before his knee injury in 2013. It's been a rough camp for Crawford and he definitely doesn't deserve a 53 man roster spot, but it would be nice to see him kept on the practice squad.

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5. WR Nick Williams-

-This practice squad spot will come down to Nick Williams vs Lee Doss (given the strength at WR on this team it is unlikely they will feel the need to keep 2 on the PS). Right now you have to think Williams is in the lead. He's played more snaps and has been more productive so far in 3 preseason games. Keeping Williams makes sense because he could be in the mix for a back-up spot next year when Moss, Robinson and Hankerson are all not under contract any longer.

6. RB Lache Seastrunk-

-Seastrunk could be a surprise cut, but right now it's tough to say he's done enough to earn a roster spot. Though he has game breaking potential, he's extremely raw still and unless he blows up in the 4th preseason game, there's a fair chance he could sneak through waivers. Seastrunk is likely the first guy other teams would try to poach so it wouldn't be surprising if the Redskins move him up to the active roster at some point this season.

7. RB Silas Redd-

-Redd has had a really nice camp/preseason and has outplayed fellow rookie Seastrunk thus far. Unfortunately for Redd it is a numbers game as the Redskins might not be able to keep more than 3 RB's. Even if they do keep a 4th Seastrunk will likely get the nod due to his draft status and the fact that Redd is more likely to clear waivers for the practice squad. The good news for Redd is if he is back with this team next year, he has a great opportunity as both Roy Helu and Evan Royster are free agents.

8. TE Ted Bosler-

-The Skins only need to keep 3 tight ends so it is extremely unlikely that Bosler will sneak on to the roster. It's been a bit of a down camp for the Redskins 7th rounder as he's shown he's got a ways to go before he is ready to contribute. A year on the practice squad though will do him good as he can get stronger and learn to use his big frame to wall off defenders.

9. OL Trevita Stevens-

-The Redskins could opt to keep Adam Gettis given the new practice squad rules, but the fact that they cut him earlier means they likely don't see him in their future. Stevens has been solid as a back-up and would give the Redskins a guy with center experience after the Redskins cut veteran journeyman Mike McGlynn. If either Kory Lichtensteiger or Chris Chester (the Redskins current back-up center) go down, Stevens could quickly be called up.

10. Open Space- Likely a defensive lineman

-It's possible the Redskins could opt to keep a guy on their roster, but I wouldn't be surprised if this spot is saved for someone who get's cut elsewhere. The Redskins could use some more defensive depth, particularly at safety or along the defensive line which is where this spot is likely to be used.

Predicting the Redskins 53 Man Roster After the 3rd Preseason Game

August 26, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Quarterback: (3) Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

-The Redskins need 3 quarterbacks between their roster and practice squad and with no one else in camp it is tough to see them relying on a random UDFA to be the 3rd QB this year. So McCoy stays with the Redskins and offers them a guy who's been around the league a bit more and can give RGIII and Cousins some extra advice.

Running Back: (3) Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster

-I really want to keep 4 RB's but with the need of 5 safeties and 9 OL it's really tough to make it work. Perhaps the team would keep only 8 LB's, but I think the Redskins like the idea of extra depth there and the special teams impact from that group is high. The other factor with keeping the 4th running back is no one looks to have definitively earned that spot. Royster's versatility and solid play has earned him the 3rd RB spot. I think the team would love to see Chris Thompson or Lache Seastrunk on the roster as an extra weapon, but between Thompson's injury and Seastrunk's limitations (particularly in the passing game) neither guy is locked into a spot. Silas Redd has been clearly better than Seastrunk (and arguably better than Thompson), but he didn't do much in the 3rd preseason game, and he's a pretty safe bet to make the practice squad if the Redskins want him there. Seastrunk and Thompson have a better chance of being poached, but right now I think all three backs end up being cut, unless they have an amazing 4th preseason game. In that case the Redskins will find another roster spot somewhere else.

Fullback: (1) Darrel Young

-This is an easy decision for the Skins, Young is one of the better fullbacks in the league and is very versatile, not only is he a lock to make the roster, but the Redskins will find a lot of ways to keep him involved in the offense.

Tight End: (3) Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

-No surprises here really, the three holdovers from last season are far ahead of the other tight ends on the list and barring an injury are all pretty well set to make this team. So far not only has a 4th tight end not challenged any of the incumbents, but they haven't shown they are even worthy of consideration for a roster spot.

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Wide Receiver: (6) DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Ryan Grant, Aldrick Robinson

-Though I don't think the Redskins really need to go with 6 receivers and I'd rather keep an extra RB, I don't see how they cut Aldrick Robinson right now. Maybe they could workout a trade for a conditional 7th rounder from some team (Cleveland perhaps), but otherwise I think Robinson makes this roster. I do think Moss is ahead of Robinson as the coaches like his versatility and leadership. He's also a great guy to help develop Ryan Grant going forward. The rest of the receivers are clearly set.

Offensive Line: (9) Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Tom Compton, Josh LeRibeus

-*Originially I had Mike McGlynn making this roster over Josh LeRibeus, but the Skins just released McGlynn today. LeRibeus still will have to fight Maurice Hurt given his versatility and perhaps some questions surrounding Moses's health. The Redskins may also opt to keep just 8 OL and keep that 4th RB, though that can be risky, particularly since two of the back-ups would be rookies. There is basically no real experience now among the back-ups for the Redskins which is risky.

