The Washington Redskins must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 2. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
Quarterback (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
That leaves Nate Sudfeld out. Coach Jay Gruden has been OK in the past carrying just two quarterbacks, and they could probably get Sudfeld back on the practice squad to keep him around and develop. If they believe they can’t sign him to the practice squad, he could earn a roster spot. And if they believe he’s worth grooming as an eventual starter, then he won’t be cut. There were definite mixed feelings about that topic. But keeping him means releasing someone who might be able to help now, probably a defensive player.
Nate Sudfield (left) might join Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy on the active roster if they don’t believe he’d get through waivers and onto the practice squad. Steve Helber/AP
Running back (4): Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Mack Brown
That leaves veteran Matt Jones, who opened last season as the starter, finally getting what he wanted: his release. Jones wasn’t going to beat out Kelley or Perine and Brown adds a special-teams element. Brown would be the odd man out if they kept only three backs.
Tight end (4): Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle
The Redskins talked to teams about trading Carrier, but to no avail. He can easily make a case for deserving a roster spot. He’s been one of the top four tight ends in camp. But the Redskins like Sprinkle because they see him as a rarity: a true Y tight end because of his size. More tight ends being drafted are akin to Reed, a receiver-type who can move around. Paul’s versatility matters — he can play fullback and special teams.
Offensive line (8): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Chase Roullier, Kyle Kalis
The question will be: Do the Redskins eventually sign another veteran interior backup and bump Kalis (or Tyler Catalina, if he makes it) to the practice squad? Roullier played well all summer, but he and Kalis are rookies. Nsekhe is a tackle. They could use an experienced vet to back up inside. Roullier has been one of the Redskins’ most impressive rookies. The starting lineup is set.
Receiver (6): Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Brian Quick, Robert Davis
Quick and Davis receive the final two spots and Maurice Harris does not because they can help on more special-teams units — both Quick and Davis have been used throughout the summer at gunner, for example. Both are big and physical; Harris is tall, but does not play as physically and is mostly limited to being a backup returner. Because of Doctson’s hamstring issues, it’s good for Washington to have an experienced backup such as Quick (who did not look sharp in the spring, but improved this summer). Harris didn’t do much of anything this summer because of a knee injury. They’d be smart to keep Harris on the practice squad and continue developing him.
Defensive line (7): Ziggy Hood, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Anthony Lanier, Joey Mbu
Phil Taylor Sr. would have been on the roster if not for a season-ending torn quad. That left Mbu and A.J. Francis fighting for the potential last spot (unless they only keep six). The rest of the group was easy to pick. If Mbu doesn’t make it, he could warrant a practice-squad spot. McClain has not had a strong summer, but is too expensive to cut. Ioannidis has been their starting nickel tackle, along with Allen. Lanier is worth developing more and the Redskins believe Hood sets the tone for this group with his approach. If they go with six linemen and no Mbu (nor Francis), then they could use a rotation at nose tackle with Hood and McGee — or claim someone off waivers.
Linebacker (9): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson, Chris Carter, Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight
This group was relatively easy to pick, as a lot hinged on whether Spaight got through camp healthy. Carter can play inside or outside and helps on special teams. Also, with Anderson still sidelined with a stinger injury, Carter can provide help as a fourth outside linebacker. This means cutting draft pick Josh Harvey-Clemons and undrafted Nico Marley. Harvey-Clemons was making a transition from safety and has more to learn; the practice squad would be a good place for him. Marley’s energy would help there, too.
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Secondary (10): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Fabian Moreau, Quinton Dunbar, Josh Holsey, D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens, Deshazor Everett, Montae Nicholson
Expect DeAngelo Hall to remain on the physically unable to perform list when the season begins. Holsey’s play this summer forced the Redskins to keep six corners. But it meant having to cut veteran Will Blackmon, a versatile player who can play safety or corner. It leaves them somewhat inexperienced at safety, with Cravens not having yet played the spot in an NFL game and Nicholson a rookie. Everett’s special-teams play warrants a spot. If they only keep six defensive linemen, then Blackmon could find a spot as a fifth safety.
Specialists (3): Tress Way, Dustin Hopkins, Nick Sundberg
Considering the Redskins didn’t bring in competition for anyone in this group, their spots are safe. However, Hopkins did not have a strong year last season (81-percent rate on field goals) and, despite his youth and strong leg, must be more consistent. With kickers and punters, job security is a week-to-week gig.