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A Closer Look: Redskins' 53-Man Roster

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Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda gives you an in-depth look at who made the cut for the Washington Redskins on the 53-man roster heading into the 2017 regular season.


OFFENSE

Quarterback (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

Final Cuts (1): Nate Sudfeld

Analysis: As has been the case over the last two-plus years now, Cousins is Washington's starting quarterback with McCoy – who has started 25 games in his NFL career – serving as a veteran backup.

But for the first time in a few years now, Washington has elected to go with just two quarterbacks on the initial 53-man roster as they have waived Sudfeld, a 2016 sixth-round pick.

Sudfeld was on the active roster for the entirety of his rookie season but did not dress in any of the Redskins' 16 regular season games.

The Indiana product did start Washington's preseason finale on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, completing 22-of-33 passes for 228 yards.

Even though he was among the players waived by Washington on Saturday, the team remains high on his development and could bring him back on the practice squad.

Running Backs (4): Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown

Final Cuts (2): Matt Jones, Kenny Hilliard

Analysis: Just as they did during the final months of the regular season last year, the Redskins will carry four running backs on the active roster.

Kelley, of course, returns as the team's starting running back and head coach Jay Gruden is steadfast in his praise of Thompson in the third-down back role. Washington also brought in Perine during the 2017 NFL Draft, as the 5-foot-11, 236-pound bruiser provides Washington with a short yardage back that could solve some of the red zone struggles from 2016.

While it was assumed all three would be on the active roster to start the year, Brown was able to push his way back into the fold. Brown may not have his number called early on the offensive side of the ball as the likely No. 4 running back, but he plays a vital role on special teams.

"I liked what he brought to the team on special teams," Gruden said last month. "Then he had a big breakout run against Chicago, which was excellent. He's progressing."

Jones, meanwhile, was waived following two seasons in Washington after the Redskins selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The University of Florida product started the first seven games last year as the replacement for Alfred Morris, but injuries and ball security issues – coupled with the rise in production from Kelley – resulted in the 24-year old being inactive for the final nine games of the season.

Wide Receivers (5): Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor Sr., Ryan Grant, Brian Quick

Final Cuts (7): Robert Davis, Maurice Harris, Matt Hazel, Levern Jacobs, Zach Pascal, James Quick, Jamari Staples

Check out these photos of wide receiver Brian Quick.

Analysis: At one of the deepest position groups for the Redskins, Washington is electing to start the season with five wide receivers, as returners Crowder, Grant and Doctson are joined this season by Pryor and Quick.

Washington's top four receivers of Crowder, Doctson, Pryor and Grant seemingly were locked in, but there was a tight battle for that last spot. Quick edged out Davis and Harris, though, among others.

The veteran is coming off a career best season with the Los Angeles Rams, as he recorded 41 receptions for 564 yards and three touchdowns.

As for the three starters on Washington's unofficial depth chart – Doctson, Crowder and Pryor – the hope is that the trio can produce in similar fashion to the way Crowder, Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson did last year.

Despite the Redskins waiving seven receivers, Washington has ample options for the practice squad. 

Davis was a sixth-round pick in this year's draft and had a strong showing during training camp.  

"Robert has done some good things, not just catching the ball but blocking. I've been impressed with him," Gruden said. "We're trying to run the ball. Any time you want to be a physical, running football team, you have to have physical receivers to go in there and block safeties from time to time, sometimes even linebackers. Robert has proven he can do that. He's not afraid, that's for sure."

Harris, meanwhile, went from practice squad to active roster last season, recording eight receptions for 66 yards in 10 games while Hazel spent the final two months of 2016 on Washington's practice squad.

Tight Ends (4): Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle

Final Cuts (2): Manasseh Garner, E.J. Bibbs

Analysis: Just prior to Saturday's cutdown deadline, the Redskins announced that they acquired a seventh-round selection from the Rams in exchange for Derek Carrier.

Carrier spent two seasons with the Redskins and looked solid in his lone full offseason on the field in Washington, but with so much depth at the position, the team received compensation for the Beloit College product instead of outright releasing him.