Defensive Line: (6) Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers

-No surprises with the top 4 guys as they will be the primary rotation of defensive linemen on this team. Golston's leadership, veteran experience and special teams work also is likely to earn him a spot as well. The final spot will likely come down to Chris Neild and Clifton Geathers. I go back and forth here but I will go with Geathers, though I think it's really going to come down to the final preseason game. Also don't be surprised if DE Frank Kearse sneaks his way on the roster, he's been solid for the Skins so far in camp and the preseason.

Linebacker: (9) Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Trent Murphy, Everette Brown, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan

-The top 5 guys listed are locks, and the Redskins will also keep likely three of Compton, Hayward, Jordan and Darryl Sharpton. I think Sharpton is the odd man out right now. Compton and Hayward appear to be ahead of him and Jordan has more experience and contributed with a big ST's tackle. Jordan just has the most experience as well as the fact that he's made some plays each and every week. Rob Jackson was a bit of a surprise first cut, but he's been outplayed by both Everette Brown and Gabe Miller. Brown I think gets the roster spot since there is a good chance the Skins can stash Miller on the PS.

Cornerback: (5) DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Biggers

-Hall, Amerson and Breeland are set in stone, and then the question becomes do the Redskins keep 2 or 3 back-up corners. Tracy Porter is a veteran with a two year deal so the Redskins are likely to keep him, though injuries have slowed down his camp. Biggers is another veteran who brings a lot of things to the table. He's solid in coverage, and more consistent than a rookie like Breeland (especially early on). Biggers can also back-up the FS position and play solid special teams as well. Last week I had Minnifield making it but now I don't think there is a spot for him with the team needing to keep 5 safeties (see below).

Safety: (5) Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson

-This position has turned upside down in the past couple of days. With Brandon Meriweather suspended the first two weeks and Phillip Thomas dealing with an injury the Redskins basically have no choice but to keep 5 safeties. I know some think that the Redskins may keep 4 safeties and just cut Phillip Thomas, but it is very rare to see a team give up on a 4th rounder this quickly, even one with some injury issues. Remember Keenan Robinson missed a year and a half due to injury and now he looks to clearly be the Redskins best ILB. If the foot is semi-serious and Thomas would miss extended time they might consider using the IR spot or even the IR designated to return spot, but I don't see them outright cutting him. Due to the issues with Meriweather and Thomas, Rambo is now basically the starter the first two weeks with Trenton Robinson the only reliable back-up. Robinson still might have edged out Rambo due to special teams, but that is a moot point right now.

Kicker: (1) Zach Hocker

-I think this battle will go right down to the wire, but Hocker seems to be in the lead and at the very least has the tie-breaker of being handpicked by the Redskins ST coach. I'm less confident with this prediction then a week ago, but I think Hocker has a slight lead.

Punter: (1) Robert Malone

-Really haven't been impressed with Malone this preseason, while I'll put him in here he could easily be a place holder. Look for the Redskins to scour the waiver wire when final cuts are made, if any decent punter gets the ax I think they will try to pick them up.

Long Snapper: (1) Nick Sundberg

-Easy decision as he's the only long snapper on the team.

Preseason Game versus Ravens Shows the Offense Still Has a Ways to Go

August 25, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Much of the hype surrounding the Washington Redskins and their potential for success this season has surrounded the offense and their ability to put up points this season. Through three preseason games the first team offense failed to score a touchdown and consistently found ways to shoot themselves in the foot, with mental errors, turnovers and penalties. This was not the offense that most were expecting after the Redskins signed two starting caliber receivers in the offseason including Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson. The thought of many was that these two signings combined with Pierre Garcon, Alfred Morris, and a healthy Jordan Reed and RGIII would make the Redskins an offensive Juggernaut that could carry this team into contention. After three preseason games though, it may be time to revisit those expectations.

Now in the first two preseason games, the concern was fairly minimal given that they only played just over 1 quarter combined and despite the lack of points and the poor decisions, the offense was able to move the football. Now some of the Redskins sustained drives came as a result of the stricter enforcement of the contact rules down the field, which may or may not carry over into the season. Even though the Redskins maybe got some extra help via penalties, they still made enough positive plays that would lead you to believe that they could be dangerous this year. Heading into the 3rd preseason game there was still some optimism for the offense (particularly the passing attack) to be a major force this season. In that preseason game it looked like a good match-up for the Redskins as they would face off versus a Ravens team that was missing their top 3 corners. This should have been the type of game where the passing attack really excelled as the talent of the Redskins weapons was far superior to what faced them on defense. Unfortunately for the Redskins passing attack (and first team offense in general) it ended up being their worst performance of the preseason. Despite playing into the 3rd quarter, Robert Griffin was just 5 of 8 for 20 yards with an interception and 3 sacks.

