Is there a spot on the roster for Evan Royster?
By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
Tomorrow is the day. By 6 p.m. the Redskins along with all of the other teams in the NFL will need to trim their roster down to 53 players. Who will be in and who will see the bubble burst?
Tarik and Tandler made their first roster projections at the start of OTAs (offense, defense) and took another crack at it at the start of training camp (offense, defense). After three weeks of position battles in Richmond, four preseason games, and a handful of injuries, they take their final shot at getting into the mind of Mike Shanahan and pick the final 53.
Tandler (3): Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman
El-Bashir (3): Griffin, Cousins, Grossman
Tandler (5): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Roy Helu Jr., Chris Thompson, Keiland Williams
El-Bashir (5): Morris, Young, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Thompson
Tandler: I resisted putting a third quarterback on until now but the foot injury Cousins suffered against the Steelers clinched a roster spot for Rex. Special teams keep Thompson (punt returner) and Williams (coverage) on the team. Evan Royster instead of Williams wouldn’t stun me but I’ll stick with Keiland
El-Bashir: I’ve changed my mind on Royster. His work ethic, high football I.Q. and knowledge of the offense help him snag a spot. Thompson, despite fumbles in back-to-back preseason games, squeezes past Williams based on his potential and return ability. Seventh-round pick Jawan Jamison could be headed for the practice squad.
Tandler (5): Pierre Garçon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson
El-Bashir (5): Garçon, Morgan, Moss, Hankerson, Robinson
Tandler (4): Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Jordan Reed, Niles Paul
El-Bashir (4): Davis, Paulsen, Reed, Paul
Tandler: Shanahan has not gone into a season with fewer than six wide receivers so it’s risky to predict that he’ll trim back here. But he’s also never gone in with four tight ends so that seems to be an easy tradeoff. Perhaps the Redskins can stash Lance Lewis and Skye Dawson on the practice squad and live on the edge with five wideouts.
El-Bashir: Four tight ends is a lot, but Shanahan has said on a number of occasions that he plans on keeping them all. Like Rich said, four tights and four tailbacks means they’ll have to cut back at receiver. If that’s the case, they would have to do without Dezmon Briscoe, a young veteran with upside. Dawson, I think, is destined for the practice squad. Lewis and Nick Williams could end up there, too.
Tandler (4): Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, Tony Pashos
El-Bashir: (4): Williams, Polumbus, Compton, Pashos
Tandler (5): Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus
El-Bashir (5): Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, Chester, LeRibeus, Gettis
Tandler: The key here is Compton. He will be Williams’ backup on the left side. If they are confident that he can also back up on the right side—Shanahan has said that if you can play left tackle you can play right tackle—then the Redskins could release Pashos and keep that sixth wide receiver. I don’t see the inexperienced Compton being entrusted with swing tackle duties so Pashos stays, at least for the start of the season.
El-Bashir: Compton did what the coaches asked of him: he improved his strength and conditioning in the offseason. That’s why he’s a lock to be Williams’ backup, despite no NFL experience. If anyone is in trouble here, I would say it’s LeRibeus (conditioning, work ethic) and Pashos (age, injury history). As Rich said, if the Redskins go with eight linemen, that would open up another spot for a receiver like Briscoe or Dawson.