What to Watch Tonight: Redskins vs Browns
1. The Kicking Battle-
-In the first preseason game Zach Hocker was clearly the winner of the kicking battle, but some of the reports out of practice this week showed Kai Forbath having a better week, so this competition is far from over. Game performance though will be crucial, so if Hocker has another better game it could really separate him from Forbath.
2. The Return Game-
–Andre Roberts figures to be the top return man when the season starts, but he didn’t instill confidence that he would be great at it. In reality he is pretty much just filling a void until a good option can step up. The questions become if that guy is already on the roster, who can take the return game to the next level. Last week Rashard Ross showed some nice return ability, but he appears to be pretty buried on the depth chart and is a real long shot to make the team. Will someone else who is in the mix to make the team step up and take these duties away from Roberts?
3. The Coverage Units-
-If week 1 of the preseason is any indication, there is still work to be done in this area. The Redskins unit made multiple mistakes last week, and they weren’t exactly facing any top return men. In addition to tackling and pursuit mistakes this unit also committed multiple penalties. While penalties are an issue across the board for this team, the Redskins have to minimize them on special teams. They can’t give opponents offenses free yardage like that if they hope to see their defense have success this season. This week should be a better test as the Redskins top coverage units will likely get more playing time. If they are still having issues and committing penalties it will be a cause for concern.
1. Pressure from the starting defense-
-The Redskins will still be without Jason Hatcher in tonight’s game, but as we saw last week they are still able to generate pressure without him. The Browns have a good offensive line (assuming they all play) and could be a good test for the Redskins pass rushers tonight. It will also be interesting to see how the back-ups fare, particularly Trent Murphy once the starters leave. Murphy was good in run support last week, but didn’t do much rushing the passer playing with the back-ups last week.
2. Safety Play-
-Last year the Redskins safety play was more or less pathetic, this year it has to be better if the Redskins are going to see their defense make strides in being a quality unit. The Redskins are hoping veteran Ryan Clark can help stabilize the unit, and tonight the Redskins should see him in action after he missed last week’s game. All eyes will again be on 2nd year safety Bacarri Rambo as he fights for the 4th safety job.
3. How the back-up ILB battle shapes up-
-Right now Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley are set as the starting ILB’s, but behind them not much is set. The Redskins brought in 3 veterans in Darryl Sharpton (who won’t play), Akeem Jordan and Adam Hayward, but 2nd year man Will Compton has earned some consideration as well. A big factor in this battle will be special teams play though. Your back-up ILB’s have to play special teams and look for the Redskins to opt to keep the best 3 special teamers.
1. How the 1st team offense moves the ball-
-Last week the starting offense looked well in their lone drive, but things figure to be more difficult in week 2. The Browns (depending on who is held out) should be a much tougher defensive challenger, and the starters will play at least a quarter if not longer against the Browns best. The Redskins offense will also be upgraded this week with top receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson in the mix. While the plays figure to be pretty vanilla, it will be interesting to see how these receivers do in their 1 on 1 battles.
2. How does the offensive line look-
-Not only will this be interesting to watch with the starting unit, but how do the back-ups fare as well. There is a real interesting OL position battle going on this year especially among the back-ups. How many guys and who exactly gets kept are very much up in the air right now. The Skins need their starting offensive line to fare well against what looks to be a very good Browns defense, but they also need their back-ups to show something as well. The last two years the Redskins have been extremely lucky with their starters making all but one start, this year they might not be as lucky and may need to rely on that depth quite a bit more.
3. How does the back-up running back battle go-
-One of the more interesting battles in camp is the back-up running back battle. We know Morris and Helu are locked in 1-2, but after that it is murky. Do the Redskins keep 3 or 4 running backs? If they keep just 3 can the Redskins rely on rookie Lache Seastrunk in a back-up role? With Chris Thompson out, Silas Redd and Evan Royster could have a nice battle in the final 3 quarters to see who would join Morris, Helu and Seastrunk on the depth chart. Seastrunk will be another interesting one to watch. Last week he showed his explosiveness, but the Redskins need to see that he can pass block and run between the tackles as well.