Washington Redskins: Projected Regular Season Lineup After Preseason Week 2
With Week 1 of the preseason in the bag, it appears there have been some changes in the projected depth chart for the 'Skins regular season opener against New Orleans.
After some roster shifts, injuries, and other mindful decisions, the picture will become more clear over the next few weeks.
Knowing what we know now after the Buffalo game, I'll dissect the projected lineup after each preseason game until that much awaited first Sunday game comes.
Here's a look at the depth chart so far.
Starter: Robert Griffin III
Backups: Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman
It doesn't take a great detective to solve this mystery.
Griffin has been the guy since day one, and with the subpar performances by Cousins and Grossman, this is as close to a sure thing as you could possibly have (barring injury).
The only intrigue comes from who would be the backup at this point. I believe Mike Shanahan would want to showcase Cousins for possible trade value as a starter or reassurance as a backup in D.C.
We all know how much he likes Grossman though, and that can be a little disheartening. However, the leash on Grossman will be short, very short, like Muggsy Bogues short. If Grossman were to enter a game in any situation and cause a turnover, he would probably be done for good.
Starter: Evan Royster
Backups: Roy Helu, Tim Hightower, Alfred Morris
Right now, the question is: Who is the least injured?
Royster appears to win that battle by default, but we all know, in a Shanahan offense, that can change before you have time to rearrange your fantasy roster.
We have yet to see the mighty Tim Hightower thanks to his Achiles injury last year, and now Roy Helu has joined the list of Redskin running backs with Achilles problems after the Week 1 game in Buffalo.
Alfred Morris has now emerged as a name and appears to be serviceable if called into action. After next week, there's a chance that he could be the clear-cut starter. Again, in a Shanahan offense, you never know.
As of right now, however, Evan Royster appears to be the guy until Helu and Hightower are 100 percent or Alfred Morris proves to be unstoppable through the rest of the preseason.
Starters: Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon
Second Tier: Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson
Bench: Aldrick Robinson, Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks, Dezmon Briscoe
It's time to get excited about Pierre Garcon, again.
He appeared to be in sync with Robert Griffin III from the start and appears to be the clear-cut go-to guy early on. Santana Moss didn't see action in the first game but he is expected to be a starter when the regular season kicks off.
If Hankerson or Morgan can emerge as primary targets as well—and we expect that at least one of them certainly can—then expect Moss to be a slot target in the position he seems best suited to play at this point in his career.
As for the deeper part of the bench, Robinson and Austin appear as though they should have a roster spot if they have strong preseason games. There isn't a lot of hope for Briscoe at this point, but he will have an opportunity to prove himself as August moves along.
Brandon Banks did receive nine targets, but only had one catch in the first contest, and his services as a return man are being under-utilized at this point, in my opinion.
Starter: Fred Davis
Backups: Chris Cooley, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen
Fred Davis is expected to form into one of the league's premiere tight ends now that Griffin is around, so it appears that he doesn't have much competition at this point.
What every Redskin fan wants to know is: What will become of Chris Cooley?
There's not a single person that bleeds Burgundy and Gold that would want to see Cooley cut or traded, and if Niles Paul can't emerge as a clear No. 2 option behind Davis, he may not have to leave.
Paul is, of course, the Nebraska product who is trying to make the transition from wideout to tight end, and so far, it hasn't been an overwhelming success. Cooley may move back from the dreaded fullback position sooner rather than later.
Also, no knocks against Logan Paulsen but whenever my friends were watching the Fantasy Cast last season and saw his name pop up, they all looked at me and giggled. I don't want that to happen again.
Starters: LT—Trent Williams, LG—Kory Lichtensteiger, C—Will Montgomery, RG—Chris Chester, RT--Tyler Polumbus
Backups: Tom Compton, Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus, Erik Cook, Adam Gettis, Willie Smith
Just stay away from trouble, Trent. That's all we ask. If he can, then there is a good chance that he could be one of the top left tackles in the NFL and that would make Robert Griffin (and all Redskins' fans, subsequently) very happy.
What most people are waiting to see is if LeRibeus is ready to be the guy at left guard, but right now, the safe money is on Lichtensteiger when he returns from injury.
