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A Closer Look: Redskins' 53-Man Roster

football-richmond-660-350.jpg's Stephen Czarda gives you an in-depth look at who made the cut for the Washington Redskins on the 53-man roster heading into the 2016 regular season.


Quarterback (3): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

Final Cuts: None

Analysis: The only question with this group was whether the Redskins would once again go with three quarterbacks or two, but after a solid preseason showing by Sudfeld – the team's sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft – there was no denying the rookie a roster spot.

Sudfeld finished the preseason completing 28-of-53 passes for 238 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said earlier this week that Sudfeld has "progressed extremely well," but noted he still has plenty of room to grow.

"Matt Cavanaugh has done a great job with him, and he'll be the first to tell you that he's miles-and-miles away, but he's making great strides and he's great as far as wanting to learn and wanting to do the right thing," Gruden said. "It's just hard to get him the reps that he needs, but he's taking advantage of the ones that he gets and he'll get a great opportunity tomorrow."

Cousins, of course, will be the team's starting quarterback entering the season after a record-setting 2015 campaign with Colt McCoy providing a very solid veteran option.

"He's very supportive of Kirk, offers up ideas, and he gives the defense good looks when he has to," Gruden said. "He does what's asked of him. He's a good leader. He doesn't complain or moan if he doesn't get a rep or what have you. He just does his job and tries to be as good as he can be."

Running Backs (3): Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Robert Kelley

Final Cuts (2): Mack Brown, Joe Kerridge

Analysis: The Redskins were dealt a tough hand, as both Kelley and Brown performed well during the preseason. But ultimately it was Kelley – a college free agent out of Tulane – who got the call for the active roster.

Kelley finished the preseason with 198 rushing yards and a touchdown, averaging more than five yards per carry.

"Didn't get a lot of opportunities but really came in here and with the injuries that we had and the lack of players that we had at that back position from time to time, he got the reps," Gruden said earlier this week. "And when you get the reps, [there are] two options – you can take advantage of them or you don't, and he took advantage of them. Made great cuts, had great vision, we could see that on the inside runs and some of the outside runs he had good patience, protected the ball and he's caught the ball well. But the big thing with him is how quickly he picked up the protections. That's not easy for a back. There is so much, they have to listen to the quarterback and the center and we change them at the line often and he's got to be on top of his game and he's been that."

Brown could be a strong practice squad option for the Redskins if no other team elects to sign him.

The University of Florida product finished the preseason with a league-high 227 rushing yards, highlighted by an impressive 60-yard touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jones and Thompson did not play in the Redskins' final two preseason games, but both veterans are expected to carry a brunt of the load at the running back position this season.

Wide Receivers (6): Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garçon, Ryan Grant, DeSean Jackson, Rashad Ross, Josh Doctson

Final Cuts (3): Kendal Thompson, Maurice Harris, T.J. Thorpe

Check out the top images of DeSean Jackson from the 2015 season.

Analysis: Not only was the Redskins' wide receiving corps deep entering the offseason with Crowder, Garçon, Grant, Jackson and Ross returning, but the team's rookie free agent signings performed well through the preseason.

But with Grant showing marked improvement in his performances against the Falcons and Bills, and Ross once again having a strong four-game slate, catching three touchdown passes, the Redskins went with the veterans on the 53-man roster once again.

"Early on, I dropped four balls in camp and I haven't dropped a ball since the first game," Ross said. "Other than that I've been consistent catching balls so, I felt like it was good."

While Garçon and Jackson will likely be the main targets at wide receiver, Crowder, as happened during his rookie season, will get quite a few balls thrown his way, too.

The Redskins, of course, also drafted Josh Doctson in the first round of April's NFL Draft. He's inching closer to a return and could potentially be healthy enough to play the regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I don't think he's got his full full-speed burst yet but he's very, very close," Gruden said. "He's a very smooth route-runner. He's coming in and out of his breaks, snatching everything. So, he's very, very close. I think we can start him practicing very soon."

Thompson, Harris and Thorpe all could land on the practice squad for the Redskins, as all three flashed at different moments over the last month.

Tight Ends (3): Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul

Final Cuts (2): Logan Paulsen and Marcel Jensen

The Washington Redskins announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016, the signing of free agent tight end Vernon Davis. Here's a gallery of photos from his career.

