Washington Redskins: Keiland Williams

Washington Redskins cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:43
PM ET
Most significant move: Keeping four quarterbacks with back-from-the-dead Pat White making the roster. Anyone who saw White throw early in spring workouts would not have predicted this scenario. But White, who has been out of the NFL the past three seasons, improved throughout the summer and the coaches genuinely liked what they saw. One coach predicted earlier in the week that he would be on someone’s roster. White showed he can still run and mastered the slant routes and digs. He still needs to work on finesse throws and prove he can make throws into tight windows over the middle, but his improvement was noticeable.

However, keeping four is still a lot. But with Kirk Cousins nursing a sprained right foot and with Robert Griffin III not having played in the preseason, the Redskins might just keep White around for the first couple of games. They have roster exemptions for end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson, both suspended for the first four games, so they could make this sort of move. If Griffin and Cousins both stay healthy, it’s hard to see this being a long-term situation. Still, White made big strides after a rough start.

The Redskins also opted to keep running back Evan Royster, who perhaps saved his job with a strong preseason finale at Tampa Bay. He's one of five running backs along with speedy rookie Chris Thompson.

Gone, but not yet forgotten: The Redskins would like to re-sign a number of their released players to the practice squad, including Chase Minnifield, Nick Williams, Tevita Stevens, Will Compton and tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, among others. Minnifield’s release was a surprise, given how the coaches talked about him during camp and his physical style in press coverage -- and with the loss of corner Richard Crawford. But the coaches liked corner Jerome Murphy’s physical style as well – and his special teams ability. Williams is an intriguing prospect as a slot receiver and punt returner. Ogbeuhi is a raw prospect who needs to spend a year or two on the practice squad.

Safety DeJon Gomes, a fifth-round pick in 2011 and opening day starter in 2012, did not progress in coverage. Though he was better in the box, the Redskins have Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty ahead of him at strong safety. And they opted for Jose Gumbs, signed right before camp, as a swing safety.

The Redskins also placed offensive lineman Maurice Hurt on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The tough cut? Receiver Dez Briscoe. According to a league source, Briscoe would have made the roster had he not injured his shoulder in the preseason finale.

What's next: The Redskins next big moves will occur after Week 4 when Jenkins and Jackson return from their four-game suspensions. At that point end Phillip Merling could be in trouble, along with, possibly White, simply because it would be unusual to keep four quarterbacks all season.

The Redskins lack experienced depth along the offensive line and could always use more help at safety. So if anyone intriguing clears waivers, the Redskins would be interested. They also retain the rights to suspended safety Tanard Jackson, who is now eligible for reinstatement. However, it could take a while for the NFL to grant his return -- if they give it to him at all.

Redskins cuts: RB: Keiland Williams, Jawan Jamison, RB Tristan Davis (from exempt/left squad list). WR: Skye Dawson, Nick Williams, Lance Lewis, Dez Briscoe (designated as injured). OL: Tevita Stevens, Tony Pashos, Kevin Matthews, Xavier Nixon. TE: Emmanuel Ogbuehi. DL: Chigo Anunoby, Dominique Hamilton, Ron Brace. DB: DeJon Gomes, Chase Minnifield LB: Vic So’oto, Will Compton, Marvin Burdette.

Washington Redskins cut update

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
1:15
PM ET
The Redskins haven’t made their cuts official, but here’s an unofficial list based on reporting by ESPN.com, The Washington Post, ESPN 980, WJFK 106.7 The Fan, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star and CSNWashington.

Running back Evan Royster will make the final roster, per The Washington Post. Quarterback Pat White remains on the roster as the Redskins head into practice at 1 p.m. There's talk they're trying to find a way to either trade him or keep four quarterbacks. They only need to release two more with exemptions for suspended players Jarvis Jenkins and Rob Jackson and with lineman Maurice Hurt likely headed to the PUP list. Receiver Dez Briscoe needs a second opinion on his injured shoulder and could be a waived/injured or injured reserve candidate.

A number of the players released will be signed to the practice squad if they clear waivers, notably Chase Minnifield, Nick Williams and Emmanuel Ogbuehi.

