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A look at the Redskins 53-man roster changes from 2014 to 2015

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A look at the Redskins 53-man roster changes from 2014 to 2015

Since the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster a year ago they have been through a 4-12 season and they hired a new general manager. As one might expect there have been some changes to the makeup of the roster. Here are the changes the team has made since the 53-man roster they took into the 2014 season.

Offensive line

Out: Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus
In: Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio, Ty Nsekhe

Chester was serviceable at right guard but he was on the wrong side of 30 and had a cap hit that demanded a higher level of play. Scherff steps into his starting job. Polumbus started part of the season at right tackle before Tom Compton took over for him. Now that job belongs to Morgan Moses who has some learning to do but could be at least a slight upgrade immediately.

Offensive skill positions

Out: Roy Helu, Silas Redd, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Aldrick Robinson, Santana Moss
In: Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Derek Carrier, Rashad Ross, Jamison Crowder

Jones is the power back the offense has been missing for a number of years. Thompson has the potential to be an upgrade over Helu but has to show it on the field. Robinson was fast but never polished his route running and Moss was at the tail end of a great career. Crowder and Ross bring youth and speed but neither has taken an NFL snap. Paul and Paulsen would have been on the 53 had the not been injured.

Defensive front seven

Out: Jarvis Jenkins, Clifton Geathers, Barry Cofield, Brian Orakpo, Gabe Miller, Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan
In: Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean Francois, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat

Perhaps the biggest upgrade on the team from year to year is Knighton at nose tackle. Cofield did well for an undersized nose tackle but Knighton brings a combination of size and athletic ability few can match. It turned out to be a bad year for Orakpo, who had a half sack in seven games before a season-ending injury. The combination of Smith and Trent Murphy could be an improvement over the 2014 Orakpo. The addition of Paea lets Chris Baker come off of the bench where he can be most effective.

Defensive backs

Out: Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers, Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather (opened season on suspended list), Bacarri Rambo, Akeem Davis
In: Chris Culliver, Justin Rogers, Deshazor Everett, Dashon Goldson, Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson, Kyshoen Jerrett

The cornerbacks are better with the addition of Culliver, who may go from side to side to cover the top receiver. The safety group may be better but perhaps only by default. Goldson will have to play better than he did the last two season in Tampa Bay and Ihenacho will need to improve in coverage. But they have a low bar to clear following Clark, who provided leadership but had clearly lost multiple steps, and Meriweather, who was unreliable due to his penchant for injuries and drawing suspensions.

The specialists, K Kai Forbath, P Tress Way, and LS Nick Sundberg, all remain the same.

 

Total: 20 players who were not on the initial 2014 roster, 12 on defense, 8 on offense

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.