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Redskins 53-man roster breakdown: Is Reed the MVP?

Redskins 53-man roster breakdown: Is Reed the MVP?

The Redskins made no deals at the deadline so the 53-man roster remains intact going into the final nine games of the season. As the break for the bye ends, let’s take a look at where they stand with some quick analysis of what to watch for.

Starters in bold.

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III

Any thought that Griffin would be traded was sheer fan and media speculation; the Redskins never received or made a phone call about dealing him. At this point it looks like it will take multiple injuries for him to play.

Running backs: Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, FB Darrel Young

Morris remains the designated starter as Jay Gruden said there would be no changes at running back. But Jones could well get more touches. Could some of the running game woes be fixed by Darrel Young getting more than the six snaps per game he has averaged this year? There are not two tight ends on the roster who can block well.

Wide receivers: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder (slot receiver), Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross

If Jackson is healthy and active, who goes to the inactive list? Is it Roberts, who did not dress for the Falcons game? Or will it be Ross, who hasn’t produced much at receiver but has been good as the kickoff returner?

Tight end: Jordan Reed, Derek Carrier, Anthony McCoy

Is Reed the MVP? They are 3-2 with him, 0-2 without him.

Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Spencer Long, C Kory Lichtensteiger (injured, neck), RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, C Josh LeRibeus, G Arie Kouandjio, T Ty Nsekhe, T Tom Compton

It would not be shocking if Lichtensteiger came back for the Patriots game and it wouldn’t be surprising if we didn’t see him until after Thanksgiving. A neck injury is tough thing to figure out.

Defensive line: Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea, Frank Kearse, Kedric Golston

Hatcher has been getting close without getting a sack more often than anyone else on the defense. That could bode well for a good second half of the season but the Redskins are hoping that his knee holds up.

Linebackers: OLBs Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat; ILBs Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Mason Foster

There has been plenty of chatter of Smith getting more playing time if not starting; same for Compton. We will see if that comes to pass.

Defensive backs: CBs Bashaud Breeland (injured, hamstring), Chris Culliver (injured, knee), DeAngelo Hall (injured, toe), Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, Quinton Dunbar; Safeties Dashon Goldson, Trenton Robinson, Jeron Johnson, Kyshoen Jarrett

I figure that when everyone is healthy, Breeland stays in the starting lineup and then moves to the slot when needed with Hall coming in to cover the outside. Does Jeron Johnson get a shot at redeeming himself in the second half of the season?

Specialists: K Dustin Hopkins, LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way

Hopkins came out of nowhere to become the best kicker in recent memory, although we’re looking at a small sample size. Way is getting better at refining his craft.

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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.