August 18, 2019

Washington Redskins Season Preview Part II: Running Backs

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

Monday, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.

Tuesday, we examine the situation at running back. Who will be the third down back, who didn’t make the team and just how deep are the Redskins in the backfield.


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Washington Redskins 53-man Roster Analysis

The Washington Redskins trimmed their roster down to 53 players before today’s 4 p.m. deadline. Here’s everything you need to know about the players who made and did not make the cut:

One of the most debated cuts was the running back position, where the Redskins made a somewhat surprising move by keeping on three running backs and a fullback in Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Roy Helu, and Silas Redd. Ultimately Chris Thompson couldn’t stay healthy long enough to make an impact leading to his release and Lache Seastrunk proved to be too raw of a prospect for the 53-man roster. I’m actually a big fan of this move, I think it was clear from the pre-season that Redd is the most game-ready back out of the four on the bubble (Redd, Thompson, Seastrunk, Royster) and could be the teams best pass blocker. In addition to his role on offense, it was Redd’s special teams contributions that probably punched his ticket onto the 53-man roster.

The other “surprise” cut was Phillip Thomas. The second-year safety was in the same boat as Chris Thompson — he couldn’t stay on the field long enough to show his potential. Thomas has practice squad eligibility, and will likely end up there if he clears waivers.

As most expected the Redskins kept all three quarterbacks on the final roster. With Griffin’s durability concerns this was both a smart and not surprising move.

The Redskins kept nine offensive lineman, including two backups each at the guard and tackle positions. The one concern I have with this area is the lack of depth at center if something were to happen to Kory Lichtensteiger.

Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis show the importance of special teams play and how it can affect a players roster spot. Robinson and Davis were two of the best special teams players on the Redskins this pre-season; both were considered long-shots to make the final roster at the beginning of camp, but both fought their way onto the final roster mostly through special teams ability.

Kai Forbath edged out rookie Zach Hocker to win the kicking battle, and after a strong performance Tress Way won the punting job.

There are conflicting reports about the cornerback position, the Washington Post has Chase Minnifield on the final 53 with Tracy Porter cut. On Redskins.com, however, both players are listed on the roster. We will clear this up as soon as possible. [UPDATE: Minnifield was indeed released and Porter made the team.]

After a strong performance in the final pre-season game Gabe Miller beat out Everette Brown for the final outside linebacker spot.

In addition to the cuts the Redskins placed Stephen Bowen and Leonard Hankerson on the PUP list, and Chris Neild and Darryl Sharpton on injured reserve.

Here’s the Redskins full roster heading into the season opener:

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

Running Back (4): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Roy Helu, Silas Redd,

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

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

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

Defensive Line (7): Chris Baker, Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geaters, Frank Kearse

Inside Linebackers (5): Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Adam Hayward, Will Compton, Akeem Jordan

Outside Linebackers (4): Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Gabe Miller

Cornerback (5): DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Bashaud Breeland, Chase Minnifield/Tracy Porter, EJ Biggers

Safety (4): Ryan Clark, Bacarri Rambo, Trenton Robinson, Akeem Jordan

Specialist (3): Nick Sundberg, Kai Forbath, Tress Way

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins preseason finale win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here are five big takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 24-10 preseason finale win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night and the implications:

  1. The Washington Redskins have had a good preseason avoiding injuries in their first three contests, and they survived the huge scare when Morgan Moses went down with a knee injury last Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately this week that was not the case as knee injuries were sustained by NT/DE Chris Neild and LILB Akeem Jordan. A source with knowledge backed up Jay Gruden’s belief that it is very likely that Neild has a significant ACL tear of his right knee according to ESPN 980 Radio. This could very easily open the door to a roster spot for Clifton Geathers, massive body that showed agility and power off the ball. Jordan is believed to have a non-major tear to either his MCL or ACL, but is preliminarily not having an end to the season quite yet. ILB is one of the toughest roster spots to project this year where guys will be cut that could produce this year. One huge thing that is helping Will Compton is his ability to play “Mike” & “Jack” positions. Jordan can only play Mike and Adam Hayward only Jack. Thus, the next men up for Washington at these positions are Geathers and Compton who have now possibly secured jobs for the rest of the year.
  2. The next toughest position to project for the Redskins is clearly at the running back position. Since Roy Helu did not receive any playing time it is safe to say that he has secured a roster. Chris Thompson needed a hall of fame performance to even creep back into the mind of Gruden as his durability is in question constantly. Thompson had two bright moments in an otherwise vanilla performance: he had a 25-yard catch and run reception and nearly an amazing touchdown run where he broke two tackles, one in the backfield, to lunge short of the goal line. That subpar performance opened the gates to Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk who both improved their stock quite well, while Evan Royster saw limited playing time in which he did next to nothing. Redd was the workhorse with 79 yards on 14 rushes, while Seastrunk had a more mediocre six rushes for 23 yards. The thing that Seastrunk has had on his resume since the beginning is his speed, which differentiates him from rest and it is tough to cut a guy who can a take screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown as he did in the game.
  3. The battle at wide receiver was more of the usual as Aldrick Robinson and Ryan Grant continued to shine. Robinson managed 75 yards on five receptions off eight targets, while Grant posted a similar 73 yards on five catches on a mere six targets. The things that stands out to coaches is Aldrick’s motivation to run full speed ahead on a perceivable go route to attract both the cornerback and safety, clearing the way for Chris Thompson’s 25-yard reception. On the flip side, Grant runs great routes, has good hands and is focused. Two guys who have done nearly nothing wrong this offseason have given Coach Gruden the easy decision to have quality depth behind an already elite receiving corp.
  4. A topic of speculation comes from the quarterback position as third stringer Colt McCoy played the entire game with most of the second string weapons. McCoy posted great fantasy numbers with 321 yards and two touchdowns, but had two end zone interceptions which dropped his QBR down to 105.7. Numbers that are both appropriate and welcomed for a third stringed quarterback, but not numbers to assure a roster spot on a team that may be looking to keep an extra guy in another area. That begs the question was this McCoy audition to show Gruden that he would be idiotic to cut such an asset? Did backup signal caller Kirk Cousins not play because he is about to be traded to the Rams? Or maybe he should have played to potentially raise his worth even more? All of these are possible explanations, but we will never know the answer. If Cousins is indeed staying with the team for the season, then McCoy is probably not needed.
  5. The preseason is over and now it is time to look forward and start scheming against the Houston Texans. Gruden will have to put some fairy dust on his current starting offensive line to keep Robert Griffin III clean from the dynamic bookends of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. As fans we are all anxiously awaiting the start of the 2014 season and cannot wait!

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 4 Review: Redd, Seastrunk Impress in 24-10 Preseason Finale

The fourth and final game of the 2014 preseason for the Washington Redskins was all about the competition for roster spots, so the resulting 24-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was almost immaterial. Colt McCoy went the distance at quarterback and went 22 of 29 from 321 yards and two touchdowns in the teams’ final tuneup before the regular season openers next week.

Several positions are still up for grabs and this game is more than likely the final chance for the proverbial “bubble players” to prove their worth to Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the rest of coaching staff.  The three position battles that stood out the most in this matchup were third/fourth running back, backup linebackers, and the kicking battle.

Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, and Lache Seastrunk all received considerable playing time tonight and it’s hard to say who will come out on top in Head Coach Jay Gruden’s eyes.  Redd averaged just under six yards a carry and Seastrunk caught a screen pass and took it 80 yards for a touchdown.  Redd looked to have improved from earlier in training camp in his pass protection as well and he picked up the blitz nicely, allowing McCoy to keep his eyes down field. Redd capped the night off with a late fourth quarter touchdown and amassed 79 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.

