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The 53: Who's going to be the returner?

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The 53: Who's going to be the returner?

Over the past week weve gone through the Redskins defense position by position and Ive given you my prediction on who will make the team and who will be joining the ranks of the nations unemployed when the final cuts take place on Sept. 1. Lets take a quick look back at the defense and specialists to tie up a few loose ends.My projected roster has six defensive linemen, 10 linebackers and nine defensive backs for a total of 25 defenders. Add in the three specialists and the 25 on offense and there are your 53 players.Having an equal number of offensive and defensive players is the norm but it is not a rule. In summing up the offensive roster I speculated that the Redskins could choose to keep an extra running back, tight end, or offensive linemen and go with one less defensive player. That probably would be a linebacker under the scenario I have posted.But, by the same token they could decide to go with an imbalanced roster with the numbers in favor of the defense. Is a fifth safety or a seventh lineman more valuable than a sixth wide receiver or even a third quarterback? Shanahan says that he keeps the best 53 football players and while you have to keep a certain minimum number at each position you certainly have some flexibility on the last two or three roster spots.As noted when discussing the linebackers, its entirely possible that 10 is too many to have there. So perhaps a spot for a fifth safety, perhaps Reed Doughty or Jordan Bernstine, could come at the expense or Chris Wilson or Jonathan Goff.One question that has gone unaddressed here is who will return kicks. I dont have Brandon Banks making the team and he has returned virtually every kick for the Redskins for the past two seasons. We will write more about who will return both before camp and as the preseason unfolds but right now, the pick here is Aldrick Robinson.He didnt do a whole lot of returning at SMUjust five kickoff returns in four yearsbut ESPNs Todd McShay had him rated as the best return prospect in the 2011 draft.Anthony Armstrong and Jordan Bernstine are two other candidates for the job. And Banks certainly has a fighting chance of staying around.SpecialistsIn (3): P Sav Rocca, LS Nick Sundberg, PK Graham Gano
Out: PK Neil RackersDefensive backsCornerback (5): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield
Safety (4): Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes
Out: Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson, Morgan Trent, Jordan Bernstine, Travon Bellamy, Reed DoughtyLinebackersIn (10): 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 LewisDefensive lineIn (6): Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
Out: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug Worthington, Chris Baker, Delvin JohnsonOffenseRunning 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.

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Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.

—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”

—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”

—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”

—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”

—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”

—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.

—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate clich√© is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”

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Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Facing multiple injuries, all options on table for Redskins O-line, including Trent Williams at guard.

For the second year in a row Redskins left guard Shawn Lauvao got injured playing against the New York Giants in Week 3. Lauvao's injury, combined with an injury to center Kory Lichtensteiger, left the Washington offensive line in disrepair. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that both offensive linemen are now on a week to week basis, and it sounds quite possible neither player will go next week against Cleveland. The coach called both injuries "moderate" - ankle sprain for Lauvao and calf strain for Lichtensteiger. 

The injuries mean the 'Skins are likely to bring in new linemen, particularly at center. 

"We're going to have to," Gruden said when asked about new help for the line. 

Once Lauvao and Lichtensteiger were injured in the Giants game, Gruden was forced to try an interesting combination. Veteran left tackle Trent Williams slid down to guard and Ty Nsekhe took over for Williams at tackle.

Importantly for the 'Skins, the results weren't bad.  

"He's so good at tackle but he actually played pretty darn good at guard," Gruden said of Williams. 

"He's a great athlete, probably be a good center too," the coach joked. 

MORE REDSKINS: NEXT MAN UP IS ROOKIE IN WASHINGTON

But Williams playing more guard should not be laughed at. The Redskins showed some of their best run game of the season late in the win against New York with Williams lined up next to Nsekhe.

Further, the coaching staff has repeatedly talked about how much they like Nsekhe as a tackle but that there was no spot for him with Williams and Morgan Moses healthy. As unusual as it sounds, with Williams at guard allows Nsekhe to get on the field at tackle. 

The Redskins do have another option in house: Arie Kouandjio. In his second year out of Alabama, Kouandjio has the size needed to play guard, but he is yet to be active on gameday this season and has been considered more of a development project than a player that is ready to roll. 

If Kouandjio is ready, he can play left guard and Williams stays in his normal spot at left tackle, protecting Kirk Cousins' blind side. 

"We'll just have to evaluate that situation and see how it goes, see how Arie does at left guard," Gruden said. "Ty is an excellent player, there's no question about it, but to move your Pro Bowl left tackle out of the mix to guard is something that's a little unique and hard to do."

Scot McCloughan made some strong moves last season bringing in players as injuries impacted the Redskins. Looks like the GM will again have that opportunity, this time on the offensive line.