Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will be taking a close look at the Redskins’ depth chart, dissecting each position.
Some spots are straightforward. Others are more complicated. This much, however, is not up for debate: A player is not on the 53-man roster until the final cuts are made.
So who’s the odds-on favorite to start? And who’s in trouble? Up today …
Position: Nose tackle
On the roster: Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston and Chris Neild.
Likely to make the 53: Cofield, Baker, Golston.
Comment: Cofield figures to the starter for a fourth straight season in Washington. The 30-year-old veteran has not missed a game during his tenure, although he was sidelined during this spring’s offseason program after undergoing hernia surgery. Cofield, though, expects to be ready for training camp and was showing signs of being ahead of schedule while working off to the side during minicamp.
As we wrote Tuesday, Cofield had an uneven 2013, struggling early because of a broken hand, bouncing back, disappearing for a bit in the middle of the season as he got worn down from a heavy workload and then finishing strong. He’ll no doubt aim to be more consistent in 2014.
Baker worked almost exclusively as the first-string left end this offseason, but he can (and will) play nose if called upon. Ditto for Golston, who lined up at nose during OTAs and minicamp with Cofield sidelined. Golston appeared in all 16 games last season as an end, starting eight times. His position flexibility—there’s that term again—experience, toughness and professionalism make him a solid backup at either spot.
Battling for a job: Neild
Comment: The versatility of Baker and Golston—both can line up at nose as well as end—could end up working against Neild as he attempts to secure a spot on the 53.
Neild, a seventh round pick in 2011, registered two sacks and a forced fumble as a rookie but was sidelined in 2012 by a knee injury. Last season, he saw a total of 99 snaps on defense. He does, however, have something working in his favor: he’s 26 on a unit that’s got a bunch of 30-somethings and needs to get younger.
Like many positions, the picture at nose tackle will become much clearer a few weeks into training camp.