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Looking at the Redskins' roster locks going into OTAs

Looking at the Redskins' roster locks going into OTAs

The Redskins have the league maximum 90 players on their roster and a lot of what goes on between now and the season opener against the Steelers will be about finding out who will be on the final 53-man roster. There is plenty of talk from Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan about competition. But how much competition is there really? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start tomorrow let’s take a look with the caveat that injuries and a truly surprising performance could change the picture for a few players.

Right now, it looks like these players are locks to make the final roster:

Offense (18)

QB (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
RB (2): Matt Jones, Chris Thompson
WR (5): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder
TE (3): Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis
OL (6): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio

Nate Sudfeld will be the third quarterback but the team might try to carry him on the practice squad rather than on the 53. Keith Marshall has to overcome a history of injuries to make it. I could have included Rashad Ross among the receiver locks but he will need to show improvement in his ability as an NFL receiver and be more than just a fast guy. Shawn Lauvao is on the bubble due to his high salary cap number ($5 million) and the injuries to his lower extremities that likely will keep him out all of the offseason and perhaps training camp. You have to consider Ty Nsekhe a solid favorite to beat out Takoby Cofield for the backup tackle job but not quite a lock. Some might see Lichtensteiger as being on the bubble but I think he stays around as a guard/center reserve even if he loses his starting job.

The Redskins are likely to keep 25 offensive players so there are seven jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.

Defense (21)

DL (6): Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Matt Ioannidis, Trent Murphy, Kendall Reyes
LB (7): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Mason Foster, Su’a Cravens
DB (8): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, David Bruton, Will Blackmon

I’m tempted to add Kedric Golston as a lock on the defensive line since he is the ultimate survivor but I’m not convinced that they will keep more than six on the D-line. As discussed here, there will be a huge battle for the remaining one or two inside linebacker spots. They kept 10 defensive backs last year but they have some versatility this year so they may carry only nine in 2016.

There are likely to be 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves four spots open.

The three specialists on the roster, kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress Way, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.

That makes a total of 42 locks so 11 jobs are up for grabs. Who is in contention for those 11 spots? We’ll take a look tomorrow.

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back