And Then There Were 53
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2011-09-03
Category: Washington Redskins News
On Saturday, the Redskins released some 20-plus players to get down to the league mandated 53 players. Among the most notable or significant names in the releases were 2010 roster members' Artis Hicks, Anthony Bryant, Horatio Blades and safety Chris Horton. Quarterback Kellen Clemens was also sent packing, leaving the Redskins with just two quarterbacks on the roster.

Anthony Bryant may have been the biggest surprise, simply because it meant he was beat out by the second to last pick in this year's Entry Draft. Chris Neild edged out Bryant with a strong fourth preseason game performance and his first NFL sack against the Bucs; and thusly won the right to be the back-up to starting nose tackle Barry Cofield. While to some it isn't much of a surprise to see Neild do well, it is still a bit of a surprise to see him unseat a 5-year veteran without ever playing a regular season down of football. Congratulations to the WVU product on a great camp, and a seemingly bright future in Washington.

The total list of players that were Redskins in 2010, but won't be in 2011 is as follows: Horatio Blades, LB; Anthony Bryant, NT; Selvish Capers, OT; Artis Hicks, OL; Chris Horton, S; Clint Oldenburg, OT; Keiland Williams, RB.

Some here at THN have stated emphatically and categorically that Mike Sellers should NOT be cut. He played outstanding against the Bucs in the final preseason game, and that may have been just enough for him to hold on to his job. The Redskins need his versatility with the strange roster selections made at other positions; his ability to back-up Darrel Young at fullback, as well as playing the role of a blocking tight end, proved to be just to much to overlook in the end.

Keeping Sellers around is a good decision as the new youth movement still need to find leadership in the locker room - Mike will provide that and more. He's also one of the best special teams players that Washington has, year after year. Congratulations to Sellers who showed a lot of moxie in winning his spot in the first place, but moreso for being a leader and a class act through a tough camp that could have been the end of his playing career.

As mentioned, the players that got cut weren't necessarily as surprising as some of the players that weren't. That isn't to say that there were individual surprises - all of the players that kept their job deserved to - but when was the last time that an NFL team had 18 spots assigned to wide receivers and linebackers? That's right, more than a third of the 53-man roster play linebacker (10) or wide receiver (8).

For weeks, Redskin fans have been talking about how tough it was going to be to make wide receiver cuts. In the end, the coaches couldn't make those decisions either. The result is a rather unheard of eight wide receivers making the roster: Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, Jabar Gaffney, rookies Leonard Hankerson, and Niles Paul, Donte Stallworth, Terrence Austin, and of course kick returner Brandon Banks. It won't be much of a season for a few of these guys; if something doesn't change in the first few weeks, at least two of these guys will likely be on the inactive list each week. It could be three of them, but the new 46th man rule will likely allow Brandon Banks to sneak into the lineup each week despite his inability to contribute at wide receiver.

Rookie receivers Paul and Hankerson, will be joined by seven other 2011 draft picks. Out of 12 selections made in April, nine are on the team's final 53-man, including 3 guys from the 7th round - Neild at NT, cornerback Brandyn Thompson, and linebacker Markus White. The other rookies to make the squad were running back Roy Helu, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (who was placed on IR), safety DeJon Gomes who knocked off veteran safety Horton, and of course first round selection Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan not only made the team, but cracked the starting line-up at a new position (LB), and without even suiting up for the final preseason game.

Suffice to say that the Redskins 2011 draft was effective, and that their selections have delivered so far. It remains to be seen if it will be a 'good' draft, but when a team can add nine players to their roster in one draft, they have at least done an effective job of targeting cheap talent that can make some sort of immediate contribution. Full marks to the front office and the scouting department on a job well done.

Not only did nine draftees make the team, but unless they're picked up off waiver wire, it is probable that the three who didn't will be added to the practice squad on Sunday - OL Maurice Hurt, WR Aldrick Robinson, and RB Evan Royster.

Other players cut today that are also very likely practice squad candidates include: Shaun Draughn, RB, Undrafted Rookie; Reggie Jones, CB, Signed in 2010; Davonte Shannon, DB, Undrafted Rookie; Doug Worthington, DL, Signed in August.

Part two of the Redskins 2011 roster break down will come Sunday or Monday. It will take a few days to work out the logistics of all the decisions made, and there is likely to still be a surprise waiver move or two.

The 53-man roster is set - but it isn't yet set in stone - stay tuned!
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