The Redskins went into the pre-training camp break with the same 90 players they had on the roster prior to OTAs. That means that Darrel Young remains the only fullback on the roster.
Some might look at that as good news for Young. Not having competition for your job could take a lot of the pressure off. But not if your job could be eliminated.
According to Football Outsiders Jay Gruden’s Bengals lined up in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) on 40 percent of their plays and in 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) on 43 percent.
So on 83 percent of the offensive plays the Bengals utilized just one running back. And almost all of the running back snaps went to tailbacks Giovani Bernard (627 snaps, 51%) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (472 snaps, 38 percent). Two players took snaps at fullback and they both were very much part-timers on offense. Orson Charles, listed as a tight end, played 67 snaps (5%) and Domata Peko played 16. Peko also started 16 games at defensive tackle.
If Gruden plans on using the fullback in a similar manner, he may decide not to keep a fullback on the roster at all.
He could use training camp and the preseason to evaluate his options. Tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul have lined up at fullback from time to time in the past and almost certainly will line up there in July and August. Perhaps Gruden will seek out some to fill the role that the 6-3, 322-lb. Peko did in Cincinnati. How would outside linebackers react to seeing Chris Baker (6-2, 325) barreling towards them on a kickout block?
One important difference between the 2013 Bengals and this year’s Redskins should be noted. In Cincinnati Gruden had one Pro Bowl tight end in Jermaine Gresham and a first-round pick in Tyler Eifert. Here Gruden does have Jordan Reed, who has Pro Bowl potential. But Paulsen and Paul are role players and Gruden might not want to run with two tight ends as frequently as they did in his old job.
Because of that and due to the fact that he is a valued contributor on special teams, odds are that Young stays around this year. But Gruden will have plenty of practice and game reps to experiment with alternatives so Young’s 2014 status remains up in the air.
The Redskins made a roster move just before departing for Arizona to play the Cardinals.
They signed cornerback Dashaun Phillips from the practice squad and cut offensive tackle Blaine Clausell. The Redskins also waived safety David Bruton Jr. off of injured reserve.
Phillips was the Redskins’ nickel corner for the first three games of the season, and he made four tackles and recovered a fumble. But they moved rookie Kendall Fuller up into the slot corner role in Week 4 and Phillips spent several weeks on the inactive list before being waived on November 12 and added to the practice squad three days later.
The moves became known after Redskins coach Jay Gruden had spoken to the media for the day so we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind them. Actually, the release of Clausell isn’t hard to figure out. He was signed after Trent Williams started his four-game suspension and with Williams set to return on Monday and the other options at backup tackle healthy there was no point in keeping him around.
Phillips is likely going to Arizona as an insurance policy. The Cardinals like to spread the field with a lot of wide receivers. They will want to have five cornerbacks active. They do have Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler. But Breeland is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and they Redskins don’t want to take any chance of being caught short-handed at cornerback if he suffers a setback. That’s especially true when they don’t need to bring an extra tackle along.
Depending on how things shake out injury-wise against the Cardinals there is a good chance that we could see Phillips on the waiver wire once again as a roster spot will be needed for Williams.
TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.
DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.
LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.
G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.
T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.
CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.
RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.
Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)
Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.