After more than seven months of player evaluations, watching film and internal discussions, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and his staff on Monday presented their initial 53-man roster and 10-man practice squad for the 2014 season.
Gruden said he knows the roster won't look the same by the end of the season – or even on a week-by-week basis sometimes – but comes away satisfied with the initial results.
Check out action shots of the Washington Redskins' active roster as of Sept. 16, 2014.
"There were some battles that were very close that we could've gone in a couple different directions, but decisions have to be made," Gruden told reporters Monday. "I feel like Bruce [Allen], myself, the coaches, we did a good job of talking through every scenario, numbers-wise, how many players at each position… We had to go through very carefully. I think we did a good job, but only time will tell."
Since Aug. 24, the team has trimmed down its roster in stages in accordance with league rules. From Aug. 24 to Aug. 26, the Redskins either waived, released or placed on its reserved/injured list 15 players to get from a 90-man to a 75-man preseason roster.
From Saturday to Monday, the Redskins had another wave of moves, waiving 17 players, releasing one player, placing two players each on the reserved/injured and reserve/physically unable to perform lists, claiming one player from waivers, and signing 10 players to the team's practice squad.
Running backsAmong the toughest decisions Gruden had to make was which running backs to include on the final roster.
Going into the preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Redskins had six capable running backs in starter Alfred Morris, backup Roy Helu Jr., four-year veteran Evan Royster, second-year player Chris Thompson and rookies Lache Seastrunk and Silas Redd.
Although Royster, Thompson, Seastrunk and Redd each bring their own flavor and talents to the position, Gruden elected to go with Redd – a rookie out of USC who went undrafted this year – as his No. 3 back, while placing Thompson on the practice squad.
"We felt like we went with the three running backs who did the best, and we only picked three for numbers of reasons," Gruden said. "With Chris being available, we want Chris to come back and try to stay healthy for some time and he could be activated sooner than later if he can prove that he can stay healthy for some time and go from there."
Gruden said Redd separated himself from the pack by showing his all-around talents at the running back position.
"Silas had a good camp," Gruden said. "Silas is all-around running and blocking and catching. His consistency was pretty good for a rookie."
Seastrunk, meanwhile, quickly became a fan favorite after pulling off several flashy runs and ending his preseason by taking a screen pass 80 yards to the end zone against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Seastrunk, who was waived by the Redskins on Saturday, has since gone unclaimed, but Gruden said "it's not over for Lache."
"I'm sure somebody will get a look at him, and it could be us later on," the head coach said. "He had his big-play abilities and he's a good running back. He's a young kid with a lot of talent, obviously, but we just felt to go in a different direction at this time."
Draft pick philosophyGruden understands the value of each draft pick his team makes, but said at the end of the day, he's going to put the best 53 players on his roster each week.
"I don't care where you're drafted," Gruden said. "You want to play the best guy."
Gruden and his staff held true to that philosophy this season. Among those waived or released by the Redskins since Aug. 24 were:
- Outside linebacker Rob Jackson (seventh-round pick of the Redskins in 2008)
- Offensive lineman Adam Gettis (fifth-round pick of the Redskins in 2012)
- Tight end Ted Bolser (seventh-round pick of the Redskins this year; later signed to practice squad)
- Cornerback Richard Crawford (seventh-round pick of the Redskins in 2012; later signed to practice squad)
- Kicker Zach Hocker (seventh-round pick of the Redskins this year)
- Offensive lineman Maurice Hurt (seventh-round pick of the Redskins in 2011)
- Running back Evan Royster (sixth-round pick of the Redskins in 2011)
- Running back Lache Seastrunk (sixth-round pick of the Redskins this year)
- Safety Phillip Thomas (fourth-round pick of the Redskins in 2013; later signed to practice squad)
- Running back Chris Thompson (fifth-round pick of the Redskins in 2013; later signed to practice squad)
Gruden, who is in his first year as the Redskins' head coach, said you earn your spot on the team every single day.
"A lot of times, when you say 53-man roster, these things change from week to week to week to week, as you all know, so you have to make sure you understand as a player, you have to earn your spot every day," he said. "Not just every game, but every day out here you have to prove that you're a Washington Redskin and you're worthy of keeping that job."