Saturday, August 31, 2013

New post! Cut day!

Sadly, Chase Minnifield was cut.

The Redskins will try to put him on the practice squad, but I'm worried he won't make it through waivers. I really like Minnifield, and think he earned a roster spot in the preseason, particularly with Crawford's injury. It's hard to imagine the team keeping just 4 corners, so Jerome Murphy probably has the 5th corner spot sewn up. Murphy showed pretty well, but I would prefer Minnifield if it's a choice between the two. I think he has more upside and played better in the pre-season.

Also released were DeJon Gomes, Keiland Williams, and Tony Pashos, and Dez Briscoe is considered likely to be placed on IR. He looked good in preseason, but apparently the shoulder separation he suffered in Tampa (I was there!) is going to keep him out upwards of a month, and the Redskins are likely to just go ahead and IR him. Those are all guys who had a legitimate shot to make the team, so it will be interesting to see how that is going to affect the shape of the roster.

Kevin Matthews has just now been announced cut, which I expected, but in light of the Pashos release, that means almost certainly that the team will be keeping only 8 offensive linemen, at least until Maurice Hurt gets presumably activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list after 6 weeks, when he's likely to take someone's spot, and unless the team decides to give up on LeRibeus so soon, it will probably be at the expense of someone at a different position.

Very good news for Chris Thompson and Evan Royster; it seems like we will keep 4 HBs given the other cuts, which would include both of them. At his touchdown return in Tampa, I commented that Thompson likely just played his way back onto the roster, and I'm pretty happy to see us keep a talented rookie who can help out in the return game. Royster also had a great game, and Keiland Williams, his top competition for the third running back spot, was cut today, so he will almost certainly be kept as well.

The cuts elsewhere are probably good news for Philip Merling, who I expect to be held onto at DE after Bowen, Golston, and Baker with Jarvis Jenkins suspended for the first four contests.

Also, I assume DeJon Gomes' release means Jordan Pugh is likely to be our 4th safety with Rambo, Meriweather, and Doughty.

Crunching the numbers, it looks like we have 46 players I'd consider locks, and 49 spots I'd consider locks (3rd QB and 3rd HB being the lock positions without a definite player) at this point.

Given that that leaves us with 6 open roster spots, it seems almost certain that both Thompson and Royster are going to make it for 4 HBs, and Grossman or maybe White gets one of the remaining 3 to be the third QB. Grossman is the incubent and likely winner, but I'm hoping for White. We know what we have (not a lot) in Grossman, and I think White has a little more upside as well as the potential to perhaps contribute in occasional gadget plays, which is nice from a third quarterback who is instead just a dead spot on the roster being used for insurance. Additionally, losing RG3 (or even Kirk Cousins, who has underrated speed) would mean a big blow to the run game, not just for his yardage, but also the read option and bootleg scrambling threat he provides, which would make opposing defenses' jobs a lot easier and put more pressure on the passing game, which isn't something we want with Grossman back there. At least White can keep defenses honest and open things up. He played the entire game against the Buccaneers, and seemed to pretty consistently make good reads and extend plays, though his accuracy on what should be routine throws was worrisome. Instead of tossing a dumpoff into the waiting arms of the outlet receiver or back so they can get running and try and get yards, a lot of the short passes were close enough to catch but required adjustment on the receiver's part to do so. Not ideal, but I would still endorse him over Grossman, who looked as bipolar as ever this preseason, stringing together consistently solid performances for a while and then spending a spell throwing ducks all over the field and seemingly aiming for defenders.

One of  the remaining spots could involve some competition at safety. Although, as I said before, Gomes' departure is a big boost to Pugh's chances, another dark horse guy who has played well this pre-season is safety Jose Gumbs. Though possible, the Redskins might not keep five safeties to save both Gumbs' and Pugh's spots, so I the two may in direct competition, with the loser likely headed to the practice squad. I would say Pugh is the favorite, but Gumbs has a shot if they choose only one. We'll see later today.

I had previously considered whether the team might keep a 6th WR, which would be either Nick Williams, who had a good game to close out the pre-season, or Skye Dawson, who impressed in the off-season and can contribute as a return-man. Briscoe would also be an option, and perhaps a likely one if he were healthy, but it sounds like the team will place him on IR. However, recently, both Dawson and then Williams were waived, which means the only way there could be a sixth receiver is if they kept Briscoe on in spite of his injury, which is very unlikely. Additionally, it would have been dicey to keep four halfbacks, four tight ends, and six wide receivers, especially on top of the presumptive three quarterbacks.

One more competitor for a final roster spot could be linebacker Marvin Burdett, conspicuous on the cut lists by his absence. Few people have considered him a serious possibility to make the final roster, but given that he hasn't yet been reported released, he might do so. If he is kept as a fifth ILB, it will be because the Redskins like what he brings on kick coverage, where there are some concerns, particularly after Lorenzo Alexander's off-season departure for Arizona.

The last thing to consider about the active roster is the suspended and PUP guys, who are out for 4 and 6 weeks respectively that don't count against the current count: Jarvis Jenkins (4 games), Rob Jackson (4 games), Maurice Hurt (6 games), and Adam Carriker (6 games). I anticipate that Carriker will likely be placed on injured reserve when his deadline is up if he doesn't really surprise, but the other three are likely to be activated to the roster and cost three other guys spots. Jarvis Jenkins will probably take Merling's spot to keep us at four DEs. Doubting that LeRibeus gets dropped, I'm expecting he takes the spot of someone at a different position, and Jackson is uncertain. I think the team would like to keep Brandon Jenkins and Daryl Tapp in addition to bringing Jackson back, since both have looked good in the pre-season and Jim Haslett has had a field day with packages getting 3 or 4 of those guys on the field at once to pressure opposing passers in different ways. That said, if one of them plays poorly, they could keep the status quo at OLB numbers and replace them with Jackson. Still, I think it's more likely that both Jackson and Hurt take spots of guys elsewhere on the team.

One possibility that I haven't seen mentioned by anyone, but has seemed more and more plausible to me as I've continued to consider it is that, if RG3 and Cousins both look healthy and effective through 6 weeks, the team might feel comfortable cutting the third QB for Maurice Hurt when he comes back, which leaves just one spot to figure out for Jackson's return after 4 weeks. Obviously, the team might not even have decided yet, and if there are any significant injuries that could change things completely as well.

Next post will detail expectations for the roster's final look.

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