Here’s the list so far:

Observation deck: Redskins-Buccaneers

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
12:45
AM ET

 
Highlights from the Washington Redskins' 30-12 preseason finale win at Tampa Bay. They ended the preseason 4-0:

1. Robert Griffin III tweeted that he had been cleared to play by Dr. James Andrews, but then coach Mike Shanahan said the doc had a couple concerns. And that Shanahan would meet with Griffin over the weekend to discuss the situation. OK, I do not think this is just a ploy by Shanahan to keep the Eagles guessing, especially because the decision could come early in the week -- and if you’re Philly, you’re prepping for Griffin regardless. Much easier to adjust to a non-read-option attack than vice versa if Kirk Cousins has to play. Shanahan, though, is huge on gaining any little advantage. Still, it’s legit for Shanahan to want to see another week of practice, if that is the case. Just know that if this is the case, there will be more probing into the coach-player dynamic. Maybe Shanahan just wanted to remind everyone who controlled the decision.

2. But if it’s Andrews who has the concerns, then no one can blame Shanahan if he wants to take a little more time to evaluate -- or if he ultimately chooses to sit Griffin for the opener. There is, wrongly, a belief that Shanahan and the Redskins have rushed Griffin back. The kid hasn’t played in a game yet and, despite being cleared for practice at the start of camp, did not take any 11-on-11 reps until three weeks in. So, no, they have not rushed him back. When you see Griffin, you see someone who if not 100 percent is very close. If he were limping or missing practices and then it was announced he would play in the opener, then, OK, he’s being rushed. Now? Even if he plays I don’t think he would have been rushed. There’s one person who was rushing here; because of it he’s put himself on the verge of meeting his goal to play in the opener.

3. What are the concerns? Could be as simple as: Learn how to take care of yourself on the field. The coaches have preached this to Griffin for a while and, despite perception, he did learn last year. After his concussion he ran out of bounds at a much higher percentage than before. But when it’s a key situation he will try to grab every yard possible, turning upfield instead of running out of bounds. Have said this several times, but Griffin needs to learn how to keep the defenses guessing when scrambling by keeping the ball alive -- pump-faking as he approaches the line, or even beyond. Cousins did this a couple times against Pittsburgh. But Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger did it as well, even getting linebacker London Fletcher to jump in the air after Roethlisberger had crossed the line of scrimmage. It’s just another way for Griffin to protect himself.

4. Chris Thompson’s speed and playmaking ability will earn him a roster spot. Shanahan praised him earlier in the week, excused his fumbles and called them correctable and said he’d keep getting better. Read between the lines. Then Thompson returns a punt 69 yards for a touchdown. Whether or not he ends up as the main returner immediately is irrelevant; he still needs refining in this role. But it just shows what he’s capable of doing. Thompson was extra patient on the return, a trait he showed last week too. He’s good at pausing, forcing the coverage to commit and then spotting the opening. What I like about his running style: the ability to cut sharply and the fact that he’s always leaning forward when cutting up through the hole. For a little guy, he never gets knocked back.

5. Thompson also picked up a defensive linemen coming on a third-down stunt. Really liked how he attacked the block. The coaches like when you’re willing to handle this task, and Thompson did not back down at all. Made a good block, too. He deserves a roster spot; he understands how to run with the ball in this system. Thompson did misjudge a punt, not getting a good read on the ball and falling slightly forward as he caught it. He can work on catching punts in practice, as he has been doing.

6. The question is, did Evan Royster do enough to warrant a roster spot. I did not think entering the game that he would earn a job. And I think it comes down to him and Keiland Williams. For a while I thought the Redskins would keep only four backs because neither one of the rookies had shown anything in camp. Thompson was in and out of the lineup. But the past week or so changed my mind, and it looks like five backs could earn spots. It would be deserved, too, if you’re keeping the best 53. While Royster ran well, I still wonder how he fits. I know if something happened to Alfred Morris, Royster would be a good alternative. But if nothing happens? Then what does Royster do? Williams is a better special-teamer and that could still make the difference. I will say, Royster’s touchdown run was all him. Josh LeRibeus pulled but didn’t move anyone, and two defenders popped Royster, who bounced outside to his right and cut up for the score. By the way, on his 31-yard run I liked the subtle block by tight end Fred Davis. Royster started left and cut back to the right, the same side Davis was on. He was engaged with the backside linebacker, a block he didn’t always sustain last year. This time he did and it proved to be a pivotal one as Royster cut back.

7. Quarterback Pat White made some more plays which, considering his layoff from the NFL, isn’t too bad. But he still hasn’t shown that he can be a consistent or solid passer in the league. He did throw a nice out to Skye Dawson, a low zinger into tight coverage. He seems to be more comfortable when he’s outside the pocket. He threw an interception because he never saw the linebacker. Yeah, White stared at the receiver, but on a slant sometimes that’s what it takes on a quick route. He just failed to see the defender. On that same series he missed badly over the middle and should have been intercepted then, too. Yes, White’s touchdown run was nice, but the one thing everyone knew about him before he came to the NFL was that he could run. Can he pass out of the zone read? He didn’t do it this preseason. Can he throw any touch passes? Didn’t do that either. Or drop it in over the top of a linebacker down the middle – and in front of the safety? Nope. In other words, he has a long ways to go, as he should. I would not keep him.

