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Redskins position preview: Left tackle

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Redskins position preview: Left tackle

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 …

Position: Left tackle

On the roster: Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Willie Smith

Likely to make the 53: Williams, Moses

Comment: Now entering his sixth NFL season, Williams has reached the point where he can have a down season by his standards and still deserve a Pro Bowl invitation. In 2014 he missed a game and a half with knee and ankle injuries and those same issues plus a shoulder problem hampered him for much of the season. Williams appeared on the injury report for 10 of the Redskins’ 16 games.

The ankle problem lingered into the spring and Williams was sidelined for most of OTAs and all of minicamp. It is an inauspicious start the last year of his rookie contract. Williams will turn 27 in later this month and if he wants to maximize his leverage for a new deal he needs to stay healthy. Of course, he also needs to stay on the field to protect the quarterback’s blindside and to lead the charge in blocking on running plays.

Moses also was a spectator during the offseason program as his rehab from a Lisfranc injury he suffered last December continued. He should be ready for training camp but that’s not a given. Last year Moses filled in at left tackle when Williams was out. He struggled against a tough Bucs line and the 49ers’ front featuring Aldon Smith, giving up three sacks in about six quarters of play.

But nobody expected Moses to be ready as a rookie; the third-round pick was taken as a project in 2014. He will get this year to continue to develop and is unlikely to see much action barring another Williams injury.

Battling for a job: Smith

Comment: In 2011 Smith defied the odds by making the Redskins’ 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina despite a labor lockout that wiped out the offseason program. His chances of making the team this year aren’t quite that long this time around but he is very much on the bubble.

Smith’s main competition may not be Moses, who appears to be a lock. The man he might have to beat out is Tom Compton, who started nine games at right tackle last year. With Williams and Moses out during May and June, Compton lined up at left tackle with the first team and Smith came in with the second unit. With Brandon Scherff moving in to Compton’s former starting spot, the battle for a swing tackle job may come down to Compton and Smith.

Redskins position previews 2015:

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Need to Know: Five Redskins on the bubble who could make the roster

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Need to Know: Five Redskins on the bubble who could make the roster

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 21, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The first five off of the roster

Here are five players who are not on my projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) but who are one injury or a few strong preseason game performances away from making it. 

G Kyle Kalis—Last year he lined up with the second team during most of training camp and he nearly made the roster as an undrafted free agent. The team did re-sign him after injuries struck the O-line in the middle of the season. He will push Tyler Catalina for a backup guard spot. 

RB Byron Marshall—He got a few touches last year before ending up on injured reserve. Marshall has looked good in practices so far, especially catching out of the backfield. Jay Gruden likely will play Chris Thompson sparingly in the preseason and that could give Marshall a chance to shine. Don’t sleep on him. 

WR Cam Simms—Right now, the undrafted rookie out of Alabama looks like the eighth wide receiver on the roster and they are only going to keep six. But if he continues to get the attention of Gruden with his play in practice and makes the most of his opportunities in preseason games, Robert Davis and Maurice Harris should look out. 

S Fish Smithson—The Redskins liked him a lot after they signed him as an undrafted free agent last year. But they didn’t like him enough to keep him on the 53-man roster; he spent the year on the practice squad, getting a late-season cup of coffee on the roster. He will push both Deshazor Everett and Troy Apke for a backup safety spot. If the Redskins have reason to be concerned about the health of Montae Nicholson they might figure out a way to keep Smithson on as a fifth safety. 

ILB Martrell Spaight—It looks like Spaight’s three-year tenure with the team essentially came to an end when they drafted Sean Dion Hamilton in the fifth round. But his play in offseason practices indicates he’s not going to go out without a fight. 

Next five off: OT T.J. Clemmings, QB Kevin Hogan, RB Kapri Bibbs, NT Phil Taylor, CB Danny Johnson

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline 

Redskins running back Derrius Guice was born on this date in 1997. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 35
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 49
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 72

The Redskins last played a game 172 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 80 days. 

In case you missed it

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

Madden 19 won't be released to the public until August 10, but the player ratings for the top players on each NFL team have been released.

The video reaches the Redskins a little after four minutes in. The top nine players on the Redskins, according to their Madden 19 overall ratings are as follows:

  1. LT Trent Williams, 91
  2. RG Brandon Scherff, 88
  3. FS D.J. Swearinger, 86
  4. MLB Zach Brown, 85
  5. CB Josh Norman, 84
  6. RB Chris Thompson, 83
  7. WR Paul Richardson, 83
  8. QB Alex Smith, 81
  9. WR Jamison Crowder, 81

The list has Washington's two best linemen up top followed by its best skill position players and Zach Brown. Beyond Williams and Sherff, there's some debate to be had. Both Richardson and Crowder can make a serious case to be the team's best receiver. Crowder had 22 more receptions and 86 more yards than Richardson in 2017, but Richardson had six touchdowns to Crowder's three.

Smith is coming off arguably the best season of his career with Kansas City. He put up over 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career, posted career bests in quarterback rating, touchdown passes, interception percentage and completions. His rating as the fifth-best offensive player behind two other skill position players seems off.

These rankings will change throughout the season as more updates become available, but this is what there is to work with right now.

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