Taking a gander at the 2016 Washington Redskins depth chart it seems abundantly clear there are some veterans whose job security is in question. One recent development which will benefit at least two rookies is the approval of the league to keep the practice squad at ten players for the next two seasons. Here are the players who are and are not locks to make the 2016 roster:
The Quarterback position is etched in stone with Kirk Cousins starting and Colt McCoy backing him up. 2016 6th round draft selection Nate Sudfeld is likely headed for the practice squad.
The Running Back position is also largely etched in stone. Matt Jones has been named the starter, Chris Thompson is the only experienced backup on the roster, and Robert Kelley has impressed thus far with limited non-contact action. Keith Marshall is currently behind 2015 practice squad player Mack Brown on the depth chart and his recent hamstring tweak issue is not helping his cause. Marshall will have to be ready for and produce in training camp to avoid the practice squad. There are veterans available in free agency.
The Wide Receiver position is etched in stone. Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, and Rashad Ross are locked in. It would not be surprising to see Maurice Harris or Reginald Diggs on the practice squad.
The Tight End position is one where there is more talent than there are roster positions. Certainly Jordan Reed is the starter but behind him could be Niles Paul or Vernon Davis. It seems all three are safe which leaves Logan Paulsen, Derek Carrier, and Marcel Jensen fighting for one roster spot. Carrier will start the season on IR, leaving Paul and Jensen to battle for one job. The team likes Paulsen as a blocker but also likes Jensen as a red zone receiving target. Jensen is, according to the NFL rule change in 2014, eligible for the practice squad as the league allows two players with two accrued seasons or less to be on each team’s PS.
The team will not carry a Fullback this season. A Tight End or Tackle will be used in the rare instances the team goes “Heavy Jumbo” as Joe Bugel used to call it.
Offensive line is anything but etched in stone. Trent Williams is a lock at Left Tackle. Brandon Scherff is a lock at Right Guard. Morgan Moses is a lock at Right Tackle. The team has three players battling for the starting Left Guard position in Spencer Long, Arie Kouandjio, and Shawn Lauvao. Of the three, Long can play multiple positions. The team has three Centers in Korey Lichtensteiger, Austin Reiter, and Josh LeRibeus, not including Long, who has been working at Center during mini camps and OTAs. Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are both coming off major injuries. It would not be surprising to see Kouandjio at starting Left Guard and Long at starting Center by September. The team will keep at least nine offensive linemen but they may elect to keep ten. By position, the locks are probably Williams, Moses, Ty Nsekhe, and Cody Booth at Tackle, Scherff, Long, Kouandjio, and Takoby Cofield at Guard, and Reiter at Center. That’s nine players. That would leave Long starting at Center and both Lauvao and Lichtensteiger out. Al Bond is potential practice squad material.
The line is a tough read because Scot McCloughan is known to prefer larger linemen more suited to a power blocking scheme. Lauvao is that, and the running game was effective until he went down last season, but Left guard Shawn Lauvao, who was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 30 after having left ankle surgery, also had surgery on his right foot and leg. He said he had five total procedures during the last three months. Lauvao said doctors sawed the bone of the first metatarsal in his right foot and did a “slight incision” on the peroneal tendon of his right leg. In addition, Lauvao ruptured the peroneal tendon and tore the ligaments in his left ankle, which was the reason he was placed on IR. Doctors also shaved the bone of his first metatarsal in his left foot. And then there’s the matter of his $5.0MM salary for the 2016 season.
Likewise, Lichtensteiger is costing $3.878MM for the 2016 season. He’s on the other side of 30 and is undersized for a power blocking scheme. The fact Long has been working at Center even with both Reiter and LeRibeus on the roster, says the team is looking to go bigger. One way of accomplishing that would be to retain a healthy Shawn Lauvao at Left Guard and to start Spencer Long at Center. If Lauvao is not able to start, however, Long may have to start at Left Guard, leaving the Center position to Lichtensteiger.
Stay tuned on the offensive line.
Next Up: The Defense