The long, long, long wait is over: The Washington Redskins will be back on the field tonight to face the Ravens. Coverage starts on CSN at 6:30 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 in Baltimore.
While, yes, it is Week 1 in the preseason, there is still plenty worth watching. Starters will probably play very limited snaps, especially if the early results look impressive. Deeper down the roster reveals plenty of intrigue and competition. Washington has overhauled its roster over the last few seasons, and Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen will have some difficult decisions to make when rosters get slashed from 90 to 53 players after the fourth preseason game.
Three things to watch:
- Safety in numbers - The Redskins must be better on the defensive line in 2017 if the defense intends to improve from a disappointing 2016 campaign. While most position groups have established a clear heirarchy, that is not the case on the D-line. Jim Tomsula has made clear that he wants to see all of his players out on the field and that every job on the D-line is wide open to competition. That means nose and both end spots will be fought for, and could result in some of the most spirited play on the roster. What does that mean for first-round pick Jonathan Allen? Thursday will be his first NFL test.
- It's not how you start - Odds are the Redskins and Ravens will play their starters a minimal amount of snaps Thursday night, so guys further down the roster will have the chance to impress coaches. Offensively that means opportunities for guys trying to prove their value in Gruden's pass first system, especially at wide receiver. The coach was particularly vague about when he will pull his top line players, "I told everybody yesterday just get ready to play the game and then I’ll decide on the substitution patter." Pass catchers Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed all will definitely not play, and it's unclear if Maurice Harris will play either. That means more opportunities for Matt Hazel, Zach Pascal, Brian Quick and tight ends Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle and Derek Carrier.
- The long way back - Whether or not they play Thursday night, the Redskins have two remarkable stories unfolding in their training camp. Junior Galette looks healthy and quick returning from back-to-back Achilles injuries that cost him both the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons. Phil Taylor hasn't played since 2014, and is currently listed on top of the Washington defensive depth chart at nose tackle. If the Redskins can get quality play out of both men, which has been the case so far in Richmond, the Redskins would benefit greatly.
A quote says it all: Kirk Cousins on the importance of the preseason,
I would like to play as much as possible without the risk of injury. Just like practice, I want to get as many reps on the practice field as possible. So there is never too many reps. There’s no such thing as ‘I was too ready for the game, I had too much experience,’ but I understand the need to pull a player when the value gained by playing isn’t there and where the risk of injury is much higher. I want to play a lot but I also understand that those games don’t count.
Want more? Gameday Preview Podcast
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