After three preseason games here is the break down of how the first team passing offense has looked (with a heavier focus on the 3rd preseason game):

Quarterback Play:

-Hopes were definitely high that most of Robert Griffin III's struggles last year were as a result of the knee injury and the drama surrounding the friction between him and head coach Mike Shanahan. The hope was that a full year of practice, a new coaching staff and more weapons would overcome any developmental issues that Griffin may have been facing. Through three preseason games though the results aren't positive though. In 28 dropbacks, Griffin is 13 of 20 for 141 yards (65% completion rating and 7.1 yards per attempt), with zero touchdowns, four sacks and two interceptions. Now if you just look at the completion percentage and yardage per attempt it looks pretty decent. Having 65% completion percentage is a great target to have, and 7.1 yards per attempt is a little above average. The problem is of course the lack of touchdowns compared to the interceptions and sacks. That is an ugly stat line due to those two categories and given the sample size. Now obviously this is over the course of three games, but 28 dropbacks and 20 attempts is roughly 3 quarters or a little more of a game. Now I don't think that means Griffin is going to throw 40 INT's and be sacked 80 times this season, but it's troubling to see those numbers in such a limited amount of work.

In critiquing Griffin's play this preseason, it goes far beyond the raw numbers when thinking that he has some work to do, before he can consistently run this offense effectively. Griffin just has not looked comfortable in this offense in these three games. While you can point to a couple really nice throws (in particular the deep passes to Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson vs the Browns), most of Griffins' passes have been more off target or questionable in his decision making. It's been a combination of underthrown passes, throws behind or off target to the receiver, or throwing a ball into coverage when someone else is open. Now of course some of that is too be expected as no quarterback will ever make every correct decision, have perfect placement or see every open receiver, but the issue here is that too many of these 28 dropbacks has seen Griffin's play fall into the negative category.

One of the biggest problems that Griffin is struggling with is how he deals with pressure. Now just about every quarterback sees a significant drop in their production when they are under pressure, but many of the times Griffin has faced pressure this preseason he's made a mistake. Unfortunately due to the Redskins weak offensive line (more on them below), Griffin has faced a considerable amount of pressure this preseason. That is likely going to be an issue throughout the season as well, and it could get even worse as the Redskins face defenses who get more aggressive and creative with their blitzes. Griffin is going to be tested in this area quite a bit and he needs to start making better decisions and do his part to ensure the pressure isn't impacting too many plays. Griffin has not done a great job feeling pressure and either throwing the ball away or dumping it off. Too often he tries to buy time with his feet and will eventually run it, leading to a lot of unnecessary hits (at times it can be very beneficial, but he has to pick his spots better). Griffin has also forced the ball into coverage when under pressure rather than throwing it away or using the time he buys with his legs to find an open target. Like most young and/or mobile quarterbacks, Griffin holds on to the ball too long which has led to some of these pressure situations. If Griffin can't considerably improve in this area, it's going to be hard for him to put up consistently good production.

Offensive Line Play:

-Though the offensive line was an issue for the Redskins last season, the Redskins made fixing their line a secondary concern in their offseason gameplan. Their only change to the starting unit was replacing center Will Montgomery with LG Shawn Lauvao (former LG Kory Lichtensteiger moved over to center). Though the Redskins made Lauvao one of the higher paid guards in free agency, he wasn't exactly considered a major upgrade (or worth the money) by most pundits. Other than the addition of Lauvao the Redskins brought in 3rd rounders OT Morgan Moses and OG Spencer Long, as well as journeyman free agent C/G Mike McGlynn. Though this added better depth for the Redskins and possibly some starting options if the current starting unit struggled, they weren't immediate upgrades to the starting unit and the protection for RGIII.

Through three preseason games the line has looked even worse than what the Redskins saw a year ago (granted in a smaller sample size). Shawn Lauvao just hasn't been consistent enough and has had many of the same struggles he had in Cleveland. Kory Lichtensteiger has gotten abused at the center position and is losing at the line of scrimmage far too often. Guard Chris Chester and tackle Tyler Polumbus have remained weak spots at their spots from a year ago, and both have given up multiple pressures. Even stud left tackle Trent Williams has had some struggles in the preseason, committing a bad holding penalty, giving up a pressure and just in general hasn't looked as dominant as he did a year ago. Though Williams shouldn't be a major concern for the offense as he's still really good, any fall off from his play last year hurts because he was the one guy the Redskins could consistently count on.

What's most troubling is that the level of offensive line play could get worse, instead of better as the regular season starts. Not only did the offensive line face Patriots and Browns defenses that were missing starters among the front seven, but they saw pretty vanilla pass rushes in general. It was pretty basic assignment football where they had to block the man in front of them. They didn't see a lot of exotic blitzes or creative attacks that they will definitely face on a weekly basis. Defensive coordinators are going to come up with far more aggressive game plans to attack the pocket once the season rolls around, and that will continue to increase unless the offensive line and RGIII prove that they can handle the pressure.

Also troubling for the Redskins is the idea that they may need to rely on some of their back-ups this season along the offensive line. The past two years the Redskins missed a combined 1 start among their starting offensive linemen. This year they may not be so lucky, meaning the back-up unit may see some significant time. By in large the back-up offensive line hasn't inspired a lot of confidence in their level of play this preseason. No one has clearly stood out to be worthy of earning a starting job, and that is of course against other team's 2nd and 3rd units. Perhaps the guy that has the highest upside and the most consistent throughout the preseason, is rookie Morgan Moses. Unfortunately Moses left the 3rd preseason game with an MCL injury. Though it is not expected to be serious, it will force him out of at least the 1st preseason game, and it could last into the start of the regular season. That is going to be some valuable developmental time Moses will miss, making it tougher for him to either unseat Polumbus at RT or replace him if Polumbus went down with an injury.

