With the season opener just around the corner, the Washington Redskins join the rest of the league in trimming their rosters from 75 to the final 53. While there are plenty of decisions left to be made in terms of practice squad additions, the Redskins trimmed the proverbial fat by parting with both veterans and young players in their final cuts.
With each cut comes a new criticism or compliment.
While he didn't make the mistakes Brandon Banks had to his credit, he also didn't make the big splash Banks made. Banks took the first punt he received back for a touchdown. Austin had some decent returns, but didn't come near what Banks had done. He had a good final preseason game against the Cardinals, chipping in 94 yards on five catches with one touchdown.
Still, Banks showed more big play potential, even if he is used primarily as a returner and not a receiver during the regular season.
Robert Henson made his mark on the final preseason game with five tackles and a sack, while recording 12 tackles and two sacks through the entire preseason. His unceremonious exit from the game against Arizona may speak to the severity of the injury he suffered, but perhaps he will find himself on the practice squad for his efforts, as well has his obvious passion for the game.
Willie Parker was the odd man out headed into preseason despite there being open competition at running back. He didn't make much of an impact in his limited preseason action, recording 50 yards on 16 carries and 20 yards on four catches. He had a couple of good runs, but too few and far between to beat out Larry Johnson or Keiland Williams.
Parker wasn't projected to make the roster after failing to display adequate burst in practice and games, while Williams gained 69 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns and seven catches for 77 yards. Williams offers the Redskins a legitimate pass-catching back, a skill Parker lacks as a veteran.
Richard Bartel was essentially cut when the Redskins brought John Beck into the fold. Bartel finished 15-for-19 with 167 yards and two touchdowns, while Beck finished 20-for-31 with 235 yards and one interception. If Marko Mitchell and Marcus Mason are any proof, it takes more than preseason production to make a team. It appears that the ShanaClan sees more upside in Beck, as the team has since extended his contract through 2012.
Selvish Capers was supposed to be the raw but talented tackle with everything to gain from the right motivation. Erik Cook was supposed to be the future plug-in at right guard. Chad Rinehart had experience and versatility to his credit. Will Robinson and Chad Oldenburg leave the Redskins thin at tackle.
Wasn't the offensive line supposed to improve this year? Have we not learned that depth is important on a position as critical as the offensive line?
Not that I am one to question Mike Shanahan, and there may be enough practice squad additions to comfort some fans, but what happens if week one Jammal Brown goes down and Stephon Heyer is on deck, or Derrick Dockery or Casey Rabach are lost?
Need I refer you to 2007, where Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas were on injured reserve before the season got rolling?
The roster is set, and only "minor" details are left for the coming week, but now the Redskins can turn their sights toward Dallas and the first real test of what all fans are hoping is a polished product. With the depth chart largely unchanged by the cuts, and plenty of veteran experience to carry the load, Washington is setting themselves up for success unlike past years where some "higher-ups" were content to just get by.
We are seeing first hand what talent evaluation looks like. With all Redskins fans have endured since the early 90s, it is a somewhat new experience to see people who know what they're doing with a team.
(Full list of cuts available here)