Running back Evan Royster and strong safety Phillip Thomas were among nine players cut by the Redskins on Saturday as they trimmed their roster to the maximum 53 players heading into the opening week of the regular season.
Royster, entering his fourth season with the Redskins, had put together a fairly unspectacular camp as he tried to win a four-player battle to be third on the depth chart at his position. Instead, that distinction went to Silas Redd, who went undrafted out of Southern California in May and also beat out Chris Thompson and sixth-round draft pick Lache Seastrunk.
Redd’s preseason-high 157 rushing yards, including 79 in the 24-10 preseason victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday, helped cement his status. It appeared, for a time, that the Redskins would keep four running backs, but Thompson and Seastrunk, the two speed backs in the group, were both cut.
Thomas seemed to have an increased shot of making the team following the suspension of starter Brandon Meriweather last week, though the Redskins waived the oft-injured strong safety, a fourth-round pick last season, after experiencing additional soreness in his troublesome left foot last week.
Meriweather, suspended last Monday for the first two games after a hit on Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith, had the punishment upheld on appeal on Saturday. According to a person familiar with the situation, the Redskins are planning to save his spot on the roster by placing him on the reserve/suspended list, leaving them with just four safeties – starting free safety Ryan Clark, Bacarri Rambo, Trenton Robinson and undrafted rookie Akeem Davis – entering the Sept. 7 opener at Houston.
Four other players were placed on reserve lists at the deadline. Defensive end Stephen Bowen and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, who were on the physically-unable-to-perform list at the start of training camp, kept that designation and will not be eligible to return from their respective knee injuries until Week 6 at the earliest. Nose tackle Chris Neild, who tore the ACL in his right knee on Thursday, and inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, battling a high right ankle sprain, were placed on injured reserve.
The Redskins elected to keep all three quarterbacks – Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy – and six wide receivers, shedding only Nick Williams on Saturday. Maurice Hurt was the only offensive lineman waived; a person with knowledge of his situation told The Washington Times that the team was trying to trade him before the roster deadline.
On defense, Washington kept defensive ends Clifton Geathers and Frank Kearse and chose outside linebacker Gabe Miller, who was on the practice squad last season as a tight end, over Everette Brown. Inside linebacker Akeem Jordan, despite spraining the MCL in his left knee on Thursday, was kept with Sharpton on injured reserve. Cornerback Chase Minnifield, entering his third season out of Virginia, was also waived.
And among the kickers, the Redskins chose to stick with Kai Forbath over Zach Hocker, a seventh-round draft pick out of Arkansas. The two appeared virtually even throughout camp, though Hocker notably missed a 39-yard field goal wide right in the fourth quarter on Thursday.
The next step for the Redskins will be the formation of their practice squad, which was increased around the league from eight players to 10 players this season. Several of those cut, including Thomas, Williams, Thompson, Seastrunk, Minnifield, Hocker and cornerback Richard Crawford, cut on Friday, could end up on the practice squad on Monday, assuming they clear waivers.