As the Redskins prepare for their third preseason game, several battles remain difficult to predict.
Some rookies and young players have begun to stand out, cornerback Richard Crawford among them. He and RB Alfred Morris would have been slated to the practice squad before camp, but’ll be tough to keep them off the roster now, given the way they've played.
The big question remains what to do with TE Chris Cooley. Last week we kept him off the projected roster; this week we have him on. That’s how fluid this is and the opinion on this one changes by the day. In reality, his competition comes from those at other positions.
Each week during preseason, RapidReports will take a position-by-position look at the players we think are likely to make the final cut to 53 on Sept. 2 and those who we think may soon be seeking alternative employment:
Stock rising: WR Aldrick Robinson. He made big-time plays in the second preseason game and has developed as a route-runner since his rookie season. The second-year pro has quickness and speed, always desired traits.
Stock falling: WR Anthony Armstrong. Entering camp he appeared to have a firm grip on a spot, but he didn't stand out even before suffering a sprained shoulder that has limited him for three weeks. He needs a strong finish.
QB -- In: (3) Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins. Out: Jonathan Crompton. Analysis: Cousins shined in the second half vs. Chicago on Saturday and showed steady improvement throughout camp. It’s still hard to see the Redskins making him the No. 2 QB this season and releasing Grossman, giving them no veteran presence.
RB -- In: (5) Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Roy Helu, Darrel Young, Alfred Morris. Out: Tristan Davis, Antwon Bailey, Lennon Creer, Dorson Boyce. Analysis: Yes, it’s tough to see the Redskins keeping four running backs and five overall here, but in 2008 with Denver, Mike Shanahan kept six backs. And Morris could be tough to sneak through to the practice squad. His pass protection skills need work, but he shows talent as a runner. Hightower’s health and Helu’s durability could prompt an extra back here.
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: This is the toughest one to predict because Briscoe’s size helps and speculation is that he will make it, either as a seventh WR or in place of Armstrong, who has been limited because of a sprained shoulder. The problem: Armstrong is an excellent special teams player and the lower-end WRs must play here — Briscoe hasn’t done so in the past. Banks’ 91-yard punt return served as a reminder (if anyone needed it) about his speed, but he must show he can help at WR too. He hasn’t yet.
TE – In: (4) Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen, Chris Cooley. Out: Richard Quinn, Beau Reliford. Analysis: Cooley remains a difficult call because he has stayed healthy this summer, one thing the coaches wanted to see. But he’ll make more than $3 million as a backup with, so far, limited productivity. Cooley can still play and be used as a versatile backup, able to play FB as well. The Redskins did go with four tight ends last season, but that’s when they only kept two quarterbacks and eight offensive linemen. There’s a possibility they’ll do one or the other this season and keep Cooley. If they just go with three, Cooley is out.
OL -- In (8): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis. Out: Jordan Black, Jammal Brown, Erik Cook, Nick Martinez, Tom Compton, James Lee, Tony Moll, Willie Smith. Analysis: There’s a good chance the Redskins would only keep eight linemen, with Compton and Smith on the practice squad as backups (they wouldn’t keep nine OL active in games anyway). Brown’s hips remain sore and it’s hard to see him being a factor this season. If they go with eight, Jordan Black likely would be the odd man out. But that would leave them inexperienced and thin with the reserve linemen.
DL -- In (6): Adam Carriker, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Chris Baker, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston. Out: Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington, Delvin Johnson. Analysis: Nothing has changed with this group. Worthington has played well in the first two preseason games, showing good strength as a run stopper. But the numbers are against him. Worthington is eligible for the practice squad. This group’s rotation is set, too. It’s the safest unit on the team to predict.
LB -- In (8): Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, Keenan Robinson, Lorenzo Alexander, Rob Jackson, Bryan Kehl. Out: Markus White, Chris Wilson, Brian McNally, D.J. Holt, Monte Lewis. Analysis: This remains difficult as Wilson has played well this summer. Robinson is a fourth-round pick who is clearly still learning. But fourth-round picks rarely get cut this fast and Robinson has speed. That matters. They could always stash White on the practice squad, but they kept him around all of 2011 because of his raw ability. Why put him on the PS now? But there’s stronger competition this year and both Kehl and Alexander can play outside in a pinch. Kehl’s special teams play gives him a slight edge because he hasn’t stood out at linebacker in his career.
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: There’s a chance they could go with nine defensive backs and nine linebackers. They’ve tried Hall at safety on occasion to see if he could provide more versatility, but so far he hasn’t proven that’s a good fit. If they only kept nine, a veteran would be in trouble. Crawford has played too well to stash on practice squad, leaving Barnes in jeopardy. If they went with four safeties, then Doughty, Gomes or Jackson would be out.
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.