Redskins Roster Construction: Part 3
Redskins Roster Construction: Minimum Roster Spots | 5 More Locks | Final Four Roster Spots
Final Four Spot Predictions:
4th Running back:
-With so few spots remaining this may seem like a surprise, but it really shouldn’t be. The Redskins have been burnt every year of the Shanahan tenure, and have had to sign at least two running backs off the street/practice squad during the season. In the past this has led to some woeful rushing efforts by the Redskins as they tried to break in new players, or in the case of last year it forced rookie runner Alfred Morris to carry the lionshare of the carries. In addition the Redskins are a team who’s offense flows through their running game, ensuring an effective line of succession in case of injury is crucial. Finally with Roy Helu Jr. and Chris Thompson both having a longer injury history than you’d like and coming off a serious injury last year, having a fourth runner just makes too much sense.
4th Tight end:
-A third tight end is a lock, but the fourth tight end is a bit more of a stretch for some, but I think that is what the Redskins should do. Both Fred Davis and Jordan Reed are coming back from injuries. In the case of Davis it is significant enough that his status for the start of the season should still be somewhat in question. Even if healthy he will likely be more limited this year, meaning he can’t be relied upon to play as much. IN the case of Reed, it isn’t expected that the injury will hold him out for any of the season, but the concern here is the missed practice time. Reed was a raw player to begin with, now with missing all the offseason OTA’s and mini-camps, he’s got to be pretty far behind. Even if he doesn’t miss any of training camp, it will be hard for him to be anything more than a role player who is utilized in just a small package of plays. In addition to the injury concerns, the diverse skill sets also make it likely we will see four tight ends on the final roster. Davis is the “starter” and has the most experience, so barring an injury his job is safe. Reed is a 3rd round pick so he’s a lock to make the team. Logan Paulsen is the best pure blocking tight end, which is key given the Redskins run first mentality. As for Niles Paul he’s a special teams standout and the 2nd best blocker of the group, which makes it tough to cut him.
9th Offensive lineman:
-Two years ago the Redskins kept just eight offensive lineman and it was disastrous. Both offensive tackles Trent Williams and Jammal Brown missed multiple games due to injury (to say nothing of William’s suspension), and starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger missed the final 11 games due to injury. Two guys who weren’t even among the eight to start the season (Maurice Hurt and Tyler Polumbus) made a combined 12 starts. Last year the Redskins kept at least 9 (and late in the year 10) offensive linemen, and they only needed a back-up to make a single start (Hurt at RT in Week 16). Though last year almost seems like a waste of a roster spot(s), I think it is more important to be prepared rather than try to go with the minimum. Also, staying healthy last year is far more rare than what happened in 2011 with the multiple starters being injured. Now the Redskins might not have to deal with as many missed games as in 2011 by their starters, but it will likely be more than 1 this year. Keeping an ninth offensive lineman is well worth the risk for the Redskins.
-Though it isn’t typical for the Redskins to keep a 5th safety, I think it could happen this year. Top projected safety Brandon Meriweather is coming off a November ACL surgery. Though he is on pace to be back healthy for training camp, you just never can be sure with ACL injuries. Even if there are no setbacks, he’s likely to be a bit more limited, especially early in the season. In addition to Meriweather the Redskins could be relying on a pair of rookie safeties, 4th rounder Phillip Thomas and 6th rounder Bacarri Rambo. Though there is a good amount of promise and upside with those safeties it could be a lot to ask for them in year one. One of them will likely “start”, but that might be in more of a platoon type of situation, rather than a 1,000+ snap player. Having a 5th safety ensures depth for the position this year.
Just missed the Cut:
7th Defensive lineman:
-Though the Redskins run a 3-4 and don’t even have three DL on the field on every snap, I still see this as a smart position to have extra depth. For one thing it is a highly rotational position group, so even without injuries your fourth and fifth defensive linemen could see 20-30% of the snaps. Also by keeping that many defensive linemen, the Redskins could match-up better against both the run and the pass, by playing guys with appropriate skill sets. Finally, the defensive line has such a high injury rate. Already this year the Redskins have lost Doug Worthington for the season, and Adam Carriker is expect to start training camp off on the PUP list and could very well be out to start the season. It’s likely the Redskins will have to overcome at least one semi-significant injury from this group, and it easily could be more.