According to Joe Theismann, the Redskins’ preseason game against the Ravens this Saturday is the most important game of the career of Robert Griffin III. That is a debatable position since Griffin has started a game that clinched the NFC East title for the Redskins and started a playoff game the following week.
But there is no question that Saturday is very important to a few dozen players who are fighting for the last half dozen or so roster spots that are up for grabs. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that while the team has given plenty of thought to the process if reducing the roster from its current 89 players to no more than 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday and again down to 53 a week from tomorrow.
"You're thinking about it,” said Gruden. “You're always trying to think ahead, but you don't want to try to predetermine cuts, that’s for sure. You want to let these guys have a chance to make plays and give them a chance to show what they have on special teams on game day and maybe change your mind.
“I think everybody has got a preconceived notion of ‘this guy, this guy or this guy,’ but a lot can change on Saturday night given the opportunity they get and the plays they make. So, there's a lot riding on this game for a lot of people. Those people say these games aren't meaningful. It's very meaningful to a lot of guys and very, very important to a lot of guys. We expect them to come out and battle for their NFL lives because that's what they're doing."
The problem that the guys on the wrong side of the bubble have is that they will have a very limited opportunity to show what they can do on Saturday. It’s the “dress rehearsal” preseason game. The starters on both sides of the ball are likely to play the entire first half and it wouldn’t be surprising if Robert Griffin III and the starting offense stick around a series or two into the third quarter. That means that there will be two or three dozen snaps at most for the bubble players to split up. Every play will be vital. One mistake could cost them a job.
Or a mistake could cost them a shot at sticking around to get one more shot. Of the 75 players who will be on the roster for the fourth preseason game, about 30 of them, the starters and front-line reserves, will either not put pads or will play very limited snaps. The 45 or so who will play get their last chance to make a case to make the Redskins or perhaps at least one of the 10 practice squad spots. They also will get a chance to put some good work on film and that could persuade another team to pick them up if they don’t make the Redskins’ 53.
But if they don’t make it past the Tuesday cut, they won’t get that chance.