The final day of camp is always a drag on reality. You are having to get ready to say goodbye to summer friends. Trying to sneak that one last kiss with your summer fling. The dread of school getting ready to start up again.While those are the experiences we had of camp as kids, cutdown day is more like preparing for Thanos’s snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.
80 men entered training camp this year with the hopes of making the active roster. The rest will have hopes dusted away much like Peter Parker in the arms of Tony Stark as he struggled to get out, “I don’t want to go, sir.”
Some will find their way onto Washington’s—or another team’s—practice squad. Once there, the opportunity to be called up to the active roster has greater potential this year than any other due to COVID-19.
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This then raises some questions about how the practice squad could be utilized to answer some of the questions lingering around bubble players.Because of the expansion of the practice squad—and new policy surrounding COVID—here is a quick look at how it will work.
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2020 Practice Squad Rules:· Teams can keep 16 players.· Up to 6 veterans can be put on the practice squad.· 4 players on the practice squad can be protected every Tuesday.· 2 players can be “called-up” on gameday.
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Additionally, here is how the injured reserve (IR) and physically unable to perform (PUP) list designation rules apply to breaking camp:· A team can cut a player and hope they make it through waivers before signing them onto IR.· A team can put a player on the initial 53-man roster then place them on IR without going through waivers.· A player cannot be put on PUP—or back on PUP—if they have already practiced with the team.
HOT READ: Alan Lepore’s Roster Projection Series
The time is upon us to see who Washington will be carrying into Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. My final roster projections—with explanations—of 2020:
Quarterback (3 down to 2): Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith (post-cutdown to IR).
This is something that we have had an idea of what the quarterback room was going to look like. The real catch is how long will they carry Alex Smith on the active roster for. It seems like it would only be a matter of when—not if—he gets put on IR. Will it be right after the 53-man roster gets locked in so they can sign someone they cut once they immediately pass through waivers. Or, do they roll with Alex until it isn’t feasible to keep him off of IR? There is no doubt he would be valuable being in the same room with Dwayne, but is he really able to protect himself?
Running Back (5): Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Bryce Love.
Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson, and J.D. McKissic are all locks to make the roster. Peyton Barber makes the most sense as the direct backup to Peterson and could be carried as a fourth running back on gameday. Bryce Love—however—could go three routes. The coaching staff could feel that he need to go on IR for a little bit longer and be designated for that whether it is by being cut or kept and then moved. Or, Love has shown enough during camp that they want him a part of this team moving forward to show that he can start carrying a workload at the end of this year and crank it up next year. I expect them to go with the latter with the type of camp that he had.
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Tight End (3): Logan Thomas, Marcus Baugh, Jeremy Sprinkle.
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Arguably the weakest position unit on the team, we could see Washington completely blowing this projection up by signing a tight end that gets cut. Logan Thomas and Marcus Baugh have built a report with Haskins over the past five weeks. Jeremy Sprinkle has been quiet most of camp but has a better skill set then Hale Hentges. Scott Turner and company will have to work with what they have this year and hope someone has a breakout year.
Wide Receiver (6): Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr., Dontrelle Inman, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Isaiah Wright, Trey Quinn.
The name of the game to get one of the last spots on a roster is special teams ability. Isaiah Wright was a wizard in college as a punt and kick returner which I believe makes him a lock. The last roster spot—let alone wide receiver spot—should come down to Trey Quinn and Cam Sims. Head coach Ron Rivera has preached versatility a few times during camp which would have one think that puts Quinn at an advantage. Quinn can act as a backup to Steven Sims Jr. and a special teams player should Wright or someone else goes down. Cam Sims likely ends up on the practice squad.
Offensive Line (9): Geron Christian Sr. (LT), Wes Martin (LG), Chase Roullier (C), Brandon Scherff (RG), Morgan Moses (RT), Saahdiq Charles, Josh Garnett, Keith Ismael, David Sharpe.
We could wind up going through the 2020 season having a multitude of starting combinations on the offensive line. In a shortened time period to evaluate what you have and work on improvements, there could be cream rising to the top late in the season. Geron Christian has made big improvement from last year that he has been consistently practicing with the first team throughout camp. He has taken the opportunity afforded to him by rookie Saahdiq Charles injury an made the most of it. Ron has typically kept either 9 or 10 offensive linemen when breaking camp and I don’t think he breaks that trend.They will roll with this group and pray that they can keep Dwayne healthy and upright.
Defensive Line (8 up to 9): Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Tim Settle, Ryan Anderson, James Smith-Williams (waivers to signing).
This is probably the easiest position to project outside of quarterback. The initial eight men that make the roster will rotate and play to their strengths, so they are fresh down the stretch of close games. Smith-Williams has been able to hang with those that will make the roster and will be the weekly inactive. He can fill in for a game or two until he becomes more consistent with more training.
Linebacker (6): Thomas Davis Sr., Cole Holcomb, Shaun Dion-Hamilton, Jon Bostic, Kevin Pierre-Louis Khaleke Hudson.
I’ll just get the big news out of the way. Yes, Reuben Foster gets cut. Foster has spent most of camp in a bulky knee brace practicing with the third string defense. He hasn’t gotten his speed back which a trip to the practice squad could help him with. Foster could also be one of the four players designated as “protected” so another team can’t come in a scoop him up once he does show more improvement. The other six linebackers will be on a rotation and potentially in a linebacker by committee pending the scenario. Kevin Pierre-Louis and Khaleke Hudson could see most of their playing time on special teams.
Cornerback (6): Ronald Darby, Kendall Fuller, Fabian Moreau, Jimmy Moreland, Greg Stroman, Aaron Colvin.
I would have gone with five corners here, but Kendall Fuller is currently dealing with a nagging injury. It is uncertain how long it could linger which is what could force the coaching staff to keep Aaron Colvin. Greg Stroman has had a strong camp showing his ability to track the ball and aggressively jump routes while being disciplined. Fabian and Ronald should be your starters on the outside with Darby wanting to prove that he is back to top corner status.
Free Safety (4): Landon Collins, Troy Apke, Deshazor Everett, Sean Davis.
In what was one of the most surprising parts of camp this year was what developed in the free safety battle. Troy Apke showed big strides compared to where he was under Jay Gruden’s staff. It was thought heading in Apke would battle Kamren Curl for the back-up role, but it could be down to Sean Davis and Curl. Davis has been MIA for most of camp while Curl has proven his ability to track the ball and communicate well within the system. It wouldn’t be a stretch if Curl makes it over Davis, but it’ll be easier to put Curl on the practice squad.
Long Snapper: Nick Sundberg
Kicker: Dustin Hopkins
Punter: Tress Way
Like there were any questions.
Practice Squad: Reuben Foster* (LB), Kamren Curl* (FS), Nate Orchard* (DE), Ross Pierschbacher* (C), Hale Hentges (TE), Timon Parris (T), Steve Montez (QB), Jordan Brailford (DE), Jonathon Johnson (WR), Danny Johnson (CB), David Bada (DT), Wes Schweitzer (G), Cam Sims (WR), 3 players TBD
Injured Reserve: Kelvin Harmon (WR)
Italics = Rookies* = protected practice squad player
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Alan Lepore joins "Washington Football" on SI.com, while still doing outstanding work as an editor/writer at FullPressCoverage.com or @FPC_Redskins. You can follow him on Twitter @AlanLepore or on instagram @leporealan. Alan is a Villanova University MPA Nonprofit Management candidate and is a fundraising/development professional.