By Rich Tandler
One of the players who the Redskins unexpectedly cut on Saturday was nose tackle Anthony Bryant, who started the last three games of the 2010 season. The Redskin instead chose to keep rookie Chris Neild as the backup to Barry Cofield. Last April, Neild was the 253rd pick in the draft, one pick away from being named Mr. Irrelevant as the last selection. It was widely expected that Bryant would make the roster and Neild would get a year of seasoing on the practice squad.
And while that is what was predicted here, it is not at all surprsing that Bryant is gone and Neild is still here.
Bryant, who is two months shy of his 30th birthday, has been in the NFL since 2007 and he has impressed coaches enough to be trusted to play in all of 15 games in that time. He did not play at all in 2008 or 2009 as he bounced around a few training camps.
Last year, with Maake Kemoeatu struggling mightily at nose tackle and playing with an injured shoulder and with Plan B at nose tackle, Albert Haynesworth not being very cooperative, the Redskins coaches did not see fit to give Bryant much playing time. He was inactive for 10 of the 16 games and played all of 20 snaps in the first 13 games.
Bryan did have a good game in the season finale against the Giants but it must be noted that he was going up against New York's third-string center with both Sean O'Hara and Rich Seubert were out with injuries.
Neild will be 24 in December. To be sure, he struggled and was pushed back while playing mostly against backup linemen during the preseason But he has plays with a high motor and he seems to be very coachable. Nobody has tagged Bryant as being a high-effort player.
The proverbial bottom line is that Bryant is at best "just a guy" to just the NFL parliance, an average player. Neild probably won't be much more than that but the fact that he is six years younger and seems to have some upside is important.
Both Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have said that the team is committed to getting younger. This shows that they are willing to live up to that commitment even if it means that they might not be as strong this year. The hope is, of course, that they are better off down the road.