NFL Nation: Jose Gumbs

Ryan Clark to visit Redskins

March, 12, 2014
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The Washington Redskins' hole at safety could be filled by a familiar face: Ryan Clark. The former Redskin and Pittsburgh Steeler said on ESPN that he will visit with Washington on Thursday.

Clark
Clark played for the Redskins from 2004-05, but not for the current defensive staff (though inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti was here during that time). But after 24 starts, Clark signed with Pittsburgh in 2006 and formed a strong safety tandem with Troy Polamalu.

Clark was a free safety in Pittsburgh, but played both safety positions in Washington. The Redskins run the same scheme as Pittsburgh, so there wouldn’t be a big transition. Clark has missed only four games in the past six years.

Washington missed out on safety Mike Mitchell, who opted to sign with Pittsburgh -- to replace Clark. The Redskins were not strong bidders for Jairus Byrd, who signed with New Orleans. The question will be: What does Clark, at 35, have left? He obviously would be used to mentor and help groom the young safeties such as Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo and even Trenton Robinson and Jose Gumbs.

The Redskins could always opt to also re-sign safety Brandon Meriweather to a small deal as well. If they re-sign Reed Doughty, it would be as a backup and special teamer. His return is not a lock, though some in the building would like to see him return.

Upon Further Review: Redskins Week 14

December, 9, 2013
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LANDOVER, Md. -- A review of four hot topics following the Washington Redskins' 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

Shanahan’s status: As Monday began, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan remained employed. He looked exhausted or perhaps resigned to his fate Sunday night when he left FedEx Field nearly 90 minutes after an embarrassing 45-10 loss to the Chiefs. There have been too many recent stories detailing relationships -- Shanahan and Robert Griffin III; Shanahan and Griffin/Dan Snyder and Kyle Shanahan and Griffin -- and too many losses on the field to think this situation can be salvaged. Four years into the regime, the roster still needs a lot of work. The salary-cap penalty didn’t help, but free agency has been mixed for Redskins anyway, so to think it would have solved everything is incorrect. There are reasons to change regimes other than failed relationships. Aside from Griffin, the team leaders have publicly endorsed Shanahan’s return, and privately, players support him as well. But with a 24-37 record, they haven’t backed their support up with the sort of success the organization wanted.

Garcon
Garcon
Morris
Griffin’s status: On any other Sunday, the fact that Shanahan did not commit to Griffin to start the following week would make huge news. But it got lost in the drama of Shanahan’s job and the dynamics of various relationships. Shanahan would only say they’ll “talk about it later.” If there was no doubt, Shanahan would say so. It could be a moot point, as Shanahan might not even be the one making that decision. And it’s becoming clear he won’t be the one making these decisions in 2014. Still, for now, Shanahan isn’t sure whether he wants Griffin or Kirk Cousins to start against Atlanta. Shanahan is a strong believer in Cousins, and Griffin has been inconsistent at best. It also makes you wonder whether owner Dan Snyder would stand for something like this, knowing the future implications. Playing Cousins to “see what you have” doesn’t make much sense because Griffin remains the future. Just like it doesn’t make sense to bench Griffin just to keep him healthy. If he is the future, he needs to play and play a lot. If you’re not sold on that, then that’s a reason to play Cousins, or maybe also if you want to send a parting shot to the current starter. Regardless, it’s just more drama in Washington -- because there wasn’t enough already.

Special-teams mishaps: Niles Paul was as upset as anyone after Sunday’s game because of the special teams’ performance. He blamed it in part on players’ mindsets, saying that some guys project themselves as future starters, so they don’t prepare right for special teams. The thing is, on punt and kickoff coverage, there aren’t a lot of young players who are even guaranteed of a roster spot next season, let alone a starting job. On kick return Sunday, there were four players who are in their first or second years -- Bacarri Rambo, Jose Gumbs, Josh Bellamy and Trenton Robinson. Rambo already is starting (he was knocked for his special-teams play earlier this season). On punt coverage, 10 of the 11 players have been in the NFL for at least three years. The exception: Robinson. No, it’s not about young guys who don’t get it. Rather, it’s about veterans who don’t do it well. This unit was put together poorly.

