Redskins DE Jason Hatcher vs. LG Jamon Brown. Hatcher has looked terrific since training camp opened, playing with power and being disruptive. The Redskins have to hope that continues considering he started this way last season, too. But there's no knee issue dogging him so that's beneficial. Brown, a third-round pick, has dealt with an ankle injury that forced him out vs. Seattle for a few plays. But he also struggled at times throughout the game.
No. 2 quarterback. Robert Griffin III was inactive for the season opener vs. Miami, but Gruden has not yet said whether or not that will continue indefinitely. In fact, Gruden won't even say who the No. 2 quarterback will be Sunday (nor will he until 90 minutes before kickoff). Kirk Cousins will start, obviously. There have been little clues in practice during the open portion to the media, though Colt McCoy was serving in the role as the No. 3 quarterback in one individual drill (throwing to the running backs while the other two threw to receivers) but at other times he was doing the duties of the primary backup.
Tight end Anthony McCoy, signed after final cuts, continues to learn the Redskins' offense and might be activated Sunday. Gruden said they're not sure yet how many tight ends they'll dress. They also have Derek Carrier, who played 32 of the 69 offensive snaps in Week 1. Carrier caught two passes for eight yards, but is a better blocker than Reed. McCoy is considered more of a blocker as well.
Against Seattle, there were times middle linebacker James Laurinaitis was unblocked and Donald still split the double team. William Hayes recorded a sack last week in part because he was unblocked due to attention paid to Donald. The dangerous part is when they align Donald and Robert Quinn on the same side and then run a game on the edge where Quinn loops all the way inside with Donald shooting outside. It's effective. Donald also will drop into coverage -- he did this last season vs. the Redskins as well. The move still surprises teams, leads to linemen blocking air while another rusher goes unblocked elsewhere.
This week, Brandon Scherff and his teammates have an even more formidable challenge in Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. In fact, the Rams notched six sacks last week vs. the Seahawks. Donald, who was this week's NFC Defensive Player of the Week, had two of them. Scherff said he expects to match up with Donald. Dating to last season, Donald has sacks in seven of his last eight games. Quinn, who also had two sacks last week, has notched double-digits in sacks each of the past three seasons. Quinn figures to match up with three-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams.
Mixing in different types of runs like these can keep the run game fresh and defense honest. These types of plays can often bring big chunks of yards. But even if they don't, they can offer enough of a threat to open running lanes on the standard stretch plays. Being able to run the ball effectively will be the key to the Redskins having success in this game. Last year, they weren't able to run the ball against the Rams and were shut out. This year, they'll be hoping that the guidance of Callahan helps them find some success.