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In or Out? Roster predictions on a “bubble” player from every Redskins position group

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Who’s in and who’s out?

2017 Cleveland Browns Training Camp

With preseason Game 3 in the books, all that’s left is the mopping up duty. One or two roster spots could get decided in Week 4 against the Ravens, but the primary role of the final preseason game is to give the starters a ‘bye’ week to rest and recover before the regular season opener.

With that in mind, I thought this might be a good time to make some predictions about some borderline roster players — guys who are “on the bubble”. It’s not always easy, as a fan, to know who is or isn’t on the bubble. Often coaches see players in a very different light that people on the outside. You may, with a few of these players, disagree with my contention that they are or were ever “on the bubble”.

For each player, I’ll tell you what I think should happen to him at roster cut downs, then predict what I think the coaches will actually do. I’ll also include some minimal commentary about the position. This is not intended as a full roster prediction — merely a look at a the guys treading the border between making the team and being cut.

Running Back - Samaje Perine

Jay Gruden spent most of the off-season as Perine’s biggest cheerleader, talking about how good the RB looked, how fit he was, and how he had worked on his pass catching and pass protection skills.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Watching the three preseason games, I thought I could see a noticeable improvement in Perine’s pass-pro. Significantly, he hasn’t put the football on the turf at all in 2019.

What I think should happen

After Perine was drafted, I became sold on him as a good pick. It was a slow process for me to mentally change my impression of him. I have now tapped out on Samaje Perine. I think it’s time to cut the cord.

What I think the coaches will do

There are only two potential outcomes at the RB position when rosters are cut: the Redskins will keep 3 healthy RBs or they will keep 4.

If they keep 3, then Perine is gone, because it’ll be AD, CT & DG.

If they keep 4, then Perine is still gone, because the Redskins will look after special teams, retaining Byron Marshall as the primary KO return man.

With Bryce Love potentially joining the team after midseason, the Redskins will probably have some late season options, and there is usually a talented runner or three available early in the season as street free agents that can come in an play quickly, much like AD did last year. If the Skins need a guy to replace an injured running back, then Mason-Brennan award nominee Craig Reynolds would likely be available if Perine wasn’t.

Quarterback - Colt McCoy

What I think should happen

Colt McCoy should be released.

What I think the coaches will do

When push comes to shove and the coaches are trying to get the best 53-man roster on the field and have to choose to either keep a young talented player with special teams skills or the injured 3rd string QB who is now behind the rookie 1st round draft pick on the depth chart, I believe the Redskins are going to finally cut the cord and release McCoy and his $3m cap charge ahead of the opening Day game in Philly.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

McCoy is hobbled; he can’t play right now. He is many times more valuable to the Redskins than he would be to any other NFL team due to his familiarity with Gruden’s offense. In the midst of trying to cut 37 players from their roster, no other team is going to ‘steal’ Colt McCoy away. If the worst happens and Keenum gets injured, Haskins can take over, and Jay can call McCoy to get up off his sofa and come back.

And, honestly, like 2018, if the Redskins need to go to the third QB, the season is really over anyway. Haskins needs to get on the field. Let’s go into the season with just two QBs in 2019.

Wide receiver - Josh Doctson

I might’ve hesitated to list Josh Doctson as being “on the bubble” but one local beat reporter published an article this week saying that the Redskins have had Doctson on the trade block for two years now, and that the player is unlikely to make the roster at the end of the month.

Alrighty then! That’s good enough for me. Doc is on the bubble.

What I think should happen

Doc has already resigned himself to being a free agent next season. He’s had 31 games over the past two seasons to show who he is. It turns out that, from a production standpoint, he’s Ryan Grant.

Doctson was supposed to be a jump ball specialist. It seems that the Redskins drafted one of those in Kelvin Harmon.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Doc doesn’t play special teams. Cutting him can save a little bit of salary cap space — trading him for a ham sandwich would save over $1.8m.

I think he should be gone — traded if possible, released if not.

What I think the coaches will do

Two weeks ago I was convinced that Doctson, as the (rock & roll) Eagles once said, was alllllllll-ready gone. A week ago, I had revised my opinion; I upgraded him to “on the bubble”.

Now I find myself in the uncomfortable position of upgrading him again. I get the feeling that the coaching staff — at least for the moment — sees Doctson as a ‘starter’, not a backup. I hate to say it, but I think he survives the roster cut down and plays in the first offensive series against the Eagles.