Milestone marker: In a bad season, two Redskins offensive players have been consistent producers -- receiver Pierre Garcon and running back Alfred Morris. Both surpassed the 1,000-yard mark Sunday; Morris has now rushed for 1,027 yards, while Garcon has a career-best 1,017 yards receiving. Morris’ overall yardage total won’t match his 2012 number of 1,613 yards, but that’s not his fault. Morris is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has run the ball only 37 times combined in the past three games, two of which were blowouts. He’s also averaged 3.7 yards or fewer in those games as teams focused hard on stopping the Redskins' run game. Still, Morris has had a strong year running the ball in an offense with so much inconsistency. Garcon has posted big numbers, though he doesn’t have many big plays and has caught just three touchdown passes among his 89 catches. His longest catch is 44 yards, a function of a passing game that is either inaccurate downfield or doesn't get enough time to throw certain passes. Garcon is averaging 11.4 yards per catch, his lowest figure in his five seasons as a full-time starter. But he’s done a good job being able to catch and run, especially on screens, and is the lone receiver who worries a defense.

Reed, Bowen sit out practice

November, 21, 2013
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed and defensive end Stephen Bowen did not practice for a second consecutive day, though it remains uncertain what their status will be for Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Safety Jose Gumbs (ankle), corner Josh Wilson (infected toe) and fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) were limited.

If Reed can't play, then Fred Davis will get his first shot to play since Oct. 13 at Dallas. Davis has been inactive in large part because the Redskins like Reed better as a pass catcher and Logan Paulsen better as a blocker. Davis does not play special teams, so the Redskins keep Niles Paul as the third tight end.

The coaches say Davis' practice habits have improved since they started making him inactive. Davis is a free agent after the season.

Josh Morgan inactive for Redskins

November, 17, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Redskins hoped wide receiver Josh Morgan could develop into a solid No. 2 receiver. Then they hoped he could fill in as a kick and punt returner. But Morgan hasn't accomplished any of that and, Sunday, he was made inactive.
Morgan
The Redskins placed Morgan on their seven-man inactive list for their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Morgan, in the final year of his contract, had not made an impact at receiver or as a returner. The latter isn't surprising because Morgan had not returned punts in the NFL -- and only returned seven while at Virginia Tech. Morgan was surpassed as the starting Z receiver by third-year Leonard Hankerson, who is not a big playmaker but has been more productive than Morgan.

This also means undrafted rookie free agent Nick Williams will return punts in his NFL debut. He was signed off the practice squad during the week. Williams returned four punts for a touchdown in college.

Also inactive for Washington: quarterback Rex Grossman, guard Josh LeRibeus, safety Jose Gumbs, linebacker Brandon Jenkins, tight end Fred Davis and nose tackle Chris Neild. Jenkins was active in the first game against Philadelphia as the Redskins wanted more speed in their rush

For the Eagles, the inactives are quarterback Michael Vick, safety Earl Wolff, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, linebacker Jake Knott, receiver Damaris Johnson and tackle Dennis Kelly. Banged-up left tackle Jason Peters will start.

Redskins' Fred Davis inactive again

November, 7, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis was put on the inactive list for Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. This time it will cost him.

Davis
Davis needed to be active for 12 games this season in order to collect a $500,000 bonus. The initial reason for that bonus was because of Davis' Achilles' injury that ended is 2012 season. The Redskins wanted to protect themselves if he couldn't play much this season -- and reward him if he could. Davis has been a healthy inactive the past four games; he sat out one game because of a sprained ankle.

The emergence of rookie Jordan Reed, who leads all NFL rookies with 38 receptions, and the fact that Davis does not play special teams have kept him inactive. Niles Paul is actually the fourth tight end, but he is active because of his special-teams performance.

There weren't any surprises among the other inactives: quarterback Rex Grossman, running back Chris Thompson, safety Jose Gumbs, offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus, linebacker Brandon Jenkins and nose tackle Chris Neild. Jenkins was active last week as the Redskins wanted more speed in the pass rush. Thursday, veteran Darryl Tapp will be active instead.

Bacarri Rambo, Jose Gumbs to start

October, 27, 2013
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DENVER -- The Washington Redskins opted for inexperience at safety -- not that they had much of a choice.

