As the Washington Redskins prepare for their second preseason game, several battles remain difficult to predict.
At tight end, popular veteran Chris Cooley is still on the bubble as he tries to prove he can not only stay healthy but be productive. It’s also clear that some of the rookies drafted late (RB Alfred Morris, CB Richard Crawford, S Jordan Bernstine) have a good chance at landing a roster spot.
Each week during preseason, RapidReports will take a position-by-position look at the players who are likely to make the final cut to 53 on Sept. 2 and those who may soon be seeking alternative employment.
QB -- In: (3) Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins. Out: Jonathan Crompton. Analysis: This has been the order since early May, when the Redskins first dubbed Griffin the starter. Griffin will start all season barring injury. Grossman will serve as a mentor to both players, with Cousins possibly taking over the No. 2 role in 2013.
RB -- In: (5) Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Roy Helu, Darrel Young, Alfred Morris. Out: Tristan Davis, Antwon Bailey, Lennon Creer, Dorson Boyce. Analysis: Morris and Hightower are the wild cards here. If Hightower is healthy he’ll make the roster and likely start. He’s their best all-around back. But if he’s not healthy, then there are issues. Morris has stood out early in camp and could be tough to protect on the practice squad, but he has shown promise and has excellent vision and feet. Both Helu (durability) and Royster (speed) have issues that make them best used as backups.
WR -- In: (6) Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Anthony Armstrong, Aldrick Robinson. Out: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Dezmon Briscoe, Samuel Kirkland, Lance Lewis. Analysis: The last spot here is too fluid to accurately predict. Banks struggled in his first game as a wideout and must show he’s still dangerous on returns. Banks, Robinson, Austin and Briscoe all have legitimate chances to land that final spot. Austin has looked sharp, but lacks speed. Robinson has speed, but inconsistent hands. He could always end up back on the practice squad. Briscoe, signed on July 28, is starting to use his size and could easily win a job.
TE – In: (3) Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen. Out: Chris Cooley, Richard Quinn, Beau Reliford. Analysis: Cooley would be a surprising cut, but not stunning. And this is far from finished. But he’s an expensive backup with concerns over his ability to last 16 games. Davis is capable of big numbers while Paul has shown promise moving over from wide receiver. Paulsen is a blocking tight end. Cooley’s versatility helps (he can play fullback in a pinch), but others can learn that spot, such as Paul.
OL -- In (9): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Jordan Black. Out: Jammal Brown, Erik Cook, Nick Martinez, Tom Compton, James Lee, Tony Moll, Willie Smith. Analysis: Compton is an intriguing player and the sixth-round pick could make the roster. But that would leave the Redskins without an experienced backup OT. Compton is worth developing, however. Brown’s situation is health-related and with the Redskins uncertain about when he’ll be able to play again, if at all, it’s difficult to see him on the roster – injured reserve is a possibility.
DL -- In (6): Adam Carriker, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Chris Baker, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston. Out: Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington, Delvin Johnson. Analysis: There’s a clear line between the first six and those who did not make the roster. Worthington is a strong player and solid vs. the run while Scott is fine as a rusher. But those ahead of them are better. Baker is a somewhat surprising pick given his standing before camp. But he’s made plays all camp and also can handle end or nose. Jenkins will be a factor at end and as a nickel pass rusher. If Chris Neild had stayed healthy, the Redskins might have been tempted to keep seven but it’s difficult to see that happening now.
LB -- In (8): Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, Markus White, Keenan Robinson, Lorenzo Alexander, Rob Jackson. Out: Bryan Kehl, Chris Wilson, Brian McNally, D.J. Holt, Monte Lewis. Analysis: This is a tough one because Wilson has played well as has Kehl. Robinson is a fourth-round pick so it’s tough to see him getting cut; defensive coordinator Jim Haslett hates cutting draft picks. Kehl would be the odd man out and a lot depends on how Robinson fares on special teams. Actually, that’s all it depends on. White made the roster last year because of his raw ability and has shown strides this summer. However, Wilson’s speed and special teams prowess makes him a real threat to win a job. Lewis is worth keeping on the practice squad.
DB -- In (10): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams, Cedric Griffin, Reed Doughty, Kevin Barnes, Richard Crawford, DeJon Gomes, Tanard Jackson. Out: Travon Bellamy, Morgan Trent, Jordan Bernstine, David Jones, Brandyn Thompson. Analysis: This is how it looks right now, but don’t be surprised if Bernstine, a seventh-round pick, forces a tough decision. He played violent vs. Buffalo and has speed. But they’d have to release a veteran to keep him, whether it’s Doughty or Jackson. Thompson, a second-year corner, has improved but hasn’t stood out above rookie Crawford.
Special teams -- In (3): Graham Gano, Sav Rocca, Nick Sundberg. Out: Neil Rackers. Analysis: Gano and Rackers are too close to call at this point, but the former’s youth and strong leg rate an edge. They’ve been close in practice, too. The other two haven’t been challenged.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLWAS or@John_Keim.