Skill Position Play:

-This has been by far the best part of the Redskins passing attack in the preseason. Week one both starters Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson were out, but they looked really good in the other two preseason games, particularly DeSean Jackson who has had a couple really nice catches and whose speed has given defensive backs fits in these games. Jordan Reed has been a reliable target and shows really nice potential in making big plays in a passing attack. Though it was wiped out due to a holding penalty, Reed's 26 yard catch and run was a great play on his part. Third receiver Andre Roberts has also gotten into the mix getting open on a number of routes and coming up with the big catch on a deep throw versus the Browns. There have been some drop issues, but overall the Redskins have to be happy with what this group are doing. I don't know if they deserve the "elite unit" label that some want to make them out to be as there are still some questions with drops and lack of size, but this is a top 10 receiver/tight end group, which is obviously pretty good. The biggest question is whether Griffin can deliver the ball as he should consistently and if the offensive line will give him the time to do so.

Prediction of first cuts to get down to a 75 man roster:

August 24, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

The Redskins need to make 14 cuts before Tuesday's deadline to get down to a 75 man roster for their final preseason game. Here are the 14 guys I see most likely on the initial chopping block:

1. WR Lee Doss

2. WR Rashard Lawrence

3. WR Cody Hoffman

4. OL Kevin Kowalski

5. TE Matt Veldman

6. DL Robert Thomas

7. DL Jeremy Towns

8. DL Jake McDonough

9. LB Jeremy Kimbrough

10. LB Adrian Robinson

11. CB Bryan Shepard

12. S Ross Madison

13. S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith

14. P Tress Way

Some Notes:

-I think to cut down to 14 players 3 WR's need to go and as much as they might like to see Cody Hoffman get some more extensive work, Rashad Ross and Nick Williams I think have earned the chance to be the back-ups to Ryan Grant and Aldrick Robinson for the final preseason game. What will be interesting is to see if they sit both Roberts and Moss as well. If so they may need to keep one more WR for the final preseason game.

-I could have maybe seen another OL cut in this first round of cuts, but with Morgan Moses's injury and the starters not playing that would leave the line too thin for the final game.

-The Redskins only need three TE's for the final game so Veldman should be an easy cut.

-I considered with keeping 3 TE's that Stephen Campbell could be an initial cut, but I think they might keep him for this final game, let the backs run with a true FB instead of forcing a TE there.

-I actually considered Chris Thompson in the first round of cuts, despite the fact that they could consider him a PS option. Thompson didn't play against the Ravens and even if Helu sits along with Morris, I would guess the Redskins want to see more out of Redd, Royster and Seastrunk.

-Defensively cutting 3 DL thins out that position for the final preseason game, but it's tough to get to 14 cuts otherwise.

-The other 5 defensive cuts probably aren't that much of a shock. The only one who has been slightly interesting is Adrian Robinson, but I still see him behind Brown and Miller so he's the odd man out. The Redskins don't need 5 OLB's for the final preseason game.

-The Redskins did just sign Tress Way and he wasn't that much worse than Malone, but unless they are going to cut a guy like Campbell or Thompson, this is an easy way to get down to 75 guys.

-The good news for the Redskins is there are fewer obviously options in getting down to 75 guys then there have been in years past.

-One final note, as long as Hankerson and Bowen are on the Active PUP (allowing them to return before the start of the season) they are counting towards the 75 man limit.

Things to Watch Tonight Vs the Ravens:

August 23, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Offense:

1. Can the starting offense move the ball consistently and finish drives?

-The starting offense has moved the ball pretty well (though benefited somewhat by penalties), but they really struggled to finish drives versus the Browns who look to be a pretty good defense this year. The Ravens represent another good test so how the Redskins fare versus them will be a nice indicator for the season. The Redskins though really need to get their first team offense into the end zone in this game and hopefully a couple of times.

2. Can the offense cut back on the turnovers and penalties?

-A big part of the issue for the Redskins offense (1st team or otherwise) has been giving the ball up too often (4 turnovers vs the Browns) and committing too many penalties. If the Redskins are to have an offense that not only can match-up versus the best defenses in league, but also has to carry the Redskins, they can't afford these types of mistakes. Too often last year turnovers and penalties would shoot the Redskins offense in the foot and it would put them in a deep hole that they couldn't come out of. This is the trial run for the season so it will be promising if the Redskins can play mistake free football tonight.

3. How do rookies Morgan Moses and Spencer Long look, particularly if they get any work with the first unit?

-One issue that has already been made clear with the first unit is that there are still issues along the offensive line. The two guys who the Redskins hope will fix their line are 3rd round rookies Morgan Moses and Spencer Long. Though neither is expected to start the season, the Redskins hope that both of them are starters of the future and possibly sooner. To see how ready they are the Redskins have indicated that both might see some work with the first unit in this game. If both Moses and Long show they are up to the task they could find their way into the starting line-up at some point early in the season.

Defense:

1. How does Jason Hatcher look?

-Hatcher was the Redskins big free agent addition on defense and is one of the keys for this defense to get back to a respectable level. Hatcher though has been recovering from an offseason knee injury so this will be his one chance to get some game action before the start of the season. While it's likely the Redskins will limit his snaps, it will be interesting to see how he does while he's in and how much of an impact he can have. If he's still not 100% the Redskins defense could struggle some more early in the season.

