Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take another position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2016 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others are have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. This much, however, is not in question: A player is not on the 53-man roster until it's finalized in early September. So who’s in? And who’s in trouble?
Position: Inside linebacker.
On the roster: Will Compton, Steven Daniels, Carlos Fields, Mason Foster, Terence Garvin, Adam Hayward, Perry Riley and Martrell Spaight.
Likely to make the 53: Compton, Foster, Riley and Garvin.
Based on the offseason, Compton and Foster figure to begin training camp exactly where they finished the 2015 season—as the starting ‘Mike’ and ‘Mo’ linebackers, respectively.
After that? Well, let’s just say this is a position you’ll want to keep an eye on in Richmond.
I’ve got Riley making the cut, but there are questions about his health. The 28-year-old was held out this spring due to a lingering foot injury that also cost him the final six games last season. Riley was supposed to be good to go by now. Instead, he was relegated to rehabbing off to the side as others gained ground. Riley has the eighth highest cap on the team ($5.05 million) and, because of that, it stands to reason that he’d need to reclaim a starting role in order to earn it.
I’ve also got Garvin making the cut because of the impact he can have on special teams. He racked up double digits in tackles each of the past two seasons in Pittsburgh.
(For the record, I included Su’a Cravens in my safety preview because that’s how the Redskins have him designated. The versatile rookie, though, was deployed as linebacker throughout the offseason program.)
Battling for a job: Daniels, Fields, Hayward and Spaight.
Here's where it gets a little tricky, particularly if Riley gets healthy.
Hayward is in a tough spot. He’s got the edge in experience, but the former special teams captain turned 32 last week and has missed 22 games the past two seasons with leg and knee injuries. Spaight made the roster as a rookie but a concussion ended his season after just one game. The coaching staff likes his potential, but he’ll face more competition this summer as he seeks to snag a spot on the 53. Among the players Spaight will be indirect competition with are Garvin, Fields, who appeared on special teams in five games last season, and Daniels, who was selected in the seventh round this year.
Indeed, the competition for the final spot (or two) figures to be fierce once the pads get put on.