A week after opening the preseason with a 20-17 victory in Cleveland, the Redskins return to FedEx Field on Thursday night to host the Lions on CSN. Redskins Kickoff begins at 6:30 p.m., the game starts at 7:30 and Redskins Postgame Live gets underway immediately afterward.
Here are Tarik’s five areas to watch:
1) Robert Griffin III. Starters are expected to play at least a quarter, according to Coach Jay Gruden. So Griffin figures to get an extended opportunity to build on last week’s performance. Against the Browns, Griffin was 4 of 8 passing for 36 yards in 19 snaps, and was a dropped deep pass away from a more impressive day. His pocket presence seemed to be somewhat improved and he appeared a bit more confident and decisive. But he also failed to lead a touchdown drive, which is notable because he didn’t direct one in three exhibition games last year, either. He’ll get the chance to end that drought against a Lions' team that throttled the Jets, 23-3, in their exhibition opener.
2) Special teams. Where to begin? Andre Roberts fumbled during a punt return against the Browns, while his replacement, Chris Thompson, later muffed one. The kick coverage team yielded a 54-yard return to open the second half. Cleveland’s kickers forced three touchdowns on four kickoffs, while the Redskins’ kickers had none on five. The lone bright spot was Kai Forbath's 52-yard field goal. So, yeah, coordinator Ben Kotwica and his players have got some work to do.
3) Colt McCoy. The 28-year-old will be the first quarterback off the bench when Griffin and the starters get pulled. Listed as the third stringer on the Redskins’ unofficial depth chart, McCoy needs a strong performance to keep pace with Kirk Cousins in the battle for the backup job. “It’s an open competition for those guys,” Gruden said. “They’re both doing some great things in practice.” Cousins has been the better player thus far in camp and he enjoyed a strong performance against the Browns, completing 12 of 14 pass attempts for 154 yards while simultaneously putting some additional pressure on McCoy.
4) The first team defense. Although the backups finished strong in Cleveland, the starters will want to get off to a better start against the Matthew Stafford-led Lions. Aided by a pass interference call on Chris Culliver, the Browns’ starting offense marched 75 yards on nine plays to open an early 7-0 lead. Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown went 5 of 5 passing for 33 and a touchdown on the drive.
5) The Redskins figure to be without several starters due to injury. Among those expected to be out are wide receivers DeSean Jackson (shoulder) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring), tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (knee). Meantime, cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe) wants to play, but his status may not be known until game time.