The 53: Loading up on linebackers?

639536.jpg

The 53: Loading up on linebackers?

The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the next five weeks they will undergo the process of cutting their 90-man roster down to 53. Which players will get those coveted spots and which will join the ranks of the unemployed? Over the next couple of weeks well go through position by position and try to predict what decisions Mike Shanahan and company will make.So far weve covered the offense and the defensive line. Today well look at the linebackers.There are 14 linebackers on the roster, the Redskins will keep 10.In: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Markus White, Chris Wilson, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff
Out: Donnell Holt, Bryan Kehl, Brian McNally, Monte LewisChanges from 2011: Rocky McIntosh signed with the Rams as a free agent and Keyaron Fox was not resigned; Redskins drafted Robinson (4th round), signed Goff and Kehl as free agents.BreakdownThis unit is one of the strengths of the team. It would not be surprising if any of the four startersOrakpo and Kerrigan on the outside, Fletcher and Riley on the insidemade the Pro Bowl.The starters are every down players. That was literally the case with Kerrigan, who played every one of the 1,056 defensive snaps last year. Fletcher didnt rest much as he played 1,033 snaps. Orakpo was injured in the last game of the season and took an occasional rest so he played only 956 plays. McIntosh started the first eight games of the season and Riley the last eight and they combined to play just over 1,000 snaps.It is a plus to have such a versatile group that the coaches can trust in virtually any down and distance situation. The issue is that it gives the reserves very few reps to develop and get ready they are needed. Jackson played 113 snaps last year and the departed Fox played just 51. Riley came in as the starter having played just one defensive snap in the first eight games of the season and just eight as a rookie in 2010. White was active for just two games and did not play a defensive snap while Lorenzo Alexander played just 11 snaps.Alexander is of value to the team even if he doesnt play at all on defense as he is the special teams captain. Wilson, who lined up on defense only occasionally when he was with the Redskins from 2007-2010, also would be a special teams specialist for the most part.Jackson and White will be the top reserves at outside linebacker while Goff will be the backup on the inside. Robinson has a chance to be Fletchers eventual successor and his 2012 will probably be like Rileys 2010, playing special teams when hes active and learning mostly by watching and getting a few practice reps.While there is a role for each of the 10 players, there may not be room for all of them. If they decide to trim one linebacker to create a spot elsewhere, Wilson and White likely would be the players on the bubble competing for the one last linebacker job.Kehl could sneak up a grab a spot if Wilson and White falter. The best that Holt, McNally, and Lewis can hope for is a spot on the practice squad.Defensive lineIn: Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
Out: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug Worthington, Chris Baker, Delvin JohnsonRunning backsIn (4): Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon CreerTight endsIn (3): Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau RelifordWide receiversIn (6): Anthony Armstrong, Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
Out: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Darius Hanks, Brian Hernandez, Lance Lewis, Samuel KirklandQuarterbacksIn (3): Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan CromptonOffensive lineIn (9): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton
Out: Erik Cook, Grant Garner, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Nevin McCaskill, James Lee, Nick MartinezRich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email here and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.

3 things to know about Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens

usatsi_8813216.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

3 things to know about Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens

Over the next week, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir is featuring each of the Redskins’ 2016 draft picks and spotlighting three things you need to know about them. Up today…

Name: Su’a Cravens

Drafted: Second round (53rd overall)

School: USC

Position: Linebacker-safety

1—Since declaring for the draft in December, Cravens has been asked, oh, about a thousand times which position he'll play in the NFL. Well, five months later, his role is still probably best described as TBD, according to Redskins GM Scot McCloughan. “The thing that’s really cool about him is the diversity he brings—safety, linebacker, maybe a nickel linebacker, maybe a nickel corner,” McCloughan said Monday at Redskins Park. “We’re always talking about the first room he walks into. Is it the DB’s? Is it linebackers? But that’s a good problem to have, because again, he’s going to be out here making plays for us.” Although McCloughan isn’t ready to commit to a position for the 6-1, 226-pound Cravens just yet, the team has dropped a few hints as to their intentions. He’s listed on the team’s website as a safety and he’s been assigned jersey No. 36, which is typically reserved for defensive backs.

