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Who’s in--offense

Who’s in--offense

If you go here and to a few other sites, you can read plenty about who isn't going to play against the Colts on Sunday as the Washington Redskins open their five-game grind of a preseason schedule.

What's left for us to figure out, then, is who will play. Here's a position by position breakdown for the offense:


Out: None

That leaves: Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Colt Brennan, and Derek Devine. Campbell will start and go one series, two if the first one is brief. Collins has been struggling in practice, he may get the rest of the first half before Brennan and Devine—not necessarily in that order—mop up in the second half.

Running back

Out: Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts

That leaves: Rock Cartwright, Marcus Mason—Since Eric Shelton was released awaiting a possible injury settlement, the Redskins are thin here for the time being. Cartwright will start and he and Mason could spell each other the whole way. Nehemiah Broughton, a fullback, may be called on to take some carries as a halfback.


Out: None

That leaves: Mike Sellers, Broughton—You don't want to pound Sellers too hard, so Broughton could get a ton of action. They may go to a two-tight end set if necessary.

Wide receiver

Out: Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Anthony Mix

That leaves: Horace Gant, Maurice Mann, Billy McMullen (?), Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, James Thrash, Burt Toler—There's a question mark next to McMullen as they're not quite sure if he'll go. He, Gant, Mann and Toler would be happy to take all the snaps they can get in order to get on film. Don't blink or you'll miss Moss and Randle El. Thrash should play more than those two, but not much more.

Offense line

Out: Chris Samuels

That leaves: Devin Clark, Andrew Crummey, Jason Fabini, Justin Gresinger, Pete Kendall, Chad Reinhardt, Todd Wade, Tavares Washington, Randy Thomas, Jon Jansen, Stephon Heyer, Casey Rabach—It's always a delicate balancing act here; you don't want to run the starters and top reserves for too long, but you also don't want your quarterback to get killed and you want the running backs to have a fighting chance. Moves here often depend on what the other team does on its defensive line. As the Colts need this fifth preseason game even less than the Redskins do, look for both sides to be deep into the depth chart early on.

Later today, who's in on defense.

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Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

RICHMOND - Looking at the contracts for the two most important people associated with the Washington Redskins, a clear discrepancy arises. The head coach, Jay Gruden, is under contract until 2020. The quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is only under contract for 2017. 

Some speculation suggested that, given the diverging deals, at some point Gruden might look to develop another passer that's locked in with the Redskins for the long-term. Backup QB Colt McCoy is under contract for the next two seasons, and second-year passer Nate Sudfeld is under team control through the 2019 season. 

Gruden made clear that isn't the case. Crystal clear. 

"We're focused on Kirk," the head coach said. "He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period."

Cousins should obviously be the focus. In the past two seasons he's twice broken the Washington single season passing yards record, and his rise has coincided with the Redskins first back to back winning seasons in 20 years. 

As for practice reps, Cousins will get the vast majority. McCoy will get work, and Sudfeld too, but this Redskins team is focused on winning this season. 2018 contracts are not on the coach's mind in July of 2017, nor should they be. 

"Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

With a rebuilt defense and plenty of options offensively, the Redskins should compete for a playoff spot this year. Is there a scenario where the team sputters and spirals into a lost season? Maybe. And in that hypothetical scenario, perhaps at some point it makes sense to see what another passer can do. It's a long shot. 

For Redskins fans, know that Cousins is the unequivocal starter. Period. 


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Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

RICHMOND—The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed in training camp for an unknown period of time. Although his toe injury does not appear to be serious, others will have to fill the gap until he is able to return. And the Redskins just so happen to have one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL and they added another one with NFL playing experience on Thursday.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins needed to sign E.J. Bibbs, who has one NFL catch in his career, because Vernon Davis, the backup tight end, has “a little bit of a tweaked hamstring.” Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards last year, seemed to me moving fine in practice after Gruden spoke to the media but he could need some reps off on occasion so they brought in Bibbs to fill in the gap. There is no point in pushing the 33-year-old Davis if it’s not necessary.

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The Redskins have even more options at tight end. Niles Paul is back and he appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last eight games in 2016. Paul is going into his seventh season and while he is mostly relied on for special teams play he does have a 500-yard season on his resume (2014).

During offseason practices fifth-round rookie Jeremy Sprinkle looked like he had a lot to learn as he goes from a run-based offense at Arkansas to the Redskins’ sophisticated pass-first scheme. He will need to find his comfort level before he takes any snaps in Reed’s place.

The forgotten veteran is Derek Carrier, who now appears to be fully healthy after he missed the first half of last season with a knee injury he suffered late in 2015. He had just two receptions for 10 yards last year in limited playing time on offense.

MORE REDSKINS: Live practice report, Day 1

Joining Bibbs in the long shot category is Manasseh Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt. While neither player seems to have a shot at the 53-man roster, the Redskins could carry one of the tight ends on the practice squad.

Depth is a good thing to have and the Redskins have done a good job assembling a backup plan at tight end. But you just can’t replace Reed, one of the best few tight ends in the NFL, without a significant drop off in production. The Redskins will let the backups compete and learn in training camp and will keep Reed either on the sideline or doing very light work until he is fully ready to go (and then some).

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.