On Wednesday night, the Redskins-Bengals game was one of the matchups featured on NBC Sports Networks fine show Turning Point. The segment on the Redskins ran about 10 minutes and it was interesting even though there not much new that was uncovered.However, there was one comment that was pulled from one of the audio of one of the broadcast feeds that caught my ear. I cant quite identify who said itit may have been Solomon Wilcots, a former Bengal who was doing the color commentary for CBS or perhaps a member of the Cincinnati radio broadcast team, or maybe someone elsebut the words are very blunt.I like what Cincinnatis doing. You show no guts and dont go for it on fourth and one, you deserve it.Harsh, but you really cant argue with it. In each of the last two games, the Redskins have faced crucial fourth-down situations in the fourth quarter. Each time, Mike Shanahan has elected to kick. In St. Louis, it was a virtually impossible 62-yard field goal and against the Bengals it was a punt that ended up netting 24 yards. The Redskins lost both games due in no small part to the failure of the fourth-down calls.It is always easy to criticize a decision with hindsight when it doesnt work out. But going for it on fourth and one against the Bengals should have been an easy call. They were running the ball well. The Cincinnati defense had no idea what was coming at them next. They gave up a boatload of high draft picks to get their playmaking quarterback. The Redskins defense had made a couple of stops but looking at the game through the first three quarters the faith Shanahan placed in them was not warranted.The odd thing is that the Redskins had gone for it on fourth and one twice against the Saints in the opener and got a first down both times. In all, the Redskins are six for eight on fourth and one since Shanahan arrived in 2010.And it also should have been easy to decide to go for it on fourth and 16 against the Rams. Even though the odds of converting for a first down were slim, they were much better than the chances of Billy Cundiff (career long field goal of 56 yards in 2005) hitting a 62-yard field goal.In both cases, Shanahan went with his gut feeling and its hard to argue with the instincts of a coach with his track record. But given that they have been successful when being aggressive and that the whole discretion being the better part of valor thing hasnt worked out too well, he should perhaps take the path of being bold the next time a key fourth-down situation comes up.
When the Redskins open training camp in Richmond on Thursday, fans will line up to get autographs from Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman and Jordan Reed. Plenty of other players will excite the fans too as optimism rules the first few days of practice in July and August.
There are other players that fans probably won't scream their names, but who could play a role or fight for a roster spot this fall. Winning in the NFL is almost nearly as dependent on the final 10 players on the roster as it is the first five. Depth is key, and here are a few players that fans might have forgotten about.
- RB Keith Marshall - The speedster out of Georgia has a wildly impressive resume - on paper - but just can't stay healthy. In college he started ahead of Todd Gurley for a time, now considered one of the best RBs in the NFL for the Rams. Marshall landed on the injured reserve last year as a rookie but looked healthy and capable at Redskins Park this offseason during OTAs and minicamp. The running back position looks quite full, but if Marshall can show his elite speed and make it through four preseason games, he just might push Mack Brown for a roster spot.
- LB Martrell Spaight - A tackling machine in college at Arkansas, Spaight missed most of his rookie season in 2015 before appearing in 14 games last season. Bad luck struck again, and he finished the year on the IR. With the addition of Zach Brown to the interior linebackers, Spaight might have a tough battle for a roster spot. Will Compton, Mason Foster and Brown all seem certain to make the team. Spaight could also start the year on the PUP list, which might be the surest way to stay on the Redskins.
- LB Chris Carter - Signed as a free agent this year, the journeyman Carter has played for six teams in six years and looks poised to play the special teams role that Terence Garvin took on last year. If Carter makes the roster, that means trouble for Spaight.
- DL Anthony Lanier - An undrafted rookie in 2016 that didn't see much game action, Lanier has really impressed coaches with his work ethic this offseason. He has great size at 6-foot-6 and added about 20 pounds of muscle since the season ended, which should allow him the strength to handle the trenches. Lanier could be a sneaky important player this fall for Washington.
- S Will Blackmon - D.J. Swearinger and Su'a Cravens look to be the starting safeties for the Redskins in 2017. Swearinger has a proven track record in the NFL secondary, Cravens does not, but showed the ability to do so in college at USC. After those two, and with DeAngelo Hall on the PUP list, the Redskins lack much depth or experience in the defensive backfield. That's where Blackmon should help. A versatile veteran, Blackmon has the speed to keep up with most wideouts and is one of the more cerebral players on the defense.
Bonus: RB Matt Jones - He might want off the Redskins roster, but that hasn't happened yet. If the team sustains any injuries at the running back position, Jones' fortunes could change quickly.
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Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 25, two days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.
The Redskins last played a game 205 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 47 days.
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 16
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 40
Redskins roster projection—Defense
RICHMOND—The Redskins strap it up and start the battle for roster spots in earnest in just three days. Some are locks, others are hoping to hang on. Here is my prediction of the roster will shake out along with players who are on the bubble. The defense is up here, the offense went up yesterday.
Players I have making the roster who are new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also in bold.
Defensive line (6)
Starters: Jonathan Allen, Terrell McClain, Joey Mbu (NT)
Backups: Stacy McGee, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood
Bubble: Phil Taylor, Matt Ioannidis, A. J. Francis
It appears everybody is getting on the Mbu train so I might as well jump on, at least for the time being. But this area is very much in flux. It would not be a surprise to see any of the bubble players make it.
Inside linebacker (4)
Starters: Will Compton, Zach Brown
Backups: Mason Foster, Martrell Spaight
Bubble: Zach Vigil, Chris Carter
This is another area where the coaches did not tip their hands during the offseason program. Any combination of Brown, Compton, and Foster could start. In fact, you can’t rule out a long shot move by Spaight to get some significant playing time. Should they keep a fifth for special teams, a door could open for Vigil or Carter.
Outside linebackers (4)
Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Ryan Anderson, Junior Galette
Bubble: Houston Bates
Trent Murphy is suspended for the first four games so a tough numbers decision is put off until Week 5. Bates is going to start camp on the PUP list but if he gets on the field quickly and Galette falters, he could steal a roster spot.
Starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Josh Holsey
Bubble: Fabian Moreau, Dashawn Phillips
Moreau is only on the bubble because he is likely to start camp on the NFI list (non-football injury). The third-round pick will be on the 53 eventually but perhaps not until midseason as he continues to rehab a torn pectoral muscle. That could open the door for Holsey, a seventh-round pick. Even if Moreau is healthy for Week 1, Holsey or Phillips could be kept as the sixth cornerback.
Starters: D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens
Backups: DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, Montae Nicholson
Bubble: Josh Evans
Evans could get a spot if they decide that Nicholson, a fourth-round pick who is athletic but raw, isn’t ready yet. Everett is likely to be a lock because of his special teams play but an injury at this position or at cornerback could push him off the 53
LS Nick Sundberg, K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way
With no challengers, there is no bubble here. Both Way and Hopkins need to bounce back from sub standard 2016 performances.
Defensive breakdown: 25 players, four rookies, a total of eight new to the organization.
Full roster breakdown: 25 offense, 25 defense, three specialists. Eight rookies, A total of 13 players new to the Redskins.
Tandler on Twitter
Get the A/C cranking in that tent! Uh, I mean, sure is going to be hot! https://t.co/xGlNk5VJET— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) July 24, 2017
In case you missed it
- Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster: 20-11
- Pair of Redskins rookies could start season on NFI list
- Hall on PUP list to open training camp, per report
- Is Jay Gruden the best coach in the NFC East?
- Former Redskin, Bronco announces retirement