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Need to Know: The Redskins may have to release some cornerbacks they’d rather keep

Jul 17, 2016, 6:04 AM EDT

Dashaun-Phillips-vs-Cowboys-AP

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 17, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 189 days ago. It will be 57 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 25; Final roster cut 48; Cowboys @ Redskins 64

Three and out

—The Redskins are going to have to let go of a cornerback or two they would rather keep. The maximum they can keep without creating a major numbers squeeze elsewhere is five. Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, and Kendall Fuller are locks. Quinton Dunbar is close to being a lock. That leaves one spot for Dashaun Phillips, Greg Toler, and rookie Lloyd Carrington. Both Carrington and Phillips have practice squad eligibility but with the position at a premium around the league they’ll want to keep their best five on the 53. The competition will be interesting.

—Rashad Ross could have problems seeing the field much if the other receivers on the roster stay healthy. He could be a kickoff returner as he returned one for a touchdown in Week 3. But he has to be on the game day active list to do that and there are usually no more than five wide receivers on the 46. Going into training camp he clearly appears to be the sixth of the six receivers who should make the roster. He is going to have to work his way up the depth chart if he is going be on the active list on a regular basis. Either that or be so good a returning kickoffs that they can’t afford to keep him down.

—To clarify something that I’ve had numerous questions about, the Redskins and Kirk Cousins now can’t agree to a contract extension until the day after the final regular season game. The team can talk to Cousins’ agent but they can’t send a contract to the league until January 2, the day after their regular season finale. As Cousins said in a press conference during OTAs, it’s “see you on the other side” for both the team and the player. They will have from January 2 until early March to reach an agreement before the team will have to decide whether or not to use the franchise tag again. That move would give Cousins either 120 percent of his 2016 salary or the quarterback franchise tag salary, whichever is higher. It is very likely that the former option will be the bigger salary.

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  1. redskins12thman - Jul 17, 2016 at 7:52 AM

    I think Mariel Cooper and Jeremy Harris have played well at times too but I’m guessing that since you left them out, you don’t believe that they have a shot at all and will likely be part of the first round of cuts? If there are no injuries among CBs, my gut says Phillips makes the 53, Carrington and perhaps Cooper or Harris make the practice squad and Toler is released. The apparent progress that Dunbar and Phillips have made is very impressive.

    CBs, LBs and TEs are the three positions where the Redskins appear deepest and I have to imagine that the Redskins will try to have 1-2 players from each position (out of those that that don’t make the cut to 53) added to the practice squad.

    I am concerned about Crowder returning punts (we don’t need to risk our very effective slot receiver getting hurt on a ST play) and was hoping that Ross could take that over those duties as well, but I’m guessing based on your observations, that won’t be enough for Ross to make the game day roster? If no WRs are sidelined because of injuries, could Doctson or Grant also be a candidate for not making the game day roster?

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 17, 2016 at 9:25 AM

      Not all KO returners can return punts and Ross is one of those who can’t. Straight line speed doesn’t translate well into punt returns. That involves more discipline and finding the right lane. Come to think of it, if you struggle running pass routes you probably are not going to be much of a punt returner.

      • thankslittlebrandonbanks - Jul 17, 2016 at 2:19 PM

        Isn’t Ryan Grant a highly touted route runner? I don’t believe you can operate a team successfully by being scared to put players where they will be the most effective. However, let’s hypothetically say Grant and Crowder are determined to be equal punt returners. I would rather see Grant than Crowder simply because Crowder is more valuable to the offense.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 2:50 PM

          Being an effective rout runner isn’t the only prerequisite for being a good punt returner. If it was then CBs would probably mostly return punts. I don’t mean to speak for Rich, but I think he was saying that as a general barometer. I believe it also takes a general patience, ferocity, decisiveness, and speed to be a truly great punt returner. Not necessarily speed, but it helps.

          I don’t like the idea of Crowder returning punts too. But punt returns are much safer than kickoff returns. And better returns could make or break our season. Somebody capable has to do it.

          Now I actually like the idea of a designated spot for a return man. Over a spot for a 3rd QB or something like that. But only if we have one worth it. Maybe we could kill two birds with one stone. Rich says they don’t want to cut the bottom 3 CBs. Maybe Toler, Phillips, or Carrington could be that guy for us and also a backup CB. They would have to be good enough for it to be worth the roster spot, and it would affect our depth in other places. But in this passing league I don’t think you can have enough pass cathchers, rushers, and DBs. Protecting those at the top of the depth chart is prudent too.

