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A Closer Look: Redskins' 53-Man Roster

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Redskins.com's Andrew Walker gives you an in-depth look at who made the cut -- and who didn't -- for the Washington Redskins in their final 2015 53-man roster.


OFFENSE

Quarterback (3): Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy
Final Cuts: None

Analysis: Just like last year, head coach Jay Gruden has elected to enter the season with three quarterbacks on the active roster.

Check out the entire Washington Redskins' 2015 53-man roster in photos. (Last updated Sept. 29, 2015)

And, just like last year, those quarterbacks are Cousins, Griffin III and McCoy.

But, unlike last year, Cousins is now the starter, as Gruden announced earlier this week. We'll wait to see what the second-year head coach says tomorrow, after the team practices, about who will be listed as the No. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks. Griffin III is also yet to officially be cleared by independent league doctors after suffering a concussion Aug. 20 against the Detroit Lions.

But one thing's for certain: Gruden has put all of his trust in Cousins to go out and get the job done without having to worry about being pulled if he makes a mistake.

"We're going to do everything we can to surround Kirk the best way we can," Gruden said on Monday. "Good strong running game, good strong defense, special teams and let him play. Let him enjoy, let him play. I don't want him to go out there and every incompletion he's going to be looking to see if the quarterbacks are warming up on the sideline. That's not the case. This is his squad. I feel confident that he's going to take it and do some great things."

Running Backs (4): Matt Jones, Alfred Morris, Chris Thompson, Darrel Young
Final Cuts (3): Mack Brown, Jordan Campbell, Trey Williams

Analysis: No real surprises here, as Morris is the incumbent starter, Jones was drafted this year in the third round and looked very strong as the No. 2 back this preseason (7.0 yards-per-carry average on 20 carries), and Thompson grabbed the third-down back spot this training camp and in preseason by improving his all-around game, including blitz pickups.

"He's done an excellent both in the running game and the passing game," Gruden said last month about Thompson. "And he's done an excellent job in protection so far"

At the fullback position, it doesn't get much better than Young, who is one of the better lead blockers in the league and is also very valuable on special teams.

Many were pulling for Williams, a shifty runner who went undrafted out of Texas A&M, to also make the final roster. Williams finished the preseason with 31 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown, but didn't quite flash enough to earn a spot on the initial 53-man roster. If another team doesn't have plans for Williams on their own active roster, he could be a great candidate for the Redskins' practice squad, and be ready to go at a moment's notice should he be needed.

Wide Receivers (6): Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garçon, Ryan Grant, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Rashad Ross
Final Cuts (4): Reggie Bell, Quinton Dunbar (also a cornerback), Colin Lockett, Evan Spencer

Analysis: Ross gets his chance. After leading the entire NFL in receiving yards (266), receptions (25) and receiving touchdowns (4) during the 2015 preseason, the Redskins just couldn't let Ross, a first-year Arizona State product who was on the team's practice squad at points last season, escape to the open market. He's obviously ecstatic about the news.

Ross was said to be in competition with Spencer for the team's final wide receiver spot – until Spencer suffered a concussion Aug. 29 against the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to Saturday's roster cuts, Spencer, who was undergoing the league's concussion protocol, was yet to be cleared by an independent neurologist. Perhaps if Spencer clears waivers, the sixth-round pick out of Ohio State could be signed to the Redskins' practice squad and maybe even placed on the team's short-term IR list, giving him a chance to come back later in the season.

Also, kudos to guys like Bell and Lockett, who certainly made their plays throughout training camp and even in preseason, but were just unlucky enough to be fighting for a spot within the Redskins' deepest position.

Tight Ends (2): Derek Carrier, Jordan Reed
Final Cuts (2): Je'Ron Hamm, D.J. Williams

Analysis: After two of their top three tight ends suffered season-ending injuries during training camp/preseason – Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (toe) – the Redskins frantically searched for help at the tight end position, adding a veteran like Williams and trading a conditional draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Carrier.

The Washington Redskins on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, announced the acquisition of tight end Derek Carrier. Take a look at his NFL career in photos.

Carrier was seen as a guy who could help immediately as both a blocker and a pass catcher, but beyond that, the Redskins had little in terms of professional experience at the position other than Reed, a talented offensive weapon who has had injury issues in his first two seasons in Washington.

