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Need to Know: How many Redskins starters will take the field against the Jets?

Need to Know: How many Redskins starters will take the field against the Jets?

Here is what you need to know on Thursday, August 16, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to play everybody’s favorite game, "Who the Heck is Going to Play in Tonight’s Preseason Game?

Jay Gruden has been able to play the game well, at least from his point of view. His goal is to tell the media as little as possible about his playing time plans. 

"I think defensively we will probably go that route,” Gruden said when asked if the starters will play against the Jets. “We’ll see offensively. We will wait and see who’s available to us due to injury and we’ll make that decision soon."

Let’s look at what this means for the defense first. We are likely to see first-round pick Daron Payne get his first game action in a Redskins uniform. He was still recovering from an ankle injury when the Redskins played the Patriots a week ago, although only a handful of starters participated so he may not have played anyway. Jonathan Allen sat last week as well, and he should get some snaps tonight. 

On the other hand, Matt Ioannidis suffered knee and ankle injuries against the Patriots and probably will sit this one out. 

All four starting linebackers are healthy and could play. Ryan Kerrigan (14 snaps) and Preston Smith (18) played a few series in the second preseason game against the Packers last year. Zach Brown and Mason Foster both stuck around for 20 snaps. 

In the secondary, Josh Norman has been healthy and may play. D.J. Swearinger said earlier this week that he would like to play, but he has been sitting out some practices with a minor ailment, so he may be out. I would look for significant snaps to be played by Quinton Dunbar and, especially, new top nickel cornerback Fabian Moreau. 

On offense, the rehab schedule probably says that Jordan Reed, Trent Williams, and Morgan Moses are out. If the two starting tackles are out, you have to wonder if Gruden will put Alex Smith out there. I think that it’s likely that Smith will make his debut in a Redskins uniform, especially after he sat out last week, but it’s no sure thing. 

We should see the starting interior line of Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, and Brandon Scherff as well as running back Rob Kelley. Paul Richardson is a good bet to line up at wide receiver, but Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson may sit due to minor injuries

So, out of the currently anticipated 22 Week 1 starters, 15 should see action if Smith plays. That may not make the game worth the price of regular-season admission but we could have a quarter or so of reasonably good football. 

Bureau of statistics

Last year, 19 of the players who started in Week 1 against the Eagles started the second preseason game. 

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The agenda

Today: Redskins vs. Jets 8 p.m. ESPN

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 8 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 16 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 24 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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If the Redskins truly believe they're 'close' to winning, then they won't ever start winning

If the Redskins truly believe they're 'close' to winning, then they won't ever start winning

Over the last four seasons, the Redskins are 31-32-1. 

Mediocrity defined.

Problem is, the team believes they're on the verge of something grander.

"We're in the middle of the pack," Bruce Allen told reporters Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. "It means you're close, it means you're close to being better."

"Yeah, we were two games out of a playoff," Allen added later while reviewing the 2018 campaign. "No matter how you want to look at the season, we were two games out of it, and the year before we were one game out of it, and the year before we were one game out of it."

Four years. One forgettable playoff appearance followed by three misses.

If Washington truly thinks that they're legitimately close to breaking through, then they will never break through.

Think back to this past weekend, where four elite groups battled it out for Super Bowl spots in two epic duels. Can you imagine this iteration of the Burgundy and Gold ever reaching that level of football?

Sure, if you ignored the many flaws, perhaps you felt the 6-3 'Skins who led the division back in November could do some measure of damage in the postseason. Allen, Jay Gruden and others in Ashburn point to that stretch whenever they can.

But even that group, when it was still mostly healthy, felt at least a level below top contenders. They came out totally flat in their home opener, suffered a pair of 24-point losses and gave up 500 yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs during those nine contests.

You know the rest — multiple quarterbacks went down as did a slew of other contributors, and the Redskins' hopes went with them.

"We didn't finish strong," Allen said. "I'm not going to use injuries as an excuse because we had some opportunities to win some games at the end of the year that we didn't."

He's right in not wanting to use the battered roster as an excuse. But even then, he brought up the "heartbreaking injuries" again later on and mentioned hopefully having a "healthy team for the 2019 season" when answering a question about bringing Gruden back as coach.

And therein lies the issue.

Even when everyone's on the field, there currently aren't enough difference-makers to elevate this bunch out of the "middle of the pack." 

Plus, who cares about being one or two games out of a playoff spot?

That may signal something worth building upon in the much longer seasons of the NBA, NHL or MLB, but in the NFL, where you only play 16 times, one or two games represents a significant gap in quality.

Yes, there's something to the Redskins finding themselves on somewhat stable ground. That hasn't been the case for much of this century.

That said, Washington absolutely can't get comfortable with where it is and must avoid acting as if it's on the cusp of something special.

"If we can keep our team together," Allen said, "I think [the fans] saw a good football team."

As long as that's the thought process, the only thing Redskins fans will see are other franchises playing in January and February while theirs keeps coming up short.

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Vernon Davis urges Redskins fans to have patience with Bruce Allen

Vernon Davis urges Redskins fans to have patience with Bruce Allen

Tight end Vernon Davis has seen the Washington Redskins go through many ups and downs since becoming a part of the organization in 2016, but the 2018 season brought a new set of challenges.

Two injured quarterbacks headlined the Redskins' 7-9 season and fans were once again calling for team president Bruce Allen's job.

In a rare media availability during Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice, Allen noted how "close" he felt the Redskins were to reaching the postseason but his continued lack of transparency is something that does not sit well with Redskins fans.

Davis, speaking Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, is standing by the team's president.

"I strongly believe, like I said before, we have the pieces to win games."

"Bruce and Dan [Snyder], those guys are constantly sitting in their office trying to find ways to win. It's not like they're not doing a great job with it. I believe in them. I believe that they're going to make the right decision to do the best they can do to help us win football games around here because that's what they're there for. Bruce is there to make sure that we're a championship team. Make sure that we're winning. Making sure that we have all the pieces when it comes to different positions on the football field. So, they're doing just that.

Allen has continued to praise the Redskins fans for their passion throughout the offseason. But if you know the Redskins, don't expect many changes to take place. 

And if it's hard for you to hang on to the little insight Allen provides Redskins fans with in regards to the future of the organization, Davis urges fans to keep holding on. 

"I wouldn't quite count him out. I just say have patience and continue to support the Washington Redskins." 

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