8. Brandon Meriweather showed enough to make you think he’ll be fine for the season opener. Shanahan seemed pleased afterward with what he saw. Meriweather did not make a huge impact, but that wasn’t surprising given the layoff. He just needed to be active around the ball and prove he can still run well. He was generally around the ball and stuck his nose in the action when appropriate. The Redskins could use what he adds. I remember a corner blitz from the numbers against Philadelphia last season that I’m guessing they don’t run if not for Meriweather. Why? Because he had the speed to rotate and cover a speed guy like DeSean Jackson. That’s why it’s important to see how well he was running against the Bucs Thursday night. Meriweather needs to stay healthy.

9. Once again, safety Bacarri Rambo tackled well, especially in the open field. Before I get to that, I like how active Rambo is, whether it’s deep or playing near the line of scrimmage. I liked that he makes quick reads and breaks when playing the curl/flat drop zone. Last week he broke up a pass to C.J. Spiller, and this time Rambo tackled the tight end. Give Rambo credit for getting there before they can do anything with the ball. On one open-field tackle Rambo approached, broke down and then attacked and made the play. It’s too bad he didn’t really see any legitimate quarterbacks the past two games so he could get tested downfield. But he licked the one problem he had early on. Those missed tackles could turn out to be the biggest plays he made this season – just because of what he learned and how it helped him improve.

10. OK, this is the last observation so we’ll combine a few into one with a little rapid fire. I thought Chris Baker played a terrific game, showing a lot of strength (as did Phillip Merling). Liked what Bryan Kehl did; active and avoided some blocks to make plays. Brandon Jenkins is a raw pass-rusher. Got inside the tackle on one rush, coming out of a three-point stance. Did see him get wide on one other time but often quiet. Was not impressed with tackle Tom Compton early in the game; knocked over on the first play; allowed pressure on the third play and later in the game he whiffed on one pass set, expecting the defender to either bull rush or engage. Instead he went around the edge. Right tackle Tony Pashos was fine, though he allowed a pressure. Leonard Hankerson dropped another ball. He’s an improved route runner, but those hands. … And will Dez Briscoe’s catch and run help him enough to get a spot as the No. 6 receiver? Briscoe’s hands were inconsistent during training camp so that matters, too. It’ll probably come down to keeping a sixth receiver or an 11th defensive back or a ninth offensive lineman. Good play by David Amerson; right spot, right time on the overthrow. Jose Gumbs had a couple good pops, though I wonder on his downfield hit if it could have been better. He hit the receiver with his right shoulder, but he could have taken the guys head off with a big hit (afraid of drawing a fine perhaps?).

Redskins roster battles: running back

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
7:45
PM ET
With final cuts being made this week, here's my handicap of the Redskins' running back situation:

How many will they keep: With issues elsewhere, I thought the Redskins would only keep four running backs, including a fullback. But I can see them keeping five; it would mean keeping only eight offensive linemen or five receivers (you could not keep five running backs, nine linemen and six receivers and also keep four tight ends and three quarterbacks).

Locks: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu and Darrel Young. These three are obvious; Morris looks sharp and is a better runner than a year ago. What that translates into remains to be seen because other factors will affect his performance. Helu will help on third downs and can start games if necessary. I wouldn’t want him starting more than a few games in a row just because of durability issues so it would be wise to have another potential every-down back. Young is a solid fullback.

Looking good: Chris Thompson. I know the rookie fumbled the other night, his second of the preseason and I know he has durability issues. But he offers them something they don’t have in terms of his speed and quickness. I love his ability to set up defenders and make quick cuts; and he’s not afraid to turn it upfield. So I came into Monday thinking they’ll find a way to keep him. You can’t make him bigger, but you can work on ball security issues -- there are other small backs in the NFL. What you can’t work on a whole lot with a player is speed. When a guy has it, you find ways to keep them around. That was my thought this morning. And then coach Mike Shanahan said this about him, “I like what I see, especially after not playing all last year coming off the ACL, and I think he’ll just keep on getting better as time goes on.” Quotes like that are quite meaningful this time of the year.

