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53: Running back-fullback

Jul 24, 2009, 1:17 PM EDT

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Is this Marcus Mason's year

Is this Marcus Mason's year

Between now and the start of training camp I’ll be making my predictions about who will be on the final 53-man roster for the Washington Redskins–who’s there, who’s in, who’s on the bubble, and who’s out. The predicted roster will be revised and updated as preseason events warrant. Today, running backs and fullbacks:

Who’s here Now: (9) FB: Mike Sellers, Eddie Williams. RB: Anthony Aldridge, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, Dominique Dorsey, Jonathan Evans, Marcus Mason, Clinton Portis

How many will stick: 4

Starters: Portis and Sellers. When the Redskins went to the playoffs in 2005 and 2007, Portis pulled the wagon, finishing off strong to lead the charge to the postseason. Last year he was the bell cow early in the year and, along with the team’s record, faded down the stretch. We’ll see if that was a function of Portis wearing down or of better defenses and an overall team slump. Sellers led the way for many of Portis runs and, fittingly, he accompanied him to the Pro Bowl.

Solid backups: Betts. He averaged just 3.4 yards per carry last year, quite a decline from the 4.7 average he had in 2006 when he filled in for an injured Portis and gained 1,154 yards. He’ll be 30 at the end of August. Certainly, he doesn’t have a lot of miles on him—just 720 carries in seven NFL seasons—but he needs to take better advantage of his opportunities.

Last man on: Cartwright. I was very, very tempted to go with Mason here. Given the facts about Betts I think that they have to look at who is going to be Portis’ long-term successor and he’s the only one currently on the roster who has that potential. But Cartwright is the special teams’ Swiss army knife and that makes him too valuable to let go, especially given that James Thrash, another teams ace, is gone. It’s possible that they’ll find a way to keep another RB and keep Mason around but right now I don’t think he’ll make it. Stay tuned on this one, though.

First man off: Mason. Williams will stick on the practice squad as the backup fullback. Dorsey is a wild card, if he has a great preseason returning kicks he could force some tough decisions and creative thinking on roster spots.

Spots taken so far: 22

Spots to go: 31

Next: Offensive line

  1. Joe in Raleigh - Jul 25, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    I think Mason is here to stay. They let him go last year and paid for it when Portis went down. Clearly, they can’t count on guys like Shaun Alexander to fill in if Portis gets hurt again. No, I don’t think they would bring him back as camp fodder. If he has another good pre-season, I think he’ll stick.

  2. Rich - Jul 26, 2009 at 6:45 AM

    Can’t argue with the logic, Joe. I just can’t figure out who’s going if he stays. Maybe they could go with one fewer on the defensive line and figure that Orakpo fills the gap, but I don’t know who would go.

    It should be fun to see it all sort out.

  3. fastwb - Jul 26, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    I like Mason, too, but I just don’t see where he can fit in. They won’t carry 3 halfbacks if the third isn’t a major contributer on Teams. He brings a new style of running to the team but I have to say I like what Betts can do and don’t count Rock out as a serious contributer to the Offense. Here, as with WRs, returning kicks is going to be a factor. Mason can improve his stock tremendously if he can be a productive returner. By the same token, Dorsey can play his way into the mix with a strong showing as well. I’m hoping Dorsey makes them work him into the roster by a strong showing as a punt returner. He could still share kickoff returning duties with Rock and wouldn’t that be a daunting duo for opponents to deal with?

  4. Joe in Raleigh - Jul 27, 2009 at 10:39 AM

    Just a thought… what if they only keep 2 quarterbacks. Presumably, that would be Campbell and Brennan. Collins did a great job when he was running Al Saunders offense, but I’m not sure I trust him anymore than Brennan in Zorn’s offense. It would open up 1 more offensive roster spot.

    The problem is not Mason, it’s Rock. He’s a great teammate and he’s good on teams, but he doesn’t really have an every down position. Sometimes I think we get in trouble tying up rosters spots with guys like Rock, Thrash, Albright and Khari Campbell who are great at teams but contribute nothing on offense or defense.

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