Meriweather
Meriweather
Jose Gumbs will start at strong safety and Bacarri Rambo will start at free safety, a youthful and inexperienced combination against one of the NFL's all-time best quarterbacks in Peyton Manning. Reed Doughty (concussion) and Brandon Meriweather (suspension) are out.

The Redskins could have opted for E.J. Biggers to start at free safety, in essence giving the Redskins four cornerbacks on the field. But that's not the best alternative either, though in passing situations his speed would help.

Rambo, a rookie sixth-round pick, started the first two games of the season, but was benched in part because of his tackling, then was inactive the past three games because of his inability to stand out on special teams. One thing he did well during training camp and when he started is not get beat deep. That will be an important factor Sunday.

Gumbs, a first-year player, has played nine career snaps, but has shown the ability to hit. However, this game will also be as much about discipline and making sure to play the right coverages.

The Redskins will start Jarvis Jenkins at left end, moving Kedric Golston into a reserve role. Jenkins played the past two weeks as a backup following his four-game drug suspension. His ability to collapse the pocket will be pivotal.

Meanwhile, tight end Fred Davis is a healthy inactive for a second consecutive game. The Redskins keep Niles Paul active for his special teams play. Their other inactives: quarterback Rex Grossman, guard Josh LeRibeus, running back Chris Thompson, linebacker Brandon Jenkins and nose tackle Chris Neild.

Reed Doughty won't play Sunday

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
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DENVER -- The Washington Redskins, already thin in the secondary, got a little bit thinner.

Starting strong safety Reed Doughty will miss Sunday's game after suffering a concussion against the Chicago Bears last week while trying to recover an onside kick. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan called the hit on Doughty one of the "most vicious" he'd ever seen. After seeing Doughty this week, it's not a surprise that he won't play. On Wednesday, though he talked to the media, he was not quite himself and could not say that the symptoms had disappeared.

But he was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, however, he did not practice and Saturday he did not accompany the team to Colorado, spoiling a homecoming game for the former Northern Colorado standout.

The question now becomes: What will the Redskins do at safety? The Broncos force teams into a lot of nickel coverages and the Redskins have gone a number of times with three corners and a safety. They could still do that, though the safety would be converted corner E.J. Biggers. If they need a fifth defensive back the Redskins could opt for rookie Bacarri Rambo, who was benched after two starts, or Jose Gumbs, who has played nine career snaps.

The problem is, Washington needs a strong showing in coverage -- and a disciplined one at that -- against Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. The key to the game will be pressure, regardless of who's in the secondary. But the Redskins will try to disguise coverages, which will be harder to do given the inexperience they'll now have. The corners also have to be able to trust the safeties when trying to play certain coverages. That could be another issue.

Doughty questionable, doesn't practice

October, 25, 2013
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Reed Doughty did not practice Friday, after being limited the previous two days, and is questionable for Sunday’s game at the Denver Broncos.

Doughty was not in the locker room and therefore did not talk to the media. He has said that he’ll wait to see how he feels Sunday. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Doughty will be tested again Saturday and if he passes, he will play.

It’s not a good sign that Doughty couldn’t practice after working on a limited basis.

“The whole week he hasn’t been perfect,” Shanahan said. “That’s why we gave him some time off.”

If Doughty can’t play, the Redskins have a real hole at safety with Brandon Meriweather already suspended for one game. They could opt for corner E.J. Biggers at safety, a role he has played this season -- and started there in the season opener versus Philadelphia. Because Denver is a pass-happy team, Biggers’ speed deep is a help. He’s also a more experienced player than some of their other options. Jose Gumbs and Trenton Robinson, for example, have combined for nine NFL snaps -- all by Gumbs.

Meanwhile, defensive end Stephen Bowen (knee) also is questionable, but is expected to play. Receiver Leonard Hankerson (foot) and nose tackle Chris Neild (calf) are questionable. But Hankerson said Thursday there’s no doubt he’ll play.
*Even if Brandon Meriweather wins an appeal on his two-game suspension, he might still end up serving one game. Tampa Bay’s Dashon Goldson earlier this season and then-Baltimore safety Ed Reed a year ago both had their one-game suspensions reduced to fines. By giving Meriweather two games the NFL, it would appear, made it so that if the suspension were reduced he’d still sit out a game. I'd imagine someone with Meriweather's repeat offender history would have a hard time getting it reduced to just a fine. Meriweather has three days to appeal the ruling that was handed down Monday.

