The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the following 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 16 offensive linemen on the roster, the Redskins will keep nine.
In: 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
Changes from 2011: OT Sean Locklear left as free agent (signed with NY Giants); Lee signed as a free agent, LeRibeus, Compton, Gettis selected in draft.
There are many out in Redskins Nation who are undoubtedly disappointed that it appears that the same five players who started the season opener on the offensive line last year will do the same this year. It appears that the only thing that will prevent that from happening is a setback in the recovery of Kory Lichtensteiger’s injured knee.
But the Redskins were 3-1 with that unit before things fell apart. And after the 10-sack Week 8 debacle in Toronto against the Bills things gelled for the reserves. The Redskins gave up an average of just two sacks a game in the last nine games of the season.
The pressure is on Williams to become a star. At the other tackle, the pressure is on Brown to stay healthy and stay on the field. If he can’t Smith or maybe even Compton could take his job as the year goes on. Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, and Chester aren’t threats to make the Pro Bowl but as long as they can plug up the middle on pass plays and get out to the next level on the stretch play they will be more than adequate.
It appears that two of the backup spots are set with Smith and Polumbus. Smith made the team as an undrafted rookie last year and started the last three games of the season at left tackle after Williams was suspended. He was far from dominant but he did show some promise. Polumbus started games at both left guard and right tackle last year and he is a valuable backup.
It seems like LeRibeus, the second player the Redskins drafted after RG3, quickly became a favorite of the coaches by diving in and learning both center and guard. Mike Shanahan has stressed versatility with his linemen and LeRibeus should earn a spot if he can master all three interior line spots, or at least become competent enough to fill in.
Compton is in on a hunch and by default as much as anything else. Hurt has been moved back to tackle after starting eight games at guard last year and he will need to show substantial improvement to get a roster spot. The same goes for Cook, who started two games at center. While it would be a mistake to completely write off either one of them, the Redskins may just want to start fresh and work with Compton.
If Compton demonstrates reasonable competence and potential it is hard to see him not staying over the 27-year-old James Lee, although the veteran does bring some experience as a starter with him. Compton would really have to fall on his face for the Redskins to keep Lee over him.
And it wouldn’t be a total shock for Gettis to make it over any of those four. He also is learning both guard and center and they could figure that they are set with Polumbus and Smith as the backup tackles and choose to develop him.
If Cook and Hurt do not make it, neither is eligible for the practice squad. Compton and Gettis are eligible along with McCaskill, Martinez, and Garner. The practice squad is probably the most that the latter three can hope for.
Projections to date (click for details and breakdown):
In: Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon Creer
In: Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau Reliford
In: 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: Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan Crompton