Occasionally, roster numbers problems have a way of working themselves out. And the solution sometimes comes in the worst possible way.
Before Saturday’s game against the Bills, the Redskins were pondering how they might be able to keep six cornerbacks on their 53-man roster. Now, with cornerback and punt returner Richard Crawford out for the year with a knee injury the Redskins don’t have that issue any more.
DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are the starters and free agent pickup E. J. Biggers is the only other corner on the roster with any NFL playing experience. David Amerson was the team’s top draft pick and Chase Minnifield has proven to be a keeper. It’s difficult to fit more than five cornerbacks on the roster and about the only good side of the Crawford injury was that it alleviated the numbers crunch at corner.
Crawford still has some work to do to be a solid NFL corner, even as a reserve, but he was set to be the Redskins’ punt returner so he was locked in to a roster spot based on that. They were going to have to decide if they were going to keep the six corners or perhaps try to sneak Minnifield on the practice squad at the risk of losing him on waivers. Now they can keep Minnifield on the 53 as the fifth corner and let him develop there.
But the need for a punt returner might force a numbers crunch on the other side of the ball. The leading candidate to replace Crawford as the punt returner is running back Chris Thompson. He showed his return skills with a nifty 31-yard runback against the Bills on Saturday.
But Thompson also fumbled on a run from scrimmage against Buffalo, the second time he’s put the ball on the ground in the last two games. At running back Alfred Morris is the starter and Roy Helu Jr. has earned a spot as his primary backup and change of pace back.
Will the Redskins leave the job of the third back in the hands of the inexperienced Thompson, figuring that he will only have to play if there is a dire emergency? Or will they keep an experienced fourth back like Evan Royster or Keiland Williams in case that emergency does pop up?
If they do that, there would be another numbers issue created. With four running backs it becomes very difficult to keep six wide receivers or nine offensive linemen.
So the ripple effects of Crawford’s injury make some decisions easier on defense but perhaps more difficult on offense. The decisions will be made soon. Like the rest of the NFL the Redskins will need to have their roster cut down to 75 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m. and down to 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m.