Aug 6, 2013; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) catches the ball during afternoon practice as part of the 2013 NFL training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Redskins play their first preseason game of the year tonight in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. This is the Redskins eighth overall preseason meeting with the Titans/Oilers franchise, whom the Redskins hold a 4-3 advantage over (current four-game win streak).
As expected, Robert Griffin III will not play in the game, nor in any of the next three games. Instead Kirk Cousins who helped lead the Redskins back in the Baltimore Ravens game, and won the Cleveland Browns game to keep the 7-0 win streak intact to head into the playoffs, will be starting at QB this preseason.
The starters are projected to go roughly three series and then will be taken off the field, which is standard for a Mike Shanahan first preseason game.
It will be interesting to see if we see any of the read-option in the game as Kirk Cousins says he feels much more comfortable running it, rather than he did last year being a rookie in the system and coming from a college who ran a more traditional pro-style offense. Last year the Redskins didn’t run any of the read-option in preseason, so to keep defenses on their heels, Mike Shanahan might do the same this year.
Much like last season, Alfred Morris will be asked to carry the load in Washington, though we’ll only see him for a few series, will he still have that effective, bruising style running mentality? Or will it have changed after the weight loss? Even if it has, as long as he can read the holes as well as he did last year, he should be able to do just as much damage.
Chris Thompson could see some playing time depending on how his knee is, but it sounds pretty doubtful right now. He should fight for the second spot on the squad if he can manage to keep his knee healthy, if not, he might find himself on the practice squad.
Aug 6, 2013; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) hands the ball off to Redskins running back Roy Helu (29) during afternoon practice as part of the 2013 NFL training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
One question will be Roy Helu and how he reacts to playing in a game. His Achilles have always been strong in training camp, but tend to wear down as he plays in games. Mike Shanahan knows this and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Helu gets a lot of carries this preseason to prove he can stay healthy.
Much like Helu, Leonard Hankerson is another player who could be approaching or on the bubble already. The hope was the Hankerson would come into his own last year, but that didn’t necessarily happen. He had a few big catches, but over all wasn’t as effective as hoped. Tonight should give a good taste whether he has grown or if he’s still the same.
Jordan Reed ideally won’t be playing due to a foot injury, but if he does, don’t expect too much out of him as he isn’t 100%. This will however give more time to Niles Paul who struggled last season during his transition to tight end.
Defensively there are a lot of answers to be made, especially in the secondary.
May 5, 2013; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins safety Bacarri Rambo (29) runs with the ball after making an interception during rookie minicamp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas are expected to start tonight, so Redskins fans should get a good taste as to what their secondary could be in future years (assuming Phillip Thomas doesn’t start alongside Rambo this year).
Rambo has been known to make big plays, especially by hitting, which makes sense why he’s currently sided with Meriweather on the Depth Chart, the question will be whether Phillip Thomas can do what he did at Fresno State, and make plays in the ball while it’s in the air. Mike Mayock didn’t call him the best ball hawking safety in the draft or not.
Along with Rambo and Thomas, it will be interesting to see how the rookie David Amerson will play in the game tonight. Amerson was brought in with a lot of hype, and rightfully so with what he did at North Carolina State. The question will be if he can learn to be patient rather than overly aggressive, which caused him to fall as low as he did to the Redskins.
The defensive line is back, and it will be important to see if they can put more pressure on the quarterback than they did last season, which rightfully they should. They were terrific at stopping the run last season, finishing fifth in the NFL, their pass rush however was on the losing end, which rightfully so due to injuries.
Aug 5, 2013; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) participates in position drills during afternoon practice as part of the 2013 NFL training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Along with defensive line, having Brian Orakpo back should be a huge booster, as the Redskins can begin to send mixed packages at the QB than they could last year with a more base style defense, that still ironically made things work during the second half to only allow opponents to score an average of 20 points a game, compared to the first half 27 points a game.
Brandon Jenkins will be an interesting player to watch tonight, as he is expected to be one of the “future” star guys for the Redskins after London Fletcher eventually retires and he’s allowed more playing time. His main attribute is his quickness and ability to cover, which is needed by 3-4 LB’s. He also has strong pass rushing abilities, which makes him a lot more dynamic.
The Redskins averaged close to 21 yards returned with Niles Paul, with the kickoff rule back to old, it will be interesting to see whether or not he becomes much more dangerous, of if he still can only average to roughly that same amount. If so, then Aldrick Robinson might be given more tries as we approach the second preseason game.
As is a must, no injuries is the key to any preseason game, and ultimately the “winning” factor. There’s a reason the veterans hate preseason, and that’s because injuries do occur, as we saw half the defense go down last season from training camp and preseason.
Mike Shanahan nor Jim Haslett will show much, which isn’t anything new, but fans and coaches should still get a good sense as to where the team is at currently.