The two running backs who did not necessarily impress were Thompson and veteran running back Evan Royster.  It’s hard to fathom that Royster will make the roster, and Thompson faces an uphill battle as Redd and Seastrunk have both shown flashes of brilliance through the offseason, training camp, and the preseason games. Thompson rushed eight times for 18 yards and Royster lost one yard on four carries.  On a night that each running back was hoping to secure that roster spot, only two made a strong case.

The backup linebacker battle has become an interesting one, especially in the case of Gabe Miller. He was used on some blitz packages in the first quarter and showed that he is very physical and was able to generate penetration up the middle. Late in the first quarter, Miller strip-sacked Bucs’ QB Mike Kafka and recovered the fumble near the goal line leading to a Redskins score.  Akeem Jordan is also another interesting “bubble player” as he is a special teams ace, but we will have to wait and see the result of his knee injury he suffered early in the third quarter.

Then there are the kicking battles. Robert Malone seemed to be a shoe-in for the punting job after the release of Blake Clingan, but newly signed Tress Way impressed in this game.  His first two punts pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory and kicekd for 103 yards on only two punts.  Meanwhile, Malone punted once in the first half for 31 yards. 

For the place-kickers, both showed why each is still on the roster and the battle not yet been decided.  Kai Forbath was 1-for-1 for a 45 yarder, and made his extra point attempt.  Hocker, on the other hand, missed his only attempt, a 39-yarder, and made his extra point.  So, in essence, both have missed in the preseason from distances that NFL kickers should not routinely miss from.

The key in the kicking battle could be on kickoffs, and Hocker seems to be farther ahead than Forbath in this area.  The incumbant has already kicked one out of bounds earlier in the preseason, and Hocker just seems to be able to put the ball deep every single time.  This is crucial for a coaching staff that would like to boast one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

Now on to positions that seem to be decided.  Wide Receiver Ryan Grant is something special.  He was a consistent target for McCoy all night, amassing 71 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown.  He came back on his routes to receive underthrown balls, maintained awareness when making catches on the sideline, and went over a defender to catch his touchdown pass.  Needless to say, Gruden is happy with his draft pick that seemed like a head scratcher at the time due to the depth at wide receiver.

The amount of penalties in this game was another encouraging stat.  The Redskins were penaltized just four times for 45 yards.

There was some bad news. Both nose tackle Chris Neild and linebacker Akeem Jordan went down with apparent knee injuries.  MRI’s should be expected in the near future for both, but these are two players that could have been key role players and depth on this 2014 team that may now be potentially lost for the year.

Overall, this was a good final test for the Redskins reserves and “bubble players”.  It will be interesting to see just how much this final preseason game will factor into the final cutdown to the 53 man regular season roster.

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discusses team as the Baltimore Ravens game approaches

The Washington Redskins will play their third preseason game this weekend at M&T Bank Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens, a Beltway battle set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Washington is coming off a close, 24-23 win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday.

The Redskins are looking to continue their run toward a second straight undefeated preseason after wins over the Browns and the New England Patriots. The Ravens are also 2-0 after wins over the San Francisco 49ers and at the Dallas Cowboys.

Washington head coach Jay Gruden was at the podium Thursday at Redskins Park, discussing the development of rookie offensive linemen Spencer Long and Morgan Moses, impending roster cuts and other topics.

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Washington Redskins key training camp questions: offense

Robert Griffin III hands off to Alfred Morris in Redskins 40-32 win over New Orleans Saints in Week 1. (Photo by Brian Murphy)

Robert Griffin III hands off to Alfred Morris in Redskins 40-32 win over New Orleans Saints in Week 1. (Photo by Brian Murphy)

Training camp is underway in Richmond and that means the season is just around the corner. The Washington Redskins, however, have a lot of work to do before their opener in Houston.

Each year, every team in the NFL has questions they hope to answer during training camp at each position. That is especially true for a team like the Washington Redskins who enter the season with a new coach. With that in mind, here are the key questions for each position the the team needs to answer during camp: [Read more…]

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