The Washington Redskins, much like most NFL teams, have some critical decisions that await them after the third and fourth pre-season games. For the Redskins, those decisions are more critical and difficult at certain positions. One such position is wide receiver.
At this point, the only thing that is assured at the receiver positions is that #89, Santana Moss, will be on the 53 man roster. He will also be on the starting offense, in fact, listed number one on the depth chart. After that, things get real thin at receiver. Pre-season games 1 and 2 have not really helped clarify things and no receiver has stepped out as a legitimate #2 receiver. Thank God for Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. Other than that, all gloves are off for the final 4 to 5 roster spots, all dependent on how many receivers that Mike Shanahan plans to carry.
You remaining wide receivers vying for the 4 to 5 slots are: Joey Galloway, Roydell Williams, Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Brandon Banks, Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin, Shay Hodge, and Bobby Wade. Wade does not appear to be in any mix for special teams return units, at least yet.
Here are the current pre-season stats through two games.
The stats summary summarizes two specific things. First, Anthony Armstrong leads the team in receiving so far, has made plenty of tough grabs, and has shown a knack for blocking well. All bodes well for Armstrong. His hands have been golden. I would not be surprised if Armstrong, although unstated, may have locked in a roster slot. Not sure what else he needs to do, besides continued quality play.
Second, Malcolm Kelly is no where on that table. Why? Because he hasn't practiced or played. Kelly to me does not deserve a roster spot, nor even consideration for a spot. If he misses the pre-season game this week, how can any coach justify evaluating a player in one game, with absolutely no hard work or practices, but yet hand a roster spot?
Kelly is the typical Kelly. He is hurt. Period. Based on comments, it is also becoming quite clear that frustration with Kelly and his injuries are growing. What is surprising to me is all the focus on Albert Haynesowrth not practicing, Haynesworth's 'medical' condition, but yet, aside from Haynesworth's inexcusable attitude issues, that same fan anger does not reside with Malcolm Kelly and his 'injuries'. Kelly has been a wasted draft pick since he was selected in 2008. He has not shown any consistency and has not shown glimpses of hope like Devin Thomas. All he has provided to the Redskins is his remarkable consistency in achieving sideline status because of injury after injury after injury. Kelly does not deserve to be mentioned at this point as a possible wide receiver on this team.
Anthony Armstrong: The question is, has Armstrong done anything to question whether he deserves a spot? I don't think so. Catches the ball. Check. Blocks well. Check. Gets open. Check. Uses speed. Check. Makes difficult grabs. Check. Runs the right routes. Check. Right now we project Armstrong to grab a receiver slot. That's TWO.
Roydell Williams: Williams has done well in the 4 passes that have come his way. Williams was once mentioned as the second receiver, but has taken a back seat as of late to Joey Galloway. Williams has good hands and can block. I project Williams to earn a slot. That's THREE.
Joey Galloway: Galloway is the big veteran among this corp. Galloway has not really been thrown to, but based on his veteran status and the weak receiving unit in Washington, we project Galloway to make the roster. That's FOUR.
Devin Thomas. Thomas is ahead of Kelly here because, well, he practices and plays. I still haven't seen anything special out of Thomas. The sweet 44 yard TD strike was the single highlight play for Thomas this pre-season, an actually right on target throw by Rex Grossman. Thomas used his speed for once to get behind the secondary. Thomas has also seen time at kick returner both last year and this pre-season. Prior to the 44 yard strike, Thomas bobbled a kick return, but fortunately for him, was able to grab control. In terms of receiving, take a way the 44 yard TD reception, then Thomas has just 3 catches for 34 yards. Again, nothing special. In 2 returns he has gained 36 yards, an average of 18.0 yards per return. At this point, we are not prepared to project Thomas to make the roster, but we do label is as Lean to Roster.
Brandon Banks: Banks has only caught 1 pass, good for 29 yards. He has been working out at punt returner and has had some success, returning one punt 77 yards for a TD. Let's face it, Banks must not only do well at punt returner, he must excel to make the roster. He is small, very small, standing at just 5'7". That is a barrier already. When you get popped by small cornerback Justin Tryon, well, that's a sign. In 5 returns, Banks averages 20.0 yard per return with 1 fair catch. However, remember, one of those returns was 77 yards. We are not prepared to project Banks to the Roster. Right now we list Banks as a TOSS UP.
Bobby Wade: Wade would give the Redskins another experienced receiver. Wade has caught 4 passes for 59 yards, averaging 14.8 yards per carry. I suspect the Redskins will continue to give Wade a look. Wade has also looked good at practices. Could we be seeing Wade on return units soon? At this point, we are not prepared to project Wade to make the roster or Lean him to Make the Roster. Wade is a TOSS UP.
Terrence Austin: Austin has two reception in the pre-season. Certainly not earth shattering. He has had his ups and downs at practices during training camp as well. He has had enough ups though to draw some praise. Austin's situation and position are pretty parallel to Banks. He has to earn a roster spot in the receiving unit through special teams. Otherwise, he is likely looking at practice squad at best. Austin has returned 4 kicks, averaging 20.0 yard per return. Average at best. He has also returned 4 punts, with a 7.5 yard per return. The thing on his side is the fact he was a Mike Shanahan draft pick. But does that justify beating out another smaller player like Banks, who may deserve it more so? We will see if all things remain equal. Right now we can't project Austin a roster spot. We list him as a TOSS UP.
Shay Hodges: Who? Exactly. We project him DEAD MEAT.
Check back after the NY Jet game on Friday. We will revisit this article sometime the week following the game. Perhaps some clarification could arise, perhaps not.