Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, August 24, nine days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.
The Redskins last played a game 235 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 17 days.
Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Player availability, Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences after practice, approx. 3 p.m.
—Preseason national TV vs. Bengals (8/27) 3
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 24
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 31
Offensive line numbers game
Two years ago the Redskins carried 10 offensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster. Last year, the number shrunk to nine. Could they go with eight this year?
In 2015, Trent Williams was set at left tackle and Kory Lichtensteiger was thought to be solid at center. The right side of the line, tackle Morgan Moses and guard Brandon Scherff, were in their first seasons as starters. Left guard Shawn Lauvao was coming off a spotty 2014 season.
The team kept five backups. Tom Compton, Spencer Long, Arie Kouandjio, and Josh LeRibeus all were recent draft picks that the team wanted to keep around. Ty Nsekhe was a 30-year-old rookie with a background that primarily consisted of stints with various indoor leagues but his size and performance in camp made the Redskins decide to keep him.
Lichtensteiger and Lauvao both missed a good chunk of the 2015 season with injuries, pressing Long and LeRibeus into starting duty.
A year ago, Compton had left as a free agent so the Redskins went with one swing tackle, Nsekhe, as the backup on their initial 53-man roster. Long, who started 13 games at left guard after Lauvao was injured, stuck as a backup on the interior and played center when Lichtensteiger again was injured. Kouandjio stayed as did rookie seventh-round pick C Austin Reiter. They decided not to keep LeRibeus, who had re-signed on a one-year deal. So that was four backups along the starters.
There were changes as the season went on. Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve after Week 3 and Long became the starting center. Reiter was released and John Sullivan was signed as the backup center. After Williams was suspended for four games they added Vinston Painter
So how many linemen will they keep this year? Lichtensteiger retired and Sullivan signed with the Rams. They drafted C Chase Roullier in the sixth round.
The starters are the same five as most of last year. Williams and Moses are the tackles, Scherff and Lauvao the guards, and Long is at center. It seems certain that Nsekhe and Roullier will stick as two of the backups.
Those are the easy calls. Here is where it gets sticky. Rookie free agent Kyle Kalis has been playing ahead of Kouandjio for most of training camp. Will they keep one of them or both? And if they only keep one, which would give them eight at the position, do they bring back Painter as a second backup at tackle?
And they just traded for backup center Lucas Crowley. The 2017 undrafted free agent played at North Carolina, where he played every game his last two years. This has the feel of a move made to provide depth during the two weeks while Long is sidelined, not a deal for someone who is likely to make the roster.
Keeping that ninth offensive lineman creates opportunity costs elsewhere. The Redskins may have to choose between going with three running backs, which would mean cutting Mack Brown, or going with three tight ends, putting fifth-round pick Jeremy Sprinkle in jeopardy.
I think that Kalis stays and Kouandjio and Painter are gone, giving them eight offensive linemen on the roster. That is a bare bones setup and they would need to have a few O-linemen on the practice squad. But they don’t have many draft picks they have to protect—it looks like they have given up on Kouandjio—and they like Brown on special teams and want Sprinkle as a blocking tight end. With the standard three quarterbacks and six wide receivers, the numbers don’t add up.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
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Jordan Reed back on the practice field for the #Redskins pic.twitter.com/bLfQqrLnSy— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) August 23, 2017
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