2. How does the Redskins first and 2nd team defense look versus the Ravens units?

-The vast majority of the defense that will make the opening day 53 man roster will be from these first two units, so seeing how they fare could be a pretty good indicator of how they will be come the start of the season. So far the Redskins defense has looked good, but they also haven't been tested too much. The Patriots started Ryan Mallet at QB and saw a number of other offensive starters either miss the game or leave after the first 3 and out. Against the Browns the Redskins defense benefited from the misery of the Browns passing offense which stalled those drives out despite some of the good field position the Browns found themselves in. Tonight the Redskins should be tested quite a bit more and it will be an indicator of what the Redskins can expect to see this season. Now at the end of the day it is still preseason, but it will show some nice promise if the Redskins can succeed versus the Ravens top 2 units.

3. How does the run defense look?

-While the Redskins haven't been tested too much, one thing that was a concern last week versus the Browns was the success they had on the ground. Ben Tate ran pretty well versus the Redskins defense and he did so despite the Browns passing offense not showing it's self as a threat. While Tate could be a solid running back this year, he's no where near the quality of back the Redskins will face most weeks. Tonight is another solid test for the Redskins, but since they aren't facing a stud back it would be nice to see the Redskins be able to control the line of scrimmage better and stop the Ravens rushing attack for minimal gain.

Special Teams:

1. How the kicking battle is shaping up?

-Week 1 went to Zach Hocker, week 2 was more of a toss-up, but probably leaning Hocker. That leaves Kai Forbath some ground to make up, making this an important game for him as he hopes to retake the lead in the competition.

2. Who is making plays on the coverage units?

-For the final couple roster spots on this team a big factor will be the ability of these guys to play special teams. Last week we saw Akeem Jordan make a big play on the punt coverage unit and that could go a long way to earning him a roster spot. Who will step up this game before the initial cuts?

3. Does the new punter get a shot?

-The Redskins cut Blake Clingan earlier this week, but they didn't just had the job to Robert Malone. They brought in punter Tress Way and it will be interesting to see if they give him a fair shot in this game to compete with Malone.

5 Returning Players Who are Struggling in the Preseason

August 22, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Yesterday I took a look at the 5 players who have shown the most growth so far this year. Today I will look at the other side of the equation at 5 returning players who have struggled so far this preseason.

1. Chris Chester-

-Despite being a major issue the past couple seasons, the Redskins opted to make just one starting change to their offensive line this year, replacing Will Montgomery with Shawn Lauvao. The other four incumbent starters remain the same (though Lichtensteiger changes position), meaning the Redskins will need to rely on a unit that is considered among the weakest in the NFL. One of the major question marks along the offensive line is veteran Chris Chester. Chester was signed in 2011 and while he struggled in the early part of the season, he played better down the stretch. In 2012 Chester had a good year as a starter and was the Redskins 2nd best offensive lineman behind Trent Williams. Last year though Chester's play fell off a cliff and he became a major liability in the middle of their offensive line. The hope with keeping him around was that he would bounce back this season and again play at a starting quality level. So far in the preseason that doesn't seem to be case. Chester has struggled to maintain his blocks and keep his guy from disrupting the play. The Redskins do have some options if they want to get rid of Chester before the start of the season as they have signed journey-man C/G Mike McGlynn. In addition they have 3rd year guard Josh LeRibeus who has played better and 3rd round rookie Spencer Long as fall back options. Though it would make sense to cut Chester and save some money, right now that still seems to be a long shot move.

2. Kory Lichtensteiger-

-Lichtensteiger has been an undersized LG for the Redskins the past few years, and with the exception of a few games at the start of the 2011 season, he's been more of a liability than a positive for the Redskins line. With the Redskins parting ways with Will Montgomery this offseason, they decided that the best course of action was to move Lichtensteiger back to his college position of center and have him put on additional weight. Lichtensteiger has been an emergency/back-up center in his NFL career, but this is the first chance he's had to be a starter in the middle at this level. Despite adding weight, Lichtensteiger is still on the lighter side and probably not the long term option for the Redskins. Against the Browns strong front line, Lichtensteiger had his share of struggles and it looks like the position change and extra weight aren't going to make him a better starting caliber offensive lineman. This week versus the Ravens will tell just how much the Redskins should be concerned. Though his job on the team isn't in jeopardy this season, his starting role could be if he doesn't play better.

3. Roy Helu Jr-

-Though Alfred Morris is the workhorse running back on the team, Helu plays a valuable role as the number two running back on this team. Compared to other top running backs Morris's snap count is among the lowest in the league, as he sees just over 50% of the snaps. The reason being is that Morris has not shown himself to be a viable receiver out of the back-field or a quality pass protector. That is where Helu comes in as he is better in both of those areas than Morris. Given how much the Redskins were forced to pass last season, Helu saw quite a bit of action. While the Redskins are probably hoping they don't need to pass nearly as much this season, they will still need to rely on Helu a fair amount. So far in the preseason Helu has shown some struggles, in all phases of his game. He hasn't run particularly well, while also dropping a pass and missing a key block in pass protection. If Helu struggles in his assignments this season, it's going to make Robert Griffin III's job that much harder this year, which could mean some struggles on offense. Now it's still early overall, but Helu's struggles leave the Redskins with few viable options. Playing Morris more probably isn't going to be the answer. Rookies Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk, probably aren't the guys you want as the last line of defense to your franchise QB. That would leave the Redskins with either keeping Evan Royster or utilizing Darrel Young as the 3rd down back.

