Here is what you need to know on Thursday, August 16, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game.
It’s Thursday, so it’s time to play everybody’s favorite game, "Who the Heck is Going to Play in Tonight’s Preseason Game?
Jay Gruden has been able to play the game well, at least from his point of view. His goal is to tell the media as little as possible about his playing time plans.
"I think defensively we will probably go that route,” Gruden said when asked if the starters will play against the Jets. “We’ll see offensively. We will wait and see who’s available to us due to injury and we’ll make that decision soon."
Let’s look at what this means for the defense first. We are likely to see first-round pick Daron Payne get his first game action in a Redskins uniform. He was still recovering from an ankle injury when the Redskins played the Patriots a week ago, although only a handful of starters participated so he may not have played anyway. Jonathan Allen sat last week as well, and he should get some snaps tonight.
On the other hand, Matt Ioannidis suffered knee and ankle injuries against the Patriots and probably will sit this one out.
All four starting linebackers are healthy and could play. Ryan Kerrigan (14 snaps) and Preston Smith (18) played a few series in the second preseason game against the Packers last year. Zach Brown and Mason Foster both stuck around for 20 snaps.
In the secondary, Josh Norman has been healthy and may play. D.J. Swearinger said earlier this week that he would like to play, but he has been sitting out some practices with a minor ailment, so he may be out. I would look for significant snaps to be played by Quinton Dunbar and, especially, new top nickel cornerback Fabian Moreau.
On offense, the rehab schedule probably says that Jordan Reed, Trent Williams, and Morgan Moses are out. If the two starting tackles are out, you have to wonder if Gruden will put Alex Smith out there. I think that it’s likely that Smith will make his debut in a Redskins uniform, especially after he sat out last week, but it’s no sure thing.
We should see the starting interior line of Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, and Brandon Scherff as well as running back Rob Kelley. Paul Richardson is a good bet to line up at wide receiver, but Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson may sit due to minor injuries.
So, out of the currently anticipated 22 Week 1 starters, 15 should see action if Smith plays. That may not make the game worth the price of regular-season admission but we could have a quarter or so of reasonably good football.
Bureau of statistics
Last year, 19 of the players who started in Week 1 against the Eagles started the second preseason game.
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Today: Redskins vs. Jets 8 p.m. ESPN
Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 8 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 16 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 24 days
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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler.