With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
How many Redskins will the Redskins keep on the roster?
A year ago, the Redskins opted to keep four tight ends—Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul and then-rookie Jordan Reed—on the 53-man roster. But things didn’t unfold as planned. Davis landed in Mike Shanahan’s doghouse and suited up for only 10 games. Paulsen played the most snaps. Paul was used primarily on special teams. And Reed enjoyed a breakout season but couldn’t stay healthy. Fast forward to 2014. Davis is obviously out of the picture but Jay Gruden and Co. drafted Ted Bolser in the seventh round, giving them four tight ends and a potentially tough decision to make. Will they go with a quartet of TEs again? Or is someone on the way out?
El-Bashir: I actually don’t think this will be a very difficult decision. Reed will be the No. 1, continue his upward trajectory and, if he stays healthy and rounds out his game, potentially challenge for a Pro Bowl berth. Yes, he’s that good. Paulsen will be your blocking tight end (with a sneaky ability to occasionally make a big play). Paul will be your No. 3, but more important, will be a major contributor on special teams. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the outspoken Paul is elected special teams captain, replacing Reed Doughty. Which brings us to Bolser, the No. 217th overall pick this year. He’s got size (6-5, 249) but looked raw and inconsistent this offseason. I’d expect the Redskins to stash him on the practice squad, giving him time to refine his game and improve his strength. Then let him battle for a roster spot in 2015.
Tandler: Tarik makes a good case for Bolser ending up on the practice squad and that is the most likely scenario. But one of the best Gruden-isms we’ve been treated to so far gives me pause. On the day that he was drafted, Gruden asked what he liked about Bolser and among the things he mentioned was that Bolser was a real “war daddy” running downfield covering kicks. A team that is trying to improve its historically bad special teams needs all of the war daddies it can find. It is likely that the 53rd roster spot will be determined by special teams play. If Bolser can be a wrecking ball on special teams during the preseason and get coached up well enough to be an emergency tight end, he could sneak his way onto that 53rd spot.