Analysis: At perhaps the deepest position on the roster, Paulsen -- the Redskins' longest tenured tight end on the roster -- was among those released on Saturday afternoon.

Paulsen, a seven-year veteran out of UCLA, came back from a season-ending toe injury suffered last August to be healthy in time for OTAs.

But the team just had too much talent at the position, with Reed already becoming one of the top tight ends in the NFL at just 26 years old, Davis still having quite a bit left in the tank and Paul capable of playing some fullback as well.

Paulsen's forte was blocking, which is something Davis excelled at in the preseason.

"Vernon is very strong at the point of attack," Gruden said. "That is very important. He is a guy that can hold the point, and if you want to run the ball, you have to have a tight end that can hold the point. Especially some of these 4-3 teams with these big defensive ends and these 3-4 teams with big, strong outside linebackers, you have got to have somebody that can be physical in there. And if you want to run the ball inside, you better have a tight end."

Among the team's moves to get to 75 players earlier in the week, Derek Carrier was placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable To Perform list, meaning he'll be out for at least the first six weeks of the season.

Jensen could potentially return to the practice squad after a brief stint last December.

Offensive Linemen (9): Arie Kouandjio, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Brandon Scherff, Trent Williams, Austin Reiter

Final Cuts (5): Josh LeRibeus, Takoby Cofield, Nila Kasitati, Vinston Painter, Isaiah Williams

Analysis: The offensive line remains mostly intact from a season ago outside of LeRibeus being released and Reiter making the active roster.

LeRibeus was a third-round pick for the Redskins in 2012 who started 12 games in four seasons, 11 of which came at center last season in place of an injured Lichtensteiger.

But the team liked Reiter's progress at center throughout the offseason along with the guards that earned spots on the 53-man roster.

"We drafted Austin and he's shown improvement from year one to year two being on the practice squad and then of course Spencer is doing some good things," Gruden said. "So, I feel good about the center position right now."

While Williams and Moses will be the team's starting tackles, just as they were last year, Nsekhe is a "really good player" at the swing tackle position.

"When I first got here, I didn't know him," Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said. "He was a CFL guy, he was 29 years old, I had no clue who he was, and I never saw one bit of tape on him. We were talking about, 'Okay, he's one of the guys we're going to cut,' because we're drafting guys, we're signing college free agents. And [director of pro personnel] Alex Santos kept fighting for him and fighting for him. So I'm like, 'okay, he's a big kid, I'm cool with that.'"

Cofield spent the entire 2015 season on the practice squad and could potentially return there in 2016 if the Redskins liked enough of what the Duke product put on film this offseason.


Defensive Linemen (6): Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Ricky Jean Francois, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier, Kendall Reyes

Final Cuts (4): Corey Crawford, Cullen Jenkins, Jerrell Powe, Matt Ioannidis

Analysis: Like Kelley at running back, Lanier was able to climb up the ranks from undrafted rookie to the 53-man roster after displaying quite a bit of potential during the preseason.

Knowing the battle to get on the active roster after not hearing his name called on draft weekend, Lanier said he made sure to give "110 percent all the time."

"Every day it's all about effort because that's what is the price of admission," Lanier said. "Your film of the game is your resume basically. What you're going to put out there is what everyone else is going to see, whether it be here or whether it be somewhere else. Anywhere I go, I've got to go 110 percent."

Hood also showed that he can still be an impact player in the NFL after an injury-filled 2015 season. The 2009 first-round pick is now expected to be a key part of the defensive line rotation after turning heads at training camp.

"He's really showed up," Gruden said. "He really caught our eye initially in one-on-one pass-rushing drills. He comes from Pittsburgh, ran a lot of two-gap systems back there when he played for the Steelers when he was very effective there, so we weren't really sure how he was with the up-the-field rushes there, but he's been very effective. The ability for him with the size and strength that he has to play all three spots is exciting. Ziggy has definitely showed up. He's been one of the brightest spots in camp."

Baker returns following a 2015 season in which he earned the Redskins' Sam Huff Defensive Player of the Year award, while Golston is the team's longest tenured player on the roster entering his 11th season.

Linebackers (9): Ryan Kerrigan, Will Compton, Mason Foster, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, Houston Bates, Martrell Spaight, Su'a Cravens, Terence Garvin

Final Cuts (3): Carlos Fields, Lynden Trail, Mike Wakefield

Analysis: After Junior Galette's injury just before training camp's opening, the Redskins decided to move Murphy back to outside linebacker after a summer of work at defensive end.

