Is this Marcus Mason's year
Between now and the start of training camp I'll be making my predictions about who will be on the final 53-man roster for the Washington Redskins--who's there, who's in, who's on the bubble, and who's out. The predicted roster will be revised and updated as preseason events warrant. Today, running backs and fullbacks:
Who's here Now: (9) FB: Mike Sellers, Eddie Williams. RB: Anthony Aldridge, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, Dominique Dorsey, Jonathan Evans, Marcus Mason, Clinton Portis
How many will stick: 4
Starters: Portis and Sellers. When the Redskins went to the playoffs in 2005 and 2007, Portis pulled the wagon, finishing off strong to lead the charge to the postseason. Last year he was the bell cow early in the year and, along with the team's record, faded down the stretch. We'll see if that was a function of Portis wearing down or of better defenses and an overall team slump. Sellers led the way for many of Portis runs and, fittingly, he accompanied him to the Pro Bowl.
Solid backups: Betts. He averaged just 3.4 yards per carry last year, quite a decline from the 4.7 average he had in 2006 when he filled in for an injured Portis and gained 1,154 yards. He'll be 30 at the end of August. Certainly, he doesn't have a lot of miles on him—just 720 carries in seven NFL seasons—but he needs to take better advantage of his opportunities.
Last man on: Cartwright. I was very, very tempted to go with Mason here. Given the facts about Betts I think that they have to look at who is going to be Portis' long-term successor and he's the only one currently on the roster who has that potential. But Cartwright is the special teams' Swiss army knife and that makes him too valuable to let go, especially given that James Thrash, another teams ace, is gone. It's possible that they'll find a way to keep another RB and keep Mason around but right now I don't think he'll make it. Stay tuned on this one, though.
First man off: Mason. Williams will stick on the practice squad as the backup fullback. Dorsey is a wild card, if he has a great preseason returning kicks he could force some tough decisions and creative thinking on roster spots.
Spots taken so far: 22
Spots to go: 31
Next: Offensive line