The Redskins released the first official depth chart of the Jay Gruden era, and one thing to note is that Jason Hatcher and Leonard Hankerson are absent from it, implying that the deck will be shuffled, and reshuffled again, down to the last grueling minutes of the pre-season. When all is said and done, the lion’s share of roster spots might go to the offense, giving Coach Gruden room to apply the kind of architecture that brought him to Washington.
Chris Thompson is currently slated as the Redskins third-string running back for now, as well as back-up kickoff returner to Andre Roberts. The battle at running back could be decided by which player is the best pass receiver out of the backfield. Being that Thompson is a holdover from the past regime, who has only a short resume, it says a lot about his turnaround from injury that he would be given the catbird seat heading into the team’s first preseason game.
Also of note, Morgan Moses is currently listed as Trent Willams back-up at the left tackle position. Many expect Moses to work his way into the starting line-up by playing right tackle opposite the All-Pro Williams.
Meanwhile, Hankerson being out will muddle his chances of being on the opening day roster, as with every snap of the ball rookie Ryan Grant creates separation. In April’s draft, Gruden waited patiently through four Redskins picks before getting a chance to select a player that fits his offensive blueprint. After all the other pending needs were sorted out, Grant was there for the taking and Gruden pounced.
Fortunately for the Redskins, they won’t be depending on a fifth round pick to turn the wheels of the offense by himself, but number 14 is standing fifth in line for, playing time and I don’t see him giving that spot up.
The defensive side of the depth chart can be shaken out more easily. Competition, in the form of new players, is being added continually, however. Once defensive end Jason Hatcher returns to the line-up, the defense will look much improved from last year.
Besides the off-season additions of Hatcher and safety Ryan Clark, David Amerson appears to have a lock on the starting spot opposite DeAngelo Hall. Amerson split starts with Josh Wilson last season but by seasons end had proven he’s ready for the NFL workload.
Bashaud Breeland is the most conspicuous third-stringer on the defense, considering his overall talent. He will be an asset one day but the Redskins are eager to know how soon. In years to come he is expected to pair up with Amerson, but he could find his way onto the field even sooner in nickel packages.
Breeland has said himself that he can play every position in the secondary. For now he’s being fitted to play his college position of cornerback. One interesting thing about using Breeland as a nickel-back is that he can line up close to the line due to his size and physicality. He definitely adds diversity to an already dynamic group of athletes on defense. Bringing him along slowly is the wise thing to do but he won’t be this low on the depth chart for very long.
Follow Aaron Maddox at @Wordamaddox
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