Roster Analysis: Washington Redskins

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Here is an in-depth look at the Washington Redskins as they prepare for their season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, 7 p.m. ET.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Robert Griffin III. Backups -- Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman, Pat White.
Griffin set records for passer rating and rushing yards by a rookie and led the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time in five years. But Monday's opener will be his first action since he his right ACL and LCL were repaired eight months ago to the day. Fellow second-year man Cousins played well when Griffin couldn't, but sprained his right foot in the second preseason game. So the Redskins kept White, who was out of the NFL for three years. The Redskins like the leadership of 33-year-old Grossman, the starter in 2011.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Alfred Morris, Darrel Young (FB). Backups -- Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Chris Thompson.
Morris broke the franchise rushing record with the third-most yards (1,613) by an NFL rookie last year. His hard-charging style meshed with Griffin's quickness on the run-option. Young, a converted linebacker, is an excellent blocker. Helu, Washington's top rusher in 2011, returns from a toe injury that ruined his 2012 season and looks good. Royster played little in 2012 but looked good this summer. Thompson won a spot with a 69-yard punt return for a TD in the preseason finale to offset two preseason fumbles.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus. Backups -- G-C Josh LeRibeus, G Adam Gettis, T Tom Compton, G-T Maurice Hurt (PUP).
At right tackle, the 6-foot-8 Polumbus out-performed more experienced Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood, who were cut. A good 2012 line returns intact. Williams, No. 4 overall 2010 draft, fulfilled his promise by making the 2012 Pro Bowl. He missed the final two preseason games with a wrist injury. Lichtensteiger started every game in 2012 is the group leader. Montgomery is much quieter but is the glue in the middle. Chester is a solid veteran. Neither Gettis nor Compton played as rookies in 2012. LeRibeus filled in when Lichtensteiger was sidelined in the post season. Hurt had a knee scoped in May, missed the summer and starts the year on PUP.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Fred Davis. Backups - Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed.
Davis was doing great until he tore left Achilles in Week 7 last year. He wants lucrative, long-term contract after signing successive one-year deals. Paulsen caught 25 balls after Davis was hurt last year. Reed, a third round draftee, is a downfield threat. Paul has yet to complete the transition from wide receiver, but can help on kickoff returns.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan. Backups -- Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson.
Washington was 9-1 when Garcon played last year, 1-5 when he didn't because of an ailing toe. He is capable of making plays all over the field. Morgan, a less flashy free agent from San Francisco in 2012, has recovered from leg surgery and hand injuries and should be solid. Moss, demoted to third receiver last year at 33, responded by turning a team-high eight of his 41 catches into TDs while averaging 14 yards. Hankerson is a tempting big target, but lacks focus and reliability. Fellow 2011 draft pick Robinson is much smaller but his speed produced an average of 19.3 yards per grab in 2012.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE Jarvis Jenkins (suspended), NT Barry Cofield, DRE Stephen Bowen. Backups - DE Kedric Golston, DE/NT Chris Baker, NT Chris Neild, DE Phillip Merling, DLE Adam Carriker (PUP).
Left end is tumultuous with Carriker on PUP with right quadricep. Jenkins was a disappointment as Carriker's replacement in 2012 and is suspended for the first four games. That leaves Golston and the chunky Baker, who was the backup bose tackle last year. Cofield, the unit's leader, will begin the season with his broken hand taped. Right end Bowen's pass rush production plunged in 2012. However, Cofield and Bowen helped free the linebackers to make plays for Washington's fifth-ranked run defense. Neild is Cofield'a backup after missing last year (ACL). Merling had a fine preseason and is on the roster at least until Jenkins returns.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- LOLB Ryan Kerrigan, LILB London Fletcher, RILB Perry Riley, ROLB Brian Orakpo. Backups - OLB Rob Jackson (suspended), OLB Darryl Tapp, ILB Bryan Kehl, OLB Brandon Jenkins, ILB Nick Barnett.
This should be Washington's strength. Fletcher was chosen for last four Pro Bowls, Orakpo for two (he missed most of last season with a torn pec) and Kerrigan one. Riley became a starter midway through 2011 and is a sure tackler. Barnett, Tapp, Kehl and Jackson, suspended for the first four games, have all been NFL starters. Jenkins had 21.5 sacks during his two years at Florida State. Fletcher is 38 but played in top form last year. He has played in 240 consecutive games, most by an active position player.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB DeAngelo Hall, RCB Josh Wilson, SS Baccari Rambo, FS Brandon Meriweather. Backups - CB E.J. Biggers, FS Tanard Jackson (suspended), CB David Amerson, S Reed Doughty, S Jordan Pugh, CB Jerome Murphy, S Jose Gumbs.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris hope the return to health of two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather, the addition of rookies Rambo and Amerson and the signing of free agent Biggers can revive a pass defense that was the NFL's third-worst in 2012 . Veterans Hall and Wilson had sub-par 2012 seasons and need to rebound. Amerson, a Hall-like gambler in college, is waiting in the wings Jackson is serving an indefinite substance abuse suspension. Doughty is ready to step in if Meriweather goes down again or if Rambo falters. Pugh was decent as a backup in 2012 and Murphy saw some time on special teams after being signed last November.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Kai Forbath, P Sav Rocca, LS Nick Sundberg, KOR Paul, PR/KOR Thompson.
Forbath set an NFL record for a neophyte pro by hitting his first 17 FGAs, 12 of them from beyond 42 yards. He was perfect this preseason and improved his kickoffs. Rocca, a 39-year old Australian import, fought through a knee injury during the final six games to average a career high 43.9 per punt. Sundberg gutted it out in the opener after breaking his left forearm before halftime. Paul had a 48-yard kickoff return in the finale but has been humdrum otherwise. Royster, Thompson, Helu or Morgan could take over that duty.

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