ATLANTA -- Through two games in the preseason Redskins head coach Jay Gruden can't be particularly impressed with his team. Thursday night could change that.
When the Redskins face the Falcons in the third and most important preseason game, Gruden could play his starters as much as the whole first half. In that time, there's plenty he wants to see from his team.
- No injuries - It might be redundant to put that at the top of each preseason article, but there is nothing more important for a coaching staff than to escape the meaningless preseason action without major injuries. It's football, guys are going to get banged up, but Washington cannot afford to lose any starters or key reserves in August action. Superstitious or not, Gruden is knocking on wood and lighting candles before his team takes the field in Atlanta.
- Making a case - With Colt McCoy out for an unknown period of time, Case Keenum is the presumed starting quarterback for the Redskins when the real action starts Week 1 in Philadelphia. With that in mind, it would be nice to see some offensive efficiency from Keenum. Against the Bengals last week, Keenum started hot but was undone by a few penalties that backed the Redskins up and away from the red zone. Keenum doesn't have a stranglehold on this job either, so it would be a wise move to prove to the coaching staff and Redskins fans that he should be on the field in Philly.
- Making a push - After Keenum comes rookie Dwayne Haskins. Through two games he hasn't been terrific, but he's shown flashes of being terrific. The 55-yard touchdown pass he threw last week to Robert Davis is the prettiest downfield toss from a Redskins QB in at least a year, and nobody questions the arm talent or potential of the former Ohio State star. While it seems unlikely Haskins will push for the starting job, with McCoy out, if Keenum struggles and Haskins shines, things could get interesting. It certainly bears watching if Haskins gets time with the first team on the field.
- All the horses - Offensively the Redskins strength should be running the football, and for the first time in over a year, Derrius Guice should take the field in Burgundy and Gold. Gruden has been clear that he just wants to get Guice a few touches before the real action starts in about two weeks, and it makes sense as the charismatic running back is about a year removed from ACL surgery. Redskins fans should expect less than five carries from Guice, but it will be highly valuable to see him take on contact again. Guice, along with veterans Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, could form a formidable backfield.
- Keep it up - The starting defense didn't play much against the Bengals, but outside of some dumb penalties, that unit looked very good. The strength of the defense comes up front along the line, and that will get tested against a good Falcons offense. If the Redskins have real designs on a Top 10 defense, they need to prove it against Atlanta. These two teams met Week 9 last year, before Alex Smith was hurt and when the Redskins still looked like a playoff team. The Falcons scored 38 points and ran up nearly 500 yards of total offense in a runaway win at FedEx Field. Top 10 defenses don't give up 500 yards.
Extra point - The Redskins special teams have been bad through two preseason games. Time to look better, especially with former special teams coach Ben Kotwica now on the Falcons sideline.
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