And although it might seem a little surprising that the Redskins decided to leave Hamm, a converted wide receiver, off their initial 53-man roster, consider this: the team was only likely to keep three tight ends – Paul, Reed and Paulsen – before it was decimated by injuries at the position anyway, so Hamm was probably originally seen as a guy who could continue to develop his all-around game on the practice squad this season before getting a real good look at him next year.

You can imagine the Redskins will be looking around the league at tight ends to pick up in the next few days to get their number at the position back to three. But, until then, they will roll with Reed, Carrier and tackle Tom Compton, who has been used as a blocking tight end throughout the preseason.

Offensive Linemen (10): Tom Compton, Arie Kouandjio, Shawn Lauvao, Josh LeRibeus, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Brandon Scherff, Trent Williams
Final Cuts (3): Takoby Cofield, Tyler Larsen, Austin Reiter

Analysis: No real surprises here other than Nsekhe, a monster of a man at 6-foot-8, 325 pounds who was catching touchdowns in the Arena Football League as a receiver just four years ago. Nsekhe, who turned many heads during training camp and the preseason games, gets his shot after the team released veteran tackle Willie Smith, who struggled in a relief starting role at left tackle against the Lions, during initial cuts from 90 to 75 players.

"Ty is a giant, man. He's an enormous guy," Gruden said Aug. 10. "He's one of those guys that can really take a step towards being here as far as making the roster if he performs well in the games."

At center, Lichtensteiger is obviously locked in as the starter, and LeRibeus will be the backup – a role he played throughout the preseason. Beyond that, in an emergency situation, the Redskins could use Long, who is often seen snapping footballs at the beginning of practice.

Don't be shocked to see guys like Cofield and Reiter, a seventh-round pick this year out of South Florida, back on the Redskins' practice squad this year, should they clear waivers.


DEFENSE

Defensive Linemen (7): Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Jason Hatcher, Ricky Jean Francois, Frank Kearse, Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea
Final Cuts (3): Corey Crawford, Jerrell Powe, Travian Robertson, Robert Thomas

Analysis: Perhaps no other unit was retooled better this offseason than the Redskins' defensive line, which saw the addition of guys like Jean Francois, Knighton and Paea to guys like Baker and Hatcher, who consistently can show flashes of big-play potential.

Check out images of veteran defensive lineman Terrance Knighton during his first few months as a Washington Redskin.

And then you look at a survivor like Golston, who is entering his 10th season with the Redskins, and Kearse, who has bounced around the league a little bit since being taken in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft but turned in a career year with three sacks, and you can see why defensive coordinator Joe Barry and defensive line coach Robb Akey are so excited about the potential of this group.

For Knighton, the versatility of the various defensive linemen stands out the most. He says he's a run-stuffing specialist; Hatcher and Golston are "savvy veterans;" Paea is "very explosive" and "moves from side to side very quickly;" Baker can "give you a little bit of everything;" and Jean Francos is "just athletic in every phase of the game."

"When different guys are out there, you're going to get different things," Knighton said July 31. "We'll have a wave of guys during the game and during practice, and it gives the O-line trouble because they never get the same thing over and over."

Linebackers (8): Will Compton, Jackson Jeffcoat, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Perry Riley Jr., Keenan Robinson, Preston Smith, Martrell Spaight
Final Cuts (3): Houston Bates, Sage Harold, Terrance Plummer

Analysis: The outside and inside linebacker positions featured two intriguing battles for the Redskins that went down to the wire. On the outside, Jeffcoat and Bates both turned in impressive preseasons as pass rushers (and all-around playmakers), and middle linebacker, Spaight and Plummer seemed neck and neck throughout the four games.

In the end, Jeffcoat and Spaight made the final cut, although the team really couldn't have gone wrong either way. In Jeffcoat, the team has a high-ceiling prospect that tied for the league lead with four preseason sacks, while also intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble. Spaight, meanwhile, led the Redskins with 19 tackles this preseason as a rookie, and will be looked upon to replace veteran Adam Hayward as a reserve linebacker and special teams leader.

"Throughout college and everything, I was always the next man up so I was kind of prepared for it," said Spaight, an Arkansas product. "[Hayward] taught me the rules about everything, what to watch out for, how to do certain techniques. He really coached me on how to be a better special teams player and Coach believed in me and everything I've been doing on special teams and I just try to go out there and keep my job."

Bates and Plummer, meanwhile, turn into attractive options for the practice squad, should they clear waivers.