As for the four tight ends that are on the active roster, position coach Wes Phillips believes it is the deepest tight ends group in the NFL today and it'd be hard to argue against that.

Reed, of course, is among the best at the position today while Davis has experienced a renaissance of sorts in Washington. Last year the veteran recorded 44 receptions for 583 yards and two touchdowns.

Paul, meanwhile, can play multiple positions on offense including fullback while remaining one of the Redskins' best special teams players.

Rounding out the group is Sprinkle, a fifth-round selection out of Arkansas. While the 6-foot-5, 252 pounder can be a pass catching threat, Gruden believes Sprinkle is "going to be a Y tight end in this league for a very long time."

"He's going to get stronger and stronger every year and he's got very good hands," Gruden said. "He's got deceptive speed, but you really like him as an in-line blocker."

Offensive Linemen (8): Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Brandon Scherff, Trent Williams, Chase Roullier, Tyler Catalina

Final Cuts (8): Lucas Crowley, Kyle Kalis, John Kling, Arie Kouandjio, Kendall Pace, Vinston Painter, Ronald Patrick, Isaiah Williams

Analysis: The Redskins return their starting offensive line from a year ago with Williams – a five-time Pro Bowler – leading the way, but there's two new faces in the room.

Roullier and Catalina have cracked the active roster as rookies, although the two joined the Redskins on different paths. Roullier is a sixth-round pick out of Wyoming that has been thrusted into the spotlight recently with Long sidelined by a knee injury.

The 24-year-old started Washington's preseason Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and appeared on 40 snaps with the first-team offensive unit. He didn't look out of place against an aggressive Bengals front-seven, just as he hadn't at all during training camp.

"He's done a great job, he really has," Gruden said. "For a rookie to come in here and handle all the things he has to handle, it's been very impressive. Chase has got a ways to go obviously but he's on the right track. He's a true center. He might have to play a little bit of guard from time to time. If he's going to dress on game day, he's going to have to back up guard and center. So, well get him going, but the starting point is to really find a good center."

As for Catalina, he joined Washington's roster as a college free agent signing in May. He has the versatility to play multiple spots along the line, as was the case against the Buccaneers when he played at right tackle, left tackle and right guard.

DEFENSE

Defensive Linemen (6):Jonathan Allen, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier II, Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, Matt Ioannidis

Final Cuts (4): Brandon Banks, Joey Mbu, Ondre Pipkins, A.J. Francis

Analysis: One of the most difficult positions to gauge in terms of roster decisions throughout the preseason, the defensive line's standing became a little bit clearer on Saturday with the decision to keep six defensive linemen on the active roster.

Hood returns as the elder statesman of the group, as the 30-year-old can play both end positions and nose tackle.

The Redskins also return second-year linemen in the form of Lanier and Ioannidis, both of whom the coaching staff is looking for an uptick in production this year.

"He's gotten a lot stronger in the weight room," Gruden said of Ioannidis, a fifth-round pick for Washington last year. "It's kind of what I was hoping. Getting him out of Temple, he's just a big, strong guy. He works hard in the weight room. It's led by Ziggy Hood. He's a great example for those guys, those young guys, with his work habits in the weight room. He takes them all under his wing and Matt's one of those guys that's just gotten so much stronger. He gets great push in the pocket and he's playing good against the run, so I've been impressed with Matt."

McGee and McClain were signed within the first 24 hours of free agency opening up this year and the Redskins believe Allen can be a game-changing player for years to come.

"Everything that I've seen so far from him from as a person, character standpoint and athletic ability has been what we thought, so he's going to be great addition for us for a long time," Gruden said during training camp. "Any time you've got a big guy that can rush as a three-technique this day and age, especially third down, that's a huge benefit for us.

"He also is excellent against the run — I think he proved that at Alabama his last year. He was kind of known as just a pass rusher his junior year and then he came back his senior year and wanted to show people he was really a good run defender and he did that. All-around defensive end, defensive tackle, it's going to really help us."