*The Redskins’ safety situation goes back to their inability to develop a player at that position or find a solution via free agency. They signed an aging O.J. Atogwe right before the lockout. Some executives and scouts I had spoken with said Atogwe was done -- and had been for a year. He turned out to be slow and ineffective. And done. They followed it up a year later by signing a two-time drug offender in Tanard Jackson who was then ... suspended indefinitely (and remains out) for drugs. They signed a player in Meriweather with a history of undisciplined play. Yes, at times he has helped them and when he’s going good the defense is better, but they’re in a bind now because of ... undisciplined play. They signed another aging vet in Madieu Williams, who was only supposed to be a backup but was forced into starting. And looked like an aging vet.

[+] EnlargeReed Doughty
AP Photo/Greg TrottReed Doughty has been a steady contributor at safety for the Redskins.
*This position has been greatly affected by the salary-cap penalty. I’m quite sure they would have signed someone of a higher caliber than the guys they had to settle on. But remember, their first choice a few years ago was Atogwe, back when the cap wasn’t an issue. So there’s no guarantee. But it has to be a top priority in the offseason.

*The only steady player at safety has been veteran Reed Doughty, who was here before this regime. Doughty gets a terrible rap by the fans, but he’s the lone player they can count on -- no off-field worries; no undisciplined play, etc. He’s best as a backup, but he’s a quality one and the Redskins are fortunate he’s still around. He does his job and the coaches know exactly what they’ll give them; they can work with that.

*Yes, they allowed LaRon Landry to leave. Given his two-year run of Achilles' issues, that was a 50-50 call and Landry wasn't all that thrilled with the Redskins' training staff, so he was looking to get out. Even coaches here who liked him were quick to bring up his health long before he left. Landry played every game last season but has missed four because of a high-ankle sprain this year with the Indianapolis Colts.

*Drafting and developing has been a problem too. The Redskins haven’t selected a safety above the fourth round, but they’ve had misfortune (2012 seventh-rounder Jordan Bernstine with terrible ligament tears that ended his time here; 2013 fourth-rounder Phillip Thomas with a Lisfranc injury) and some who didn’t develop (2011 fifth-rounder DeJon Gomes). They also have rookie Bacarri Rambo, a sixth-round pick who went from starter the first two games to inactive the past three.

*Being inactive is a reflection on Rambo’s special-teams performance. But if you lose your starting job, one way to get it back is to become a force on special teams. Defensive coaches love guys like that; also says something about how you respond. If and when Rambo gets back on the field he'll have a lot to prove. He was not ready to start initially (sixth-round picks rarely are) and his inclusion in the lineup always was as much about what they didn't have as what he could do.

*My preseason prediction of who would start at safety? Meriweather and Doughty. Why? Because it’s very, very tough for a rookie low-round pick to become an instant starter with how much they had to adjust to from college and learn. Maybe Thomas and Rambo become the starters in future seasons, but it’s way too early to believe that definitely will happen.

*What could save them, or at least help them, is the versatility of their corners. That’s something they talked about after the draft, following their selection of corner David Amerson. For now, he’s not the versatile one. But they can use E.J. Biggers in a safety role and they have used Josh Wilson in a variety of roles as well as DeAngelo Hall (more so in the past). You need to be a smart player to handle such a role. If they’re saved Sunday, this versatility will be part of the reason. It allows them to do more with their coverages, which has helped a great deal in recent weeks, until the second half Sunday. It hasn’t always worked, but the real issue in the opener versus Philadelphia, when Biggers started at safety, was having to be in a nickel front all game.

*I really don’t know what they’ll do in Meriweather’s place Sunday, though I’d imagine Biggers will play a key role. Can they really trust Jose Gumbs (nine career defensive snaps) or Trenton Robinson (zero career defensive snaps)? Against Peyton Manning? Re-sign Jordan Pugh? The pass rush will need to be outstanding Sunday.

Brandon Meriweather faces suspension

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
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It’s one thing for Brandon Meriweather's hits to cost him money and even for them to cost the Washington Redskins' defense some yards. The latter hurts, and this team isn’t good enough to always overcome those mistakes.