Safety - Reaves, Everett, Apke

My intent is to only look at one player at each position, but I’m gonna make an exception here because it won’t matter which of these three guys I pick, the answer is gonna be the same.

What I think the coaches will do

I think the team is going to put a lot of value on special teams contribution and, in the end, will elect to keep 5 safeties, meaning that all three players — Jeremy Reaves, Deshazor Everett, and Troy Apke — will be on the 53-man roster.

Washington Redskins v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

What I think should happen

A month ago, I assumed that Reaves would be gone. Against the Browns and Bengals, I saw him making plays. Against the Falcons, I saw one play in the second half where it looked like the Atlanta running back had turned the corner and was about to break loose for a nice run. Then I saw a Redskins defensive player turn on the jets, run him down, and tackle him for about a 1-yard gain.

I actually said out loud at the time: “Who the heck was that?!”

It was Jeremy Reaves. I want to put him third on the depth chart behind Collins & Nicholson, and I’d like to say goodbye to Apke. In the end, I think the team likes Apke’s speed and his ability to play special teams, so he will be safe as the backup FS. Everett will be the toughest call for the coaches, but in the end, they’ll opt to keep him.

Inside Linebacker - Marquise Flowers

Flowers was probably always a long shot, but I imagine his performance in Atlanta sealed his fate.

What I think the coaches should do

Marquise Flowers will be among the easiest bubble players to cut. He’ll be in the second wave, after the coaches shake their heads over the no-hopers, but his outing against Atlanta was the stuff of nighmares. If the Redskins had been on Hard Knocks this year, the producers would have had a 5 minutes segment showing all the ways Marquise Flowers cost himself a roster spot in the Atlanta game.

What I think should happen

Redskins fans should be put out of their misery; M Flowers should be cut before the sun sets tomorrow.

Tight End - J.P. Holtz

There was a pass play by the Redskins on their first possession of the game. On the play, I saw what I thought was a running back come all the way across the formation for a blitz pickup in pass protection.

“Who the hell was that?” I asked as I watched the game.

There was no time to find out right then. When I got home from work 12 hours later, I re-watched the Redskins - Falcons game. When the same play ran, I had the same reaction. I hit rewind and watched again; this time I caught the number - it was 87 Sprinkle, and he made a great block. Sprinkle also had a very good catch that went for 28 yards on his only target leading all tight ends in the game. Reed had a drop on a play that would’ve given the team a first-down, and gained ten yards on his ‘concussion catch’ while Vernon Davis was blanked for the game. Flanagan was targeted once, but, like Davis, came up empty.

Sprinkle is looking more and more like he belongs. He is the Redskins future at the TE position, and by next season, Vernon Davis will be talked about in the past tense, as he will be suited, booted and working in television.

Against the Falcons, JP Holtz had 12 yards on his only target. He’s looking good, and, in my opinion, is out-playing his rival Matt Flanagan.

What I think should happen

The Redskins need to have one eye on 2020 at the tight end position. They may be able to draft a capable tight end next off-season, but draft capital is not unlimited. The team has invested a lot of time and development into Holtz, and it would be a shame to waste it now. The Redskins should keep 4 tight ends this year. Holtz may be inactive every week, but when 2020 comes around, Holtz will be ready to step up. The Redskins should keep him on the 53-man roster.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

What I think the Redskins will do

The coaches and front office are on the same page as me, I believe. Holtz will make the cut and be on the 53-man roster to start the regular season in a move that may leave a lot of fans and analysts scratching their heads, but it’ll be the right thing to do.

Outside Linebacker - Cassanova McKinzy

Back in May and June, I would’ve said that McKinzy had a chance to make the roster, but it would require an injury to someone ahead of him on the depth chart.

NFL: AUG 22 Preseason - Redskins at Falcons Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now, I think he’s simply made it impossible to cut him, both because of his defensive play and his special teams ability.

The coaching staff and I agree

McKinzy deserves a roster spot. The Redskins should (and will) keep him.

Defensive Line - Ryan Bee

In May and June, I thought Ryan Bee would bee gone beefore the preseason games even started.

