The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the next five weeks they will undergo the process of cutting their 90-man roster down to 53. Which players will get those coveted spots and which will join the ranks of the unemployed? Over the next couple of weeks we’ll go through position by position and try to predict what decisions Mike Shanahan and company will make.
There are 14 linebackers on the roster, the Redskins will keep 10.
In: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Markus White, Chris Wilson, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff
Out: Donnell Holt, Bryan Kehl, Brian McNally, Monte Lewis
Changes from 2011: Rocky McIntosh signed with the Rams as a free agent and Keyaron Fox was not resigned; Redskins drafted Robinson (4th round), signed Goff and Kehl as free agents.
This unit is one of the strengths of the team. It would not be surprising if any of the four starters—Orakpo and Kerrigan on the outside, Fletcher and Riley on the inside—made the Pro Bowl.
The starters are every down players. That was literally the case with Kerrigan, who played every one of the 1,056 defensive snaps last year. Fletcher didn’t rest much as he played 1,033 snaps. Orakpo was injured in the last game of the season and took an occasional rest so he played “only” 956 plays. McIntosh started the first eight games of the season and Riley the last eight and they combined to play just over 1,000 snaps.
It is a plus to have such a versatile group that the coaches can trust in virtually any down and distance situation. The issue is that it gives the reserves very few reps to develop and get ready they are needed. Jackson played 113 snaps last year and the departed Fox played just 51. Riley came in as the starter having played just one defensive snap in the first eight games of the season and just eight as a rookie in 2010. White was active for just two games and did not play a defensive snap while Lorenzo Alexander played just 11 snaps.
Alexander is of value to the team even if he doesn’t play at all on defense as he is the special teams captain. Wilson, who lined up on defense only occasionally when he was with the Redskins from 2007-2010, also would be a special teams specialist for the most part.
Jackson and White will be the top reserves at outside linebacker while Goff will be the backup on the inside. Robinson has a chance to be Fletcher’s eventual successor and his 2012 will probably be like Riley’s 2010, playing special teams when he’s active and learning mostly by watching and getting a few practice reps.
While there is a role for each of the 10 players, there may not be room for all of them. If they decide to trim one linebacker to create a spot elsewhere, Wilson and White likely would be the players on the bubble competing for the one last linebacker job.
Kehl could sneak up a grab a spot if Wilson and White falter. The best that Holt, McNally, and Lewis can hope for is a spot on the practice squad.
In: Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
Out: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug Worthington, Chris Baker, Delvin Johnson
In (4): Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon Creer
In (3): Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau Reliford
In (6): Anthony Armstrong, Pierre Garçon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
Out: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Darius Hanks, Brian Hernandez, Lance Lewis, Samuel Kirkland
In (3): Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan Crompton
In (9): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton
Out: Erik Cook, Grant Garner, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Nevin McCaskill, James Lee, Nick Martinez