The Washington Redskins (hurrah, cheers, booming applause) host the New York Jets (boo, hiss, this is what happens to children who root for the Jets) at FedEx field tonight at 8 PM Eastern.
As I will not be at the game, Chris, our resident Chief's blogger over at Arrowhead Pride has offered to take pictures and we will get those posted as soon as they come in. Go over and thank him for that if you get a chance.
But enough of that, let's talk about the game and a few players I will be taking particular interest in:
Quarterbacks -- I'll be keeping an eye on Brunell just to ensure he stays healthy, but the player I'll be watching the most is Jason Campbell. JC is the future of the Redskins and our long term success depends on his development. He looked extremely calm and poised in his last outing, despite an end of game interception, and I hope to see much of the same from him today. He will be taking reps with the 2nd team offense for the first time (he was stuck with the third team last week) as well. Admittedly our 2nd team line didn't look that great last week, but perhaps this will give JC an opportunity to showcase his mobility in the pocket.
I'll be watching Todd Collins apprehensively after his terrible outing in week 1 when he threw an ill advised pass directly at John Thornton who gracefully cradled the ball as only a 300 pound lineman could. I guess I should mention that he's a defensive tackle for the bengals.
But I am not chicken little and the sky is not falling on Todd Collins. One bad game is amendable and he will have his chance tonight. Not that I'm all together interested how Collins does because, hopefully, our third string quarterback never sees any playing time this year.
Running Backs -- With Portis out, Ladell Betts will get the reps with the first team. Betts has earned a distinction as one of the better backups in the league, so I'm not worried about how he preforms in this game. It'd be great if he broke a big run or two, but really I'm already sold on him. Obviously I'd prefer Portis back ASAP but, if need be, Betts can win us a few games.
Rock Cartwright will see some reps but really the big story is Jess Lumsden, who missed the last preseason game because of (I believe) a hip flexor. Lumsden is a hard working, deceptively fast fan favorite who really needs to step up if he is going to make the roster. The Redskins are very deep at running back and Lumsden will have to prove himself on special teams to earn a spot. More importantly he needs to show some flashes of brilliance tonight when the ball is put in his hands. He's a tall, big back who looked sharp in exhibition. I think he might be like 8 feet tall as well. In any event, I wish him well. The Redskins also picked up big RB AJ Harris out of Northern Illinois after Clinton Portis went down. He and Lumsden will battle it out for the last RB spot (if there is one).
Receivers -- Santana Moss is always fun to watch but probably will only see limited action. He's firmly entrenched as the number 1 receiver on the team and that ain't changing. Offseason acquisition Brandon Lloyd will be a gametime decision because of injury and will likely see only limited playing time, if any. I'd like to see Antwaan Randle-El catch some passes, as well as David Patten to see how his return from sickness/injury is going. But most importantly I'll be watching the number 5 battle between rookie Mike Espy and veteran James Thrash. If Gibbs decides to only keep 5 receivers, then one of these two will end up on either the practice squad or, more likely, someone else's roster.
Espy has really shined throughout training camp and the coaches are fond of him. But James Thrash is great on special teams which might ultimately save him the last spot. Lest I draw the ire of Redskins fans everywhere, I should note that I'm rooting for Espy (fans love him, youth, And the Espy goes to... - all that jazz).
There isn't anything intriguing happeneing at Tight End. I like watching Chris Cooley. That's about it. Won't hurt my feelings if Robert Johnson and Christian Fauria have huge games.
Offensive Line -- Our starters, Jon Jansen, Chris Samuels, Casey Rabach, Derrick Dockery, and Randy Thomas are about as good a unit as any in the NFL. The concern is our depth, which worries me. I don't need the 2nd team to come out and dominate backup New York Jets defenders, but it would be reassuring if one or two guys stepped up and established themselves as serviceable backups. I'm looking at you Spencer Folau? Kili Lefotu? Someone please step up? Please?
Linebackers -- 2nd round draft pick Rocky McIntosh will hopefully have a big game. Although Williams doesn't start rookies right out of the gates, I'm guessing that McIntosh will eventually secure a starting position in his first year just like Sean Taylor and Carlos Rogers. Until that time Warrick Holdman has the job and I was not at all impressed with his play last year. If he wants to remain the starter, he will need step up his game. I'll also be keeping an eye on recently acquired Jeff Posey, who the Redskins brought in to add depth at the LB position. Williams likes to run a lot of different defensive packages in a game and that means a lot of guys rotating in and out. The more the merrier, so here's to hoping Posey shines. Defensive Backs -- All I need is one destructive hit from Sean Taylor. That would pretty much make my game.
The safety positions are all but determined. Adam Archuleta and Taylor will start, backed up by Pierson Prioleau. Rookie Reed Doughty needs a big game to secure a roster spot.
Kenny Wright would love a big game after getting embarrassed last week on a blown deep pass assignment. I try not to overreact to one bad game (really just one monstrously bad play), but would welcome improvement. With Shawn Springs out it is imperative that Wright proves he can be consistent and reliable in coverage.
Three newcomers will need to distinguish themselves from each other in tonight's game as well. Former 49er Mike Rumph will definitely see some playing time, at least until Shawn Springs returns from injury. I want to see how he looks on the field to evaluate whether or not it really was a "trash for trash" trade (we sent Taylor Jacobs to San Fran for the CB, but nobody tell them how useless he was). Free agent pickups CB Julian Battle and S Antuan Edwards will compete with Ade Jimoh, Christian Morton, and Curry Burns for the last spots in the secondary. Some of those names won't be on the final roster. It's do or die time for these guys.
D-Line -- Phillip Daniels is out with injury so we won't see much of him. Our D-Line is very respectable though, even without Daniels (who should be back by the seasons start). I'd like to see backup Demetrick Evans impress just to shore up our depth at that position. He'll probably see a lot of PT this game as well. Renaldo Wynn, who could likely start for a lot of NFL teams, backs up Andre Carter on the left side. Keep an eye on Carter's pass rushing, since that's why we picked him up.
On the interior I'm feeling ok too. The starters, Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a, are awesome but will probably not see much time. Again, it'd be great if either Cedric Killings or Ryan Boschetti had big games just to make me feel better about our depth. Rookie Kelly Golston needs to make some noise as well. Really though, this is one part of the team I'm not particularly concerned about.
Did I miss anything?
Post any comments you have below regarding the game. Like I said, I should be at a bar during the game but would love some input on the pregame analysis.