It’s quite another when they cost Meriweather games, particularly at a time when the Redskins are trying to build any sort of momentum and face arguably the NFL’s best quarterback Sunday and another top QB the following Sunday.

The NFL is considering a one- or two-game suspension for Meriweather, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It leaves the Redskins in a major bind because Meriweather plays a position where they have no depth -- and they don’t know yet whether Reed Doughty will be able to start Sunday because of a concussion. There’s a reason the Redskins have used E.J. Biggers and Josh Wilson more at safety in recent weeks than any of the other backups. Bacarri Rambo? He hasn’t shown any reason to believe he’ll do a better job at safety than Biggers. He responded to being benched by not improving on special teams and eventually being inactive.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Meriweather
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesBrandon Meriweather already has been fined this season for a helmet-first hit on Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy in Week 2.
There’s no unsigned safety who could come in and help, though they could always turn again to Jordan Pugh. But what, exactly, would that get them? And before anyone asks (and they still will), Tanard Jackson is still suspended, and if you haven’t heard an update, it’s because nothing has changed. Jose Gumbs was a surprise roster addition out of training camp, but he's played only nine snaps in his career. You want him lining up deep against Peyton Manning?

With Meriweather in the lineup, the Redskins have an exuberant player capable of making solid tackles, when he's not leading with his helmet. They can run blitzes like they did Sunday where David Amerson is sent from the numbers, knowing Meriweather can rotate over in time to defend even a speedy receiver. It’s a little wrinkle that helps the defense.

So he obviously has merit. But that obscures the larger point about Meriweather. Is he capable of change? Yes, it’s tough for a defensive back in the modern NFL to sometimes know how to hit a receiver. He’s not a big guy at 5-foot-11, 197 pounds, so it’s not as if he can just form tackle everyone to the ground. It’s a romantic notion, but not always realistic.

Meriweather grew up watching a different game that safeties could play. You want to call him a headhunter? Go ahead. The NFL agrees with you, if the numerous fines and likely suspension mean anything.

“I think they’re trying to be safe, and I think the only way to be safe is to do what they’re doing,” Meriweather said. “But at the same time, this is tackle football. A job of a safety is to instill fear, and you can’t do that with pulling up.”

No, you can’t. But you also can’t take two or three steps and hit a receiver who already has dropped the ball, as he did on Brandon Marshall in the end zone. That’s not the effects of a new rule; that’s just undisciplined football. When a player has a history of that, it will continue to haunt him (just like it did with Mark Carrier back in the day).

Meriweather's lack of discipline hurt him in New England and Chicago. It’s hurting him here -- as well as the Redskins. Others may view Meriweather as a bad guy; we’ve seen him as a fun player to interview. Is he a bad guy? I don’t have that evidence from my dealings with him.

But this isn’t about whether he is a good or bad guy. It’s about how he plays. And he plays a reckless style that puts his team in a bind at times. Only now there’s a difference between it costing his team 15 yards and costing him games.

And this isn’t just about his hits on Sunday. It’s about a player with a repeated pattern of making the same mistake. You can dislike the new rules all you want -- and I’m not always a fan of them either -- but if they lower the speed limit on the roads I drive, I still have to obey the law.

The first penalty was evidence of the new NFL. But I also saw Bears corner Charles Tillman deliver a strong shoulder blow when Robert Griffin III ran out of bounds on one play. No, it wasn’t a bang-bang play as they are with receivers, but it was still a good, solid hit. So it can be done.

The Redskins can’t cut Meriweather because they have zero legitimate alternatives. The NFL will teach him a lesson, and the Redskins will cross their fingers and hope that he learns it. History suggests that’s a long shot.

Fred Davis, Kai Forbath inactive

September, 22, 2013
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LANDOVER, Md. -- Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis is among their seven inactives for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, along with place-kicker Kai Forbath.

Davis injured his ankle late in the week and was added to the injury list Saturday morning. Davis tested his ankle Sunday morning and could be seen walking with a slight limp at times. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Logan Paulsen, but rookie Jordan Reed will see considerable action. Reed replaced Davis in many sets in last week's loss at Green Bay, playing 21 second-half snaps to Davis' five. Davis said he only made one or two missed assignments, but that number likely does not mesh with what the coaches would say. He also dropped a pass. Meanwhile, Reed is still learning, but makes tough catches -- he made Robert Griffin III look good last week by grabbing a pass that was far behind him in the end zone, a catch few tight ends could make.

