Redskins fans - and some players - have taken to social media to advocate for the return of Terrance 'Pot Roast' Knighton. Washington brought Knighton in this week for a work out, along with a handful of other defensive linemen, but when the time came GM Scot McCloughan chose not to bring back the fan favorite.
The biggest question is why - and coach Jay Gruden possibly hinted at the answer.
"We bring people in often during the season," Gruden said. "If you have injuries creep up, then you have people in your system that you know – how much they weigh, what they look like, how they work out, what their injuries are like."
Most importantly, Gruden added, "We’re not going to sign everybody that we bring in, but it’s good to have a list of emergency-type guys."
The phrase that stands out in relation to Knighton is weight and injuries. At times in his NFL career, Knighton has been one of the best nose tackles in football. At other times, Knighton has dealt with weight issues and debilitating cluster headaches. Last season with the Redskins, Pot Roast showed both, flashing immense talent, but also not being able to stay on the field for prolonged stretches.
The Redskins run defense has certainly struggled this year, the unit has given up 650 rush yards through five games, good for nearly last place in the NFL. Bringing Knighton in could help that, but remember, Pot Roast was with the 'Skins last season and that squad ranked near the bottom of the NFL (26th) in rush yards allowed too.
Instead of bringing back Knighton - which could still happen later this year - McCloughan went in a different direction, signing younger players to the practice squad in Joey Mbu and A.J. Francis.
Neither player has much of an NFL resume, but for McCloughan, the moves exemplify what he has preached since he arrived with the 'Skins: develop young talent rather than pay for older players. Mbu is just 23 years old and goes 6-foot-3, 310 lbs. Francis is 26, goes 6-foot-5 and 309 lbs. Knighton is 30, 6-foot-2 and has played at weights varying from 300 to 350 lbs in his career.
It's entirely possible Mbu and/or Francis do not stick with the Redskins. Practice squad players tend to come and go, but occasionally, one develops into a solid piece on the active roster. With Mbu and Francis, McCloughan is making a minimal investment in players with the size and youth he wants at a position of need for Washington.
Knighton, on the other hand, would not be eligible for the practice squad, and frankly, might be unlikely to sign even if he could.
If the Redskins suffer more injuries along the D-line and have to shuffle the roster, then Pot Roast might be back. For now, Washington will roll with the current position group, especially considering rookie Matt Ioannidis played the most snaps of his career in the win against Baltimore.
It's also worth noting Knighton signed with New England in the offseason and went through training camp with every chance of making the roster. Not known for benevolence, coach Bill Belichick is known to maximize talent, yet the Patriots decided to release Pot Roast. That may not tell the whole story, but it's worth consideration as the clamor to bring Knighton to Washington grows.
A leader in the locker room last season, it seemed players and coaches liked having Pot Roast on the Redskins, and, it's still possible he returns in 2016. That does not mean, however, fans should expect a turnaround for the Redskins run defense.
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