We are starting to see the Shanaplan come into focus. If the recent mini-camp is any indication, we may have an idea of what the Redskins starting lineup may look like come September. But of some concern to fans is who will make the 53 man roster, and who will be scouring the help wanted adds come late summer.
Below are six notable players I expect to be cut by the Redskins this year:
The Redskins backfield is loaded with aging vets who are, for the sake of age of a starting running back in the NFL, past their prime. Fast Willie Parker, who is simply not as fast as he used to be, could be the odd man out of the backfield-by-committee approach this fall. Portis, the incumbent starter from last season, looks to be in place for his seventh starting season in the Redskins backfield. Larry Johnson, although the oldest of the three former Pro Bowlers, may have the least amount of miles on that aging body. He came into the league in 2003, after a record setting senior year at Penn State, but sat for two years behind All-Pro Priest Holmes in Kansas City before taking over the starting job halfway through the 2005 season. 2006 was his only full season in the NFL, and since then he has played in 34 games with only 529 rushing attempts over that span. To put hat into perspective, Portis has had 791 rushing attempts, and Parker 629 over that same span. For their careers Portis has totaled 2176 attempts, Parker 1253, and Johnson 1421, but of significant note is that 750 of Johnson's attempts came in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and he has not topped 200 carries since.
Parker has never fit into the third down back role in Pittsburgh, and don't expect him to be asked to do so in DC either. He isn't a hammer in short yardage situations, nor does he possess the break-away speed that will awe the coaches as an every-down back.
I expect the Redskins to go into the season with three/four running backs on the 53 man roster. Portis, Johnson, Torain and maybe Westbrook if he is signed should round out the roster. I expect Keiland Williams to be a practice squad player if he is indeed retained by the Redskins. There just simply may not be enough carries to keep Parker happy in DC.
Yeah, this one may shock some people, but I believe Sellers job in DC is in danger for 2010.
For starters, Sellers was called out by Clinton Portis last year for not giving 100 percent all the time (if that's not the pot calling the kettle black, then I don't know what is), and missing key blocks in games. I didn't have the luxury to go back and watch all the game tape of Sellers last season, but it did seem that in some games that he was going half-speed. Shanahan will not tolerate this attitude or work ethic, and I believe this, combined with his age (Sellers will be 35 this summer) will make him vulnerable.
Second, the Redskins spent a draft choice this year on Dennis Morris, a 6'1" 253 rookie FB/TE from Louisiana Tech. This move in the draft can fill a few different needs for the Redskins. It could allow the Redskins to carry one less tight end on the roster, because Morris can line up there if needed as well as at full back. He also proves to be a very reliableei out of the backfield, and is a devastating blocker. He should also provide some fresh legs on special teams.
I understand why he was signed; to have a player/coach to work with the young receivers, but I just can't see a 5'11" 197 pound, 38 year old wide receiver making the opening day 53 man roster. I'm all for keeping him around for training camp to work with the younger receivers, but I expect us to carry a max of six wide receivers this season, and I just can't see the staff wanting to take away reps from our young guys, in favor of a 38 year old guy, who is one small injury away from being out of this league for good. He can't return kickoffs, but Thomas and Austin can. He shouldn't be returning punts, but Austin and Moss can. He shouldn't be going across the middle any more, but Thomas, Kelly, and Moss can. He can still stretch a defense with his speed, but so can Moss, Thomas and Austin. He can run excellent routes, but so can our young guys with proper coaching. I just don't see what he brings to the table besides veteran leadership, and I don't think that should be enough to take away a roster spot from a young, promising talent.
Yes, we may be down a Williams' come summer if the Redskins decide to part ways with C/G Edwin Williams. He seems to be the odd man out in the offensive line two deep. Even though his versatility makes him an interesting prospect, he just doesn't have the footwork or strength needed to compete at this level. The signings of Cory Lichtensteiger, Artis Hicks (even though he is projected at tackle), and the development of Mike Williams and Paul Fanaika at guard may leave Williams as the odd man out. Not to mention the Redskins drafted Erik Cook, another C/G prospect in the 2010 draft who could end up as a developmental prospect on the practice squad this year.
Where does this guy fit in? We seem to be full at outside linebacker with Orakpo, Carter, Wilson, Alaxander, and Jarmon, and he is way to small to move to the defensive line in the 3-4. Jackson lacks the explosiveness and overall athletic ability to be effective in the 3-4 defense. He is not eligible for the practice squad, and his lack of game experience may leave him as the odd man out.
I thought Westbrook was a long shot to make the team last year, but he surprised with his play during training camp and the preseason, and earned a roster spot. I can't see him being retained this season however, as we have newly signed Phillip Buchanon, Hall, Rodgers, Tryon and Barnes at corner back, and I only expect us to carry five on the roster. Buchanon can help in the return game, and should be in play for the nickle spot along with Tryon and Barnes. Barnes, although young, provides a great presence on special teams, and could develop into a starting corner or safety in this league if he progresses as expected of his skill level.