With the Redskins getting ready to cut to 75 players on Monday and down to 53 on Aug. 31, it might be instructive to look at how many players Mike Shanahan kept last year at final cuts. Here are the names and numbers from opening 2011 roster:
WR (7) Moss, Gaffney, Armstrong
Hankerson, Stallworth, Austin, Paul
OL (8) Williams, Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, Chester, Brown, Locklear, Cook, Smith
TE (4) Cooley, Davis, Paulsen, Sellers
RB (4) Young, Hightower, Helu, Torain
QB (2) Grossman, Beck
DL (6) Carriker, Cofield, Bowen, Scott,
LB (9) Kerrigan, Orakpo, Fletcher, McIntosh, Riley, Fox, Alexander, White, Jackson
CB (5) Hall, Wilson, Westbrook, Barnes, Thompson
S (4) Landry, Atogwe, Doughty, Gomes
They managed to keep four tight ends and seven wide receivers by going tight with eight on the offensive line and carrying two quarterbacks. One of the eight O-linemen was rookie free agent tackle Willie Smith, who they knew would not be ready to play until the latter stages of the season. The gamble did not work out too well as injuries hit along the line and they had to call up Maurice Hurt from the practice squad and sign Tyler Polumbus off of the street.
The spot for return specialist Brandon Banks came from the defense with the line on that side of the ball going tight as well.
The lesson to learn here is that there is no rigid number that needs to be kept at each position. The last few roster spots, where decision are made based on special teams, potential, or just keeping the best football players, can throw everything out of whack.
Of the final 53 last year, 41 are back to try to make it again this season.