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Need to Know: 5 observations on the Redskins’ 53-man roster

Sep 1, 2014, 4:48 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 1, six days before the Redskins open their season against the Texans.

Nickel coverage

Five observations about the Redskins’ 53-man roster:

—The waiver claim of Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho makes a lot of sense. It’s hard for a team that’s as needy at safety as the Redskins to turn down the chance to get a player who started 14 games and three playoff games, including the Super Bowl. According to some reports he is a box safety with limited coverage skills. The fact that he’s not an all-around safety is not surprising since such players are very rarely available on the waiver wire. We will see how quickly he can get up to speed.

—I still am puzzled by the decision to let both Chris Thompson and Lache Seastrunk go, even though Thompson has returned to the practice squad. Keeping at least one speed back on the 53-man roster seems to be the smart way to go. But if Thompson can stick on the practice practice squad and develop there instead of while taking up roster spots it will be a case of all’s well that ends well.

—Right now I’m not sure if the Redskins are better off on the offensive line than they were a year ago but they could be better a year from now. There might be a slight upgrade in the starters with Kory Lichtensteiger taking over for Will Montgomery at center and Shawn Lauvao moving in at left guard. But if Morgan Moses and Spencer Long can develop into starters as projected (and/or if Josh LeRibeus can as well) it could be a major upgrade. But draft picks carry no guarantees, especially not third rounders, so we will have to wait and see.

—The most improved unit on the team clearly is wide receiver. Pierre Garçon, Santana Moss, and Aldrick Robinson are back. DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant replace Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Nick Williams. You don’t need much explanation or advanced stats to tell you that it’s a better unit.

—A few numbers: The Redskins’ roster has 25 players on offense, 25 on defense, and three specialists. A total of 24 players were not on the 53-man roster at any point last year. Of those, 21 are new to the Redskins organization in 2014. A total of 24 of them were drafted by the Redskins.

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I’ll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Stat of the day

—DeSean Jackson had 25 plays with gains for 20 yards or more in the regular season with the Eagles last year plus one in the playoffs. On the drives where Jackson had those explosive plays the Eagles scored 17 touchdowns, kicked seven field goals, and missed two field goals.


Today’s schedule: Practice 10:45; player availability and Jay Gruden news conference after practice (approx. 12:30).

—It’s been 246 days since the Redskins played a game; in six days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Home opener vs. Jaguars 13; Redskins @ Eagles 20; Thursday night Giants @ Redskins 25

In case you missed it

  1. rebelsrevelations - Sep 1, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Rich, I like the roster. Well, pretty much anyway, but there are a few head scratchers for me, that maybe you could clear up.
    First: why are we keeping players that aren’t able to stay healthy? Hankerson can’t play two games without a season ending injury, and height doesn’t guarantee success!
    Second: Seems that Coach Gruden likes Thompson over Seastrunk, but why? Thompson can’t stay healthy, and that was even at the college level! Why compound Shanahan’s mistake, by keeping a guy who has toothpick bones?!
    Lastly: Although Moses is a backup at present, Polumbus shows that each year, he improves. So I’m fine there, but Long is every bit as good as Chester, and that big money Chester gets could be better spent in FA next spring. I mean, Long is younger, stronger, and more adaptable than Chester! So, why is he still on the roster? He practically got RG3 killed last year! Single handedly!
    Please … A little help here!

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      “Polumbus shows that each year, he improves. ”

      Finally, a fan that doesn’t think Polumbus is still playing at his 2012 level. I was amazed in as Polumbus continued to improve how fans continue to incriminate him last season for pass protection. All the while the collapse in pass protection was happening between Montgomery and Chester. Yes, we can improve on Polumbus be we could also be doing worst (Eric Winston, anyone?).

      • skinsgame - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Hear hear.

      • rebelsrevelations - Sep 1, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Certainly! Polumbus isn’t flashy by any stretch of the imagination! But he has consistently improved! And you’re right, he took flack for Chester’s poor play! I don’t think he improved much during the preseason either! That’s going to get RG3 hurt, I’m afraid! He has to go!

    • captblood3000 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Perhaps the coaching staff thinks that Chester will return to form this year. I think, though, that the Skins must get better, younger and cheaper on the offensive line. This year’s draft was a good step in that direction. They must continue drafting offensive linemen especially when they are value picks like Moses was.

      • skinsgame - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        Pretty telling that only 45% of the current roster were drafted by the team. New coach, questionable talent scouting combined. The two rookie linemen generated no buzz during camp and preseason, not that it means they won’t improve of course, but it was disappointing that the team could not pick up a player to unseat Chester at guard. Not even Leribeus is going to. 4 of the 5 starting unit were not drafted by the team. Of course, if they are winning games, no one will notice or care about that.

      • rebelsrevelations - Sep 1, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        He didn’t show it during the preseason, captblood3000!

    • James - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      1) They obviously liked what they saw from him and he’s not taking up a roster spot b/c he’s on the PUP list.

      2) Seastrunk was a liability in pass pro and his route running was lacking. Thompson was ahead in both areas.

      3) While Chester had an off year (and yes I agree he should go), Long went the WRONG WAY on a couple of pulls which is a BIG no no. LeRibeus looked like he was closer to starting than Long this summer. But next year it should be Log starting on the right side. As for the cap room next year, if we release Chester after this year we will still get a cap savings for next year.

      • rebelsrevelations - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Agreed that Thompson was further along, but blocking, and route running can be taught, fragility is, well, inherent! How many injuries can he endure, before he wants to sue the league? See what I’m saying?

