Mike Shanahan has to make some difficult decisions this year.
As more talent arrives, there are players who become less important to their team’s success. The Washington Redskins are no different.
NFL careers are often short, so each player must establish themselves as uniquely skilled compared to others fighting for the same starting position. This can be done in training camp, but the real test will come in preseason.
Since we are not there yet, it makes this sort of assessment more difficult. However, based on last year’s performances and the influx of new players in the offseason, there are already a few players who will be nervous going into training camp.
These Redskins are outlined over the next five pages.
Dezmon Briscoe had a disappointing 2012.
Although he led the Buccaneers in touchdowns in 2011, Dezmon Briscoe had a poor 2012. His preseason was impressive, and this author wrote an article that confidently declared that Briscoe would earn a roster spot.
Although this was in fact the case, his opportunities were limited and he dropped a couple of passes in the regular season. When you’re not on the field for many snaps, you have to make sure everything goes perfectly when your name is called.
Briscoe didn’t do this, and the impression given was that Mike Shanahan didn’t trust his hands enough to put him on the field. For a receiver, that’s a complete indictment of your abilities.
Although the Redskins chose not to draft any more receivers, it’s unlikely they’ll carry as many on the roster as last year. Briscoe needs a transcendent camp and preseason at this point.
Evan Royster has further competition for a roster spot.
When the team spent two of its draft picks on running backs this year, the conclusion was that Evan Royster would be the odd man out by the time final roster cuts came around.
And it was the right conclusion.
Alfred Morris is entrenched as the starter, so it’s really a competition for whoever can offer something different, be it on third down or simply to give Morris some longevity.
Both Roy Helu Jr. and fifth-round pick Chris Thompson offer speed that Royster can’t match, while Jawan Jamison has great feet and excellent vision that enable him to make plays between the tackles.
With both Helu Jr. and Thompson recovering from injuries, Royster still has a window to make the roster. However, he’ll need to show more than he did last year. With just 88 yards from 23 rushing attempts, Royster was disappointing when he touched the ball.
With more dynamic players now on the roster, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Penn State’s all-time leading rusher.
The Redskins drafted two more safeties, further reducing Pugh's chances.
The Redskins claimed Jordan Pugh off waivers last year, so have little invested in his future. With the addition of Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo through the draft—as well as the return of Brandon Meriweather—Pugh will struggle to make his presence felt at either safety position.
Washington’s secondary was a low point throughout most of the season, particularly at safety. The front office addressed this, which means that Pugh is now expendable.
The Washington Times also reported that he missed all of voluntary workouts and mandatory minicamp with an ear infection that affected his balance. Missing vital reps only adds to the task ahead of him in the preseason.
DeJon Gomes has now been bypassed on the depth chart by a lot of players, both old and new.
From the way things have panned out so far, Meriweather and Rambo seem to be the best options for starters on opening day. As another safety on a team that drafted two in April, Gomes must be apprehensive of his chances to make the final 53.
The sensible thing for the team to do would be to keep four safeties on the roster going into 2013. If there are doubts about Meriweather in any way, there could be room for another.
Meriweather, Rambo and Thomas are guaranteed to make the team, and Reed Doughty gets the edge over Gomes because of his ability on special teams. Last year’s seventh-round pick, Jordan Bernstine, is something of an enigma given the severity of his knee injury and the fact that we never really saw what he could do.
Potential always trumps disappointing production, however, which probably means Gomes will fail to make the roster this year.
Maurice Hurt needs a huge preseason to justify his place on the team.
Maurice Hurt has the ability to play both offensive guard and tackle, which obviously helps his chances of making the team. However, the team recently brought in Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood, making the roster a little more crowded along the offensive line.
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester and Will Montgomery will start come Week 1. That much we know. That leaves Josh LeRibeus, Tyler Polumbus, Pashos, Trueblood, Adam Gettis, Xavier Nixon and Tom Compton to fight for a place on the team.
The coaches thought enough of Compton to promote him to the active roster and Shanahan enthused to The Washington Post that, “he has a big-time future for us.” That seems to indicate that he’ll make the jump to the 53-man roster at the start of this season, leaving Hurt out in the cold.
Although he is versatile, so is Polumbus. If Polumbus loses his grip on the right tackle spot, he could easily be slotted in at guard. Add this to the fact that LeRibeus was impressive against the Seahawks and Hurt could see himself shown the door.