The long-awaited day has finally come. Today at 7 pm the burgundy and gold will take the field for the first time since January. Even though it is only a preseason game, it is the first chance the Washington Redskins have to begin to answer the questions that we have all been wondering for months.
With that said, this game should be looked at with some perspective. Today will not tell us how the Redskins will do this year, or whether RGIII lives up to the hype. The 53 man roster has not even been set, and for many positions starters haven’t been established. Here’s a list of things to watch for tonight and throughout the preseason. And if you have a problem maintaining perspective, just remember how excited we all were about John Beck’s “promising” debut last preseason.
This is the most tempting area to get caught up in and run away with. RGIII could do alright, or he could struggle tonight. It, for the most part, will not tell us much of anything. Personally I’m just excited to see him out there on the field wearing a ‘Skins jersey. Plus I’m curious to see Cousins make his debut. He’s flown under the radar for a while, and will have a chance to fight for relevancy in the preseason.
With Hightower still out with an injury, the spotlight will shine even brighter on the Helu/Royster competition. Evan Royster will start off the game, but he and Helu will pretty much share the same amount of playing time. A few other people will see some playing time, and Mike Shanahan plans to change this format throughout the preseason so as to give everyone a chance.
We all know Cooley, when healthy, is capable of almost anything. This year, starting tonight, he has to show that he can adjust to the changes and expectations that have been asked of him. When Head Coach Shanahan was asked why Cooley sat out at practice on Tuesday he replied “I wanted to get him ready to play in the game because we are going to ask a lot of him. This year he will play wide out, he can play both Tiger position and the fullback position like he did a year ago, so I didn’t want to overwork him.” With a growing number of fans questioning his age and whether or not he “still has it,” he’s pretty much got his work cut out for him. Similarly, it will be the first chance to see how Niles Paul transition to Tight End is going.
On the first day of free agency, the Redskins picked up Pierre Garçon and Joshua Morgan. Both players had solid careers with their former teams, aside from Morgan’s injury after five games in 2011. Morgan may or may not see playing time tonight, but Garçon will make his debut. Santana Moss, another player whose age and ability is under question, will get a chance to remind fans that he is still a Redskin. (I can’t even count how many people have asked if he is still on the team.) Leonard Hankerson will also be someone to watch tonight, as his season was cut short last year due to injury. He, like the rest of the WR’s will have plenty of tests tonight, especially when facing Stephon Gilmore, the Bills 1st round pick.
Jim Haslett calls Hall’s adjustment to the slot a “work-in-progress.” While it’s a new position for him, he does possess the skills to be even more of an asset to the Redskins defense. Safety Jarvis Jenkins will finally return to the field tonight. Despite missing a year, he has continued to make progress, Haslett says, and will help provide versatility to the defensive line. Another player to watch, if he plays, is Tanard Jackson. He’s is used to a completely different scheme, but hopefully he’ll begin to mesh well with the defense.
The entire defense appears to be changing and evolving, and it’ll be interesting to watch it play out during the preseason.