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: Right defensive end
On the roster: Stephen Bowen, Kedric Golston, Phillip Merling, Dominique Hamilton
Expected to make the cut: Bowen, Golston
Comment: After a solid 2012 campaign, Bowen appears to be a lock for the Redskins’ starting right end job for a third straight season.
The 29-year-old recorded 25 tackles last season, a career-best three passes defended and his 20 quarterback hurries ranked 11th among 3-4 defensive ends, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He was, however, disappointed that he managed only one sack, which was down from six in 2011.
Bowen played the final two regular season games – and the Redskins’ playoff loss to the Seahawks – with a torn biceps in his left arm but told CSNWashington.com last week that the injury is “totally healed” and did not require surgery.
The only other player on the roster who lined up primarily at right end last season is Golston, who did an effective job spelling Bowen. Golston, 30, averaged about 24 snaps a game on defense and recorded 16 tackles. In March, the eight-year pro signed a three-year, $3.3 million extension that included a $360,000 signing bonus.
Fighting for a job: Phillip Merling, Dominique Hamilton
Comment: After final cuts last season, the Redskins had six defensive linemen – two nose tackles and four ends – on the roster. And with Bowen, Golston and starting left end Jarvis Jenkins seemingly locks to earn a spot, that would appear to leave only one opening for an end on the 53.
If Adam Carriker returns from two surgeries on his left leg, that spot could go to him. If he’s not, that would leave Merling and Hamilton battling for a reserve job. That is, if versatile lineman Chris Baker doesn’t claim it. Baker can line up at nose tackle and end, and with Chris Neild returning from an ACL injury, there could be a logjam at nose tackle.
(Backup left end Doug Worthington suffered a season-ending biceps injury last week.)
Merling was chosen in the second round of the 2008 by the Dolphins and has appeared in 50 games, including five starts. He was signed to a reserves/futures contract by the Redskins in January.
Hamilton, meantime, spent 2012 on the Redskins’ practice squad.