The Ins and the Outs: Who Made it and Why
There was perhaps more than the usual number of surprises as the Redskins reduced their roster to 53 players. Yesterday, we looked at the final cuts; today, here are those who made it:
QB’s (3) – Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell
This makeup of this trio was preordained when on draft day when the Redskins took Campbell in the first round. Ramsey starts, Brunell will back up and Campbell will be the emergency quarterback.
RB’s (4) – Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Nehemiah Broughton, Rock Cartwright
There was a lot of speculation that Broughton and Cartwright were fighting for one roster spot, but it became apparent a few weeks ago that both would make it. Cartwright is on because of his special teams prowess and Broughton because the team needs a power back to pick up those pesky third and one situations that have plagued the team last year.
WR’s (5) – Santana Moss, David Patten, Taylor Jacobs, James Thrash, Antonio Brown
As he so aptly demonstrated during the Ravens game, Brown is still a project at wide receiver. In releasing Kevin Dyson, the team is taking a gamble here that Jacobs can stay healthy and productive. He should be back at practice on Monday.
TE’s/H-backs (4) – Robert Royal, Chris Cooley, Mike Sellers, Brian Kozlowski
It appeared all along as if the Redskins would keep five players here, but Manuel White Jr.’s broken leg changed the plans. White probably would have been a game-day inactive for most of the season anyway as he was having a tough time with the transition from college running back to NFL H-back. Kozlowski beat out Robert Johnson, who has more physical talent but less experience, for the last spot here.
OL (9) – Chris Samuels, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas, Jon Jansen, Ray Brown, Jim Molinaro, Cory Raymer, Lennie Freidman
Before camp started, few would have bet much on the chances of both Raymer and Freidman making the final cut; the team didn’t need two backup centers, especially two somewhat pricey veterans. Freidman, however, saved both of their jobs by making himself valuable as a backup at both guard spots and as a tight end in “heavy jumbo” package situations. Molinaro is happy that players are judged on what they have done throughout OTA’s and camp, not just on their latest performances. On Thursday, he was hapless in pass protection.
DL (9) – Renaldo Wynn, Brandon Noble, Cornelius Griffin, Phillip Daniels, Joe Savale’a, Demetric Evans, Ryan Boschetti, Nic Clemons, Cedric Killings
Oddly, Killings was probably the main beneficiary of Manuel White’s injury. It appears that the slot freed up by the team carrying only four TE/H-backs went to the defensive line. He’s made the tour of the NFL with stops in San Francisco, Cleveland, Carolina, Minnesota, the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe and a coule of stints with the Redskins. Nic Clemons played better and better as camp progressed and he makes it after two years on the practice squad.
LB’s (7) – Lavar Arrington, Marcus Washington, Warrick Holdman, Lemar Marshall, Zach Keasey, Chris Clemons, Khary Campbell
The single biggest surprise was that Keasey, an undrafted rookie out of Princeton. In the season preview here, I said that, “It would be an interesting story if a Princeton product could make a cut or two, but it’s unlikely to happen. History has shown that winning the Poe-Kazmaier Trophy as Princeton’s best on the gridiron doesn’t do much for you in the NFL.” Maybe the coveted trophy did not help, but his hard hitting and great hustle certainly did. Keasey didn’t really “beat out” Robert McCune, the team’s fifth-round draft pick who was released as McCune is a middle linebacker whereas Keasey nominally plays the outside. Even though Gregg Williams says that every LB has to learn the Mike position, this probably means that the team is counting on Holdman to move to the inside and back up Marshall once Arrington is back in the starting lineup.
CB’s (4) – Shawn Springs, Walt Harris, Carlos Rogers, Ade Jimoh
In a conversation I had with Jimoh in training camp, he stated flatly that he hoped that he contributed more the team on special teams and not on defense. Most Redskins observers agree with that statement wholeheartedly. Truth be told, most gave him no shot at making the final roster. The fact that he’s there means that a). Gibbs is dead serious about his commitment to great special teams play and b). Gregg Williams believes that he can scheme to minimize the impact of a weak nickel back, at least for a game or two. All it would take is one corner being nicked up for “Uh-Oh” Jimoh to become the team’s nickel back.
S’s (5) – Sean Taylor, Matt Bowen, Ryan Clark, Pierson Prioleau, Omar Stoutmire
Bowen (knee, chest) and Clark (knee) have been in and out of the lineup for much of the preseason so Stoutmire’s nickname should be “Allstate” as he is on the roster as insurance. If and when the coaches decide that Bowen and Clark are fully healed, Stoutmire could be let go to make room for another cornerback or receiver.
LS (1) – Ethan Albright
He had the most job security on the team; not a single challenger or backup was brought in.
K (1) – John Hall
He dusted off the surprisingly weak challenge of Jeff Chandler early. He appears healthy and ready for a good season.
P (1) – Andy Groom
It was apparent early in camp that Groom has an NFL leg, but the thinking was that the coaches’ comfort level with incumbent veteran Tom Tupa would mean that Groom would be displaying his talents elsewhere. However, Tupa hurt his back and the door opened for the younger kicker. His stock soared as he kicked well in two preseason games, displaying both power and good direction on his kicks. It dropped as the team brought in veteran Chris Mohr, who, after one unimpressive practice got a one-game tryout after Tupa was placed on injured reserve. The decision the coaches had to make was if they wanted to sacrifice a degree of comfort when it came to holding for Hall—Mohr has been doing it for years in difficult conditions in Buffalo—for the added distance on punts that Groom would bring. They went with the leg and will trust that Groom’s hands will get the job done as the holder.