NFC East Player Analysis: Every Team, Every Unit, Every Player

Know your Players: A unit-by-unit breakdown on every team in the NFC East by The Sports Xchange

DALLAS COWBOYS

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Dak Prescott. Backups - Cooper Rush, Mike White.

Prescott is trying to repeat his rookie success again after a sophomore slump. He won fewer games (9 in 2017, 13 in 2016), had fewer touchdown passes (22 in 2017, 23 in 2016), passed threw for fewer yards (3,324 in 2017, 3,667 in 2016) and produced a lower passer rating (86.6 in 2017, 104.9 in 2016). He had trouble getting the ball downfield. The Cowboys have made the offense Dak-friendly and will allow him to go through his reads to receivers who will be where they are supposed to be. He will also use his feet more in spread situations. Rush played the role of the starter in the final two preseason games as the Cowboys sat Prescott. Rush didn't dazzle anyone against the Cardinals or Texans, leaving some to wonder if third-stringer White isn't a better option if something happens to Prescott.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters - Ezekiel Elliott, FB Jamize Olawale. Backups - Rod Smith.

The Cowboys' biggest hopes of a bounce back in 2018 are because of the return of Elliott and his ability to play all 16 games. He missed six games last season while serving a suspension, and it likely cost the Cowboys a playoff berth. Dallas went 3-3 without him. Elliott led the league in rushing as a rookie with 1,631 yards. He gained 983 in 10 games last season. If he is on the field for 16 games, he could again lead the league in rushing and be the bell cow of the Cowboys.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Geoff Swaim. Backups - Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz.

Jason Witten is gone and this group of tight ends has nine career catches, all by Swaim. He is a solid blocker who will likely win the starting job. But the Cowboys have high hopes for Jarwin as a receiver and the rookie Schultz' development as a complete tight end. The wild card is Gathers, who spent last season on injured reserve. A former basketball player in college, Gathers is still learning the game. But he has the body and athleticism to be a red-zone scoring threat.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams. Backups - Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson, Noah Brown (IR/could return later in season).

The entire Cowboys receiver corps underperformed in 2017 so the Cowboys made wholesale changes by jettisoning No. 2 receiver Dez Bryant. It will be a unit by committee in 2018 with the focus on route running and fundamentals under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal. The Cowboys traded for Tavon Austin, who they appear to be deploying primarily as a receiver. And they expect him to offer a nice change of pace and bring some explosiveness to the attack. Hurns was added in free agency with Gallup and Wilson added in the draft. Hurns missed 11 games the past two seasons, but he is expected to replace Bryant's production. The Cowboys need Beasley to get back to form after seeing 39 fewer receptions in 2017 from 2016. The Cowboys have high hopes for Gallup.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Tyron Smith, LG Connor Williams, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT La'el Collins. Backups - G Joe Looney, T Chaz Green, T Cam Fleming, T Kadeem Edwards, G Marcus Martin, T Bryce Johnson, T Blake Campos.

The line goes into this season looking to regain its reputation as the best in the league after a subpar year in 2017 because of injuries to Smith, a lack of depth at tackle, struggles at left guard and Collins transitioning from guard to right tackle. Smith is healthy again, but the Cowboys improved the depth with the addition of Fleming in free agency. They drafted Williams in the second round to take over at left guard. Smith, Frederick and Martin are expected to dominate their positions again and Collins should be comfortable at right tackle. Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in August and it's unclear how that will affect his availability in the regular season. Looney will step into the center role until Frederick comes back.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE DeMarcus Lawrence, NT Maliek Collins, DRE Tyrone Crawford. Backups - DE Randy Gregory, DE Datone Jones, DT Lewis Neal, DT Richard Ash, DE Taco Charlton, DT Daniel Ross, DT David Irving (SUS).

