WASHINGTON — With the first Washington Redskins preseason game now just days away, the team has released its first unofficial depth chart of the preseason.
Any NFL head coach will downplay the importance of the depth chart, especially at this point in the process. It does not have a direct bearing on who is safe from roster cuts or who will play once games begin. But it is an early gut check for how certain players are performing at training camp.
With that in mind, here are five notable names to keep an eye on now that the first depth chart exists:
WR Josh Doctson: The former first round pick is finally healthy and showing off the skills that made him a top investment last offseason. The team goes three wide in its base package, with Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder taking the first receiver and slot receiver spots, respectively. But Doctson has earned the top spot at the other outside receiver position, beating out Brian Quick and Zach Pascal, as well as Ryan Grant, who is listed as second in the slot.
RB Rob Kelley: The Redskins liked Samaje Perine enough to take him in the fourth round of this year’s draft, but that doesn’t mean he’ll waltz into a starting job. He starts the preseason as the third-ranked running back and Fat Rob maintains his hold on the top spot in the stable. Change of pace back Chris Thompson is currently listed as second, but 106.7 The Fan’s Craig Hoffman said on air this week that Thompson has been the most impressive running back in camp. This could mean that the Redskins have more depth and talent at running back than they have had in years.
TE Vernon Davis: When healthy, Jordan Reed is one of the best tight ends in football. But staying healthy is no easy task, and he has yet to play a down in training camp, currently on the physically unable to perform list. There’s a good chance Reed won’t see a snap all preseason as the team works him back slowly, needing his production for the regular season. However, until that moment (and if he has any setbacks), veteran Vernon Davis is the man. Davis started three games last preseason, and 14 games during the regular season. He can be a focal point in this offseason, even while playing a very different style than Reed. But until Reed is healthy, look for production from Davis and Niles Paul.
OLB Preston Smith: Give the youngster credit–Smith was given the nod for lining up opposite of Ryan Kerrigan in a field that also includes Junior Galette, Trent Murphy and Ryan Anderson. All reports out of camp are that Galette has been explosive and impressive, while Anderson works to get acclimated to the playbook. Murphy is suspended for the first four games of the season, regardless, so he’ll be a late reinforcement for this squad once the regular season begins. Smith is currently hampered by an ankle injury, however, so this could be an opportunity for Anderson to shine early in the preseason.
DE Jonathan Allen: There is reason to believe that the Redskins’ top draft pick will contribute right away, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a starter from Day 1. Allen is listed behind veteran free agent acquisition Stacy McGee, but could still get increased exposure in the preseason. On the opposite side, Ziggy Hood and newcomer Terrell McClain are listed as the first and second string for defensive ends.