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What to look for in Washington’s preseason opener

Jamual Forrest highlights some key storylines to follow in Washington’s preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns

NFL: Washington Commanders Training Camp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We will finally start getting several long-awaited answers to off-season questions for the Washington Commanders when they take on the Cleveland Browns tonight in its preseason opener. There are a couple of areas where Washington has improved upon its strengths, such as its defensive line and secondary. However, Washington’s choice to rely on their returning group of players at certain positions, such as quarterback, tight end, running back, and left guard, rather than looking at external options, has many of us anxiously waiting to see if Ron Rivera’s choices in the offseason were the right or wrong ones.

Here are some things I will look for in tonight’s preseason opener.

Sam Howell’s control of the offense

Efficiency is essential, and for Howell, completions will fall under that umbrella. However, what is also worth remembering is the intensity that Washington’s offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has brought to every practice. That includes an increased tempo to get to the line of scrimmage as quickly as possible. How Sam handles his pre-snap responsibilities will be a key indicator tonight that he is progressing well under Bieniemy.

Can left guard Chris Paul separate from the pack

Chris Paul has gotten several first-team reps over the past few practices due to more Saahdiq Charles health issues. At one point during training camp, Paul, according to JP Finlay, has been brought up by a couple of defensive players as the best guard on the team. He is young and will not be perfect when he plays, but it is undoubtedly a good opportunity for Paul to build on his current momentum.

Mitchell Tinsley, Kazmeir Allen, Byron Pringle, Dyami Brown - Who can make the most plays?

Regarding receiver, especially the back end of the depth chart, that is all it will come down to tonight and the rest of the preseason. Which out of this group can stand out when they get targeted or have designed plays for them? Dyami Brown’s performance in the 2022 preseason nearly had him on the outside-looking-in. Will he be able to have a faster start for himself this year? Can a player like Brycen Tremayne, who had some solid practices, enter his name into the race for a roster spot?

We will not have all the answers to Washington’s roster problems tonight, and tonight’s game should not produce a final answer with a player or unit. However, the bullets are live, and that always helps.

I gave a couple of things I will follow during the game, but what are you looking for against the Browns tonight?

Listen/Watch the latest Trap or Dive Podcast, where I tackle some news of the week concerning Terry McLaurin and Eric Bieniemy/Ron Rivera and preview the key storylines to follow in Washington’s preseason opener.

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