Lawrence, who had nine sacks his first three seasons, made 14.5 sacks last season in a breakout campaign. He was the team's first double-digit sacks leader since 2013 when Jason Hatcher made 11. Lawrence will be a free agent after the season so he will be motivated to be better and cash in. Tyrone Crawford will start opposite Lawrence, but the depth on the edge is impressive with Taco Charlton and the return of Randy Gregory from a year-long suspension. Armstrong is a drafted rookie who could make an impact as well. The Cowboys have high hopes for Irving, who was disruptive in making seven sacks in eight games, but he will miss the first four games on NFL suspension. Collins will continue to man the nose after recovering from offseason foot surgery.

LINEBACKERS: Starters - WLB Sean Lee, MLB Leighton Vander Esch, SLB Jaylon Smith. Backups - Damien Wilson, Joe Thomas, Justin March-Lillard, Chris Covington.

Sean Lee is the undisputed leader of this group. But the Cowboys are hoping to get him some help with the addition of Vander Esch, the first-round pick from Boise State. He will start at middle linebacker, pushing Jaylon Smith to strong-side linebacker where the Cowboys hope to keep his snaps to around 50 percent where he is most efficient. Wilson, a former starter, will give the Cowboys versatile depth off the bench as well as Thomas and March-Lilliard. Lee has missed 41 games with injuries in his eight seasons. The Cowboys will rotate him with Vander Esch and Smith to maximize his production and keep him healthy.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Chidobe Awuzie, RCB Byron Jones, SS Jeff Heath, FS Xavier Woods. Backups - S Tyree Robinson, S Kavon Frazier, CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Anthony Brown.

The Cowboys have completely remade their secondary. Jones is moving from safety to corner where he is expected to start opposite Awuzie. Both are the big cornerbacks who have the size preferred by new secondary coach Kris Richard. Lewis and Brown will battle for the nickel spot in place of the departed Orlando Scandrick. Questions remain at safety. Xavier Woods will start at free safety. Jeff Heath will continue to start at strong safety, and Kavon Frazier will spell Heath. But the Cowboys are still hoping to trade for Seattle Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas before the start of the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Brett Maher, P Chris Jones, KR/PR Tavon Austin, LS L.P. Ladouceur.

In a surprise move, the Cowboys cut Dan Bailey on Saturday, turning the starting kicking duties over to Maher. Maher has four seasons of pro football experience in the CFL, but he will be kicking in the NFL regular season for the first time against the Panthers. Chris Jones proved he is one of the best punters in the league last year when he averaged 44.1 yards per punt and had a whopping 37 downed inside the 20. There are no concerns at punter or deep snapper. Ladouceur has never botched a snap. The addition of Austin gives them a game-breaking kick returner for the first time in years.

NEW YORK GIANTS

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Eli Manning. Backups - Alex Tanney, Kyle Lauletta.

The Giants are all-in on the 37-year-old Manning, whom Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman believe have "years" left in his aging arm. To that end, they upgraded his running game and his offensive line in hopes that he can recapture some of the magic from earlier in his career. The team sent shockwaves across the NFL when it waived second-year quarterback Davis Webb, who was the favorite to become Manning's backup; that role will now go to Tanney, a young journeyman with limited NFL experience while the coaches continue to expedite Lauletta's NFL indoctrination.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Saquon Barkley. Backups - Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman, FB Shane Smith.

The Giants finally have themselves a legitimate two-way player in Barkley, who is not only a dynamic force in between and outside the tackles, but who has also shown an ability to create nightmares in space for linebackers and safeties who end up covering him. Stewart, the veteran, will likely begin as the first guy off the bench in relief of Barkley, but Gallman, the second-year running back far out performed him in the preseason and could end up jumping over him on the depth chart before too long. The Giants decided to keep Smith, a pure fullback and go with one less tight end, which was a curious decision given that Smith hasn't shown himself to be a powerful lead blocker, but with game planning still to come, the coaches could be holding back what their plans are for this group.

TIGHT ENDS - Starters -- Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison. Backup -- Scott Simonson.

