Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart now that the team’s offseason program has concluded. Some battles are 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: Nose tackle.
On the roster: Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Jerrell Powe, Kedric Golston and Robert Thomas.
Likely to make the 53: Knighton and Baker.
Comment: One of the Redskins’ biggest additions this offseason was the acquisition of Knighton, who was rated as the 12th most effective defensive tackle in the league by ProFootballFocus.com in 2014 but was forced to settle for a one-year, $4 million ‘prove it’ deal. GM Scot McCloughan said he was impressed by Knighton’s decision to bet on himself, adding that he hopes the 28-year-old parlays this season into a longer, more lucrative deal.
Knighton will replace Barry Cofield/Baker as Washington's starting nose tackle this fall.
“We have high expectations for him,” Coach Jay Gruden said earlier this offseason. “When you put him out there on first and second down, it’s going to be hard to run the ball between the tackles. He takes up quite a bit of room in there.”
Speaking of his size, it’s hard to have a conversation about Knighton without mentioning his weight. He’s listed on the Redskins’ roster at 6 foot 3, 331 pounds. But it’s pretty obvious that ‘Pot Roast’ tips the scales at much more than that. In January, a published report said Knighton had been fined $300,000 in recent years for missing weight markers. The Redskins, meantime, have tied $450,000 in bonuses in Knighton’s contract to complying with specific weight clauses, according to ProFootballTalk.com.
There’s been no indication that his weight has been an issue in Washington, but Gruden has indicated on more than one occasion the team will be monitoring it.
“You see how big he is but you don’t realize how quick his first step is, which it really rare for a guy of his size,” Gruden said. “So we’ve just got to continue to monitor what he’s doing out here and making sure we work with him and keep him healthy.”
Battling for a job: Powe, Golston and Thomas.
Comment: The Redskins could opt to use Baker and/or Golston as Knighton’s backup. Baker and Golston can play end and nose and they've spent time working with him at both positions.
Baker, of course, moved from starting left end to starting nose tackle in Week 1 of last season after Cofield suffered a significant injury in Houston. In all, Baker made 12 starts at nose tackle in 2014.
Powe, meantime, was signed June 1 to compete for a job along a crowded D-line. The 28-year-old appeared in 16 games for the Texans last season, starting three, all at nose tackle.
As for Thomas, he spent most of last season on the practice squad after signing with Washington as a college free agent out of Arkansas. Like Powe, he’ll likely face long odds when the Redskins cut down from 11 defensive linemen to six or seven.
Redskins position previews 2015: