On Monday afternoon, the Redskins released their unofficial depth chart for this Thursday’s preseason opener versus the Buffalo Bills— about 45 minutes after I had prepared a depth chart projection of my own.
No matter, though. I had addressed a only a few positions where heavy battles are ongoing and are amid changes as healthy and unhealthy camp bodies continue to rotate to and from the top of the depth charts. And despite the Redskins releasing how their positions stack up so far, I have decided to post my own projection because
I am lazy it’s interesting to see how the two compare. There are already quite a few changes since my last update a week ago, so just for fun, let's see what I had in store this week:
1a) Evan Royster
1b) Roy Helu, Jr.
1c) Tim Hightower
Tim Hightower has been losing reps in practice largely for precautionary reasons, although Mike Shanahan acknowledged that Hightower’s knee is nowhere close to 100 percent. Because of his diminished role, I gave Hightower a bump down on the depth chart, but it is not the preferred listing of the coaches, who have him starting- for now.
Listed directly after Hightower on the team's depth chart is Evan Royster, not Roy Helu, Jr., which provides further evidence of Mike Shanahan viewing Helu as more of a change-of-pace back.
If Hightower can get on the right track early enough, he will keep Roy Helu, Jr. at bay and perhaps supplant Evan Royster. But if the duo of second-year running backs continue their fast starts, Hightower reclaiming his job will grow more difficult by the day.
Royster continues to take snaps with the first-team offense, which has been the trend ever since camp opened. Though Helu has the athleticism and the burst worthy of handling lead-back responsibilities, Royster’s vision and prowess between the tackles has earned him the majority of early touches. This is still a very open battle that will be especially intriguing to watch once games start, but as of now Royster is in line for a lot of touches.
1) Pierre Garcon
2) Leonard Hankerson
3) Santana Moss
4) Joshua Morgan
5) Brandon Banks
6) Dezmon Briscoe
7) Anthony Armstrong
Joshua Morgan, like Hightower, falls a bit due to his absence in camp, but maintains that his recent hamstring tweak is not serious. In wake of this, Leonard Hankerson has shined while continuing to dispel and concerns about lingering effects of his torn labrum. Though Hankerson has impressed, Morgan is likely to get his chance atop the depth chart barring further setback.
One thing is clear though; Morgan will continue to be pushed by Hankerson for snaps once he gets his health well enough to practice.
Aside from that, boy did I screw this one up. Initially, I had Anthony Armstrong on the bubble and Dezmon Briscoe making a push for the final cut. That could still be the case toward the end of preseason, but as of now, Armstrong is listed as the second “X” receiver behind Santana Moss and therefore has a much higher standing than I anticipated. I suppose it shouldn’t be a huge surprise given that he is the second-longest tenured Redskins receiver on the team.
Briscoe, on the other hand, is dead last on the depth chart at the position despite showing some early flashes at camp. Armstrong’s current standing coupled with Brandon Banks continuing to exceed expectations will make this an uphill battle for Briscoe, but it’s not out of the question at all for him to make a real push for the final roster.
1) Kory Lichtensteiger
2) Maurice Hurt
3) Josh LeRibeus
Even with nearly 10 months of recovery time from a torn ACL, Kory Lichtensteiger is not out of the woods yet in regard to his health. Though he could be healthy enough return halfway through preseason, the Redskins are approaching the matter cautiously and likely won't push him into game action until the Week 1 matchup versus the New Orleans Saints.
In the meantime, Maurice Hurt has gotten most of the reps at left guard with the first team. He has also taken some snaps at right tackle, which could come in handy down the road with the depth at that position decimated as well.
Rookie Josh LeRibeus spent a day with the first-team offense and in the process helped his case in justifying the Redskins spending a third-round pick on him. As a whole, he has been up-and-down, but it would take a colossal struggle for “Ribeye” to not make the 53-man roster. With Lichtensteiger’s health a question and Hurt’s unreliability at the position a season ago, it’s not unreasonable to think we could see LeRibeus in regular-season action sooner than later.
1) DeAngelo Hall
2) Josh Wilson
3) Cedric Griffin
4) Kevin Barnes
5) Richard Crawford
There’s been a lot of mixing and matching with the Redskins cornerbacks during camp, which has to be music to the ears of fans everywhere. It’s true that you would like to have roles predetermined for each player, but there is enough depth and versatility at the position where players are not exclusively designated to the perimeter or the slot. DeAngelo Hall and Cedric Griffin have spent time in the slot as well as the outside, and Kevin Barnes has been taking snaps on the outside and appears comfortable there so far.
A name that should jump out at you right now is Richard Crawford, who was considered a long shot to make the final cut before camp started. So far, he’s turned heads by creating turnovers and demonstrating his versatility in the return game. Admittedly, he has slowed down since his hot start, but he could cement his position on the roster with strong preseason performances and give the Redskins an early return on their seventh-round investment.
The current Redskins depth chart indicates this could very well happen, as Crawford is already listed above veterans such as Morgan Trent and David Jones. Second-year cornerback Brandyn Thompson could also make a big push to be the team’s fifth corner, but it’s refreshing to see that Crawford is very much in the mix instead of being a long shot.
1) Madieu Williams
2) Tanard Jackson
3) DeJon Gomes
This is a battle that will only heat-up as August progresses. The starting position appeared to be a two-horse race between Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson, but the Redskins unofficial depth chart had Gomes listed as a second-stringer instead of the former Buccaneer.
Jackson had a nagging calf injury that kept him out of camp early, and Williams took advantage of his absence by providing a cerebral veteran presence downfield.