- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday, we took a stab at predicting the offensive players who will make the Redskins 53-man roster following cuts at the beginning of September. (This year, there will be no 75-man roster cutdown in the middle of the preseason, just one cutdown from 90 to 53 before the start of the season.)

Today, let’s look at defense and special teams.

Defensive line (7):

Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Joey Mbu, Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis

Cut: Phil Taylor, Sr., A.J. Francis, Ondre Pipkins, Brandon Banks

Allen, McGee and McClain are locks, and Hood should feel pretty safe. After that, Taylor and Francis could certainly fight their way onto the roster with good showings during training camp. Mbu got a solid amount of reps with the starting group during OTAs and minicamp, but Francis or Taylor could push him as an alternate nose tackle to McGee. Lanier bulked up this offseason and has impressed defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Ioannidis is yet another option who can play the nose.

Linebackers (8):

Zach Brown, Will Compton, Mason Foster, Martrell Spaight (inside); Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson, Preston Smith, Junior Galette (outside)

Cut: Houston Bates, Chris Carter, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Nico Marley, Lynden Trail, Pete Robertson, Zach Vigil

Outside linebacker Trent Murphy is suspended the first quarter of the season, meaning that the Redskins can put off a tough numbers call until then. That will give them a chance to see if Spaight, a good special-teamer, can stay healthy and contribute. Galette is one to watch because of his injury history, assuming he makes it through training camp. How good can he be after two Achilles surgeries? Bates, who is recovering from a torn ACL and will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, Carter and Harvey-Clemons, a college safety converting to dime linebacker, could all wind up on the practice squad.

Safety (5):

D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens, Will Blackmon, DeAngelo Hall, DeShazor Everett

Cut: Fish Smithson, Josh Evans

The starters are as clear at safety as any other position on the roster, with Swearinger the starting free safety and Cravens the starting strong safety. After that, things get interesting. Fourth-round pick Montae Nicholson, recovering from surgery in March that repaired a torn labrum in his left shoulder, could very well start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That would leave room for Everett, a strong contributor on special teams who flashed potential with limited opportunities last season. Hall, at 33 and coming off a torn ACL, is starting training camp on the PUP list, but coaches still think he has it in him to play and like what he adds to the locker room. They’d still have $812,000 in dead money to pay after cutting Hall so, unless he appears totally washed up in training camp or can’t get healthy, the veteran should have another year in him.

Cornerback (5):

Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Josh Holsey

Cut: Tevin Homer, Dashaun Phillips

Third-rounder Fabian Moreau tore a pectoral muscle at his pro day in March and is waiting to hear if he gets doctor’s clearance to start participating in workouts. Like Nicholson, he’s another possible candidate for the PUP list if he has any setbacks or if he needs to come along slowly. Moreau has starter-level talent, so if he’s ready to go then Holsey would go to the practice squad. Gruden loves his competitiveness.

Specialists (3):

K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

Back in the stone ages (March) Jay Gruden said he figured the team would bring in some competition for Hopkins, who was inconsistent at times last season when he made 81 percent of his field goal kicks, down from 89 percent in 2015. Hopkins has a good leg and is only 26, though, so it seems like these three are a set group.

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