Welp, he played, and he flashed immediately against Cleveland’s third-stringers. He has continued to look good, playing well against the Bengals and Falcons.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

What I think the coaches will do

The Redskins spend a lot of time in even-fronts defensively, meaning that they line up only 2 defensive lineman on a play most of the time. They really only need 5 defensive linemen if they are healthy. The top-5 guys are carved in stone already.

Bee will go to the practice squad if he clears waivers, BUT there is one caveat: if Brantley isn’t healthy by the time the season starts, it is possible that Bee stays on the roster until Brantley is able to return to the field.

What I think should happen

Bee has been a pleasant camp surprise, but the Redskins DL is too strong for him to break in this year. I think the Skins should try to get him to the practice squad, although, when/if they do, there’s a fair chance he could get signed by another team looking for DL depth.

There are two positions where I’m having trouble making up my mind

I’m gonna ask you to help me by voting on the remaining two positions: offensive line and cornerback.

Offensive Line

The issues for the offensive line are troubling.

On Guice’s early “stiff arm” run in the first quarter against Atlanta, the man that Guice had to face-plant was Brandon Scherff’s man, who had slipped inside the pulling guard’s block in space to get to the young running back. Later in the half, a screen to the right was blown up by a Falcon defender while Scherff was standing around looking for someone to block.

Added 26 August - film of these two plays posted to Twitter by Robbie Duncan:

The two plays above are from a thread posted by Robbie Duncan breaking down tons of offensive line play. You can review the entire thread here:

In pass protection, Ereck Flowers looked imbecilic on some plays — more matador-like, stepping out of the way of the oncoming menace than the barrier to entry he is supposed to be. Even Chase Roullier was beaten on the pass rush at times.

This group has not looked good in preseason.

The offensive line does not look ready to play in an NFL game.

It’s hard to pinpoint just one problem; although, against Atlanta, I’d say the #77 jersey with the name “Flowers” printed on the back looked like it was wrapped around a quintain spinning on its axis. The former Giant, however, is far from the only problematic player on the OL roster.

Poll

Which of these "bubble" players will the Redskins CUT?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Ereck Flowers
    (654 votes)
  • 0%
    Donald Penn
    (19 votes)
  • 29%
    Tony Bergstrom
    (566 votes)
  • 4%
    Ross Pierschbacher
    (95 votes)
  • 31%
    None of the above
    (614 votes)
1948 votes total Vote Now

Cornerback

Greg Stroman’s work as the designated fair-catch man on the punt return unit against the Falcons seems to indicate that the coaches think he’ll still be around come September.

DRC is not my favorite player, and I just can’t get it out of my head that he retired mid-season last year, and that not having him on the roster would probably lead to the restoration of a 2020 comp pick for the Redskins.

Deion Harris has gone from looking horrible against the Browns 3rd teamers to actually making a play late in the game against Atlanta. The reason Harris is in camp is because Jay is pals with his dad — they go way back, and Jay used to coach him in the AFL.

Unless I missed seeing it, I don’t think Adonis Alexander has seen the field this preseason, nursing an injury. Maybe the easiest thing to do is assign him to IR and let him come back next year as someone else’s problem.

I’ve been looking for good things from D.J. White all preseason, but so far he hasn’t really distinguished himself, and the roster is probably too deep with guys the Redskins are invested in for them to want to keep him around.

I had never noticed Ashton Lampkin on the field in a Redskins uniform until Thursday night in the 4th quarter when he scooped up a fumble, dashed for the end zone, and, just before he reached the goal line, had the football knocked from is hands by the chasing defender, fumbling through the end zone, causing what used to be (prior to the new PI red-flag challenge) the worst rule in football to come into play, awarding the ball to the Falcons offense on their own 20-yard line.

I suspect that the coaches will default to DRC as one of the cornerbacks on the roster, but I find that, in my heart, I really don’t want them to keep him. With Moreau hobbled by injury, we may need to see the depth players on the field for significant snaps against the Eagles. I’m struggling to feel good about anyone after Norman and Dunbar.

Poll

Which of these cornerbacks would you personally most like to see STAY on the roster after cut down day?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
    (422 votes)
  • 3%
    Deion Harris
    (54 votes)
  • 55%
    Greg Stroman
    (933 votes)
  • 9%
    Adonis Alexander
    (153 votes)
  • 2%
    DJ White
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    Ashton Lampkin (he had the fumble return that he then fumbled for a touchback in the Falcons game)
    (82 votes)
1683 votes total Vote Now