Forbath was unable to kick Saturday, a good sign that he would be inactive Sunday. John Potter will handle the kicking chores. Nothing has changed since last week: Potter has a strong leg but is inconsistent on field goals even in practice.

The Redskins other inactives: quarterback Rex Grossman, defensive lineman Chris Baker, guard Josh LeRibeus, running back Evan Royster and safety Jose Gumbs. Baker is a surprise, but it's not as if he's played well in the first two games as a backup in the nickel package.

Detroit will be without running back Reggie Bush, which is good news for a defense that needs a break. He provides the Lions' offense with another threat to go with receiver Calvin Johnson. The Lions did a good job getting Bush the ball in the open field. Joique Bell will replace Bush in the lineup.

Washington Redskins inactives

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Redskins will use place-kicker John Potter instead of injured Kai Forbath in rainy Green Bay on Sunday. Potter has never attempted a field goal in the NFL, but he was in the Redskins' camp this summer and has a strong leg for kickoffs. There were days in training camp where Potter looked pretty good on field goals, then other days where he was inconsistent with 40-yard line drives.

But there were no other surprises among the inactives. The other six are quarterback Rex Grossman, running back Evan Royster, safety Jordan Pugh, safety Jose Gumbs, nose tackle Chris Neild and guard Josh LeRibeus. The fact that two safeties are inactive suggests they have confidence that strong safety Brandon Meriweather will hold up in his first action of the season -- and his first regular-season game since Nov. 18 against Philadelphia. Pugh and Gumbs both play free safety, though they worked with Pugh this summer on playing more in the box.

The fact that Neild again is inactive suggests the Redskins will use a lot of their nickel package again. Neild plays almost exclusively in their base package as Barry Cofield's backup.

The good news for Washington is that Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett is inactive. He's their most experienced safety and his absence last week did not help in the Packers' loss at San Francisco.

Predicting the Redskins' final 53

August, 30, 2013
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This is like picking the NCAA basketball tournament. Most teams are very easy to pick -- going out on a limb and projecting Robert Griffin III on the roster, barring conflicting statements of course. And there are few things I dislike more than picking the final 53. Why? Chance to be wrong too many times. And yet, here I am on the eve of cut-down day sending out projections. Fortunately, I feel good about tight ends, linebackers and the defensive line. And, I think, quarterbacks. But I'm shaky on running back, receiver and the defensive backfield. More fluid parts there.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
They’re in:
Griffin, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman
Out: Pat White

Note: White made strides, and under different circumstances I’d keep him around. Just to see how he develops. But with questions about Griffin’s durability, I’d be reluctant to have White as my third quarterback because of his inexperience. He improved with his accuracy, but still was inconsistent on certain throws. He’ll take time to develop. Would you keep White to groom him as the backup and then trade Cousins in the offseason? Sure. But what if something else happens to Griffin and you hang onto Cousins, just in case? When you listen to the coaches, they definitely like how White has progressed. Their enthusiasm for his progress is genuine. A few weeks ago I would not have written any explanation about why he would or would not stick around.

RUNNING BACKS (5)
They’re in:
Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Keiland Williams, Chris Thompson, Darrel Young
Out: Evan Royster

Note: Royster is a better running back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to trade him. (Was told by one coach of another team there would be at least a limited market for him.) Before the Bucs game, I was convinced he was gone. Now? I think it's 51-49 he leaves. Or, perhaps 50.5-49.5. Williams is a better special-teams player than Royster. Both have solid hands, but Royster needs the ball a lot to be effective. So in a pinch he’s not as effective. Though he’s a good fit in a zone-read, the Redskins have a featured back (Morris), a third-down back (Helu), a speed back (Thompson) and a special-teamer do-it-all (Williams). It does not sound as if Williams' shoulder is that bad from Thursday; if it is, then this changes.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
They’re in:
Fred Davis, Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul
Out: Emmanuel Ogbuehi

Note: No surprises here. On draft day coach Mike Shanahan made it clear they could keep four tight ends. Paul looked a lot more comfortable this summer than last, thanks to an offseason of work after playing the position for the first time. Reed will help once he becomes more consistent. Ogbuehi impressed them, but there’s no room.