Cornerbacks (5): David Amerson, Chris Culliver, Deshazor Everett, DeAngelo Hall, Justin Rogers
Final Cuts (1): Quinton Dunbar (also a wide receiver)

Analysis: Everett perhaps was the biggest surprise for the Redskins' defensive staff after the team signed the hard hitter out of Texas A&M Aug. 1 after several cornerbacks went down with nagging injuries.

Those injured cornerbacks – Amerson, Culliver, Hall and Bashaud Breeland – have since returned and remain in the plans for the 2015 season, but Everett, determined not to be a "camp body," also found a way to play himself into a spot on the roster.

Breeland, meanwhile, is not officially on the 53-man roster as of yet due to his one-game suspension for the Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins at FedExField.

The cornerbacks and safeties are being led this season by first-year defensive backs coach Perry Fewell, who brings a unique coaching style to the team.

"[I'm] high energy, more of a communicator," Fewell said. "I love to teach the technical aspects of the game, and I have more than one way to work with a player. I can get after them a little bit, but also love those players and praise them for the work they do on the field."

Safeties (5): Dashon Goldson, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett, Jeron Johnson, Trenton Robinson
Final Cuts (1): Akeem Davis

Analysis: Along with defensive line, the safety position for the Redskins sees a good deal of turnover in 2015. As it stands after final cuts, just one player, Robinson, returns for Washington from 2014 (Ihenacho was signed after final cuts last season and would play in only three games before suffering a season-ending foot injury).

Check out images of veteran safety Duke Ihenacho during the 2015 offseason.

The Redskins will enter the year with two new starters in the defensive backfield – Goldson at free safety and Ihenacho at strong safety. Johnson, acquired as a free agent this offseason after serving as a backup in the talented "Legion Of Boom" secondary in Seattle, could also push for some major minutes along with Ihenacho at strong safety.

Jarrett, meanwhile, isn't the most imposing figure at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, but he sure likes to deliver hard hits. The sixth-round pick out of Virginia Tech likely hopes to make a name on special teams before seeing much significant time with the defense.

Speaking of special teams, Davis' departure was surely one of the more difficult decisions for Gruden and his staff to make. Davis spent the entire season last year as a rookie bouncing back and forth between the active roster and the practice squad, and quickly became a fan favorite for his heart and hustle. Davis will land on his feet somewhere – perhaps back with the Redskins at some point – but we wish him the best of luck wherever that is.


SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker (1): Kai Forbath
Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Forbath, the Redskins' incumbent kicker, was able to beat out undrafted rookie Ty Long, who was cut during the first round of moves earlier this week, for the job.

Forbath, who hit three game winners for the Redskins last season, hit 24-of-27 field goals (88.9 percent) in 2014, the third-highest percentage in a single season in Redskins history behind only the great Mark Moseley (95.2 percent in 1982) and Forbath's own debut season in 2012 (94.4 percent).

The NFL record holder for most consecutive field goals to start a career (17), Forbath enters 2015 having converted 59-of-67 field goal attempts. His 88.1 percent field goal percentage entering 2015 is the best in team history among players with at least 50 attempts.

For 2015, the Redskins will continue to lean on Forbath not only as a field-goal kicker, but to continue to improve as a kickoff specialist to do his part to help pin the opponent back as far as possible.

Punter (1): Tress Way
Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Last season, Way had two games to show what he could do before winning out a battle for the Redskins' punter job with Robert Malone.

This season is a completely different story.

Way's rookie season saw him average 47.5 yards on 77 punts (40.0 net) with 22 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, and he became the first member of the Redskins to lead the NFL in punting for a season since Sam Baker did so in 1958. His gross average mark was the fourth-best in team history, trailing only Sammy Baugh's full-season NFL record (51.4 yards per punt in 1940) and Baugh's 1941 and 1942 campaigns (48.7 and 48.2).

So, without a challenger this time around, Way, a lefty, used his offseason and preseason to work on the technical aspects of his kicking, including directional punting.

"His legs get stronger every day," Gruden said of Way. "He's got great hang time on his punts since I've seen him. He's consistent. There are things he needs to work on, but I feel very, very good about that position."

Long Snapper (1): Nick Sundberg
Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: The only reason Sundberg has been replaced in the Redskins' lineup as their long snapper since 2010 were a couple of freak injuries.

Other than that, the California product has done his job to near perfection for the Redskins' special teams units since signing as a free agent in January 2010 (and re-signing with the team in 2013).

The Redskins are in good hands with their three returning specialists in Forbath, Way and Sundberg.

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