The entire offensive line, as a matter of fact, had a lot of trouble staying healthy during the 2011 season, which gave guys like Willie Smith the chance to get some time as a starter and prove that he can fill spots if the opportunity were to arise again this year.
This isn't your dad's Redskins offensive line (which my father is quick to remind me of), and it shows at times, but if they can stay healthy then there is no doubt that they can make this a special season. Either that, or we'll see just how deep they are now that the backups have more experience than the coaching staff was hoping for.
Starters: DE—Adam Carriker, DT—Barry Cofield, DE—Jarvis Jenkins
Backups: Kedric Golston, Stephen Bowen, Chris Baker
Here's how sold I am on the hype of Jarvis Jenkins: I haven't seen him play once in a Redskins uniform but I am sure he is talented enough to get the starting job.
The competition is the marginal Stephen Bowen. If the coaching staff is as high on Jenkins as they say they are, then there is no chance that he doesn't become a starting defensive end this season.
We're all still waiting on Carriker to be the first round talent that he was expected to be a few years ago, but long-time Redskin Kedric Golston is ready to step in if he falters.
Barry Cofield fills out the rest of the starting line and appeared to have his ups and downs in his first full season with the Redskins in 2011. With the linebackers getting most of the attention on the defense, the line will have to have a playmaker emerge at some point this season, or expect Dan Snyder to look elsewhere for talent.
Starters: OLB—Brian Orakpo, ILB—London Fletcher, ILB—Perry Riley, OLB—Ryan Kerrigan
Backups: Chris Wilson, Lorenzo Alexander, Bryan Kehl, Rob Jackson
Orakpo, Fletcher, and Kerrigan are set in stone, as all three appear to be Pro Bowl caliber linebackers.
Perry Riley has really emerged as the favorite to stand next to Fletcher and has brought a lot of fanfare in the process.
He says he is going to have a breakout season, the coaches say he is going to have a breakout season, and if you ask most fans, they will say the same thing.
Lucky for him, the Redskins changed to a 3-4 defense a couple of years ago, so it looks like there will be a starting spot with his name on it. Bryan Kehl and Lorenzo Alexander appear to be the main competition for the spot, but with so much talk about Riley going around training camp, it would be very hard to envision him not getting the nod at this point.
Starters: CB—DeAngelo Hall, CB—Josh Wilson, FS—Brandon Meriweather, SS—Madieu Williams
Backups: Cedric Griffin, Kevin Barnes, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes, Tanard Jackson
This is where the fans start to wince a little bit when looking at the depth chart.
Hall is about the only one you could write into the starting lineup in pen, as the rest gets a bit foggy. Josh Wilson appears to have a strong lead on Barnes and Griffin at this point, but those two are a pick six against a third-string quarterback away from being a starter.
As for the safeties, just imagine if LaRon Landry didn't have the nagging injuries and Sean Taylor was still with us. Then when you open your eyes and see Meriweather and Williams, you'd probably close them again pretty quickly.
Those are the two newcomers with the aforementioned Landry and the underwhelming O.J. Atogwe out of the picture for the new season. If you watched Meriweather play last year, you're probably wondering how many yards the Redskins' defense will give up this year due to personal fouls.
Williams on the other hand was a reserve for San Francisco last season and is bent on keeping the starting job. Reed Doughty knows what to do when he's on the field since he has plenty of experience. It's more of a "can he do it?" problem at this point.
DeJon Gomes doesn't have enough experience at this point, so right now Williams is penciled in as the starter.
Starters: K—Graham Gano, P—Sav Rocca, Returner—Brandon Banks
Backups: K—Neil Rackers, Returner—Anthony Armstrong, Richard Crawford, Aldrick Robinson
Rocca is the only punter on the squad, so that's settled.
The Gano-Rackers conundrum will continue through the entire preseason, and as of today, Gano appears to be the starting kicker since Rackers didn't get to kick in the first contest.
Brandon Banks is listed as the No. 1 returner on the Redskins' official depth chart and most fans will hope it stays that way, but Richard Crawford got all three punt returns from the first game. Still, expect Banks to hold the position.