After an intense preseason roster battle filled with surprises, disappointments, and of course injuries, the Washington Redskins have finally released the roster and depth chart for the season opener. As we know, the depth chart is subject to change and review on a weekly basis, as each player now has to prove themselves in the regular season. But for now, this is how it stands. Here is a review of each position, as well as how (or why) the powers-that-be may have arrived at their decisions. This is a long-ish article so feel free to skip down to the positions which interest you.
This is one of the areas which inspire the most optimism in my opinion. When was the last time the Redskins have had so many talented options for the position? It seems like only yesterday that we picked up Hightower, a man who possesses a substantial amount of talent. And though many may not agree with Shanahan’s decision to release him, one cannot help but be excited by the coaches’ assessment that there was enough talent among the rookie and second-year players to warrant letting them own the position. For now, Royster will be the starter, with Helu Jr. as second-string and Morris as third. I personally don’t think the order is of much significance, given that none of the three are particularly ready to be used as every down backs just yet. Again, that is simply my opinion, and I could very well be wrong. It’s happened before.
Left Tackle/ Right Tackle
Trent Williams will be the starter, with Maurice Hurt as the second-string LT. Not much of a surprise there. With Jammal Brown out following hip surgery, Tyler Polumbus will be the first-string RT, with Jordan Black as second.
Left Guard/ Right Guard
Despite missing the last 11 games last year due to injury and the entire preseason after having knee surgery, Kory Lichtensteiger is projected to play in the season opener, and remains as the starting LG. Rookie Josh LeRibeus will be second-string. And, of course, Chris Chester will be the starting RG, despite missing half the preseason with an ankle injury. Rookie Adam Gettis will be the second-string.
While this does not inspire confidence that the 2012 Offensive Line will be any better than that of previous years, as a whole they did a (surprisingly) good job of protecting RGIII for most of the preseason.
Will Montgomery will remain as first string Center, with Kory Lichtensteiger as the second.
The biggest surprise in this part of the depth chart remains the absence of Chris Cooley. The rest is pretty standard, with Fred Davis as the starter followed by Niles Paul as second-string and Logan Paulsen as third. Neither Paulsen nor Paul had a particularly exceptional preseason. This will be Paul’s first season playing this position and hopefully he will have better luck catching than we have seen of him recently. And with Cooley no longer on the roster, Darrel Young will be Fullback.
With Daviscoming back from a suspension after he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, a less than remarkable general preseason performance from all, and the release of longtime fan-favorite Chris Cooley, everybodyat this position will have something to prove this season.
For most of the preseason, Joshua Morgan seemed to be designated as second-string, behind Leonard Hankerson. For now, however, he is listed as a starter, along with the other offseason acquisition, Pierre Garcon. Garcon has shown incredible chemistry with RGIII, and seems to have adjusted to the Redskins offense with ease. Hankerson and Moss will play second-string for the time being. These assignments are almost arbitrary, given that it can change at any time, but it seems like the Shanahan’s want to see what these new guys can do against the Saints.
Now for what surprised me about the roster cuts; the release of Anthony Armstrong in favor of Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe. On the one hand, Robinson is younger and can return punts and kicks, something Armstrong has not done. On the other hand, this seems less important with Brandon Banks assigned as Punt/Kick returner. Additionally, Armstrong’s experience playing in regular season games with the Redskins cannot be ignored, especially when there are so many new pieces the coaches have been working on fitting into the puzzle. And yes I know that with a new QB it might not seem like this would count for much of anything, but I believe it does. However, Briscoe is bigger and stronger, which is also very important. If you’ve been able to follow these contradictions thus far, I applaud (and apologize to) you.
I guess we’ll have to see how it goes this season. Let me know what you think of the roster.
A special thanks to Redskins expert Micah Datcher for his insight regarding the 2012 offense.