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Six wide?

Jul 31, 2008, 1:27 AM EDT

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What was thought to be one of the higher-profile, higher stakes training camp battles may not ever happen.

After the Washington Redskins drafted receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly in the second round, it appeared that James Thrash and Anthony Mix were headed towards a showdown for the fifth and final WR roster spot behind the two rookies, Santana Moss, and Antwaan Randle El.

It was to be a classic competition between a cagey veteran who makes up for the loss of a step or two with hustle and smarts and a raw youngster with great size and potential. One would get a high-paying gig with the Skins, the other would have to start looking for work, either in the NFL or in—shudder—the real world.

However, after listening to comments that Jim Zorn made on Tuesday morning, it appears that the fifth receiver spot may not be the final spot. He indicated that he might go with six at the position.

Carrying six WR’s is unusual but not unheard of. Steve Spurrier’s first Redskins team had six receivers on the opening-day roster. Teams that run a lot of four-wide sets sometimes will carry six.

If both Mix and Thrash make it, of course, that means that the Redskins will have to keep one fewer player at another position. Do you run with, say, six linebackers despite the still-shaky health of Rocky McIntosh and H. B. Blades’ recent knee injury?

Maybe you trust Mike Sellers to be the only fullback on the roster and run with an extra tight end or with Lorenzo Alexander as a third tackle if he goes out.

A handful of teams keep just two quarterbacks on the roster to free up a spot, but it’s hard to imagine Zorn doing that.

Certainly carrying six receivers still is just a possibility and Thrash and Mix may well still have a battle brewing. But the offhand way Zorn mentioned “the fourth, fifth, and sixth guys” when talking about the receivers would reasonably lead one to believe that six is the number he has penciled as of now.

Depending on the health at some other positions, I wouldn’t be opposed to such a roster configuration. It’s hard to get rid of Thrash; he does too much and if you ask him to do more, he’ll gladly do it. At 6-5, Mix has the potential to be a great red-zone target and he can play some decent special teams to boot.

Rian Wallace or Nehemiah Broughton, two players who could be cut to make way for a sixth receiver, likely would disagree.

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