by Brian McNally

The Redskins have concluded their three-week stint in Richmond and return to Ashburn on Thursday for a morning practice.

With 16 practice days and one preseason game in the books, here are five players who have work to do to show they will be ready to contribute by the season opener on Sept. 7 in Houston – or in a few cases make the final roster at all. That decision comes on Aug. 30.

Chris Thompson

Alfred Morris and Roy Helu are locks to make the team at running back. That’s never been in question. But another spot or two is wide open and Thompson can’t take advantage of it because he isn’t on the field. An ankle sprain against the Patriots last Thursday has left Thompson watching as Evan Royster, Lache Seastrunk and college free agent Silas Redd gain valuable repetitions in practice. Thompson has endured durability questions in college and the pros. It’s not about toughness. It’s about a player’s body holding up under the strain of the NFL game. So far, Thompson’s hasn’t and it overshadows his natural gifts (speed, explosiveness) and his improvement in areas like pass protection.

Phillip Thomas

It’s a minor hamstring injury, but Thomas is in the same position as Thompson: Missing out on valuable practice time. That’s more of a concern at this position, though, because the Redskins are paper thin at safety and Thomas is shaking off the rust after missing all of last season. The starters are veterans Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark. Washington is counting on Thomas to be there behind them after a Lisfranc foot injury cost him all of 2013. He didn’t play against the Patriots last week, but Thomas told the Washington Times he expects to practice on Thursday and play against Cleveland on Monday.

Morgan Moses

This is a harsh listing because Moses hasn’t been bad in his first training camp. At 6-foot-6 and 314 pounds, he still flashes promise as a future starting tackle after being selected with the Redskins’ second second-round pick in the 2014 draft. But he’s not there yet. This will be a work-in-progress over the next few seasons. Moses took a beating early in camp in one-on-one battles with more experienced defensive linemen and linebackers. But if he can establish himself as a valuable reserve capable of filling in at either tackle spot, then his rookie season will be considered a success. For now that’s all the Redskins need.

Kai Forbath

No one remembers a thing a kicker does in preseason and all Forbath has to do is fend off rookie Zach Hocker. Given Forbath’s weakness (kickoffs), maybe both men make the final cut? That’s rare and the position coaches will scream. But if the staff values strong kickoffs – and the consistent field position they ensure – that much, it’s an option. Forbath missed a 46-yard field goal against the Patriots and sent a kickoff out of bounds. He’s also made 17 of 20 kicks from 40 yards or longer in his career and 35 of 40 overall. He’s missed one extra point out of 60. A team cuts a player with that track record at its own peril.

Jason Hatcher

Again, this is injury related and not about performance. But the Redskins put a lot of their defensive eggs into the Hatcher basket. At age 32, a four-year, $27.5 million contract was a risk for a player coming off a career year in Dallas with 11 sacks. But Hatcher and Ryan Clark, 34, were the two external additions to a group that struggled so much last season. Washington needs the defensive end to be a factor in the pass rush if that area is to improve in 2014. Knee surgery in June kept Hatcher off the field until last week. He has yet to participate in team drills. The question: Can he recover his effectiveness in time for the regular season?

Redskins Training Camp: The Standouts

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter.


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