The Redskins have turned on their 53-man roster. It’s not final as there still could be moves made involving players cut by other teams. But let’s take a look at it as it stands now.
In the big picture, what is striking is the numbers difference between offense and defense. The NFL norm is to carry 25 players each on offense and defense and three specialists to get to 53. The Redskins are going 27 on defense and 23 on offense. It may not stay that way but for now, the imbalance is notable.
They could do that by going thin at quarterback, where they cut developmental QB Nate Sudfeld leaving them with two, and at wide receiver where they are going with five.
The biggest surprise inclusion was S Stefan McClure, who was picked up during training camp. As far as cuts, not many saw the release of WR Maurice Harris coming.
Here is the initial 53-man roster and some comments on each position group.
Players who are new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also in bold.
Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy
Nate Sudfeld’s bubble burst despite his solid performance against the Bengals on Thursday night. His body of work and his slight improvement from last year combined to burst his bubble. The Redskins will go with two quarterbacks for the first time since the 2011 season.
Running backs (4)
Starter: Rob Kelley
Backups: Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown
This seems to have been set for a while. Brown may have been in jeopardy if they needed a roster spot at another position. But the decision to go with two quarterbacks and five wide receivers made keeping him around an easy call.
Wide receivers (5)
Starters: Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Backups: Brian Quick, Ryan Grant
Quick didn’t look like he would make the team during the spring and for some of training camp. But the free agent signee got it together and pushed draft pick Robert Davis off of the roster. Maurice Harris, who was injured for much of training camp, was a surprise cut. The decision to go with only five receivers with Josh Doctson’s health being a question mark also is a surprise.
Tight ends (4)
Starter: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle
The Redskins alleviated a numbers crunch here by trading Derek Carrier to the Rams. There was some doubt that Sprinkle would make it after not showing much in training camp but in the end, they decided to hold on to their fifth-round pick, hoping to develop him into a quality blocking tight end.
Offensive line (8)
Starters (left to right): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Tyler Catalina, Chase Roullier
It appears that the versatility of Catalina, who can play guard or tackle, kept him on the roster in favor of fellow undrafted rookie Kyle Kalis. The Redskins went with nine O-linemen on their initial 53 a year ago and they kept 10 in 2015.
Defensive line (6)
Starters: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Ziggy Hood (NT)
Backups: Terrell McClain, Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis
When Phil Taylor went out for the season with a torn quad, many looked to Joey Mbu or A.J. Francis to jump up and fill the void. But neither one did enough to warrant a roster spot so the Redskins will go without a nose tackle and perhaps look for one on the waiver wire.
Inside linebacker (5)
Starters: Will Compton, Zach Brown
Backups: Mason Foster, Martrell Spaight, Josh Harvey-Clemons
I thought for a while that the Redskins might try to find a way to fit Harvey-Clemons on the roster. It was hard to do because the top four were set but they managed to make room.
Outside linebackers (5)
Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Ryan Anderson, Junior Galette, Chris Carter
Carter made himself a lock with good play on special teams and by showing some position flexibility. He might see some action early as Anderson has been sidelined with the lingering effects of a stinger he suffered in the preseason opener.
Starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Josh Holsey
Just like his fellow seventh-round pick Harvey-Clemons, Holsey worked his way from being a likely practice squad candidate to a player who made too many plays to ignore.
Starters: D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens
Backups: Deshazor Everett, Stefan McClure, Montae Nicholson
McClure looked pretty good in camp and in the preseason but he didn’t garner much attention because most of what he did was not against starters. But the first-year player out of Cal impressed the organization enough to keep him over veteran Will Blackmon. This is especially surprising since there are injury questions about Cravens, who injured his knee in the first preseason game. Blackmon might have provided better insurance in the short term but they decided to look at the bigger picture.
LS Nick Sundberg, K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way
The three were never challenged and played well in the preseason except for Hopkins’ 35-yard miss against the Bucs.
The final count:
23 players on offense
27 players on defense
10 rookies including nine of the 10 draft picks
15 players new to the organization in 2017