Four Players To Watch In Tonight's Game Against The Colts

After last week’s solid performance against the tough-nosed Pittsburgh Steelers, the Redskins head into Indianapolis to take on the Peyton Manning-less Colts in their second exhibition game of the year. 

As usual, the normal preseason disclaimer is in effect: Don’t draw too much from this game as it relates to how good the team will be during the regular season. That may be especially true this week, as the Redskins will be facing an Indianapolis team that historically doesn’t value preseason games. They are a veteran team with long established schemes on both sides of the ball, so the Redskins starters could very well see the vast majority of their reps come against backups.

That being said, there are still plenty of players I’ll be looking at in tonight’s game. There’s really too many to list in one post, so I’ve narrowed down four players specifically for this game.

(List after the jump)

 

So without further ado, here’s a countdown of the players to watch in tonight’s game against Indy:

4. Roy Helu – It was pretty clear that the coaching staff wanted to get a good look at fellow rookie Evan Royster last week in the Steelers game, so I wouldn’t be surprised if tonight is Helu’s turn to get most of the carries. The Redskins fourth round pick showed great foot work last week against Pittsburgh, making decisive cuts and showing the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Kyle Shanahan calls Helu a "home run hitter", and it’d be nice to see him show what he can do tonight if given a big lane to run through.

3. Leonard Hankerson – As we saw last week, Hankerson had a real time catching the ball, particularly when he was wide open. That’s an obvious concern because, um, it’s a really big part of his job to catch the ball.  This week, I thought Hank rebounded from his tough pro debut by having a real solid week of practice. He didn’t drop a pass that came his way, and even made some impressive intermediate catches in traffic. I may not be a coach, but he looked more comfortable running his routes and making sure to actually reel in the pass with his hands before turning the other way and taking off for extra yards. We’ll see if that can translate to the game.

2. Ryan Kerrigan – Yet another rookie I’m going to be looking at tonight. He finally had his chance to play in a live game as a 3-4 outside linebacker last week, and he figured out that he still has a lot to learn. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts this week, particularly in his coverage responsibilities and in the run game. . In coverage, he wasn’t tested much as Pittsburgh didn’t throw to his side much, but perhaps that changes this game. He also sometimes got caught out of position on running plays, allowing for bigger holes for Steelers backs to run though on his side of the field. But I think the biggest thing I’m looking for is how he will improve his pass rushing skillset. On edge rushes, for example, he sometimes got turned too far to the outside because he made a few false steps while turning the corner, which allowed offensive tackles to simply push him out of the play.  Kerrigan himself has even said that rushing from a two point stance is still somewhat of an adjustment for him, so I’d like to see if he can improve in the QB pressures department this week.  

1. John Beck –The obvious choice here. You may or may not have heard, but apparently the Redskins are in the midst of a quarterback competition.

Sarcasm aside, that competition truly gets underway tonight when we’ll finally get a look at what Beck brings to the table in game situations. I’m interested to see how Kyle Shanahan will help Beck get into the flow of the game by calling high percentage throws to start things off. From there, we’ll see how much Beck has grown accustomed to the offense this offseason. Will he be able to get the ball out quickly? Can he be accurate enough and show good touch on short passes? How will he react to pressure?  

Something else to look out for tonight is how Beck will use his feet. Looking through his game tape from 2007 and seeing what he’s done so far in practice this training camp, he has a tendency to leave the pocket early and take off. Sometimes it’s because his options simply aren’t open, but other times he may have gotten off a receiver too early and just wanted to make something happen himself. If Rex Grossman has the mental edge over Beck due to his knowledge of the system, then Beck certainly has the edge over Grossman in the athletic department. But if Beck winds up missing wide open receivers and/or throws picks, I don’t think the fans, media, or coaching staff will care that he’s the superior athlete.

Either way, tonight we’ll finally have some game tape to look at of Beck playing with the starters.

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