5 Washington Redskins Who Could Be Training Camp Casualties
Now that NFL training camps are open around the league, the start of the 2014 season is close to being a reality. For some veterans on the Washington Redskins, unemployment is the reality they'll soon be facing.
In the process of trimming down rosters from 90 to 53 players, the cuts of well-known veterans has gone from surprising to customary over the years.
With the never-ending search for younger and cheaper talent, which veterans on Washington's roster should be wary of the axe?
Let's find out. Here are five Redskins veterans who could be camp casualties.
Evan Royster, RB
Two years removed from his last viable NFL game action, Evan Royster picked an inopportune time to succumb to injury.
Sidelined by a nagging hamstring injury, Royster is losing ground in his battle with Chris Thompson and rookie Lache Seastrunk to make the team.
Lacking the speed and special teams contributions that both Seastrunk and Thompson can provide, insurance against injury is the lone highlight in Royster's case to make the team. With the durability concerns of Washington's other backup options, Royster was the team's best choice to replace Alfred Morris in the event of injury.
So how ironic is it that he's now the running back injured?
Without a slip-up in play or significant injury to his competitors, odds are that Royster won't make the team.
Kai Forbath, K
One glance at the top kickers from last season—or Kai Forbath's rookie year—makes it evident that a team doesn't have to draft a kicker if it needs one.
Adam Vinatieri and Justin Tucker are just notable examples of this. You can chalk up Forbath's sophomore campaign as a mere blip if you want, but his job is in jeopardy.
By drafting Zach Hocker, Washington made that clear.
Although he missed only four field goals in 2013—and made his final 13 attempts of the season—three of Forbath's misses came from 40-plus yards out, making leg strength the clear issue here.
This weakness doesn't just rear its head on field goals. As ESPN.com's John Keim noted, Forbath's 14 touchbacks fell way short of the league average of 41.
In contrast, distance appears to be Hocker's strength. During his senior season at Arkansas, Hocker was 5-of-7 on kicks from over 40 yards out.
While games will be the true barometer, Keim suggests Hocker's off to a good start in this ongoing battle:
Meanwhile, on field goals: Hocker made all four of his attempts from 40, 40, 44 and 46 yards. All but one down the middle, with another sneaking inside the left upright. Forbath was 2-of-3, with makes from 40 and 41 yards and missing wide right from 49.
Even in the event that Forbath wins the battle, the pressure on his job won't subside. With a potential place on the Redskins' practice squad, Hocker could remain over his shoulder for the duration of the season.
Santana Moss, WR
While the accolades that accompanied Pierre Garcon's career year in 2013 were well-deserved, the Redskins' lack of viable weapons at wideout played a part in the massive numbers he amassed.
Looking at tight end Jordan Reed's rookie season, this fact couldn't be any more evident. Despite playing in just nine games, with only four starts under his belt, Reed still managed to finish second on the team in receptions and yards.
This led to the signings of Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson as well as the drafting of Ryan Grant. With their arrivals, though, someone has to go.
Enter—or rather, exit—Santana Moss. While injury or inexperience can explain the inconsistent production of Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson, age is the key culprit in Moss' potential demise.
For the 35-year-old, it became clear during his 13th NFL season that he could no longer generate enough separation from defenders.
Sporting Charts revealed that after catching 66.1 percent of the passes he was targeted on in 2012, Moss only caught 53.8 percent of such passes last season. With a career-low 10.8 yards per reception in 2013, it's not as if this decline is tied to Moss running deeper routes.
Add it up, and Moss is going to need some help to overtake his young counterparts.
With the big-play ability that Robinson flashed at the end of last season, he's unlikely to be cut. Where Hankerson is concerned, Moss may have found his safety net.
While Hankerson's size and potential outweigh what Moss can contribute at this stage of his career, he's currently on the team's physically unable to perform list.
After reiterating his uncertainty regarding his return date to Keim, who knows when he'll be activated off the PUP list?
Battling rust and a new offensive coordinator, though, it's unlikely that Hankerson would even have to be on par with Moss to win the gig upon his return anyway.
In need of a stellar training camp under these circumstances, Moss' best hope is for Hankerson to be placed on the team's reserve/PUP list—whereby Hankerson would miss at least the team's first six games.
Although the move would only delay a decision on both players' roster statuses, it stands as the best path for Moss to make the team out of camp.
E.J. Biggers, DB
Despite multiple opportunities and 29 career starts, E.J. Biggers has yet to distinguish himself during his five-year career.
Re-signed more so because of his versatility than his on-field performance, the need for Biggers has diminished in lieu of the moves Washington made to bolster its secondary.
Now that the starters and top backups at cornerback and safety are set, Washington has to the weigh the potential of players like Chase Minnifield, Richard Crawford and Bacarri Rambo when deciding whether or not to retain Biggers.
As the careers of DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather wind down, these are the type of players the team should be itching to get an extended look at as potential contributors—not the ones they should be cutting loose.
Could this young trio be destined for bench roles? Possibly. Thing is, though, Washington already knows Biggers is.
Barring an injury to Minnifield or Crawford—both have had their issues in the past on this front—Biggers should be the odd man out.
Darryl Sharpton, LB
Signed on to be a potential replacement for London Fletcher, things haven't gone according to script thus far for Darryl Sharpton.
While it was always expected that veteran Akeem Jordan would be the primary competition for Sharpton, Keenan Robinson has seemingly come out of nowhere. Keim noted that, even with just seven tackles to his name, Robinson has been the linebacker teaming with Perry Riley on the first-team defense throughout the offseason.
When looking at Washington's second-team defense, once again, Sharpton is nowhere to be found. According to Keim, Adam Hayward, Will Compton and Jordan have manned that unit for the majority of camp.
At this juncture, if the team keeps five inside linebackers, Sharpton will have to battle it out with Hayward and Compton just to make the roster.
Considering that Hayward was signed to a three-year deal, mainly for his special teams contributions, it'd seem prudent to remove him from the cut list.
Although Sharpton has a significant edge in experience, an injury—he's had plenty of those—or a lackluster showing in the preseason could bring about his exit.