    • Rich Tandler - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      You can¹t really cut an injured player. I think Hank is worth hanging on to. Sometimes players take some time to learn how to play effectively and how to stay healthy. He¹s at a low salary, worth hanging on to at least to see what the situation is when they can activate him.

      I don¹t see Long being better than Chester right now. He will be, and maybe soon, but he¹s not consistent enough yet.

      Can¹t answer on Seastrunk vs. Thompson. All I can do is point back to Hank and say that learning how to stay healthy is something that players can do.

      • rebelsrevelations - Sep 1, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        I see … Okay then, thanks Rich!
        One other thing … With Ihenacho being signed, do you think that’ll affect Rambo’s status as a starter? Coach Has seemed pretty high on Rambo during the preseason!

        • Rich Tandler - Sep 1, 2014 at 11:16 AM

          Hard to see Ihenacho being ready to to play with two days of real practice. Possibly inactive or special teams only. I think Rambo still starts.

  2. redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Rich, do you also think the Seastrunk Fan love affair has shades of Babe Laufenberg?

    I feel better about our own coach’s decisions after seen every team pass on Seastrunk. I still would love to see him take the final PS spot. However, it’s obvious now there are series limitations to Seastrunk’s game if no team took him by Sunday.

  3. dcwun - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Agree with the O-line assessment Rich. As far as RB’s go, Helu is supposed to be the “speed back” right? I really wonder if something happened with Lache and the staff when he was informed that he was being cut. Anyway, this Lache uproar reminds me of the fans reaction when Marko Mitchell was dumped years ago.

    • jaxjoe - Sep 1, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      Helu had a faster 40 time than Seastrunk at the combine.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 1, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        Very true! But there is a difference between track speed and game speed. Lache seemed to get separation on players in open field that Helu hasn’t. However, I’m also aware that Seastrunk did it against inferior players.

        • jaxjoe - Sep 1, 2014 at 2:09 PM

          Seastrunk, I believe, didn’t run to the assignment. When this happens, defenders shift and that’s when holding penalties are committed against the OL. Not to mention injuries and fumbles to to blind-sided tackles. I think coaches tried to emphasize this and Lache didn’t respond. My guess is coaches became frustrated with him and deemed him uncoachable. We all want the next Barry Sanders but you’ve gotta do what the coaches tell you to do.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 1, 2014 at 5:29 PM

          No doubt Seastrunk didn’t do something right to not be picked up by all 32 teams from the waiver wire. However, I’m not sure if it was due to route running, pass protection, or being “uncoachable”. At this point, it is speculation by everyone outside of the decision makers in the NFL. The more I think about it, I come to realize that many players come into the NFL raw; many players are given time to develop and deemed worth the investment. Was it really only because he needed “too much development”? Was it something more personal?

          I have to speculate it was something more than what we know about his ability to produce or develop on the field. Sorry since I hate to be a cynic but development with glaring talent was never something that chased away every NFL team for such a young player. A talented player that would had be cheap to sign. Something is amiss here!

  4. burkjr2014 - Sep 1, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Hey Rich, just an observation on Seastrunk. If you go back and watch the game, several times after his runs he wouldn’t get off the ground. On his last run he did it and the network panned to Jay and he looked really aggravated. Not saying this is the reason but I bet it played a part. It’s worth going back and taking a look at.

    • jaxjoe - Sep 1, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      He also looked winded a lot.

  5. colmac69 - Sep 1, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Regards o-line last yr majority probs came from interior three who didnt play well as individuals and as a unit….polombus is the easy target…chester played well in 2012 so perhaps last yrs struggles was because the other two were poor….however from what u hear/read/see he hasnt bn great this pre season….in a perfect world our line will b reincarnation of the hogs this yr but what we nd is for them to function as unit and b serviceable. …as for long/moses only time will tell if they crack starting line this yr but u would xpect them to b right there nxt yr…….as for seastrunk I thot he b ideal in third/fouth qtrs when defenses are tired and we could utilise his speed on screens etc but coaches obviously thot his ovrrall game didnt warrant place…I b interested in what gruden has to say in xplaining his choices to media

  6. bowlregard - Sep 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    I figure they might bring in a stout OLman next year during FA. They will also have a #1 pick. They should also know that Russ Grimm is out of football right now.

  7. kenlinkins - Sep 1, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    Rich, The most shocking thing to me on the roster set up was keeping 7 D-linemen, picking up traditional SS type in Ihenacho (and keeping Rambo) after getting a traditional FS type in Clark (we fans have heard for years that the Redskins DC likes Safeties who can be both SS/FS types in a 3-4). While I have seen the Redskins use more of the 4-3 and 4-2 set up on passing downs to try an get a better pass rush, and with Hatcher (and other DL) being better in a 4-3 and 4-2, IYO was this by design or did it come about due to the talent available? Is this a system change by the DC / new HC or just a team trying to get the most out of what they have. I ready do like the idea of a more traditional 4-3 set up on 2nd / 3rd down and long, as it requires better LB core (which the Redskins seem to have) and can protect a weak defensive back field with a better / less predictable blitz package. So, by design or talent driven?

    • Rich Tandler - Sep 1, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      I think the flexible safety thing is a myth. The Redskins (and most other teams) have enough trouble putting two competent safeties on the field without demanding that they play two pretty different positions. Guys can do it but given that this team isn’t willing to throw much at the position in the way of draft picks or money in the last decade or so they’re not going to find even one of them, let along two.

      > >

      • kenlinkins - Sep 1, 2014 at 8:48 PM

        Great answer! You saw right to the heart of my question. And I agree 100%! This is why I come to this web site. Archives

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