Predicting the Last 5 Players to Make the Redskins' 53-Man Roster
It's cut-down week to 53 in the NFL, and the Washington Redskins are hard at work, trying to figure out who their top players will be. Forty-six men will eventually take their rightful places as active players on the roster, while seven others will be inactive, as members of the team's practice squad.
Here's a look at five men who we believe will be the last lucky ones to make the squad.
Double Down on Dezmon
The grim reaper made the first of two visits to Redskins Park on Monday, as the team scurried to meet the NFL's 4 p.m. deadline for cutting rosters from 90 players to 75. But for many of those who breathed sighs of relief, Day 1's reprieve was just a tease for their inevitable release on Friday.
One man we predict will survive is wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who previously played as a Buccaneer in Tampa Bay.
Briscoe's chances were good to start with because of his production last season. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, Briscoe led the Bucs in touchdown catches with 6 (on just 35 receptions). He also has good size at 6'2" and 210 pounds.
He has performed well in the preseason, too, and has a strong connection with secondary coach Raheem Morris, who was Briscoe's head coach in Tampa.
If Washington keeps seven receivers, look for Briscoe to be one of the last to stick, along with the electrifying Aldrick Robinson, who may graduate from last year's practice squad when all is said and done.
8 Is Enough for Compton
Washington's summer got off to a bad start when starting right tackle Jammal Brown re-injured his hip in training camp. Various other injuries ensued along the offensive line, but the panic seemed to subside when right guard Chris Chester and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger returned.
But not so fast. The Redskins announced this week that Brown underwent another hip surgery and will be laid up for at least the first six weeks of the regular season (h/t SI.com).
That means Washington has no choice but to continue with substitute Tyler Polumbus at right tackle, which in turn benefits the current backups at the position.
According to John Keim of CBSSports.com, "[T]here's a good chance the Redskins [will] only keep eight linemen," with a couple more on the practice squad.
A healthy Brown would have likely forced the release of Willie Smith or Tom Compton. But with Brown out, they're now in line to earn paychecks.
Smith should be the primary backup to Polumbus, while Maurice Hurt provides depth at guard and both tackle spots.
That should make Compton a happy guy, because he'll have time to prepare for next year on Washington's practice squad.
At 6'5" and 308 pounds, Compton may need to add some bulk, but he could have a future under Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, who is often willing to be patient with draft picks who are agile. Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins would also be relieved, in case he has to move to another new apartment.
Compton was selected by Washington in the sixth round of April's draft, with the 197th overall pick.
Baker Should Be Back
Chris Baker turned an ankle last week, but he didn't let it get him down because he's been through a lot worse before.
According to Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times, "Baker has plenty of incentive" this year because last December he was devastated "after tearing the quadriceps muscle in his right leg (while dunking a basketball), the same day he was activated [from the Redskins practice squad]."
In his column, Whyno describes how Baker ballooned to 350 pounds (during recovery) but kept his promise to return in shape to the Redskins by hiring a personal trainer to help with weight loss, strength and conditioning.
Now 30 pounds lighter, Baker is a lean, mean, fighting machine who's ready to wreck havoc on ball carriers and quarterbacks.
Fans were relieved to see the nose tackle return against Indianapolis, and here's hoping his ankle feels better.
With the loss of Chris Neild to a torn ACL, the Redskins are expecting Baker to contribute to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's rotation on the defensive line.
Hopefully that'll be (sugar-free) icing on the cake for Baker.
Keeping Kehl Will Be Worth the While
Redskins linebacker Bryan Kehl has had his share of ups and downs in the preseason. He has made a couple of nice tackles on defense, but as a veteran special team's leader, he didn't look so good in Chicago when Washington's coverage team broke down on a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
But Bryan offers versatility, which is usually a difference-maker when it comes to making a final roster.
Washington signed Kehl to play inside as a backup to London Fletcher and Perry Riley, but according to John Keim of CBSSports.com, "Kehl and [Lorenzo] Alexander can play outside in a pinch," which makes both backers valuable to the 'Skins.
Originally drafted by the New York Giants, Kehl would look forward to facing his former team twice a year. But he'll definitely lick his chops in Week 2, when the Redskins travel to face his most recent team, the St. Louis Rams.
Gomes Isn't Going Anywhere
In just his second training camp with the Redskins, DeJon Gomes has faced some stiff competition. But the 2011 fifth-round draft pick offers versatility and some valuable experience that's tough to overlook.
In his first career start last year, Gomes made 14 tackles against Dallas. According to Mike Jones of The Washington Post, that pleased coach Mike Shanahan because the former Nebraska star was thrust into the lineup in place of the (always) injured LaRon Landry.
Then, the coaching staff's trust in Gomes culminated in December when he was handed the starting free safety job for the rest of the season.
Gomes finished 2011 with 35 tackles, including 21 solo ones. So he's not afraid to get his jersey dirty.
He was also recently mistaken for Robert Griffin III, which can't be a bad thing when you're trying to make the final 53.
This writer was a bit worried for DeJon early in the preseason, but following Brandon Meriweather's injury against the Bears and the trade of corner Kevin Barnes to Detroit (via The Washington Post), the secondary is starting to take shape.
The Redskins will keep eight defensive backs and may keep nine, but either way, Gomes should be a shoo-in.