Jay Gruden did not enjoy much from the Redskins first preseason game last week in Cleveland. His team got embarrassed on both ends of the field, especially when the first-team units were out there.
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Thursday night against the Bengals, Gruden will want to see much more. It goes without saying his highest priority is for no injuries, but beyond that, the coach needs to see improvement. Where?
- Who's on first? - For the second straight game, Colt McCoy won't play and Case Keenum will start at quarterback. McCoy's broken leg from December 1, 2018, continues to linger and it sounds like things have regressed during the last week of practice. It's a sad story for McCoy, the veteran backup that truly had a chance to start for this team, but Gruden didn't sound like he expected much from McCoy anytime soon. In his stead, Keenum will get another start. He looked fine last week in Cleveland and will hope to build on that performance. At some point, rookie Dwayne Haskins will get in and all of the DMV will live and die with each throw. It's a process with Haskins, but the potential is tantalizing. Give it time.
- O-Line woes - Losing Trent Williams for a prolonged length of time is having a significant impact all over the Redskins offense, but it's showing the most on the offensive line. Adrian Peterson said it best about Williams' absence," When you're missing the best player on the team, you're going to feel the effect of that." The offensive line looked awful against the Browns, particularly the starting group. Against Cincinnati, the starters on the right side might play, and that could make a big difference. Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses will look much better than their replacements last week. On the left side, things remain very much in flux, but expect Donald Penn and Wes Martin to slowly take over the starting left tackle and guard spot, respectively.
- Guice remains on ice - Derrius Guice didn't play last week in Cleveland and Gruden revealed he won't play again this week against the Bengals. Guice hasn't played since a knee injury last preseason, and the word is he's still waiting on final clearance from the team's doctors for full-contact work. Coming back from an ACL injury is a big deal, and it shouldn't be a shock that things are taking this long. Still, Guice has looked good in camp and seems very eager to get on the field.
- Penalties - Last week the Redskins had four holding calls in three plays. If that sounds impossible, reminder, it's not. The coaching staff was very vocal about cleaning up the little staff in the two practices since Cleveland, and that could mean fewer flags. The first half against the Browns took nearly two hours because of all the penalties. The crowd at FedExField might not last that long if a similar trend emerges.
- Some good news - The strength of the 2019 Redskins can be found on their defensive line, and fans might get to see them flex a bit on Thursday. Some combination of Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Ryan Kerrigan should take the field against the Bengals, and even if it's only a snapshot of the regular season workload, it could be a solid taste of what's to come for the Washington defensive front.
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