RECEIVERS (5)
They’re in:
Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson
Out: Dez Briscoe, Skye Dawson, Nick Williams

Note: The first five were a lock before camp opened and remained that way throughout the summer. Briscoe could sneak in because of his size, but his hands are inconsistent – that was true last season and again this summer. He had a nice play the other night, but I didn’t like that he got caught from behind. With four tight ends, three of whom are solid receiving threats, and with Helu, the Redskins don’t need as many receivers as in the past. Keep in mind, too, that Shanahan has kept as few as four wideouts in the past (with Denver in 2005 and ’08, according to their opening day rosters). If they keep Dawson or Williams around on the practice squad they should be fine. Neither Dawson nor Williams did enough to warrant a spot. Dawson is quick and was tough to cover in one-on-one drills, but did little in 11-on-11 work. As a returner he was fine, but needed to be great.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
They’re in:
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus
Out: Tony Pashos

Note: The Redskins opt for youth at the backup spots, but while Pashos did show some good things – his hands, strength – I’m not sure he moved as well as needed in this offense. Again, another one I’m uneasy about because I don’t like the inexperience with the backups. Plus Compton’s development at left tackle should give them confidence that he could move to the right side if needed. The problem: Compton did not have a good final game, especially early. Gave up more than you’d like in protection and some issues in the run game, too. He was inconsistent in the opener, but played well in the second and third games. They also have Maurice Hurt, who likely will be on the PUP list. I’m uneasy with the backup guards, even though I do like how Gettis progressed.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
They’re in:
Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Chris Baker, Chris Neild, Phillip Merling
Out: Ron Brace

Note: Merling would have been bumped had Jarvis Jenkins not been suspended. So when Jenkins returns, Merling could be in trouble. But Merling was fine against the run. Golston has played well enough to open at left end; he does a better job than Baker of doing his job here, occupying blockers. Baker too often likes to get upfield and make plays; it can lead to big gaps in the defense.

LINEBACKERS (8)
They’re in:
Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, Darryl Tapp, Bryan Kehl, Nick Barnett, Brandon Jenkins
Out: Will Compton, Marvin Burdette

Note: This is tough for me because I like how Compton has played. He’s a smart, decisive player who was able to defeat blockers in part because he often beat them to the spot. I’d definitely want him on the practice squad. The other question is, what happens when Rob Jackson returns from suspension? Do they cut one of these players? I don’t know who you would cut; Tapp has been a terrific surprise (for me anyway) and Jenkins is safe. So they might end up with nine linebackers when Jackson returns.

CORNERBACKS (6)
They’re in:
DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, E.J. Biggers, David Amerson, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy

Note: Murphy is a surprise choice; the coaches really like him and he’s a physical player and good on special teams.

SAFETIES (5)
They’re in:
Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, Bacarri Rambo, Jordan Pugh, DeJon Gomes.
Out: Jose Gumbs

Note: Gumbs to the practice squad. And, by the way, I’m not confident at all in this position. The Redskins, one league source said, had contacted teams about Gomes a couple weeks ago, seeing if there was any trade interest. Whether or not he’s still on the market – or if anyone would part with something for him -- I don’t know. And if they’re concerned about Meriweather’s durability, perhaps you keep Gomes because he can play in the box and back up Doughty. He’s also a good special-teams player. I'm not anticipating a Tanard Jackson return either. He can apply for reinstatement Saturday. That does not mean he'll be reinstated immediately -- if at all. Remember, it was an indefinite suspension.

SPECIALISTS (3)
They're in:
Sav Rocca, Kai Forbath, Nick Sundberg

Note: If you’re expecting great analysis here, stop reading. Nothing to say. They were in from Day One.

Redskins vs. Bucs: What to watch for

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
9:02
AM ET
With just about every starter out for Thursday's preseason finale at 7:30 p.m. ET at Tampa Bay, is there much reason to be interested in this game? The biggest part of the night will be an examination of Robert Griffin III's right knee. If they televised that, it might draw higher ratings than the game. But they are going to play and we're going to watch, and this is what needs to be monitored:

How Brandon Meriweather looks. The Redskins need Meriweather to look like he’s ready to play a game and, thus far, they have not been convinced that is the case in practice. Every game he played last season, whether it was in the preseason or the one game against Philadelphia during the regular season, Meriweather made plays. There were breakups, hits and turnovers. If he’s not around the ball a lot; if he’s not making plays; then Meriweather might still be affected by his December ACL surgery.

