- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When Brandyn Thompson takes inventory of everything he has done for the Washington Redskins over the past five weeks, his tumbling interception in the second preseason game doesn’t come to mind first. That is the type of play he expects to make, so there’s no reason for it to stand out.

Instead, the negative moments are what he remembers most; the times when he made the proper read but didn’t break up the pass for whatever reason.

With the Saturday 6 p.m. deadline for final cuts looming, Thompson is one of many rookies trying block out the on-field regrets and apprehension about making the team. Thursday’s home preseason game against Tampa Bay is the final chance for them to make their case.

“You think about it, but you just try to focus what you can control, and that’s your play on the field,” Thompson said.

Dozens of veterans and a couple of rookies can feel comfortable about their status. Shanahan has an idea of how many roster spots still are up for grabs, but he wouldn’t share details after Tuesday’s practice.

“This is a big game for a lot of players,” he said.

That includes many of the Redskins‘ 12 draft picks.

First-round linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is a lock to make the 53-man roster. Second round defensive end Jarvis Jenkins is on injured reserve with a torn ACL in his right knee, so he’s out. Third-round receiver Leonard Hankerson and fourth-round running back Roy Helu appear to be fairly safe.

Beyond that, though, there’s considerable uncertainty - and anxiety.

“It’s pretty much all I think about,” seventh-round nose tackle Chris Neild said.

It’s not unusual for perennial contenders with quality depth to cut late-round draft picks. Those players often are not good enough to help the team.

Whether the current situation is an indication of the Redskins‘ depth is debatable. But there is no denying the mixture of optimism, hope and angst around the center of the Redskins‘ locker room, where rookies occupy removable metal lockers.

“Everybody is kind of on edge, but we’re all here trying to make this team,” sixth-round running back Evan Royster said. “That’s everybody’s goal. Nobody really expects to be cut.”

Each player’s outlook is unique because of how his skills fit into the depth chart at his position.

Neild is battling uphill at the center of the defensive line. Behind starter Barry Cofield, veteran Anthony Bryant proved a capable reserve during the final stretch of last regular season. Neild has played a considerable amount this preseason because coaches are comfortable with their knowledge of Bryant’s skills.

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