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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Running back

On the roster: Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, Matt Jones

The numbers: Have six, likely to keep 3-4 on final roster.

Locks: Kelley, Perine, Thompson

A year ago, Kelley was in the long shot category here, the “9th-string” running back (in the words of Jay Gruden) and it looked like a practice squad spot would be a great achievement for him. You all know how the year turned out for the undrafted free agent.  He is likely to be the starter but it remains to be seen how many carries he gets. Take the over on his 2016 total of 168 but predicting 200 might be high, depending on how things develop.

RELATED: The numbers say that Cousin is an "upper tier passer"

Part of those developments that will affect Kelley is how well Perine progresses. The fourth-round rookie was not drafted to sit and learn; they want him to get his hands on the ball. I suspect that his workload will be light early in the season but as they get into November and December Perine could lead the team in rushing some games.

Thompson could be another player who takes carries away from Kelley. The third-down back averaged 5.6 yards on 103 carries over the last two years and Gruden may be tempted to try to get some of that production on first and second downs.

On the bubble: Brown, Marshall

Brown showed some flash in the preseason and he had a 61-yard TD run late in a rout of the Bears. But making to roster or not may not be in his control. It may come down to a numbers game. If they carry four tight ends, running back might be a good spot to shave back a spot to make room. If they carry three TE’s, Brown could stick as the fourth RB.

MORE REDSKINS: True or False: The Redskins will carry four tight ends this year

Marshall battled injuries throughout his career at Georgia and he spent last year on injured reserve. He has some speed and in OTAs he turned heads with some nice bursts off tackle. Still, he’s looking up at four players on the depth chart and four is the maximum the team will carry on the 53. If everyone stays healthy he moves into the long shot category and the 2016 seventh-round pick could be ticketed for a year on the practice squad.

Long shots: Jones

It’s rare that a player suffers a fall like Jones did. He was the unquestioned starter going into last season and in his seven starts he was on pace to gain over 1,000 yards rushing. But fumbles and other issues got him into Gruden’s doghouse and even new agent Drew Rosenhaus is going to be able to do much about it. Absent a serious injury or a suspension players who fall so far and so hard are few and far between.

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line | Defensive line | Outside linebacker | Tight end

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins seek to add linebacker depth by signing Gary Johnson

Redskins seek to add linebacker depth by signing Gary Johnson

The Redskins added some linebacker depth Saturday afternoon by signing former Texas LB Gary Johnson, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.

Johnson, 23, was released by the Kansas City Chiefs back in June following mandatory minicamp.

This signing immediately addresses a position of need as Washington's linebacker room is banged up. Reuben Foster was ruled out of the entire season due to a torn ACL he suffered in May, Josh Harvey-Clemmons is going through concussion protocol while strengthening an ailing knee, and Shaun Dion Hamilton is still questionable with a chest injury. 

In his two seasons at Texas, Johnson tallied 147 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two pass breakups in 23 games.

Johnson took to Twitter to celebrate his latest opportunity in the nation's capital: 

Johnson's Twitter profile also features the statement "I Hate QB's & RB's."

It's fair to say the Redskins are always on the lookout for defensive guys with that mentality. 


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Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

The Redskins lost to the Bengals Thursday night at FedEx Field, but in the preseason, final results don't really matter. What matters comes in individual and group performances, particularly among first-team units.

In that vein, the Redskins starting defense looked strong against Cincinnati. Outside of some dumb and wacky penalty calls, the starting defense barely gave up any first downs. A number of players impressed on that group, so let's start with the stocks trending in the right direction. 

Stock Up

  • Montae Nicholson - The 96-yard interception return for a touchdown was an impressive display of playmaking ability and speed, but more than that, it was the culmination of a strong offseason and training camp. For the Redskins to be a Top 10 defense, Nicholson needs to be the hard-hitting stud that Washington fans saw glimpses of as a rookie in 2017. Last year was a lost season for Nicholson, who dealt with injuries, getting benched and legal troubles. 2019 is a new start, and so far, it looks quite good. 
  • Adrian Peterson - Not that a first-ballot Hall of Famer really needs preseason validation, but when Peterson ripped off a 26-yard run in the first quarter against the Bengals it became pretty obvious he's ready to go for 2019. And it's important too as second-year back Derrius Guice still isn't cleared for competition. 
  • Robert Davis - Another week, another long touchdown. If there's a handbook to show how to force your way onto a roster, Davis is reading from it. 
  • Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne - These dudes are beasts. 

Despite the good news, there was bad news too. Here's that list:

Stock Down

  • Samaje Perine - Five carries for one yard against Cincy. You read that right. That comes after a poor showing in pass protection in the preseason opener. Jay Gruden always sings praises of Perine but hasn't after the last two preseason games. Prior to Shaun Wilson's ankle injury, he seemed like a guy that could really push for Perine's roster spot. Could that be Byron Marshall now?
  • Paul Richardson - The speedster wideout missed the Bengals game, and the word from one Redskins coach was "he's hurt." Many players get held out of preseason action with slight injuries, stuff they would play through in the regular season. That's not the deal with Richardson. He needs to get right. 
  • Cole Holcomb - If you can't make the club in the tub, Holcomb needs to get back on the field. While he's not in actual roster danger because of the growing number of injuries at inside linebacker, Holcomb is dealing with an AC joint issue. Linebackers need their shoulders, and Holcomb missed a valuable opportunity against the Bengals with presumed starter Shaun Dion Hamilton already out for that game. 
  • Nate Kaczor - The Redskins new Special Teams coach is off to a rough start. In two preseason games Washington has already given up two punt return touchdowns, and against the Bengals, kicker Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point and a field goal. Special teams are tricky in the preseason. In the regular season with 53-man rosters, starting players land on special teams. In the preseason with 90-man rosters, it's largely a collection of players that won't make the final roster lining up on special teams. Still, ugly start.