53-man Roster Prediction: Backfield
The Backfield: Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington, Taiwan Jones, George Atkinson III, Jalen Richard, *Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale.
The backfield is largely the same as it was last year, with Washington and Richard being added to the mix.
*Reece is suspended, so like Aldon Smith, he doesn’t count as a roster spot until his suspension is lifted. Because of the status of Reece and Aldon, 55 players will be included at the end.
First Cut: None.
The battle for the final running spot figures to be a close one, so the team might let all the backs survive the first cut, to allow more time to evaluate each player.
This is especially true after Richard missed the first game due to injury, and Atkinson put together a big game.
Second Cut: Jones, Richard.
Perhaps the toughest decision on the entire roster. Explanation below.
Who makes the team: Murray, Washington, Atkinson, Reece, Olawale.
It seems unlikely that the team would carry four running backs and two fullbacks, so the big decision here is who to keep out of Taiwan, Atkinson and Richard.
Taiwan is the mainstay, who offers value in multiple areas. Atkinson shined in the first preseason game, he also has experience with the team, and he can return kicks. Richard is the new guy that has made an early impression.
After the first preseason game and considering a couple other factors, Atkinson gets the nod.
Johnny Holton has impressed as a gunner, so he can fill Taiwan’s role in that spot. DeAndre Washington can return kicks, so he can fill Taiwan’s role there.
Taiwan also has a $0 dead money hit if released, so that helps. And lastly, Atkinson gets the nod over Richard because Jalen can be stashed on the practice squad, whereas GA3 cannot.
So the team gets younger, cheaper, and has more upside this way.
Next: 53-man Roster Prediction: WR/TE