2—Cravens has football in his blood and seemed destined for athletic greatness from an early age. Not only was he Rivals.com’s No. 1 rated safety coming out of Vista Murrieta High (Calif.) and USA Today’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, his family tree features a number of accomplished football players. Cravens counts Miami tight end Jordan Cameron and San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o as cousins; he said both Cameron and Te’o reached out to him during the draft process to offer advice. Meantime, Cravens’ mother is related to former Bengals safety David Fulcher and his older brother, Siaki, was a defensive lineman at Hawaii and Utah. “Probably about a week before the draft, Troy Polamalu [a fellow USC product] reached out and texted me and said, ‘If you need to talk to me about anything, if you get flustered or frustrated, just call me if you need me,’” Cravens said at his introductory press conference. “So I’ve had a pretty good support system.” Pretty good? That’s an understatement.

3—Put on some USC film and one thing jumps out almost immediately: Cravens is ALWAYS around the football. In fact, the only thing more impressive than his instincts and athleticism are his stats. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Cravens totaled 154 tackles, including 32.5 for loss, to go along with 10.5 sacks, five interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Cravens believed his tape was good enough to make him a first round selection. And when that didn’t happen late last Thursday night, he immediately went to the gym to blow off some steam. “I looked at it as, I wasn’t good enough to go on the first day, so let me get into the gym tonight and let me prove that I’m good enough to go in the second day,” Cravens said. “I’m all about work. If I feel like I’m not working hard enough, I’ll get back to it.” If you're a Redskins fan, you've got to love that anecdote.    

Previous entries:

Redskins announce jersey numbers for draftees, free agents

mccloughanonfootballplayersrefframe_1.jpg

Redskins announce jersey numbers for draftees, free agents

Now that the 2016 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, the Redskins are plodding away toward the start of training camp, and eventually, the beginning of the 2016 NFL season.

But before that can begin, the players who saw their lifes change for the better in Chicago, Illinois this weekend have to get fitted for new jersey numbers.

RELATED: Where does Cravens fit best on defense?

On Tuesday, the Redskins announced the jersey numbers each rookie and free agent signing will wear, along with the few players who have changed jersey numbers:

— No. 2, QB Nate Sudfeld (Rd6, No. 187)

— No. 18, WR Josh Doctson (Rd1, No. 22)

— No. 20, CB Greg Toler (FA)

— No. 24, CB Josh Norman (FA)

— No. 29, S Duke Ihenacho (Change from No. 24)

— No. 30, S David Bruton Jr. (FA)

— No. 34, DB Kyshoen Jarrett (Change from No. 30)

— No. 36, S Su'a Cravens (Rd2, No. 53)

— No. 38, CB Kendall Fuller (Rd3, No. 84)

— No. 39, RB Keith Marshall (Rd7, No. 242)

— No. 46, LB Willie Jefferson (FA)

— No. 52, LB Terence Garvin (FA)

— No. 53, LB Steven Daniels (Rd7, No. 232)

— No. 60, OL Cody Booth (FA)

— No. 63, NT Jerrell Powe (FA)

— No. 73, DL Ziggy Hood (FA)

— No. 83, TE Marcel Jansen (Change from No. 85)

— No. 85, TE Vernon Davis (FA)

— No. 97, DE Kendal Reyes (FA)

— No. 98, DT Matt Ioannidis (Rd5, No. 152)

McCloughan says he prefers low-mileage running backs

mccloughanonfootballplayersrefframe_1.jpg

McCloughan says he prefers low-mileage running backs

When it comes to drafting running backs, Scot McCloughan prefers low-mileage models.

Last year, McCloughan took Matt Jones, who had 297 rushing attempts in three seasons at Florida, in the third round. This year the running back pick was Keith Marshall, a seventh-round pick who carried the ball 253 times in four years as a Georgia Bulldog.

In contrast, Heisman Trophy winning back Derrick Henry had 395 carries in 2015 alone.

Of course, Henry got the ball a lot because he was consistently productive for the Crimson Tide. Injuries kept Marshall from having a bigger role at Georgia and Jones couldn’t break out of a running back by committee arrangement with the Gators.

McCloughan sees the positive in each of his backs’ situations.

“The thing I like about it, and it was the thing with Matt Jones last year, is the amount of carries he’s had,” he said when asked about Marshall’s lack of college production. “He hasn’t been beat up. With running backs, it’s so important to have the health. The more hits you take, the worse off it is. Again, we’ll see how it shakes out.”

McCloughan may just be trying to put some lipstick on a pig here in talking about the Redskins’ still uncertain running back situation. But it’s a fact that heavy college workloads taken on by backs like Henry do drop their draft stocks. So it makes sense that all other things being equal a back who had a light workload prior to entering the draft should be somewhat more valuable.

As McCloughan said, we’ll see how it shakes out.