Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Things to Watch: Redskins vs. Buffalo
Congratulations, folks. We’ve made it to another Redskins’ season. The slate of four preseason games begins tonight at FedEx Field against the Buffalo Bills. With 37 new faces among the 79 players on the roster, and with a new coaching staff, offense and defense, there are so many storylines to follow. Here are the five things I’ll be watching most carefully tonight:
1. The Redskins’ wide receiver competition is wide open, with only Santana Moss certain to make the team. The 10 other participants are fortunate enough to control their destiny. Devin Thomas, a 2008 second-round pick, needs to make a positive impact. He enters the game listed on the depth chart as a third-stringer, and he has been inconsistent in practice.
2. Nose tackle Albert Haynesworth has practiced in the Redskins’ new 3-4 alignment for less than a week, but he’ll play tonight. Coaches want him to make up for lost time, and they want to see him improve on some technical flaws. His performance will affect how quickly he’s promoted from the second string.
3. The Redskins have had what some might call an easy training camp. Yes, they have intense morning sessions in pads that last up to 2 hours, but there has been no full-speed contact in the afternoon. Only kicker Graham Gano has worn football pants at any time during camp. Everyone else has worn shorts. If the defense misses a bunch of tackles, second-guessing will follow.
4. Mike Shanahan is plotting a running back-by-committee approach, and the preseason games will determine who joins Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson in the rotation. Portis has never been a fan of preseason, but he is expected to face a full-contact situation for the first time since suffering a concussion last season. The competition between veteran backup Willie Parker and young Ryan Torain will be intense.
5. Long snapper Nick Sundberg has struggled in training camp. He has been inconsistent with the accuracy of his snaps, especially on field goal attempts. Too many have been low. He has never played in a regular season NFL game, so the Redskins are taking a chance on him. His margin for error is slim, though, and even one bad snap could prompt coaches to bring in someone else.
That’s what I’m looking for. What will you be watching? What do you want to see? Leave me a comment or hit me on Twitter @Rich_Campbell. I’ll be on Twitter during all night, too, so we can chat then, as well.