WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The initial 53-man roster is set as the Redskins head into an honest-to-goodness game week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There can always be changes: Deshazor Everett made the team after initial cuts last season, but was let go within 48 hours and had to sign with the practice squad.
But for now this is the group charged with defending the NFC East title and getting the Redskins back to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992. Here, according to team and league sources, are the players who’ve made the initial cut.
Kirk Cousins; Colt McCoy; Nate Sudfeld
Sudfeld was the unknown. Would Washington really keep three quarterbacks on the roster? In the end, it was just too risky to expose a drafted rookie to waivers. There are no other developmental quarterbacks in the organization. They’d have to wait again until next year’s draft to find one.
Offensive line (9)
Trent Williams; Kory Lichtensteiger; Brandon Scherff; Morgan Moses; Shawn Lauvao; Spencer Long; Ty Nsekhe; Austin Reiter; Arie Kouandjio
No major surprises here. You do have to wonder about the health of backup center Spencer Long (right ankle) if Austin Reiter –- a seventh-round pick in 2015 –- has stuck around as the third center.
Long is also in a fight with Shawn Lauvao to start at left guard and Jay Gruden wouldn’t declare a winner last week. Meanwhile, Josh LeRibeus was let go. Center Kory Lichtensteiger might have reworked his contract the other day, but they weren’t replacing him this late in camp. He’s still paid like a starting center even if it’s clear the organization is looking for a long-term solution at this spot.
Running back (3)
Matt Jones; Chris Thompson; Robert Kelley
In the end, Kelley was the clear winner to be a reserve running back and did enough of the little things (pass protection) to earn a spot. Keeping three running backs also means the team is confident Jones (separated left shoulder) is okay for Week 1.
Tight end (3)
Jordan Reed; Vernon Davis; Niles Paul
A stacked lineup here. The Redskins didn’t even feel the need to keep veteran Logan Paulsen, who’d been with the team since 2010. Derek Carrier begins the year on the PUP list, but should contribute by October in case of injury.
Wide receiver (6)
DeSean Jackson; Pierre Garcon; Jamison Crowder; Ryan Grant; Rashad Ross; Josh Doctson
Probably this team’s biggest strength. Crowder’s health bears watching after knee and hamstring injuries limited him to one preseason game. And all eyes this week will be on Doctson, the first-round pick at No. 22 who hasn’t practiced since May 25 in OTAs.
Will he really be ready to start the season? He’s off the PUP list so it shouldn’t be long.
Defensive line (6)
Chris Baker; Kedric Golston; Ziggy Hood; Ricky Jean Francois; Kendall Reyes; Anthony Lanier
Kept six instead of seven on the defensive line this season. Hood looks like a steal after signing in January and having a fine preseason. Lanier was so good that he swiped a spot away from fifth-round pick Matt Ioannidis, who was adjusting to playing inside.
Inside linebacker (5)
Will Compton; Mason Foster; Martrell Spaight; Su’a Cravens; Terrance Garvin
An injection of youth and versatility here. No, Compton and Foster aren’t making any Pro Bowls. But they are smart, instinctive players. Spaight looks ready for a big role after missing last season with a concussion. Cravens has the versatility in coverage they desperately needed here.
Garvin is a special-teams ace.
Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan; Preston Smith; Trent Murphy; Houston Bates
Once Junior Galette went down (torn right Achilles tendon) and Trent Murphy moved back to linebacker, this became a competition for one spot. Bates grabs it for now. He played in 10 games last season, primarily on special teams.
Lynden Trail loses out and could land on the practice squad. But this is a spot the front office could look for help on the waiver wire.
DeAngelo Hall; Will Blackmon; Duke Ihenacho; David Bruton, Jr.; Deshazor Everett
Everett just played his way onto the roster. The Redskins didn’t expect to keep five safeties. It gives them 11 defensive backs overall, which is a ton. But Everett is good on special teams and gained valuable experience last season.
Josh Norman; Bashaud Breeland; Quinton Dunbar; Greg Toler; Kendall Fuller; Dashaun Phillips
For a while now it’s been apparent all six of these corners would stick. Toler was strong from the first day of camp and has plenty of starting experience if injuries strike.
Dunbar struggled some in preseason and remains raw, but the potential is there. Fuller and Phillips provide youth at nickel corner and Fuller played some outside during preseason games.
Dustin Hopkins; Nick Sundberg; Tress Way
No competition at all from OTAs on for these three. Hopkins is the kicker, Way the punter and Sundberg the long snapper.