Linebackers (10): Ryan Kerrigan, Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Preston Smith, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight, Chris Carter, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson

Final Cuts (5): Nico Marley, Pete Robertson, Ron Thompson Jr., Lynden Trail, Zach Vigil

Check out these photos of linebacker Zach Brown, who signed with the Washington Redskins on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Analysis: In terms of the outside linebackers, this group is once again headlined by Kerrigan, a two-time Pro Bowler who is already third all-time in franchise history in sacks. This year he is joined once again by Smith along with Carter, Galette and Anderson.

After spending his first two seasons in Washington on Injured Reserve with Achilles tears, Galette finally returned to the field last weekend and showed some of his famous burst off the line. With Trent Murphy sidelined for the year, they'll need a healthy and productive Galette on game days.

At inside linebacker, the Redskins are still determining how the depth will stack up there but Foster and Brown started the second and third preseason games.

Harvey-Clemons cracked the 53-man roster after capping off his first NFL preseason slate with a 41-yard pick-six Thursday night. The college safety is still trying to adjust to a new position as a dime linebacker, but he was happy to showcase his progress with the interception.

"It's something we work on as linebackers all the time," Harvey-Clemons said of the play. "Once you feel the flow of the running back and it's a play action. I turned, found the crossing receiver and I got up under him. The quarterback, I don't know if he saw me or not, but he threw it right to me and I had great blockers on the play."

Cornerbacks (6): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Joshua Holsey, Kendall Fuller

Final Cuts (2): Tevin Homer, Jeremiah McKinnon

Analysis: While Norman and Breeland are the starters once again on the outside, Washington's depth at this position really impressed during training camp.

Fuller took over the nickel cornerback position at the start of camp and looked more comfortable with a fully healthy offseason under his belt. Last year, the 2016 third-round pick was still recovering from a torn ACL that limited his speed some.

"I think he's more confident in the injury that he's coming off of," Gruden said. "He looks stronger, he looks faster, so it's good to see. He's moving around also, he's playing some nickel, playing some corner, and he's doing a fine job."

Moreau, meanwhile, flashed in Washington's second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers with two big special teams plays while also showing the ability to hang with speedy wide receivers.

"It's no joke what he's putting out there on the field," Norman said of Moreau. "Obviously he's going to be a great talent in this league to come. But he's still going to work on some things. We'll get him better each and every day. He's going to work with us. We're going to get him to the level he needs to be."

Safeties (5): D.J. Swearinger, Su'a Cravens, Deshazor Everett, Montae Nicholson, Stefan McClure

Final Cuts (2): Will Blackmon, Fish Smithson

Analysis: Just as Everett did two years ago – although at the cornerback position – McClure has made the active roster after being signed during training camp.

In Washington's four preseason games, McClure recorded 11 tackles along with two passes defensed ad a sack.

This position group, though, features Swearinger and Cravens. Swearinger was one of Washington's free agent additions and has provided the defense with a vocal leader.

"I'm a natural leader from birth," Swearinger said. "My mom told me that, been telling me that all my life. You know, she told me to lead not to follow, and lead first and foremost, and that's what, you know, a lot of the energy, the excitement, and when we get people lined up, that's where a lot of that comes from."

Cravens, meanwhile, has moved back to safety after spending his rookie season at inside linebacker.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker (1): Dustin Hopkins

Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Hopkins is entering his third season with the Redskins after being picked up in Week 2 of the 2015 season. In two years in Washington, the Florida State product has converted on 54-of-70 field goal attempts and averaged more than 62 yards per kickoff.

Punter (1): Tress Way

Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Settling in with the Redskins, Way is entering his fourth season as the team's punter. In total, he has booted 196 punts for an average of 46.4 yards.

Long Snapper (1): Nick Sundberg

Final Cuts (0)

Analysis: Outside of a few injuries over the years, Sundberg has been the Redskins' long snapper since the 2010 season and is the gel that holds the specialists together.

He signed a new contract with the Redskins during the offseason as Washington's coaching staff remains confident in their belief that he's among the best at his position in the NFL today.

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