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As Roster Cuts Approach, Young Players Trying To Stay In The Moment


On Thursday, the Washington Redskins will head to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to take on the Ravens in their final preseason game of the year. For some players, it will be a tune-up game before the team shifts its focus to the Arizona Cardinals.

For others, it will be their last opportunity to show they deserve a spot on the final roster.

By the end of Saturday, head coach Jay Gruden and the rest of the coaching staff will have shortened the roster from 90 players to 53, with an additional 10 practice squad positions up for grabs as well. Come Saturday, 27 players will be out of a job.

Though coaches have been able to evaluate players throughout camp and the preseason, the roster is anything but finalized.

"Yeah, it is surprising, but that's why you have to let it play out," said head coach Jay Gruden about using the last preseason game to evaluate players. "I try not to jump to any conclusions too soon because somebody's going to show up or somebody's not going to show up in the last game and [it] could make a very big difference. It won't tell the whole story, but it'll have a lot of impact in the final say and special teams will also."

Quite simply, every play of every day of this last week before cuts is incredibly important for those on the fringe of a 53-man roster spot. A new experience to rookies who typically did not have to go through cuts in college, the week can be stressful. However, many are working to treat it like it's nothing new.

"This week, you know, just treating it like any other week," said undrafted rookie cornerback Ranthony Texada. "Just having fun with the guys and stuff and, you know, getting better every day at practice. Do good in this last game."

Texada will be put to the test competing for a spot in a crowded Redskins secondary. Another position that looks to be competitive is the wide receiver group. While veterans like Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson are safe, a plethora of young pass-catchers are battling for a chance to suit up on September 9.

One of them is Darvin Kidsy, an undrafted rookie from Texas Southern. Like Texada, Kidsy is working on treating this week just like the last one. A reason he's been able to remain calm during the most important time of his career: a growing confidence.

In the Redskins' last preseason game against the Broncos, Kidsy caught a four-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the contest. Though the score had no impact on the outcome of the game, which Washington lost 29-17, the catch gave the young receiver a boost.

"Getting in the end zone, my first time I'm a rookie, been through a lot in my career. Just to touch the end zone, it meant the world to me, my family, the people that supported me, my coaches," said Kidsy. You know, just reassuring me and it boosted my confidence a lot."

While confidence has helped Kidsy make it through the week, perspective has aided sixth-round pick Shaun Dion Hamilton.

Hamilton, a linebacker from Alabama, has battled back from season-ending knee injuries in both his junior and senior seasons to compete for a roster spot. Though he still has the goal of making the team, Dion Hamilton understands that he has already accomplished a lot just to be in the position he is in.

"You know for a guy like me, man, it don't even really faze me," he said. "A guy who's faced a lot of adversity. I'm healthy, as long as I'm healthy I'm fine I still got a smile on my face. Cause, I mean, I've been at rock bottom the past two years. That's how I see it as. I'm healthy, you know, I'm having fun, I'm here with a lot of teammates. This is my dream to play NFL football, so for me to have that opportunity, just keep on getting better."

No matter how each player is dealing with the pressure leading up to Thursday's game and beyond, they all have one goal in mind for their final audition.

"We're going to go there and play our hardest," said Texada.