4. Richard Crawford-

-Richard Crawford was the Redskins 7th round pick back in 2012. Despite his late round start to his NFL career, Crawford made a name for himself that preseason, mainly on special teams units. Crawford showed really nice promise as a punt returner and a cover guy on special teams. Though not as refined he displayed some nice coverage ability on defense as well and looked to be a long term sleeper. During the season Crawford saw some time on defense and initially struggled, but he did play a little better down the stretch. Where Crawford really impressed was on special teams where he looked to be the Redskins punt returner of the future. The highlight of his season was his punt return versus Baltimore that set up the game winning field goal. Last season the expectations were high for Crawford to at least continue as the Redskins top punt returner and possibly add value on defense as well as a 4th corner. During the preseason last year, Crawford tore his ACL and was lost for the entire season. He's come back this year, but the spark doesn't seem to be there. He's not even being given an opportunity to compete for the punt returner job and he's struggled in coverage despite facing 3rd and 4th teamers. Crawford could be the beneficiary of the new practice squad rule allowing the Redskins to hang on to him in the hopes that he just needs more time removed from his surgery, but it would be a major surprise to see the Redskins try and keep him on their roster.

5. Tom Compton-

-Tom Compton was the Redskins 6th round pick back in 2012. While he didn't make the team initially, the Redskins signed him off the practice squad late in the season to ensure he wasn't poached by another team. Last year the Redskins kept Compton as their lone back-up tackle and he got a handful of snaps in jumbo packages and replacing Trent Williams for a couple of snaps. Despite the question marks surrounding starting RT Tyler Polumbus, Compton wasn't given a chance a unseat him as the starting RT, and the Redskins drafted tackle Morgan Moses in the 3rd round to be the right tackle of the future. Moses not only appears to have a leg up on Compton for a future role with the team, but he also could take over the swing tackle/jumbo package role that Compton held last season. Through two preseason games, Compton has struggled in pass blocking giving up a number of pressures or sacks while lining up at right tackle (meaning he's facing the weaker competition). Making matters even worse is that Compton has faced mainly 2nd and 3rd teamers from the Browns and Patriots, and still struggled. Though Compton's run blocking has been better, he faces a tough numbers crunch along the offensive line. Barring a surprise cut, his only chance of making the team could be if the Redskins decide to keep 10 offensive linemen.

5 Players Who have Improved This Preseason

August 21, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

The Redskins preseason is half over and I thought now would be a good time to look at 5 players who have improved their stock this preseason:

1. ILB Keenan Robinson-

-Robinson flashed some of his athletic ability and potential as a rookie back in 2012, but it was just in small doses and he was behind Fletcher and Riley. Robinson's future got murky the 2nd half of his rookie year when he tore his pectoral muscle and was out for the 2nd half of the year. His future got even worse last year when Robinson suffered another pectoral injury and missed the entire preseason and regular season. Despite missing a year and a half of development, Robinson has come on this year and been an impressive replacement for London Fletcher this training camp and preseason so far. He's showing good instincts and reaction time, and utilizing his speed and athleticism to make some plays. While he might not be a top level inside linebacker just yet, he's showing real promise and should at least give the Redskins an above average option in the middle for this season.

2. G Josh LeRibeus-

-Josh LeRibeus was the Redskins 3rd round pick in 2012, in a move that surprised a number of draft observers given his relatively weak draft stock. LeRibeus didn't do much to alleviate his doubters concern with holding out until the start of camp and then having a weak preseason performance. Despite his higher draft selection LeRibeus was outplayed by fellow rookie guard Adam Gettis for that first camp and preseason. LeRibeus did get some work in the Redskins final regular season game and playoff game, but it was a small sample size. Any potential thoughts of LeRibeus coming into his own his 2nd season were dashed when he showed up to camp overweight and out of shape. LeRibeus struggled throughout the preseason and was left inactive for most of the Redskins season. This year the Redskins signed veteran Shawn Lauvao for the open guard starting spot. They also added veteran interior lineman Mike McGlynn and rookie 3rd rounder Spencer Long to beef up their interior, because they couldn't rely on LeRibeus. It appears that LeRibeus has gotten the message as he's played the best he's had in a Redskins uniform this preseason so far. Now to be fair it's been against a lot of 2nd and 3rd teamers, but that is who he was working against the previous two preseason's and he struggled. LeRibeus still has some work to do, but he now looks like he's earning a spot based on his play rather than his draft position. He probably won't challenge for a starting role, but he should be a back-up and maybe he could replace Chris Chester at some point this season.

3. CB David Amerson-

-David Amerson struggled for much of his rookie year, and was notorious for giving up big plays last season. While he had some good games, most of his games were pretty forgettable as he struggled to cover mainly 3rd receivers. Amerson also had a reputation for not helping out in run support and for the most part he was average in this department a year ago. He also struggled some on special teams, and it resulted in some negative plays for the Redskins unit last year. Early reports out of camp are that he's doing a much better job in covering receivers, though he hasn't really been challenged in the preseason so far given the level of competition he's gone up against. Where Amerson has shined in the preseason though is in his run support and special teams play, both of which have apparently improved. If Amerson can reach his potential and become a consistent good corner it will go a long way to improving the Redskins defense.