Expect the Giants to deploy a lot of 12-personnel packages in which Engram runs the pass routes and Ellison does the heavy lifting in terms of the blocking. Simonson, a young veteran, has shown intriguing ability to handle both roles, but he's likely to receive spot duty assignment behind the two starters.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard. Backups -- Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, Kaelin Clay.

The Giants are set to take the wrapping paper off Beckham, who in a controlled environment this summer showed no ill effects of the season-ending broken ankle suffered in Week 5 last year. Expect Beckham to be moved all around the various formations where the coaching staff hopes to draw the ideal matchups that might open things up for the rest of their offensive weapons. Shepard has quietly and quickly transitioned to his expanded role as an outside receiver. The Giants' third receiver is probably going to be a committee approach depending on the weekly opponent and game plan, but both Latimer and Shepard had solid preseason showings.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Nate Solder, LG Will Hernandez, C Jon Halapio, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Ereck Flowers. Backups -- G/C John Greco, C/G Spencer Pulley, C/G Evan Brown, T Chad Wheeler.

The Giants will field a brand-new offensive line for 2018, but questions remain regarding whether it will be a better unit than what they had on opening day last year. The three biggest question marks include Halapio, who is a relatively inexperienced center that at times in the preseason seemed to have hiccups with calling the right protections; Omameh, who struggled this summer in his first career snaps at right guard in years; and Flowers, another player who is trying to switch sides but whose inconsistent technique continues to be a problem. As for the backup depth, the Giants are once again facing a situation where they don't have a lot of experience, save for Greco. They are also rolling the dice with Wheeler, who didn't have a solid preseason, as their swing tackle. Bottom line: this unit is one injury away from a potential disaster.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DE B.J. Hill, NT Damon Harrison, DE Dalvin Tomlinson. Backups - DE Mario Edwards Jr., DE Kerry Wynn, NT John Jenkins, DE Josh Mauro (SUS).

The Giants have been very pleased with how Hill, one of their two third-round draft picks, has rounded into shape as a versatile defensive lineman. The rookie out of North Carolina State has found a niche working as a zero, 1- and 3-technique defender where he has used his fine athleticism to push the pocket and create congestion in the running lanes. Hill's presence could very well help keep Harrison fresher this season. Tomlinson has sort of been the forgotten man this year, but he's also taken a significant step forward as both an end and an interior tackle. Possessing fine athleticism, Tomlinson might not get all the stats, but he's been a big reason why the defensive line has been able to get the push it has. The Giants are taking a chance on Edwards, an injury-prone player on whom the Raiders gave up on. Because he was awarded off waivers, Edwards gets a four-week audition with the Giants; the same amount of time as Mauro's league-imposed suspension.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Olivier Vernon, ILB B.J. Goodson, ILB Alec Ogletree, SLB Kareem Martin. Backups -- OLB Lorenzo Carter, OLB Connor Barwin, ILB Ray-Ray Armstrong, ILB Tae Davis, Nathan Stupar.

The Giants are going to put a lot of responsibility on their linebackers this year with Vernon firmly in the spotlight as the team has extremely high hopes of him simulating the success Chandler Jones had for defensive coordinator James Bettcher in Arizona. Whether Vernon, who suffered a sprained ankle and is considered "day-to-day," is ready for Week 1 is another story. Regardless if Vernon is ready, the Giants still need to figure out where the rest of the pass rush is going to come from. There is hope that both Carter and Barwin will provide some of that firepower. Carter came on strong toward the end of training camp but there is some question about whether he can hold up to against the run. Barwin spent most of the summer dealing with a knee injury, so it remains to be seen how effective he will be early on.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Janoris Jenkins, SS Landon Collins, FS Curtis Riley, RCB Eli Apple, Slot CB Donte Deayon. Backups -- CB B.W. Webb, CB Michael Jordan, CB Kamrin Moore, CB Antonio Hamilton, S Michael Thomas, S Sean Chandler.

