RICHMOND, Va. -- On Sunday, the Redskins released their first unofficial depth chart for Thursday's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns.
The depth chart by no means is set, as roster moves and injuries are frequent this time of year. With a 10-man rookie draft class producing and competing for spots on both sides of the ball, head coach Jay Gruden mentioned that the upcoming first week of preseason is no different than the previous weeks in Richmond.
"The first preseason game – not that we’re taking it lightly -- but it's more about we’re still in training camp mode," Gruden said during a press conference Sunday morning.
"First preseason game is mainly you’re going to call your first two or three install-type plays that you have in, let the players play, play fast, and not so much worry about scheme as you normally would. Still, we want to get them prepared for what they will possibly see so they can adapt and play fast and we can hopefully have some positive plays against Cleveland."
With a quarterback battle at the headline of camp, reps are the primary source of evaluation so far for Gruden, who said "I think they've all done some really good things without a doubt and they've all done some things that we’ve got to coach. That's just the way it is at the quarterback position."
"Colt's [McCoy] got the most experience in the system, but he still hasn’t played a whole lot. He hasn't taken a lot of reps. Last year it was all about Alex [Smith], the year before that it was all about Kirk [Cousins], and getting them ready," Gruden added. "Case [Keenum] has all the reps, but he doesn’t have much experience in the system. He's doing a nice job, and obviously Dwayne [Haskins] is a rookie. All three of them have shown flashes of being really good and really productive, and all three have shown flashes of, 'Hey, we’ve got to get better."
Here are some offensive, defensive and special teams takeaways from the first unofficial depth chart of the 2019 campaign:
-- Longtime Redskin Colt McCoy is currently listed as the starter, with Case Keenum as the backup and Dwayne Haskins as third string. However, there is still an ongoing quarterback competition that will likely continue throughout the preseason.
Gruden has two veterans at his disposal in McCoy and Keenum, but the talent of Haskins cannot be ignored. His elite arm strength has impressed coaches throughout camp thus far, though his overall knowledge of the system and rapport with receivers continues to mold into form.
-- Arguably one of the most talented units on the roster, the running back group led by Adrian Peterson looks poised for a solid campaign. Peterson is listed as the starter -- with a healthy Derrius Guice and the versatile Chris Thompson behind him -- but all three backs should receive consistent work once the regular season begins. Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall, Shaun Wilson and rookie Craig Reynolds are all eyeing that fourth running back spot.
-- Starting tight end Jordan Reed has had perhaps the best camp of his career, while backup Vernon Davis and third-stringer Jeremy Sprinkle should also contribute in their own ways. Veterans Matt Flanagan and J.P Holtz back up the projected three tight ends, with rookie undrafted free agent Donald Parham looking to prove himself during live game action.
-- Rookies Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon have injected an influx of youth into Washington's receiving core, pairing with starters Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson. Second-year man Trey Quinn will be the starter in the slot.
-- At this point, the right side of the line stays constant from years past. Chase Roullier is listed as the starting center with Brandon Scherff at right guard and Morgan Moses at right tackle. Newcomer Ereck Flowers is listed as the starting left guard, with second-year man Geron Christian at left tackle. Questions however still remain throughout the offensive line as three roster moves have been made since the start of camp. Former Pro-Bowl tackle Donald Penn is new among the unit, providing depth and veteran leadership to a potential starting group with no one over the age of 28. However, the 13-year veteran has made it known that he signed in Washington "to start."
Take a look at the photos from the ninth day of 2019 training camp in Richmond, Va.
- As expected Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are listed as the starters along the defensive line. The trio headlines the team’s strongest unit, which includes Caleb Brantley, Tim Settle and JoJo Wicker as backups with Ryan Bee, Austin Maloata and Jonathan Bonner as third-teamers.
One question surrounding this group is the health of Brantley, who left practice Saturday with a foot injury. Head coach Jay Gruden briefed reporters about Brantley’s status in his press conference Sunday morning.
“It's hopefully not serious – not any torn ligaments or anything like that,” Gruden said. “He landed on his foot. It’s a mild Lisfranc type thing. He'll be fine."
-- Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson are listed as the starting outside linebackers, which is not surprising considering first-round rookie Montez Sweat has been sidelined since being kicked in the calf during practice Wednesday. Sweat is listed as the backup to Anderson, while Cassanova McKinzy slated behind Kerrigan.
“[Sweat] just got kicked in the calf and these things sometimes take three days, four days,” Gruden said Sunday. “ I think he’ll be OK for Cleveland. We’ll see.”
If Sweat cannot play, Marcus Smith II will serve as Anderson’s backup, followed by Myles Humphrey. At weakside linebacker, seventh-round rookie Jordan Brailford is listed third with a combination of Andrew Ankrah and recently signed Garrett Sickels behind him.
-- The first-team middle linebackers have been the same since the beginning of training camp, so it’s no surprise to see veteran Jon Bostic and second-year player Shaun Dion Hamilton listed as the starters in the initial depth chart. Backing up Bostic will be rookie Cole Holcomb and B.J. Blunt, who intercepted Keenum near the goal line Sunday. Josh Harvey-Clemons and Marquis Flowers will play behind Hamilton.
-- Just like last preseason, Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar are listed as the starting corners. Fabian Moreau, who has served as the starting nickel throughout camp, will be penciled in behind Dunbar but ahead of seventh-round standout Jimmy Moreland and undrafted rookie Deion Harris. Norman’s backup is veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, behind him are Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander -- who are both listed with the third team -- fourth-teamers Ashton Lampkin and D.J. White round out the group.
-- There are no surprises at the other defensive back spots, as strong safety Landon Collins and free safety Montae Nicholson will serve as the starters. Deshazor Everett and JoJo McIntosh will play behind Collins, while Troy Apke and Jeremy Reaves will back up Nicholson.
-- As it has been the last couple of years, there is zero competition for the three specialists. Dustin Hopkins, Tress Way, and Nick Sundberg will all be back in 2019.
-- The punt returner and kick returner competitions will be interesting to watch throughout the preseason, as a return specialist could maneuver his way onto the roster. Flashback to 2010 when Washington kept the electric Brandon Banks on the final 53-man roster due to his elite speed and ability to change the game as a specialist.