4. TE Niles Paul-

-Niles Paul has struggled in his conversion from receiver to tight end these past two years, but he remains in the Redskins plans due to his special teams ability. Unfortunately due to injuries each of the last two years, Paul has been thrust into a larger role than the Redskins probably would have liked. In that time he hasn't shown much as a receiver, including having far too many drops considering history as a wide receiver. His blocking while better than his receiving ability hasn't been too good either. Though the Redskins hope to not need him this year for a role in the offense, injuries could once again be an issue and they wouldn't have much of a choice. Paul has done a nice job this preseason, catching a few passes and showing a little better as a blocker than years past. He isn't going to challenge Jordan Reed anytime soon, but the Redskins should feel more confident in their depth with Paul.

5. DL Jarvis Jenkins-

-It's been a rough career for Jenkins so far. As a rookie in 2011, Jenkins tore his ACL in the preseason wiping out his entire rookie year. The next season he was back, but like many guys recovering from an ACL injury Jenkins didn't look like the same player that he was before the injury. Jenkins was known for a quick burst and strong power that would knock linemen back and catch them off balance. He didn't bring that to the table as much when he came back from the injury. Last year was supposed to be Jenkins' chance to redeem himself and boost his stock back-up. Unfortunately he was suspended for the first 4 games for violating the PED policy of the league. While he came back and he was solid for the Redskins, he wasn't giving the team the impact they were looking for. In the offseason they signed Jason Hatcher to big contract to take over Jenkins' starting role. With Hatcher sidelined for much of camp and the first 2 preseason games, Jenkins has had a chance to show that he's improved some, and so far the results look promising. Jenkins might not be a starter this year, but it looks like he can be a valuable sub along the defensive line. He's displaying more quickness and power than we've seen the past two years, and he could give the Redskins some valuable depth.

Predicting the Redskins 10 Man Practice Squad:

August 20, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

With my 53 man roster prediction set, I thought it would be good to take a look at how the new 10 man practice squad could shape up. Here's my first look at it:

2 Additional Players under the new guidelines:

S Bacarri Rambo-

-Rambo would have to get through waivers and there is a chance a team with injuries at the safety position could claim him, but there is probably a 50/50 shot he would make through. If he does make it through waivers the Skins should add him to the practice squad to give them further safety depth. There are a lot of questions with the safety position, and chances are Clark, Meriweather, Thomas and Robinson won't last the full 16 games next year.

CB Richard Crawford-

-Crawford is coming off an ACL injury and just hasn't shown the same promise he did pre-injury. With the additions of Breeland and Porter, and the improvement of Minnifield, Crawford is on the outside looking in, even if the Redskins keep 6 CB's. Crawford might be claimed, but chances are he'd make it through waivers. Remember this is a former 7th round corner who is coming off a major knee injury, hard to see teams lining up to add him to their roster. He's a good guy to try to stash on the practice squad for a year to see if he can re-gain his form after a full year removed from the surgery.

8 Other Practice Squad Players:

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RB Silas Redd-

-Redd is probably the player the Redskins most want to sneak through waivers and keep on the practice squad for a year. He's shown a lot of promise in camp, but right now loses in the numbers game for a 53 man roster spot. Still he's a good guy to have around, particularly with Helu and Royster facing UFA next offseason.

OLB Gabe Miller-

-Gabe Miller has flashed some in the preseason and had definitely earned his way on to the practice squad if he doesn't crack the 53 man roster. He's got some natural pass rush ability, and he's a versatile player that could develop into a nice quality back-up in the future.

S Akeem Davis-

-Despite already having one safety on the practice squad the Redskins could opt for another one. Davis has some special teams upside and that could help get him called up to the active roster if there is an injury.

WR Nick Williams-

-The Redskins may only keep 1 wide receiver on the practice squad and Williams will have to battle it out with some solid choices, but he's got a bit of an advantage. He's got return ability and he also has a little NFL experience making him further along than some of the other guys.

TE Ted Bosler-

-Bosler has nice size, but he's a project tight end and the Redskins knew that when they drafted him in the 7th round. He really struggles as a blocker and he needs to get stronger at the point of attack. A year on the practice squad could give him time to get up to par and get into the mix in 2015.

C Trevita Stevens-

-It's likely the Redskins will want to keep at least one back-up offensive lineman on the practice squad and Stevens is one of the few incumbents that work for this spot (Gettis and Compton could replace one of Rambo or Crawford). Stevens played well in extensive duty versus the Patriots and the Redskins could see him worth keeping around, particularly with question marks surrounding the future of their center position.

DT Robert Thomas-

-I don't think Thomas has done a lot to earn the spot, but he's one of the few practice squad eligible defensive linemen and the Redskins would be wise to have at least one back-up. The Redskins have one of the oldest units in the league and it's a position that is typically filled with injuries so depth is key.

