Over the past few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler have taken one more look the Redskins’ depth chart, position-by-position, as the team prepares to head to Richmond for training camp. Some battles figure to be straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Sept. 5. So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …
On the roster: Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tevin Mitchel, Justin Rogers, Trey Wolfe and Tajh Hasson.
Likely to make the 53: Culliver, Breeland, Hall, Amerson and Mitchel.
Comment: The Redskins have kept five cornerbacks on the roster in recent seasons, and there’s no reason to believe that number is going to change.
In OTAs and minicamp, Culliver and Breeland were the starters at right and left corner, respectively. In nickel packages, Breeland usually covered the slot receiver while Amerson entered as the third corner. Amerson, of course, was a full-time starter last season. But a poor 2014 (he allowed 10 passing touchdowns, according to ProFootballFocus.com) combined with Culliver’s arrival has dropped him on the depth chart.
New defensive backs coach Perry Fewell, however, says he’s optimistic Amerson will rebound in his third season.
“It’s the confidence in what he’s doing,” Fewell said recently. “Experience is a great teacher for a young player. As he continues to grow within our system, he’s getting better every day. We helped him some of fundamentals also.”
Amerson will need to keep improving because once training camp begins later this month, the competition will heat up as Hall returns from injury and competes for a job. Hall’s health, in fact, will be one of the biggest questions in Richmond. Will the 31-year-old be on the field July 30 after being held out in OTAs? Will he be 100-percent? If he’s a half step slower, can he compensate for the loss with his veteran savvy? Obviously, the answer to those questions will have a major impact on the depth chart.
Battling for a job: Hall, Mitchel, Rogers, Wolfe and Hasson.
Comment: As I’ve already mentioned, Hall’s status will be determined in large part by his health. If the 12th year pro makes the cut along with Culliver, Breeland and Amerson, that will leave just one more spot available.
The common assumption is that Mitchel, a sixth round selection, is going to be the fifth corner. He had a good spring, but he’ll need to prove his worth on special teams. It’s also important to remember this: not all 10 draft picks are going to make the 53 out of camp.
Jay Gruden, however, says he’s been impressed by Mitchel.
“He’s doing some good things,” Gruden said after the final minicamp practice last month. “He’s learning a new system and he’s playing two or three different positions, so he’s been very impressive.”
If Hall and Mitchel make it, there won't be much wiggle room for anyone else. But know this: the others aren’t going to concede anything easily. Rogers is a fifth-year pro who played sparingly in three games last season. The Redskins are also curious enough about Wolfe that they’ve signed him twice. Hasson, meantime, opened some eyes by picking off two passes in a minicamp practice late last month.
For players like Rogers, Wolfe and Hasson, it’s going to come down to the numbers game. And, of course, who can help the most on special teams.
“Some of these guys that are second or third group rep guys, they really need to stand out on special teams,” Gruden said. “And then when they do get their opportunities on the [defense], take advantage of them.”
Redskins position previews 2015: