Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart.
Some battles are straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Aug 31.
So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …
Position: Left defensive end
On the roster: Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Chris Baker, Phillip Merling, Dominique Hamilton
Expected to make the cut: Jenkins, Baker
Comment: Jenkins, who stepped into the starting lineup in September after Carriker suffered a season-ending injury, showed steady improvement. Each week, it seemed, Jenkins looked more comfortable in his role while simultaneously gaining more confidence in his surgically repaired right knee.
The 25-year-old Jenkins finished with 25 tackles (same total as veteran right end Stephen Bowen). He did not, however, record a sack and has vowed to be a more effective pass rusher in 2013.
Overall, though, Jenkins’ showed a lot of promise in his first season as a full-time starter and will enter training camp next month No. 1 on the depth chart. And it doesn't appear that he'll face a lot of competition – as least not right away.
Carriker has undergone two surgeries on his leg and, after missing the team’s entire offseason program while rehabbing, recently revealed he’ll start training camp on the PUP list.
The position took another hit earlier this month when Doug Worthington was lost for the season with a biceps tendon injury that was expected to require surgery. Worthington was listed as Jenkins’ primary backup for much of last season.
With Carriker and Worthington sidelined, Baker, last season's backup nose tackle, could enter the fray at left end. Nose tackle Chris Neild has returned from a knee injury, freeing up Baker to get some reps behind Jenkins this offseason. It should also be noted that Kedric Golston, Bowen's backup at right end, can also play on the left side.
Fighting for a job: Carriker, Merling, Hamilton
Comment: Carriker’s future appears to be tenuous at the moment. He said in a radio interview earlier this month that he still does not have the range of motion required to return to the field. When one considers it’s been more than nine months since the injury occurred, you’ve got to start wondering how, if at all, he factors into the team’s plans for 2013.
Carriker says his goal is to be ready for Week 1, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says it’s much too early to “discount” Carriker from returning. “[But] when that will be," Haslett acknowledged, "I don’t know.” If and when Carriker does return, he could push Jenkins for playing time.
The injuries to Carriker and Worthington could also open the door for Merling and/or Hamilton.
Merling, a second round pick by the Dolphins in 208, has played in 50 career NFL games, including five starts. He signed a reserves/futures contract with the Redskins in January.
Hamilton, meantime, spent last season the practice squad. He has no NFL experience.