It wouldn't be surprising if defensive coordinator James Bettcher was experiencing some sleepless nights over this unit. Other than Jenkins, Apple and Collins, the rest of the unit is one big mash of question marks. Riley looks like he'll be the free safety, but he wasn't really tested much in the preseason. And will it be Webb or Deayon in the slot? These are all questions that Bettcher better hope he has answers for in the coming weeks.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Aldrick Rosas, P Riley Dixon, LS Zak DeOssie, PR/KR TBD.

The Giants stayed with the big-legged Rosas, who is coming off a rocky first year. Now working under new special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, Rosas' kicking motion seems less herky-jerky. Dixon, acquired in a trade from Denver, started off on rocky footing before finally hitting his stride in terms of consistency. Shurmur said Monday that the team is still working through who their punt and kickoff returners will be after they waived Hunter Sharp, who had done it throughout the preseason. Shurmur did not rule out using a committee approach that would include receiver Odell Beckham Jr and running back Saquon Barkley, both of whom have return experience.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Carson Wentz. Backups -- Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld.

Wentz will be the starter when he is cleared to return from mid-December surgery to repair two ligaments in his right knee. Until then, Foles will start and Sudfeld, who had a strong preseason, will be the backup. Foles was the starter when the Eagles beat the Falcons in the divisional round of the 2017 playoffs. Foles also carved up the league's top-ranked defense (Vikings) in the NFC Championship Game, then put up 41 points to earn Super Bowl LII MVP honors in the team's Super Bowl triumph over the New England Patriots.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Jay Ajayi. Backups -- Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood.

There's plenty to like about this group. Ajayi is in the final year of his contract and hired a personal trainer and chef to prepare him to have a season that will lead to a big payday. Pederson prefers a running-back-by-committee approach, and he has the ammunition to do that this year. Still, Ajayi will likely get the bulk of the workload.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Zach Ertz. Backups -- Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins, Richard Rodgers (IR/could return later in season)

Ertz earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season and has become one of the top receiving tight ends in the league. He led the team in receptions (74) and receiving yards (824) while catching eight touchdown passes. Ertz added 18 catches for 192 yards in three playoff games and had the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Goedert will have an impact. The team kept Perkins because he has some experience in the league and Rodgers has a knee injury that laned him on injured reserve Tuesday.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor. Backups -- Shelton Gibson, DeAndre Carter, Markus Wheaton, Mack Hollins (IR/could erturn later in season).

Jeffery was activated from the PUP list last weekend, but he isn't likely to play in the opener as he continues to make strides from offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Wallace didn't do much in the preseason, but is a veteran and will be counted on early, especially with Jeffery likely sidelined. Hollins will take time to round into form after having offseason surgery for a sports hernia, missing the preseason and heading to injured reserve. Agholor excelled last year after struggling in his first two seasons. Second-year man Gibson and Carter, a journeyman who has made his first NFL roster with his fifth team, enjoyed strong preseasons.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Jason Peters, LG Stefen Wisniewski, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson. Backups - Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata.

This starting unit ended up being the best line in the NFL last year and a big reason the Eagles won their first-ever Super Bowl. It also returns intact from a season ago, which is somewhat rare for offensive lines these days. Peters is a concern because he hasn't played since tearing up his knee last October. He has practiced occasionally but did not play in the preseason. Plus, he is 36-years-old. Kelce may be the most athletic center in the league, and Johnson may be the best right tackle. Brooks was a Pro Bowl player last year. Vaitai stepped in for the injured Peters last year and played well, but the third-year tackle struggled mightily this summer to find that form. Seumalo can play anywhere along the line. Mailata was one of the biggest storylines in Eagles camp this summer, if not across the NFL landscape, since the seventh-round draft pick had never played football. He was a rugby standout before joining the Eagles this spring. Like Mailata, Pryor is also a rookie, a sixth-round draft pick. He had a nice camp early on, but leveled off some as the preseason went along. Warmack is, for some reason, still on the team after a rocky summer camp.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - DE Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox, DT Haloti Ngata, DE Derek Barnett. Backups - DE Chris Long, DE Michael Bennett, DE Josh Sweat, DT Destiny Vaeao, DT Bruce Hector, DT Tim Jernigan (NFI, could return later in season).

