Roster Battles: Defensive Line

Aug 9, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Vince Young (10) takes a snap as Washington Redskins nose tackle Chris Neild (95) rushes during the fourth quarter at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Redskins beat the Bills 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

If Mike Shanahan wanted to see how his first unit fared against the run, then he certainly left Thursday’s preseason game versus the Buffalo Bills a little disappointed. All 16 of the Bills' first-quarter plays were passes, leaving nothing to assess in the run game for the starting trio of Adam Carriker, Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. However, Shanahan did get more than a good look at how they can complement the improving rush from the outside, and there should not be any disappointment in that department so far.

But things started to get very intriguing once the reserves took the field. Jarvis Jenkins saw his first action in nearly a year, and fans were pleasantly surprised by a few big contributions from a player on the bubble who I’ll write about in a few paragraphs. For now, let’s take a look at who is above and below the cut line.

You know the drill from Parks' posts. The numbers next to each player are the odds they will make the final roster, with 10 being the best odds and one being the least.

Adam Carriker (10): One of the more polarizing players on the Redskins got off to a pretty nice start to the preseason, evidenced by the very first snap he took. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan swarmed Ryan Fitzpatrick from around the edge, but Adam Carriker’s big push to collapse the pocket prevented Fitzpatrick from stepping up to avoid the pressure, ultimately leading to a sack. This was Carriker’s highest point of the game, but still did a nice job overall of challenging his man to the point of attack.

Barry Cofield (10): Another lock for the roster, Cofield ultimately never got to display any sort of gap-stuffing ability and discipline in the run game that earned him a sizeable paycheck from the Redskins a year ago. The Bills displayed a lot of four and five receiver sets, which forced Cofield to come off the field in exchange for another defensive back. Because of this, Cofield did not see as much time on the field as his counterparts, but there is still plenty of time for him to shake the rust off before the season’s opener.

Stephen Bowen (10): Bowen seemed to have his hands full with Andy Levitre, and that’s more of a testament to how good of a guard Levitre is becoming than how much Bowen struggled. In fact, Bowen had some nice moments, including a play where he nearly pushed Levitre into Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the first quarter. However, Fitzpatrick made a great throw under duress and threaded the needle to Scott Chandler, who made a terrific catch for 26 yards.

Jarvis Jenkins (10): It took some time for Jenkins to get his wheels back underneath him, but he did show signs of returning to the punishing form he had last summer. It wasn’t until the six-play goal line stand where Jenkins made his presence known, but it still has to be encouraging to the coaches monitoring his return from a torn ACL closely.

Kedric Golston (8): In past seasons, Golston had proven to be a nice contributor in the defensive line rotation, but that was the case when he took fewer snaps. What really cemented his place onto the roster was his special teams presence, which the Redskins truly missed when Golston went down with a torn MCL last season. He will continue to have every chance to prove if he has fully bounced back.

Chris Baker (6): There isn’t enough that can be said about how good of a start Chris Baker has gotten off to. He was far too much for the Bills’ reserves to handle, consistently disrupting the backfield and being a stalwart in the run game. In order to make the final roster, he is going to have to unseat last-year’s backup to Barry Cofield, Chris Neild. With more performances like this one, putting him on the roster will not be a difficult decision for his coaches to make at all.

BELOW THE CUT-LINE

Chris Neild (5): It’s not that Neild was bad in this game; he saw plenty of playing time and made some nice plays, even recording a sack. The issue is that despite his performance, Neild was just simply outplayed by Chris Baker. Neild took the first series with the reserves alongside Kedric Golston and Jarvis Jenkins, but in the very next one, he was subbed-out for Baker. It’s interesting that the coaches gave Neild and Baker snaps with the same unit, which indicates they may have second-string ambitions for Baker despite being viewed early-on in camp as someone on the outside looking in. It’s the biggest battle within the defensive line right now, and will be one worth monitoring as the summer progresses.

Darrion Scott/Doug Worthington(2): Scott and Worthington contributed to a solid defensive effort to pressure Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young and Brad Smith, but there is too much depth needed at offensive line and safety due to the uncertainty at those positions. Both are extreme longshots to make the cut.

DNP/MIA

Delvin Johnson (1): Did not play.

Actually MIA

Kentwan Balmer (Number less than zero)

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