Check out images of linebacker Terence Garvin during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.

Murphy and Bates – who has made a name for himself of special teams – join Kerrigan and Smith at the outside linebacker spot.

"Those guys – Trent and Preston and Ryan – I think all three of those guys… We moved Trent back to outside linebacker, but I think those three guys had great camps, they had great offseasons, they had great camps," Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "I think Ryan, compared to last year, is healthy and feeling good. We've obviously been smart with him in the games, but out here on the practice field every day, he's rolling, so that's good to see. Again, Preston, I think from year one to year two, even though I think it's scary to think how good he's going to get and continue to get, but he's made huge strides from year one to year two. So I'm excited about those guys."

At inside linebacker, meanwhile, the Redskins waived Fields after releasing veteran Perry Riley Jr. earlier in the week.

Compton and Foster are listed on the unofficial depth chart as the starters, but Spaight and Cravens both excelled during the preseason.

Garvin, meanwhile, proved valuable on special teams while picking up the Redskins' defensive scheme quickly.

"I feel like I'm a linebacker that plays special teams. Not so much a special teamer that just plays linebacker, I'm a linebacker also," Garvin said after the Buccaneers game on Wednesday. "It felt good to be out there, fly around and make some plays."

Cornerbacks (6): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Greg Toler, Quinton Dunbar, Dashaun Phillips, Kendall Fuller

Final Cuts (2): Lloyd Carrington and Mariel Cooper

Analysis: The Redskins' cornerbacks group looks drastically different than it did during final cuts last year, as Norman, Toler and Fuller all joined the team in the offseason while Phillips was a late pickup last season. Breeland also served a one-game suspension during the opening week and Dunbar started out on the practice squad.

But with a headline duo of Norman and Breeland, this group has quickly become a strength for the Redskins.

"He's already considered the No. 1 corner in the league. Me, I'm competing to push for that spot," Breeland said of Norman. "It's only bettering us. You got a No. 1 guy and a guy that pushing forward, so it's only going to make us better.

Fuller and Phillips, meanwhile, engaged in a heated battle for first-team nickel cornerback reps throughout training camp and the preseason.

"Every game, every practice, I'm kind of getting my old habits back, learning something new," Fuller said. "Like I said, just getting those old habits back and starting to get more consistent."

Dunbar enters the year with a full offseason of work at cornerback under his belt, a luxury he didn't have after making the switch from wide receiver as a rookie.

Safeties (5): DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton Jr., Duke Ihenacho, Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett

Final Cuts (1): Geno Matias-Smith

Analysis: The Redskins will carry five safeties into the regular season after Everett showed that he deserved a spot on the 53-man roster due to his high energy play in the preseason.

While he may not see the field much on defense, Everett could make some noise on special teams.

"I have a standard. I at least want to make two tackles in a game and if you can make two tackles on special teams you're doing something that day," Everett said. "If I can get more that day than obviously I'm doing better than I was last year.  Last year I was 'Let me make a tackle this game.' I always want to challenge myself to do better."

As for the other four veterans, Bruton Jr. was acquired in the offseason to be an "every-down player" in Washington while Hall and Blackmon have made the switch from cornerback to safety in the offseason.

Ihenacho is coming off back-to-back seasons on Injured Reserve, but is hoping to provide quality depth this year.


Kicker (1): Dustin Hopkins

Final Cuts (0)

Analysis:  Signed by the Redskins after Week 1 last season, Hopkins showed no issues fitting in last season, earning the team's Mark Moseley Special Teams Player of the Year award after converting on 25-of-28 field goal attempts with 52 touchbacks.

 His 89.3 field goal percentage marked the third-best single-season percentage in Redskins history

Punter (1):Tress Way

Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Way once again had a strong season in 2015, as he punted the ball 70 times for an average of 46.1 yards per punt, the fifth-best average in a season in team history. He also averaged 38.8 net yards per punt, the second- best single-season average in team records available back to 1976.

The Oklahoma product signed a multi-year extension in March.

Long Snapper (1): Nick Sundberg

Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Outside of a pair of injuries, Sundberg has been the Redskins' long snapper since the 2010 season and is the gel that holds the specialists together.

He has appeared in all 32 of the Redskins' regular season games over the last two seasons.

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