It’s the final countdown. No not the popular song by the 80’s hair band Europe. Though I do enjoy a good air guitar riff every once and a while just to get out some of the pent-up COVID energy.
We are five days away from rosters being cut down to 53 and there are plenty of questions that need to be answered.
A quick reminder of how roster construction will look like this year for all teams:
· Rosters need to be down to 53 players by 4:00 PM EST on Saturday, September 5
· Players need to be cut and pass through waivers before they can be placed on either injured reserve or the practice squad
· Practice squad size has increased from 10 to 16 players
· Veterans are allowed to be kept on the practice squad this year
· Teams can “call-up” a maximum of 2 players from the practice squad on game day
· Teams can “protect” a maximum of 4 players on their practice squad from being signed by other teams
The ability for a team like Washington to protect promising young players that have all the potential—but not enough reps in training camp—gives them some flexibility. Washington could also deem to protect a veteran or two that are on the cusp, but just need a little bit more time.
Two veteran names that keep coming to mind that could take advantage of the protected slots are wide receiver Cam Sims and linebacker Reuben Foster.
HOT READ: Takeaways From WFT Training Camp
Sims has been a training camp wizard with great catches and beating cornerbacks off the line. But when it comes to actual live game play, he’s been ‘meh’ at best. Sims was slated to start the season on the 53-man roster last year as a depth receiver until he caught a case of the dropsies in the final preseason game. There was also continued regression in the last parts of camp.
The coaching staff loves versatility and flexibility which is why it’s hard to see Sims taking a spot from rookie Isaiah Wright or veteran Dontrelle Inman. His 53-man roster spot could depend on how Alex Smith and Reuben Foster are handled.
With Reuben Foster it is a more layered situation. Foster was all world with his talent and sideline to sideline speed. Coming off an injury that included nerve damage, he is still practicing in a bulky knee brace, has taken limited reps outside of the third team, and has looked slow compared to what he used to be. Some might say putting Foster on IR is the right move to do to allow him to heal further.
I actually think this is the perfect season that a protected practice squad spot would be of use. It would allow for Foster to continue to heal and get back up to speed while being in the film room with the rest of the unit.
This also makes it easier to bring him up to the full roster should he reach that benchmark instead of using one of the teams “IR call-up” spots should multiple starters need to be put on injured reserve.
Even with all of that being said. This could be the week where Reuben takes that next big step in recovery, but starts the season as an inactive on game day. With that possibility still lingering, he stays on my projected 53-man roster.
HOT READS: Alan Lepore's Roster Projection Series
There is still a lot to watch with less than 5 days of camp. Here’s my second to last roster projection for 2020:
Quarterback: Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith
Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Bryce Love, Peyton Barber
Tight End: Logan Thomas, Marcus Baugh, Jeremy Sprinkle
Wide Receiver: Terry McLaurin, Dontrelle Inman
Wide Receiver: Antonio Gandy-Golden, Isaiah Wright
Slot Wide Receiver: Steven Sims, Jr.
Left Tackle: Geron Christian Sr., Saahdiq Charles
Left Guard: Wes Martin, Wes Schweitzer
Center: Chase Roullier, Keith Ismael
Right Guard: Brandon Scherff
Right Tackle: Morgan Moses, Cornelius Lucas
Defensive End: Chase Young, Ryan Anderson
Defensive Tackle: Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Daron Payne, Tim Settle
Defensive End: Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat
Outside Linebacker: Thomas Davis Sr., Khaleke Hudson, Reuben Foster
Middle Linebacker: Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic
Outside Linebacker: Shaun Dion Hamilton, Kevin Pierre-Louis
Cornerback: Ronald Darby, Aaron Colvin
Cornerback: Fabian Moreau, Greg Stroman
Slot Cornerback: Kendall Fuller, Jimmy Moreland
Free Safety: Sean Davis, Troy Apke
Strong Safety: Landon Collins, Deshazor Everett
Long Snapper: Nick Sundberg
Kicker: Dustin Hopkins
Punter: Tress Way
Hale Hentges (TE), Ross Pierschbacher* (C), Timon Parris (T), Steve Montez (QB), Kamren Curl* (FS), James Smith-Williams (DE), Jonathon Johnson (WR), Darvin Kidsy, Jr. (WR), Cam Sims* (WR), Nate Orchard* (DE), Donald Payne (LB), Danny Johnson (CB), David Bada (DT), Michael Liedtke (G), Simeon Thomas (CB), Player to be Named Later (RB)
Italics = Rookies
* = protected practice squad player