Redskins face numbers game at offensive line, running back

Quarterback Nate Sudfeld is among the players on the bubble as the Redskins decide their 53-man roster. Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire

The Washington Redskins' decisions on their final 53-man roster might have received clarity in the final preseason game. They also got a little bit harder as several players on the bubble stood out.

Here's a look on decisions on offense the Redskins must make by Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline, based in part on numerous conversations over the past couple weeks:

Quarterbacks: Two or three. I have a hard time believing they will cut Nate Sudfeld, unless key decision-makers have changed their opinion about him. But Sudfeld has been viewed as future potential starter, though not as someone who can help now. It wouldn’t be the first time a quarterback is kept under such circumstances. The problem is, you would be giving up a roster spot for a player not ready to contribute this season. Can you afford to do so? The answer is, yes -- it’s the game’s most important position. With uncertainty surrounding Kirk Cousins' long-term future in Washington, the Redskins want a young player in the system they can develop. If he gets cut, it’s a roll of the dice -- but it would also suggest they’re OK losing him, which then suggests the quest for a Young Developmental QB resumes in the 2017 draft.

Running backs: Can they keep four? Yes, only if they keep just three tight ends (possible) or eight offensive linemen (a possibility broached by one team source this week, before the final preseason game). If they keep four, that’s good news for Rob Kelley and Mack Brown. If only three, I’d favor the former -- though Brown had a strong finish, was it enough for another team to claim him if he's available? That's the question Washington must answer. The Redskins would like to place rookie fullback Joe Kerridge on the practice squad if possible; they like how he’s improved, but for now they will try to fill that role with tight end Niles Paul. Kerridge had a few nice blocks against Tampa Bay. One key here is that Brown and Kelley both play a lot of special teams. Chris Thompson and Matt Jones are locks.

Receivers: My sense always has been they will keep six. Rashad Ross entered the preseason ahead for that final spot. He had some issues, but did anyone else play well enough to unseat him? A strong finish works in his favor, no doubt. A key here will be rookie Josh Doctson's health. If he’s able to play soon, then the Redskins could opt simply for a receiver with the sixth spot whose main focus is special teams (Maurice Harris?). But there are three young receivers they like -- Harris, T.J. Thorpe and Kendal Thompson. They will be able to keep some of them on the practice squad with no problem.

Line: Eight or nine. A lot depends on how many running backs and/or tight ends they keep. Austin Reiter and Josh LeRibeus would appear to be the main contenders for a ninth spot (the number I ultimately think they will keep). LeRibeus' main benefit is versatility -- he can play guard and center. But Reiter made a big improvement in Year 2 and played well in the final preseason game. Reiter has been ahead of LeRibeus throughout the summer and has definite fans in the organization. They have been impressed with his knowledge and how fast he’s picked things up.

Tight end: Before camp, it was four. During camp, it became three. It'll depend on who wins out in the Logan Paulsen debate at Redskins Park. Paulsen had one of his better camps in terms of blocking, and he finished strong in that area Wednesday. But he also dropped three passes (in sloppy conditions, yes). The front office needs to be sold, though, and that will be difficult. They also can keep Marcel Jensen on the practice squad as a de facto fourth tight end if needed. The reality is that Paulsen is competing with players on the bubble at positions such as running back, offensive line, defensive line and safety.