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Breaking down the Redskins' toughest roster decisions

ASHBURN, Va. -- With half of the Washington Redskins' preseason schedule complete, it's a good time to check on each position and where it stands for the final 53-man roster. As of now, I'd guess they'll keep 24 offensive players, 26 on defense and three specialists. Here's a look at each spot:

Quarterback: It would be a surprise if they only kept two, considering they like rookie Nate Sudfeld and want to see how he develops over the next year. If that’s the case, why expose him to other teams? Jay Gruden has talked in the past about how he likes only keeping two. But keeping three makes sense.

Offensive line: My guess is that the Redskins will keep nine players along the line, but that also means keeping one fewer player at another position. Keeping only eight linemen sometimes happens, but nine is a typical amount. As of now, those on the roster would be: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Kory Lichtensteiger, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Arie Kouandjio and Austin Reiter. The last one, Reiter, was cut last summer but he has added strength. He was better in the first preseason game than the second, but they like him enough for the future to keep him around. He’s definitely their third center but is by no means a lock. However, the choice could be between him and Josh LeRibeus, who hasn’t shown that he’ll be anything more than an OK backup.

Tight ends: Before camp and even for most of camp the belief was that they’d keep four tight ends. But a few things have altered that stance, starting with how well Vernon Davis has blocked. He built his career on catching passes, but his blocking was prominently mentioned as a reason they signed him. It’s shown this summer. That gives them the ability to perhaps cut Logan Paulsen, who's considered primarily a blocking tight end. He’s on the bubble, as he was last summer before his season-ending injury. They could keep Marcel Jensen on the practice squad if anything happens to the other three. The Redskins also will have Derek Carrier, now expected to open the season on the physically unable to perform list (he’ll miss at least the first six games). The reality is that Paulsen is likely competing with a defensive player for a roster spot; do they keep four tight ends or seven defensive linemen? As of now, my guess is the latter.

Running back: The Redskins might only keep three running backs and two of them will be Matt Jones and Chris Thompson, barring injuries. That means seventh-round pick Keith Marshall and undrafted free agent Rob Kelley have the best shot at the third spot – but no means is that guaranteed. Or it could be someone currently not on the roster, though the Redskins are inclined to play this one out.

Receiver: They’ll likely keep six which means there isn’t much debate here over the first five: DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Ryan Grant. Rashad Ross has the edge as the sixth receiver, but others, including undrafted free agent T.J. Thorpe could be a surprise choice if they show a lot over the next two games. They still don’t think Doctson will open the season on the physically unable to perform list so he’d be one of the six.

Defensive line: I think they keep seven here and, as of now, that group would be: Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Kedric Golston, Kendall Reyes, Ziggy Hood, Stephen Paea and Matt Ioannidis. Undrafted free agent Anthony Lanier is one to watch, though whether that means for a roster spot or just the practice squad remains to be seen. Paea, a key free-agent signing in 2015, was still playing in the fourth quarter Friday -- a sign they want to see more from him.

Inside linebacker: This will be one of the tougher ones as they will keep five. Here are the current top six: Will Compton, Perry Riley, Mason Foster, Su’a Cravens, Martrell Spaight and Terence Garvin. If Riley plays well he’ll start; if he doesn’t he’s too expensive to keep as a backup. Do they keep Garvin just as a special-teamer?

Outside linebacker: They’ll likely keep four here and the first three are locks: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Trent Murphy. After that it’s a toss-up with Houston Bates and Willie Jefferson. My guess: Jefferson’s potential and length make the difference.

Secondary: They will keep 10 -- six cornerbacks and four safeties -- and I think this might be one of the easier groups to call: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Dashaun Phillips, Kendall Fuller, Greg Toler, Quinton Dunbar, DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton, Will Blackmon and Duke Ihenacho. But Deshazor Everett made plays Friday and would help special teams; I like his energy. Still, it’s hard to find a spot for him barring injuries.