In the coming days, position battles will turn fierce as the first round of roster cuts approach and bubble players begin to run out of time. On Aug. 26, teams must cut down to 75 players. Four days later, the final 53-man rosters must be set.
In Washington, there are a handful of competitions that, right now, are still too close to call. But that won’t stop Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler from predicting how they’ll turn out. Yesterday we looked at three players on offense. Up today …
OLB Rob Jackson
Tandler—In: It looked like his path onto the roster was paved for him when the team released Brandon Jenkins, Jackson’s main competitor for the fourth outside linebacker spot. Jackson hasn’t exactly stood out during camp and he is being pushed hard by Adrian Robinson and, at times, Gabe Miller. Jackson is a solid special teams contributor and barring stellar performances in the last three preseason games by Miller and/or Robinson, Jackson should be able to hang on.
El-Bashir—In: Brandon Jenkins’ release punched Jackson’s ticket to the 53-man roster, no doubt about that. But I can also tell you this: the Redskins have been very impressed in camp with the first three OLBs on the depth chart (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy) and significantly less so about the others. Jackson’s familiarity will help him win tiebreakers over Everette Brown, Adrian Robinson and Gabe Miller. But like Tandler said, a breakout performance in a preseason game by one of those other three could be enough to make things interesting.
CB Richard Crawford
Tandler—Out: Right now, I having him on the outside looking in, out in a numbers game at cornerback that has him losing out to Tracy Porter. E. J. Biggers, and Bashaud Breeland as the backup cornerback spot. But if he can make a few plays like an interception and a couple of nice punt returns he could work his way onto the right side of the roster bubble.
El-Bashir—Out: I just don’t see how Crawford can make it if the Redskins keep five corners. Because DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers and rookie Bashaud Breeland are ahead of him on the depth chart. And Crawford doesn’t win any special teams tiebreakers because he’s not the No. 1 punt returner anymore. That job belongs to Andre Roberts now. But I will say this: if Crawford doesn’t make it here, I suspect he’ll quickly get a shot with another team due to his versatility and ability as a returner.
S Bacarri Rambo
Tandler—In: Rambo is a victim of static analysis in the minds of many fans and members of the media. They look at his struggles last year and write him off for 2014. But he has improved and the chances are strong that he will get another year to establish himself. Against the Patriots he played 44 snaps and had four tackles and, most importantly, zero missed tackles. If he can keep up that kind of performance and contribute on special teams for the remaining three preseason game he will hold off Akeem Davis for the fourth safety spot.
El-Bashir—In: But I’d rent, not buy. As Tandler noted, Rambo had decent numbers against Ryan Mallett and the Patriots’ watered down offense in the preseason opener. But I also distinctly recall Tom Brady completing pass after pass after pass into Rambo’s coverage during the joint practices in Richmond. I also remember a full-contact open field tackling drill in practice a couple of weeks ago in which Rambo whiffed not once but twice. Rambo did have some good days in practice, too. But my point is this: it’s not like a he’s a totally different player. In fact, if the Redskins keep four safeties, I could easily see them going with Brandon Meriweather, Ryan Clark, Phillip Thomas and Trenton Robinson, who would win the special teams tiebreaker with Rambo. If the Redskins keep five safeties—as they did last year—both Rambo and Robinson figure to make it.