Need to Know: Five players to watch during Redskins vs. Saints


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 4, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking Points

Here are five Redskins players to watch during their game against the Saints. 

QB Alex Smith
The Redskins knew they would have to put a good number up on the scoreboard to beat the Packers and they did it, scoring 31 points. That was enough to put away Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Now Smith’s counterpart is Drew Brees, who leads an offense that is averaging 34 points per game so far this season. Perhaps the Washington defense will hold down the scoring to some extent but certainly, a score in the high twenties will be needed. Smith will need to be efficient and protect the football. 

RB Chris Thompson
Last Sunday against the Giants, the Saints employed a Cover 2 scheme, similar to the one the Colts used to frustrate Smith and the Washington offense in Week 2. The Saints are likely to use the same concept on Monday. That could mean another busy day for Thompson, who had 13 receptions for 92 yards against the Colts. 

The Redskins will also need to move the ball on the ground to try to draw some Saints defenders closer to the line. That means that Thompson and RB Adrian Peterson will need to make New Orleans pay if they go with six men in the box. 

The game has some special meaning for both backs. Peterson was with the Saints for the early part of last season before he was traded to the Cardinals. He said he holds no ill will against the organization. Thompson suffered a season-ending broken leg at the Superdome in Week 11, cutting short his outstanding season. There will be thoughts of that injury, said Thompson, but once the game starts it will be all business. 


DE Jonathan Allen
The second-year player got two sacks of Aaron Rodgers and the Redskins need him to get a similar amount of pressure on Brees. At his height (6-0), Brees has a difficult time dealing with pass rush up the middle. Of course, the Saints’ protection schemes are designed to prevent such pressure so Allen, NT Daron Payne, and DE Matt Ioannidis will need to help each other out to disrupt the Saints’ interior line. 

ILB Zach Brown
Last year, Brown led the league in tackles until a variety of injuries forced him to miss the last three games. This season he was well out of the top 10 even before the bye week pushed him back even further. He will need to be around the ball and make stops if the Redskins are going to slow down Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram. 

S D.J. Swearinger
Brees has started seven career games against the Redskins and he has thrown at least one interception in each of them. Last year it was Swearinger who got the pick. Certainly, it will help if he can get another one. But his main focus should be on defending the back end of the defense. The Saints have had 22 plays go for 20 or more yards this season. 

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The Agenda

Today: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 4 days; Panthers @ Redskins 10; Cowboys @ Redskins 17