Redskins

Redskins

The Redskins take on the Jets in their second preseason game and their 2018 home opener. All the coverage starts on NBC Sports Washington at 7 p.m.!

Remember the TV show Lost? It ran for more than six years, often confusing viewers with a rangy plot that veered from emotional to supernatural and rarely made a ton of sense. Still, the show gained a big audience by being compelling, even if weird. 

That's a little like preseason football.

Viewers know the product isn't the same game that will be played in just a few weeks when the regular seasons starts. Still, the product is compelling and offers hints, sometimes vague, at what will actually matter when the real games start. 

So when watching the Redskins take on the Jets Thursday night, don't get too caught up in stats. The leading rusher, receiver or tackler in that game isn't necessarily the most important thing to watch. Here's what is:

  • Alex Smith will likely play at least two series in this contest. The Redskins new QB1 needs to show command of the offense and familiarity with his pass catchers. An impressive drive would also help win over fans still smarting from the loss of Kirk Cousins. 
  • Losing Derrius Guice for the season last week in the preseason opener hurts. Guice looked like a dynamic runner and a talent injection into the Redskins offense. Well, he's gone, and that means a hole for Jay Gruden's group. Rob Kelley will likely get the RB1 work, but what happens after him? Chris Thompson is an established player and elite third down back, but he might not even play against the Jets while he works back from a broken leg last season. Byron Marshall, Kapri Bibbs and Samaje Perine will have the biggest opportunity in this game to prove they belong and should be more prominently involved in the game plan. Who emerges from that trio is arguably the most important subplot to watch Thursday night. 
  • Defensively, Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are the pass rush stars for this team. Quietly, however, Ryan Anderson and Pernell McPhee strung together impressive training camp sessions. Neither player has a ton of speed off the edge, but both have size and strength. In this game, watch to see if either can generate pressure off the edge. 
  • Washington made a big move in the  secondary this week, releasing veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick before he even played a game. The Redskins truly believe in their young group of corners, and a lot of that is the emergence of undrafted rookie Danny Johnson. He can continue to force his way up the depth chart with a solid game and more in the punt return game.
  • Speaking of special teams, watch for fringe roster guys to make an impact on coverage teams. One player in particular could be Cam Sims. He looks to be on the outside looking in at receiver, but at 6-foot-5 he has height and length that can't be taught. Could Sims push for a spot on the 53? Not without making standout plays on specials. He made a big catch and run in New England to set up a touchdown, and he will need more of that against the Jets. 

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