Washington Redskins: Analyzing the Lingering Preseason Position Battles

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 21, 2012

July 30, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball to Redskins tight end Niles Paul (84) during Redskins training camp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

After a rocky start to the preseason, the Washington Redskins are back in D.C. for the next two weeks, preparing for Week 1 while hosting their final two warmup games against Indianapolis and Tampa.

While that happens, we'll get a better feel for who will emerge in the following position battles.


No. 2 Tight End

Chris Cooley and Niles Paul are fighting for the job. Cooley is a reliable veteran with better leadership skills, better blocking skills and the versatility to play fullback. Paul is young and raw, but athletic, and the team wouldn't convert him from wide receiver if it didn't believe in him.

There's a chance both make the roster regardless, with Paul working as the No. 3, but if Paul beats out Cooley for second-team duties, Cooley will likely be cut. He's simply being paid too handsomely to be a third-stringer. 

Throwing a wrench into everything is Logan Paulsen, a three-year veteran who's quietly having a good summer as both a blocker and a receiver. It's not crazy to think the 'Skins might go young and use both Paul and Paulsen this year.

Prediction: Cooley wins the backup job behind Fred Davis and Paulsen gets released.


Running Back

I've been saying all along that this isn't as important a competition as some might believe (I'm looking at you, fantasy football nuts). The reality is that Mike and Kyle Shanahan are going to use all of their backs this season. None look as though they can hold up for an entire season as a starter anyway, but the Shanahans will go with hot hands each week regardless.

Right now, Alfred Morris has the hot hand. The rookie sixth-round pick is still technically fourth on the depth chart, but he looked good taking first-team reps against the Bears on Saturday. He and Evan Royster are the only two healthy backs with a chance to make the team, and both have had stellar preseasons.

And then there are the two H's, Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, both of whom have been injured and both of whom haven't really inspired a lot of excitement in 'Skins fans. 

Prediction: Hightower fails to make the final roster, Royster opens the season as the starter and we see plenty of Morris and Helu throughout 2012. I can't see them giving up on any of those three right now, and Hightower is an injury-prone veteran who won't cost much to release.



Cedric Griffin hasn't looked good on the outside and DeAngelo Hall hasn't had a great summer in the slot. Josh Wilson is the clear No. 1, but Griffin and Hall are question marks. You could make the argument that both have been outplayed thus far by seventh-round rookie Richard Crawford, who has been one of the best defenders on the team this preseason, but is still wasting his time trying to steal reps from Kevin Barnes.

Hall is a great playmaker and is being paid too well to sit or be cut (especially considering the lack of depth here), but Griffin is vulnerable and I don't think Jim Haslett has a lot of patience right now.

Prediction: Griffin gets cut, Hall moves back outside opposite Wilson and Crawford becomes the full-time nickel corner. Barnes backs up Wilson and Hall.



This is a damn mess. Brandon Meriweather has struggled and is hurt. DeJon Gomes is hurt. Tanard Jackson is coming back from injury and has made some mistakes. 

On the bright side, Madieu Williams has played quite well this preseason. But no one knows who's going to earn the other starting spot now that Meriweather might miss time (and, as I've mentioned, he sucks anyway).

Is Reed Doughty reliable enough? Will Jackson stay focused? Can Gomes emerge?

Prediction: I do believe Jackson has more talent than everyone else at this position, and I know defensive backs coach Raheem Morris has a soft spot for him, so I'm giving him the opening-day starting spot next to Williams. Of course, that would mean that he'd have to play strong safety, so who knows?