Many happy returns? The Redskins could use another game with many punts, just to give them a better idea on certain players, such as rookie Chris Thompson. Two weeks ago he looked bad fielding punts; last week he did not -- he was patient and knows how to set up blocks. But those two fumbles from scrimmage loom large, as does his inexperience. Josh Morgan might get a surprise shot here, coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday. But Morgan was a good punt returner at Virginia Tech, though he’s returned just one in the NFL. Skye Dawson has returned punts throughout the preseason and has done well since two bad returns in the opener (fumble, bad decision). Hard to imagine he’s done enough to warrant a roster spot.

Pat White. He’ll start and play the whole game, capping a summer of terrific opportunities. Thanks to Robert Griffin III’s knee, White received more time than he ordinarily would have as a fourth quarterback. It enabled him to showcase more of what he could do. Could he earn a spot here? Only as a fourth quarterback, and that seems like a big stretch. The Redskins are convinced he’ll be on someone’s roster -- is that legit or an attempt to possibly drum up trade interest (slight long shot). White is not close to where the others on the Redskins are as a quarterback. He has improved, but all he’s shown thus far is an ability to run (already known) and that he can hit the slant/dig route. He needs to show he can go through a progression; that he can consistently hit the out routes. White has definitely improved since we first saw him in spring workouts (when he looked like someone who should not even be invited to camp). He deserves a lot of credit, and I could see another team wanting him as a developmental No. 3. With two young quarterbacks already, the Redskins don’t need such a player, unless they already anticipate trading Kirk Cousins in the offseason (though how could you know that already; what if something happens to Griffin once again?) and want to groom another backup.

Secondary issues. At least those not named Meriweather. Josh Wilson will play, one of the few projected starters who will appear in the game (tight end Fred Davis was not yet scheduled to have the night off as of Tuesday; that's surprising, so we'll see if he actually plays or not). Wilson is coming off shoulder surgery and needs the work. Is there any way he loses his starting job? I can’t go there yet, because rookie David Amerson is still clearly learning lessons. But I can’t imagine Wilson has a stronghold on the position either. Why should he? Two guys to watch are cornerback Jerome Murphy and safety Jose Gumbs. Murphy has been a special teams standout, and fared well in limited time from scrimmage; he had a good camp, too. Gumbs is a hitter learning to play free safety. This is, perhaps, the most jumbled of all the positions because they also have Jordan Pugh and DeJon Gomes. Tough to see both making the roster, but it really could depend on the Bucs game.

Who has the big finale? There are players who can change their fate with a big showing in the final preseason game. A year ago Brandon Banks had 156 total yards against Tampa Bay -- 90 from scrimmage; 66 on punt returns -- to clinch a roster spot. Maybe he already had earned one, but this made it definite. Linebacker Robert Henson had a terrific final game in 2009 to jump ahead of fellow rookie linebacker Cody Glenn and earn a spot. A year later Henson lost his opportunity when he blew out his knee in the preseason finale. Who will have that sort of game Thursday night?

Running back battle. My best guess is that the Redskins keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Darrel Young. In that scenario Thompson makes it with Keiland Williams and Evan Royster vying for the final spot. Right now, I’d give Williams the edge. Rookie Jawan Jamison hasn’t done a whole lot this summer and appears to be a good candidate for the practice squad. And if they somehow lost him, oh well.

Receiver questions. Do they keep a sixth receiver? If so, would someone else other than Dez Briscoe be in that battle? Hard to imagine based on what we’ve seen in games and practice. Lance Lewis has a long way to go to be ready to make an NFL roster, and Dawson and Nick Williams both are more suited to the practice squad. What if Leonard Hankerson has a big game? Could he unseat Morgan as the Z receiver? I’d like to see a lot more consistency from Hankerson to make that happen. Morgan makes the tough catches that Hankerson has yet to prove he can make (not the one-handers, but the grabs over the middle when you’re about to be drilled).

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