The defensive line is the strength of the team, capable of getting after a passer and shutting down a run game in its tracks. Graham led the team in sacks with 9.5 last year, though he did not participate in the preseason as he recovered from May 1 ankle surgery. Cox has the ability to take over games. Ngata and Bennett are newcomers, replacing Vinny Curry and Beau Allen. Long is the consummate pro and a strong locker-room leader. Sweat is a rookie fourth-round draft pick while Hector made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent. Vaeao is prone to injury, but when healthy he is underrated.

LINEBACKERS: Starters - OLB Nigel Bradham (SUS), MLB Jordan Hicks, OLB Kamu Grugier-Hill. Backups -- Nate Gerry, D.J. Alexander, LaRoy Reynolds.

Bradham will serve a one-game, NFL-mandated suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Gerry or Grugier-Hill will likely be called on to fill Bradham's role. Hicks returns after tearing his Achilles in the seventh game last year. He led the team in interceptions with five in 2016. Reynolds is the veteran of the group, having entered the league in 2013, but is in his first season with the Eagles after spending the previous two seasons with the Falcons, playing in 25 games for them. Alexander was acquired off waivers when he was released on Saturday by the Seahawks.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- CB Jalen Mills, CB Ronald Darby, S Malcolm Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod. Backups -- CB Sidney Jones, CB Avonte Maddox, CB Rasul Douglas, S Corey Graham, S Tre Sullivan, S Deiondre' Hall (SUS), S Chris Maragos (PUP/could return later in season).

Hall was acquired from the Bears on cutdown day for a conditional seventh-round pick. He doesn't count on the 53-man roster because he will serve a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The cornerback position was a huge weakness two years ago, but the upgrades have been substantial with Mills and Darby being solid starters. Jones and Maddox will likely split time in the slot. Sullivan may get released next week when Hall is eligible to be activated. Jenkins and McLeod are as good a 1-2 punch at the safety spot as there is in the league, and Graham was solid as the team's third safety last year, getting most of playing time in the nickel defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Jake Elliott, P Cameron Johnston, KR Shelton Gibson, PR Darren Sproles, LS Rick Lovato, PR/KR Wendell Smallwood.

Elliott is accurate from beyond 40 yards. Inside of 40, however, he tends to struggle. He missed three PATs last year and was just 4 of 7 on field goals from 30 to 39 yards, but made 5 of 6 from 50-plus yards. His 61-yarder won a game against the Giants early in the season. Johnston was cut last summer in favor of Donnie Jones, but he has had a strong summer. Sproles is one of the game's most accomplished punt returners, but had his season cut short last year with arm and knee injuries suffered on the same play against Washington. He is also 35, so it will be interesting to see what he has left. Gibson will handle kickoff return duties for the first time in his pro career, though it is something he did at West Virginia University.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Alex Smith. Backup -- Colt McCoy.

Smith solves the quarterback issue after the Jan. 30 trade and a four-year contract extension. He is older than Kirk Cousins by four years, but he has seen it all during his NFL career and won't get rattled. Lack of repetitions with his top offensive players in camp don't bode well for a fast start, but he is as good an answer as Washington could have hoped for when it realized a deal with Cousins wasn't going to work out. McCoy is the perfect backup for head coach Jay Gruden's system. He has taken four snaps in two seasons, but started four games in 2014 in this system and is well versed in it if called upon.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Adrian Peterson. Backups -- Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Byron Marshall (IR/could erturn later in season).

Guice's ACL injury was devastating, but the Redskins hope Peterson can handle one more season at a high level. He will have his doubters at age 33. Kelley was playing on a bum knee much of last year and he and Perine, who struggles with ball security, will have their own legion of critics. Thompson is one of the most underrated weapons in the NFL out of the backfield, but he has to regain his confidence after breaking his right leg last year. Marshall was a dynamic receiver and running back at Oregon and helped Washington last year when injuries struck.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jordan Reed. Backups -- Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle.