        • Rich Tandler - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:14 PM

          I didn’t say that all good route runners can return punts. I said that bad route runners tend not to be good punt returners regardless of their speed.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 17, 2016 at 5:23 PM

          I don’t think I ever bought into any position translating well into being returners. It is a different vision all together. Sure WRs are pushed into the position more than most. However, the truth is that most your best returners were never very good playing other positions. There are exceptions like Darrell Green and Dion Sanders but both players were at different speed levels than 99% of the players. Crowder and Jackson, if healthy, should take the returning duties and cut Ross already since he belongs in Canadian Football with Banks

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 6:02 PM

          You’re probably right. Just in the same way that being a burner (Ross) doesn’t mean you’ll be a good WR or return man. Amen to getting Ross off this team already. He’s a waste of a spot.

          Denvin Hester is probably the best return guy ever. And he is not a good WR. I think we could say Jacoby Jones was a good returner but not a good WR too. Same for Josh Cribbs. Patrick Peterson though, great CB and fantastic at punt and kick returns. David Johnson seems to be on track as a good RB and return guy too.

          My only point is that I think it just depends. That there’s not necessarily an independent way to tell if someone will be good. I do, however, think that if a guy lacks patience and rout running ability that it’s a sign he might not be good at punt returns. Because he lacks the skills to be good. Does that make sense?

        • redskins12thman - Jul 17, 2016 at 8:54 PM

          Brian Mitchell is the best return specialist I have ever seen. So glad he was a Redskin for most of his career.

      • Purple Fish - Jul 17, 2016 at 3:54 PM

        Cordarelle Patterson of the Vikes would be the exception to that rule: great returner, poor route runner.

        • Rich Tandler - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:08 PM

          But Patterson doesn’t return punts, which is just what I was saying. Great KO returner with straight line speed but they don’t even line him up back there for punts, which take some finesse.

  2. blazerguy234 - Jul 17, 2016 at 9:19 AM

    Maybe they should try trading Ross for a draft choice. Teams love speed, and can see that Ross won`t get much chance in D.C., so Washington should see if they can get some value…adding to their draft choice number would be nice. I don`t know who the top speed guy is in the NFL, but Ross wouldn`t be left in the dust. Running routes..is another matter.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 12:24 PM

      Ross is a bad WR who has been kicked around and cut from team to team. There’s 100 guys like Rashad Ross in every training camp. Nobody is going to trade a draft pick for him. There’s a lot more to this game than speed.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 17, 2016 at 11:45 AM

    I don’t think Toler will be on the 53.
    ~

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 17, 2016 at 2:10 PM

      He had the misfortune to sign before they signed Norman and drafted Fuller.

  4. skinsgame - Jul 17, 2016 at 12:08 PM

    Nice to see a bit of a logjam at a premium position!

    The rule about “Active/Inactive” on game day seems silly. Each team has a roster total and it seems they should be able to use it how they see fit. Isn’t “Safety” supposed to be paramount? I guess if it really were the league wouldn’t have teams playing Thursday night games on four days rest.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 17, 2016 at 2:09 PM

      The reason for the inactive list is that teams will have guys banged up during the season and they want teams to be able to go into games with an equal number of healthy players on each side. Agree or not, that’s the reason.

      • skinsgame - Jul 17, 2016 at 3:21 PM

        Yeah, I know why they have the rule but they could accomplish the same things with a rule tweak for the IR or adding some short term injury list. Teams end up having a backup TE double as the third string QB or some other position. The Redskins ran out of DB’s against Dallas last year because of the unintended consequence of that rule. Oh well.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:21 PM

          I think this will change in the not so distant future. Pat Kirwin and Jim Miller talk about this ALL THE TIME on NFL radio. They claim they’ve spoken to many owners who hate the rule. They want to dress all 53. It drives them nuts that they’re paying a healthy player to stand on the sideline in street clothes.

          It’s also an issue of player safety. More players on the sideline could mean less guys having to play through injuries and spreading out special teams reps.

          The “disadvantage” a team would have if they have multiple injures is really overstated. Especially because it could be neutaized with a couple new IR designations or an expanded practice squad. I think the hang up is really about the fear of people “stashing” players on practice squads and healthy teams using the extra spots for specialists.

          I think the game could only get better if they do this right. But the owners might gripe about it if it affects their bottom line. As long as the hard cap stays in place though, I don’t really see how it would.

        • Rich Tandler - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:52 PM

          I don’t know about new IR rules. It’s been pulling teeth to get the one, highly restrictive return from IR rule that there is. They don’t want to be paying 56+ players full salaries + practice squad + full salaries for players on regular IR. It adds up.

          Just get it done with 46 players. That’s two deep at every spot but one plus specialists. Plenty of bodies to work with.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 18, 2016 at 1:07 AM

          Yeah more money the snag from what I understand too. But I must not understand something properly. Because the NFL has a hard cap. And, as far as I know, all IR and practice squad guys count against the cap. So if they don’t increase the cap, they wouldn’t be paying more. Right?