Fighting for a spot: Keiland Williams and Evan Royster. Williams is a better special teams player so if he’s not starting or serving as a third-down back, he can still help. Royster is best used as a move-the-chains runner. Yes, he can play special teams, returning kickoffs for example, and he can back up Helu as a third-down back (so can Williams). Neither one is a dynamic runner. I think Royster, against starting defenses, does a better job than Williams in this area. This is a close call.

Practice squader: Jawan Jamison. He hasn’t done a whole lot this summer and, unlike Thompson, he does not have game-changing speed. I like some of what I’ve seen from him, but not enough to say he deserves a roster spot.

Redskins vs. Bills: What to watch

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
7:30
PM ET
Here's what I'll be watching when the Redskins host the Bills at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday in the third preseason game for both teams:

  1. The pace of Buffalo’s offense. I wrote about this Friday morning, but Buffalo likes to use a fast-paced attack, something the Redskins’ season-opening opponent, Philadelphia, does as well. How will the Redskins handle this? What will the Redskins do if caught in a personnel grouping that isn’t the best for what Buffalo’s offense has on the field? Because the starters will play only 15-20 snaps, it will provide only a small test -- the pace can take its toll over the course of a game -- but it will be a help nonetheless.
  2. Safety Bacarri Rambo’s progression. I’d play him more than the other starters, or at least in the final preseason game, just to give him more chances to tackle in the open field. He clearly needs the work. He might end up starting, but he still has yet to truly win the position. At this point he’s in there by default. He has a lot of skills to offer, but if this area doesn’t improve it’ll cause big problems.
  3. Corner Josh Wilson. He’ll make his preseason debut after sitting out the first two games while his surgically repaired shoulder continued to heal. Wilson remains the starter, ahead of rookie David Amerson. But Wilson is not coming off his best season and was asked to take a pay cut in the offseason -- so it’s not as if he’s firmly entrenched at this position. He’s much more knowledgeable about the defense than Amerson and, with a rookie safety, that matters. The Redskins can’t afford a lot of defensive backs learning on the go, though Amerson has looked good at times. But Wilson still needs to play well.
  4. [+] EnlargeBacarri Rambo
    AP Photo/Wade PayneRookie safety Bacarri Rambo (29) needs more work on his open-field tackling to avoid headaches later.
    Backup running backs. There’s no doubt who the top two players are at this position (Alfred Morris and Roy Helu -- but you really didn't need me to tell you that, did you?). Is Evan Royster in any danger? The problem is, the rookies have yet to show that they deserve a roster spot. Chris Thompson has flash, but he’s barely done anything in practice, let alone a game, in part because of injuries. Coaches are big on players being available; can they rely on Thompson in this area? His speed is intriguing (and speed is why Mike Shanahan, among others, initially fell in love with Brandon Banks in 2010). So it matters. But based on performance Thompson still needs to prove he belongs. I like Jawan Jamison’s running style, but the same applies to him. Royster is an average runner, so he’s no lock. Keiland Williams is a good special-teams player, but not much help from scrimmage.
  5. Veteran backups. Specifically linebacker Nick Barnett and receiver Donte' Stallworth. Barnett, the ex-Bill, isn’t worried about any sort of revenge; rather, he needs to show that he can still play at a certain level. This will be his first chance to do so. The Redskins have a pressing need for inside linebacker depth, and having a former starter who is familiar with this defense would help. As for Stallworth, he’ll make it only if the Redskins keep six wideouts. He’s played special teams sparingly in his career, but will have to show he can help there to stick around. And stay healthy. Lingering injuries never help aging vets.
  6. Right tackle. If Bills defensive end Mario Williams plays -- he went two series in the opener and did not see time last week -- then Redskins right tackle Tyler Polumbus will have a good game to measure any progress. Polumbus did not have a strong game last week. Nobody else has taken first-team reps at right tackle. But along with watching Polumbus, I want to keep an eye on veteran Tony Pashos. He’s Washington's most aggressive right tackle when it comes to using his hands, but what does he have left? The Redskins likely would need to keep nine linemen for him to make the roster. And Tom Compton is still working on the left side, but he’s coming off a strong game.
  7. Nose tackle Chris Neild. With Barry Cofield sidelined by a fractured bone in his right hand, Neild will get a chance to work against the Bills’ starting line. He’s not in danger of being cut, but this is a good opportunity to face quality blockers.
  8. Rookie tight end Jordan Reed. He struggled as a blocker last week, mostly, it appeared, because of inconsistent technique. He was not overpowered, which is a good sign for him. But he does need to help in this area. Reed also dropped a ball last week; I’d like to see him get a chance to display his athleticism.

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