RB Chris Thompson-

-This was a tough decision for the last roster spot and in reality it could easily be someone off another team's roster, but in the end I took Thompson over some of the possible other options. I don't think Thompson is the best choice, but I do think the Redskins are intrigued by what he can do. His skill set is very tempting and with again the possibility of two open roster spots next year, keeping him around might not be a bad thing. If he can stay healthy (which is a big if), Thompson could earn a spot as a return man/3rd down back (depending on the development of Seastrunk).

Predicting the Redskins 53 Man Roster After The Browns Preseason Game

August 20, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Quarterback: (3) Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

-The Redskins need 3 quarterbacks between their roster and practice squad and with no one else in camp it is tough to see them relying on a random UDFA to be the 3rd QB this year. So McCoy stays with the Redskins and offers them a guy who's been around the league a bit more and can give RGIII and Cousins some extra advice.

Running Back: (4) Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Lache Seastrunk

-No changes here. The top two backs are set and Royster's versatility should earn him a spot on the roster. The final spot comes down to Seastrunk and UDFA Silas Redd. Redd has clearly outplayed Seastrunk, but Seastrunk has the greater upside and that might be enough to keep him on the roster. The other factor the Redskins have to consider is the fact that Seastrunk would be more likely to be poached off waivers or even the practice squad, while Redd could end up being stashed there for a year.

Fullback: (1) Darrel Young

-This is an easy decision for the Skins, Young is one of the better fullbacks in the league and is very versatile, not only is he a lock to make the roster, but the Redskins will find a lot of ways to keep him involved in the offense.

Tight End: (3) Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

-No surprises here really, the three holdovers from last season are far ahead of the other tight ends on the list and barring an injury are all pretty well set to make this team. So far not only has a 4th tight end not challenged any of the incumbents, but they haven't shown they are even worthy of consideration for a roster spot.

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Wide Receiver: (5) DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Ryan Grant

-I decided to go with only 5 receivers to start the year, mainly because I couldn't find a compelling reason to keep a 6th. The Redskins top 4 spots are set with veterans and guys the Redskins know they can count on. Rookie Ryan Grant has had a great camp and should be able to contribute when called upon as well. Next on the list is Aldrick Robinson, but he doesn't really do anything that the top 5 guys can't account for and he doesn't help on special teams. The Redskins should just start the year with 5 receivers and add a 6th when Leonard Hankerson comes off the PUP list (likely from the corner position).

Offensive Line: (9) Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Mike McGlynn, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Josh LeRibeus

-No changes here for this group. Even though Chris Chester's play has been poor, the starters seem pretty locked into roster spots. Mike McGlynn offers good interior depth and Morgan Moses and Spencer Long are top rookies and should have jobs. Josh LeRibeus has outplayed the rest of the back-up linemen and should get the 9th spot. The really interesting thing is that this leaves the Redskins thin at OT and deep in the interior as all three back-up interior linemen can play guard. The problem is neither Tom Compton or Maurice Hurt has come close to outplaying LeRibeus.

Defensive Line: (6) Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Chris Neild

-No surprises with the top 4 guys as they will be the primary rotation of defensive linemen on this team. Golston's leadership, veteran experience and special teams work also is likely to earn him a spot as well. The final spot will likely come down to Chris Neild and Clifton Geathers. Neild could win the job since he's a more capable nose tackle, and can back-up Cofield in that role. Sure Baker and even Jenkins can play there some, but I don't think the Redskins ideally want them there, which opens up the need for a more traditional NT. What could get interesting is when Stephen Bowen is ready to come off the PUP list. Do they keep 7 DL at that point or cut Neild then.

Linebacker: (9) Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Trent Murphy, Rob Jackson, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan

-The top 5 guys listed are locks, and the Redskins will also keep likely three of Compton, Hayward, Jordan and Darryl Sharpton. I think Sharpton is the odd man out right now. Compton and Hayward appear to be ahead of him and Jordan has more experience and contributed with a big ST's tackle. With Sharpton dealing with an injury he's clearly falling behind. Rob Jackson is in the lead for the other OLB job, but Gabe Miller had a nice game versus the Browns and could sneak into the competition.

Cornerback: (6) DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Biggers, Chase Minnifield

-Hall, Amerson and Breeland are set in stone, and then the question becomes do the Redskins keep 2 or 3 back-up corners. Tracy Porter is a veteran with a two year deal so the Redskins are likely to keep him, though injuries have slowed down his camp. Biggers is another veteran who brings a lot of things to the table. He's solid in coverage, and maybe more consistent than a rookie like Breeland (especially early on). Biggers can also back-up the FS position and play solid special teams as well. I went with an extra corner here since Minnifield has shown some potential and there is an extra roster spot available.

Safety: (4) Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson

-I think the top 3 spots are pretty well set here, and the only question is whether the Redskins keep Robinson or Bacarri Rambo as the back-up FS. Robinson gets the edge here. He doesn't have the upside of Rambo, but he's a far superior special teams player and he might be more consistent at safety right now. Rambo still goes for the big hit and doesn't take proper angles.

Kicker: (1) Zach Hocker

-I think this battle will go right down to the wire, but Hocker seems to be in the lead and at the very least has the tie-breaker of being handpicked by the Redskins ST coach.

Punter: (1) Robert Malone

-Haven't been blown away by either punter, but it seems clear that Malone is in the lead.

Long Snapper: (1) Nick Sundberg

-Easy decision as he's the only long snapper on the team.