If this were the regular season, you could probably call Thursday night's game against the Falcons a "must-win" for the 0-2 Redskins. It's August, though, so no one in the universe can call it that.
But it's still an important contest.
The third preseason matchup will be the one where the starters play the most, and also be another chance to shine for backups and fringe roster guys. That means everyone in Burgundy and Gold will be worth watching.
These three, however, will be particularly interesting to keep an eye on.
On Tuesday, Jay Gruden said he feels it's vital for Guice to "get a couple carries" and "get used to being taken to the ground, protecting the football." The head coach didn't commit to playing the running back in Atlanta, but those comments, plus some reports, indicate his long-awaited return should be coming.
Guice may be the offense's biggest X-factor for 2019. If he's healthy and able to handle a large workload, there's no telling how much of a boost he could be for Washington. Thursday looks like it'll be everyone's first chance to see how ready he is to assume that role.
Everything, from how he runs the ball to how he pass protects to how he catches the ball, will be closely examined. Let's see if he's playing confidently and with a burst in his first live-action since last August.
Fabian Moreau is going to miss the Atlanta game because of an ankle injury, which should mean an increased workload for Jimmy Moreland early on. Moreland, though, has already proven he deserves a spot on his team, so while it'll be a nice opportunity for him, Stroman's the one to monitor with Moreau out.
The second-year corner looks to be in a solid position to make the 53 behind Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Moreland. Adonis Alexander could've pushed Stroman for a spot, but he's been hurt as of late.
Still, Stroman could use a strong defensive effort in the secondary versus the Falcons. Plus, with Trey Quinn missing as well, he may be in line for some punt return reps.
Overall, he figures to see the field a lot. It's time for him to make a splash play.
Shaun Dion Hamilton is dealing with a chest issue and won't be active for the second consecutive week. Last week, Josh Harvey-Clemons got the work in place of Hamilton, and he likely will pick up the slack there again this time.
JHC has put on a ton of muscle and weight since entering the league in 2017 and looks much more prepared to handle his linebacking duties than he was in his first two years. Hamilton and Jon Bostic appear to be the starters there as of now, but both Harvey-Clemons and Cole Holcomb have the potential to push those veterans for snaps.
Watch to see if Harvey-Clemons is making plays in both the run game and the pass game. Rob Ryan would love to see someone emerge at inside linebacker who can truly play three downs, and JHC has the tools to do so. Hopefully he puts them to use on Thursday.
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