After Final Preseason Game, Roster Questions Still Linger

By Shaahin Bahmani

Roy Helu – Photo by Eric Espada/HAIL! Magazine

The Washington Redskins’ 2012 53-man roster is beginning to come together. After an eventful week with the first round of cuts, an unexpected trade, a couple of surprising roster moves and the team’s final preseason game, the coaching staff has a few decisions to make.

This week started off fast paced with Monday’s trade of Kevin Barnes to Detroit (for a conditional late-round draft pick) and the designation of Jamal Brown to the PUP list. Monday also brought the team’s first group of cuts which brought the team to the league’s required 75 players. Then Tuesday came and the shocking news that the team had signed recently-released Billy Cundiff and released the incumbent, Graham Gano. And if that was not enough, Tuesday afternoon brought the stunning news that Chris Cooley was being released.

The news of swapping Cundiff for Gano was a surprise only because it was only on Monday that Neil Rackers was cut and Gano was (by default) given a boost of confidence that the kicking job was now his. Cooley’s release was such a big shock to everyone in the DC area because the general thought was that if the team was going to cut ties with long stay Chris Cooley, they would have done so at the beginning of training camp (not the day before the final preseason game).

After this flurry of roster moves, and last night’s game against Tampa Bay, here is who I think will be on the Redskins’ final 53-man roster. I would like to preface this attempt at cracking the roster with the notion that obviously none of us outside of the Redskins’ brass truly know who will make the team, but why not try.

Quarterbacks (3): Robert Giffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins

Notes: No surprises here. All those screaming for Rex to be cut do not understand the value he has to the team, as well as to the team’s new prized possession.

Running Backs (5): Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Alfred Morris, Darrel Young

Notes: The coaches are feeling very comfortable with the four guys they have. They all bring something unique and have shown the ability to produce. Morris has been a pleasant surprise, so much so that he did not even dress for the final preseason game.

Wide Receivers (7): Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Dezmon Briscoe, Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks

Notes: This is the most debated position group amongst everyone following the Redskins. After an extremely productive game against the Bears in preseason game #2, Aldrick Robinson did not play in Game 3 and did not get a single target in last night’s game. Could this be the team’s way of trying to hide him and sneak him onto the Practice Squad? I think so, and that is where I think Robinson ends up. Briscoe is a big target and a playmaker, one that in previous years, the team has been lacking. Armstrong is rumored to be the fastest player on the team and seems to do everything well, including play Special Teams. Brandon Banks may be one of the most debated players in recent memory. He is one of the rare players that can score a touchdown anytime he has the ball, and at the end of the day, this may be too strong of reason to keep him on the roster rather than cut him.

Tight Ends (3): Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen

Notes: With the release of Chris Cooley, this position seems to be the easiest of the position groups.

Offensive Linemen (9): Trent Williams, Kory Lichetnsteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Willie Smith.

Notes: The starting five and reserve Maurice Hurt were easy. With the rest, difficult decisions remain. LeRibeus and Gettis were 3rd and 4th round picks respectively in this year’s draft and seem to fit perfectly in the Zone Blocking Scheme. So I doubt the team would risk losing either by trying to pass them onto the Practice Squad. The last spot came between Smith and Jordan Black. At the end of the day, Black will be available if the team wants to bring him back, Smith could likely intrigue another team. Tom Compton, the team’s 7th round pick will start the season on the Practice Squad.

Defensive Linemen (6): Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker, Kedrick Golston

Notes: The first 5 positions were easy to fill, but there was a battle for the 6th and final spot. Golston was very active and at times, dominant during camp and the preseason games. He serves as an experienced player who excels on all units of Special Teams.

Linebackers (8): Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson, Keenan Robinson

Notes: While Bryan Kehl played extremely well last night, this is one of the deepest positions on the team. He needed to blow people away with his play for all of camp to claim a spot in this group. I just do not think he did enough. On the other hand, Wilson did, playing unbelievable in each preseason game and in practices. Robinson looks to be everything the coaches though he was when they drafted him, including excelling on Special Teams. Although Markus White played very well throughout camp, I think he ends up on the teams’ Practice Squad to further develop his skills.

Defensive Backs (9): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedrick Griffin, Richard Crawford, Brandyn Thompson, Tanard Jackson, Brandon Merriweather, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes

Notes: In this scenario, the hardest cut the Redskins will make is Reed Doughty. He plays hard on special teams, tackles well but is a liability in coverage. If the team wants to keep 7 wide receivers and 9 offensive lineman, a difficult cut will have to be made. If the team only keeps 6 wide receivers or 8 offensive linemen, then Doughty should hang onto his spot.

Special Teams (3): Nick Sundberg, Sav Rocca, Billy Cundiff

Notes: All off-season the only spot up for grabs was whether Neil Rackers was going to beat Graham Gano to be the team’s place kicker. Well, the only change is that it will be Billy Cundiff.

Practice Squad (8): Tom Compton, Markus White, Doug Worthington, Aldrick Robinson, David Jones, Travon Bellamy, Jordan Bernstine, Marlon Favorite

The team must submit their final 53-man roster to the League by Friday, August 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm.

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