Finlay: 4 things to watch as Washington takes on the Bengals


For the first time in two years the Washington Football Team will play their first home game in front of a packed house. Or at least a house that's available to be packed anyway. 

The home preseason opener comes Friday night against the Bengals, and while it might lack sizzle with Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow sitting out, there's still plenty to watch for on the Washington side. 

  1. Getting 6 - The Washington Football Team's starting offense looked mostly efficient last week in a preseason loss to the Patriots, though Ryan Fitzpatrick and the starters were unable to get into the end zone. The Bengals defense ranked 26th in the NFL in yards allowed last year and Washington's starters should be able to move the ball. That isn't enough, a touchdown needs to be the goal.
  2. Foot on the neck - Conversely, Washington's defense ranked 2nd in the NFL in yards allowed last year. Jack Del Rio's group looks formidable, and without Burrow on the field, the Bengals offense will feature Brandon Allen at quarterback. Who? Exactly. Allen has made a handful of NFL starts but the results aren't great. When Chase Young and the starters are on the field, Washington's goal should be to suffocate a Cincy team playing without its best player. Also keep in mind this could be the preseason debut for Montez Sweat and Matt Ioannidis.
  3. Going deep - Ron Rivera made his first cuts of the season earlier this week, dropping the Washington roster from 90 to 85 players. Along the way, Greg Stroman got released. A 7th-round pick in 2018, Stroman's exit opens more room on the bottom of the Washington cornerback depth chart. Could that mean roster spots for Darryl Roberts or Torry McTyer? It's hardly a given for either player but both are in the middle of strong training camps and Friday's game is another opportunity to impress the coaching staff. 
  4. Loose ends - Logan Thomas is firmly entrenched as Washington's top tight end. After that there's lots of questions. Sammis Reyes and Temarrick Hemingway are both in concussion protocol, and the team already announced Reyes won't play Friday. Rookie John Bates seems to be the No. 2 tight end now, and this week Washington also added Caleb Wilson off the Eagles practice squad. A week ago, before Washington's preseason opener in New England, the tight end depth chart seemed somewhat settled with Thomas, Hemingway and Bates. Then Reyes put together a solid performance while Hemingway struggled. Then both landed in the concussion protocol. Talk about a fluid situation. 

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 7 p.m. on Friday for the Washington Football Team's preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.