The offense runs through Reed, who when healthy could be capable of 90 catches and 10-plus touchdowns and 800-1,000 yards receiving. He's come close to those numbers before. But Reed can't seem to stay healthy and the season may depend on that happening. Davis is ageless at 33, still in great shape and a great complement to Reed. Sprinkle is the primary blocking tight end.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder. Backups --Maurice Harris, Trey Quinn, Cam Sims.

An odd group. Crowder is the mainstay with 192 catches over three seasons. Doctson, a 2016 first-round pick, had six touchdowns last year, but needs more catches overall. Richardson was signed to add speed to a group that didn't have much, but his track record is short. Beyond those three are unknowns. Harris is a reliable route runner and made a few big catches last season. He's also excellent on special teams. Quinn looks like he will make a quick impact as the backup slot receiver to Crowder and Sims, despite limited production at Alabama, showed enough in preseason to beat out a slew of undrafted college free agents.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses. Backups -- T Ty Nskeke, T Geron Christian, G Tony Bergstrom, C Casey Dunn.

A deep, talented group that should protect Smith well. The sacks soared above 40 last season because of injuries to virtually everyone. Williams tried to play on one knee before going on injured reserve. But he is ready to go. Roullier is a question mark only because it's his second year, but he was forced into action last year as a rookie. Even depth is good at tackle with Nsekhe, one of the better backup tackles in the NFL, and Christian, a third-round draft pick from Louisville. Backup guard is the one issue.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE Jonathan Allen, DT Daron Payne, DRE Matt Ioannidis. Backups -- DE Ziggy Hood, DE Caleb Brantley, NT Tim Settle, DE Stacy McGee (PUP/could return later in season).

All but Hood, the 10-year veteran, are 24 or younger. Allen and Payne were college teammates and first-round picks in 2017 and 2018. Ioannidis quietly had a solid year in 2017. Settle, a fifth-round pick, had an excellent camp as a rookie. This group is as talented as any Washington has had in a generation. That's a low bar. This is often a weak spot for the Redskins, who have finally invested draft capital in the position. McGee (groin) begins on the PUP list.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Mason Foster, ILB Zach Brown, SLB Preston Smith. Backups -- OLB Ryan Anderson, OLB Pernell McPhee, ILB Shaun Dion Hamilton, ILB Zach Vigil, OLB Josh Harvey-Clemons, Josh Keyes.

Kerrigan is almost a mortal lock for double-digit sacks. Smith could finally join him this year. McPhee had a quiet camp, which for a player with a checkered injury history is probably a good thing. Brown is a tackling machine and will be among the league leaders. Getting Foster back from a season-ending shoulder injury is a huge boost. The inside linebackers are young and untested -- though Vigil made a big impression coming off the practice squad late last season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starter -- LCB Josh Norman, RCB Quinton Dunbar, FS DJ Swearinger, SS Montae Nicholson. Backups -- CB Fabian Moreau, S Deshazor Everett, CB Adonis Alexander, S Troy Apke, CB Greg Stroman, CB Danny Johnson, CB Josh Holsey.

Norman is the veteran. The only one. The rest of the corners are either untested starters like Dunbar or second-year pros like Moreau with little experience or pure rookies like Stroman or Alexander, who was taken in the supplemental draft in July. Johnson had a fantastic camp and could arguably be considered the fourth corner as an undrafted college free agent from Southern. Swearinger is the unquestioned leader of the defense. The Redskins need Nicholson to stay healthy and make a big leap forward in his second season. Depth at safety is a concern. Holsey is on the non-football injury list, but could return at some point in his second season. He primarily played special teams as a rookie.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Dustin Hopkins, KR Byron Marshall, PR Greg Stroman, LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way.

The same group the Redskins have had at kicker, punter and long snapper for years now. Hopkins had a strong preseason with one miss from beyond 55 yards and just one inside of 50. It remains unclear if Stroman -- or someone else -- will unseat Jamison Crowder as the punt returner.

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