          It’s also about the product. If a star player goes down in week one, but could maybe come back by week 10, that leave the team in a dilemma. Especially if they’re not sure he can return. So it’s either IR him for the season (which screws over the fans who bought season tickets to see him play) or they have to occupy a roster spot that could be given to a guy who could help win games while the star is hurt (which would also be good for the fans). And multiple other examples I’ll spare you from.

          But what does it matter as long as the cap stays the same? Make a guy eligible to return after 2-4 weeks or something and let’s move on. I understand why they do the 46 on game day but I’m obviously missing some core concept from this IR thing.

  5. Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    Rich. Do they really like Toler and Carrington that much? Even Phillips surprises me a little bit.

    Toler hasn’t played a down for us but was a injured a lot in Indy and is 31. He gave up a lot of yards too.

    I understand Carrington and Phillips have potential. But when you look at the depth chart ahead of them, so what? We seemingly have better options. If they were so happy with this group then why did they pay Norman a record contract and why did they draft Fuller? I know the answers to those questions, it just seems counterintuitive if they like these guys that much.

    • redskins12thman - Jul 17, 2016 at 3:55 PM

      I think a lot of the “CB problem” has to do with the facts that Dunbar continues to grow and develop at a very steady pace, oozing potential, and Phillips had a great off-season and showed it during OTAs. Two young bucks getting it done.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:52 PM

        Yeah. It’s not really a problem at all. And hopefully Dunbar keeps getting better.

        I need to see more of Phillips though. I’m weary of guys who we’ve only seen play well in practice or preseason. I need to see it in the actual games before I get too excited.

  6. Eli - Jul 17, 2016 at 3:07 PM

    Having the good kind of depth problems is another sure sign that this organization is moving in the right direction.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 3:13 PM

      Amen. When was the last time we had so many good CBs that we were worried about cutting the guys at the bottom? Or that they wouldn’t get through waivers? For any position group at that. But especially at a premium position. It’s refreshing.

  7. redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:41 PM

    Any chance Phillips, Toler, or Carrington play special teams.

    I think Phillips makes the final roster because he is a smart player that’s is needed in zone coverage.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:48 PM

      And we run a lot of zone. Or Tampa 2. I’ll take the smart corner who doesn’t blow assignments over the guy with more raw athletic ability any day of the week for our zone schemes.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 17, 2016 at 5:29 PM

        Agreed but I still wish we kept Amerson around for last season :)

        • John - Jul 17, 2016 at 5:43 PM

          Having a change of scenery and coaches can make things work for some players. Obviously it wasn’t working here so they cut him loose. Would you prefer we also brought back Rambo and Thomas?

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 18, 2016 at 12:35 AM

          I know Redskinsname has thought this through. I’ve seen his point about Amerson way before this contract. And I disagree that we should have held on to Amerson. But that’s fine. Conflicting opinions don’t bother me as long as it’s educated.

          But some other people, particularly in the national media right now: what don’t they understand about that point John? Or that a cut can be a big motivator? All these Guy’s are having hot takes about how the Raiders benefited from Washington’s impatience. Like all Amerson needed was more time even though he was terrible with us then started playing well in Oakland a few weeks later. If we would have just held onto him for another month he would have blossomed for us! Orrrr not. He was lazy, complacent, and unmotivated in Washington. It wasn’t working. The cut was the best thing for both sides.

          And it’s not like we’re starving for CBs now. I would rather have Norman, Breeland, Dunbar, and Fuller than Amerson. I don’t trust him not to fall back into his old ways at all. I think we’re better off.

        • John - Jul 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM

          Trey,

          The problem with the national media vs. Local media is that they don’t cover the team on an ongoing basis, so they don’t have a better understanding of what’s going on with a given team. It’s like the team that comes inland does a Monday night game. Their in town for a few days, do a handful of interviews, do the game and move on to the next city. They only see a sample of what’s going or run off of what’s floating around the rumor mill. They see a guy switch teams perform, then assume a light turned on and we were stupid to let the guy go, when he was a lazy bum here.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 18, 2016 at 12:03 PM

          Yeah I thought about that. But the fact that he was terrible in one place then played really well a couple weeks later should stand out to them. It should be obvious something wasn’t working with him in Washington.

        • John - Jul 18, 2016 at 11:52 AM

          Crying about Amerson is no different than losing that late round corner off the waiver wire last year. The kid who ended up in Indy has accomplished what? In the meantime the team has found other better options. No point in crying over spilled milk.

  8. NINO FORBES - Jul 17, 2016 at 4:51 PM

    Looks like a great year on paper

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