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 at NY Jets
Good evening, folks. Here’s what I’m looking for during tonight’s game against the New York Jets, in which the starters are expected to play at least a half.
1. Albert Haynesworth would help himself significantly by playing hard tonight. He doesn’t even need to play particularly well. He just needs to give maximum effort and show a willingness to apply the straight-ahead, power techniques that defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants to see. With the regular season approaching, expect Haynesworth to begin to clean up his act. Don’t be surprised, though, if Shanahan plays him late in the game to prove a point.
2. Running back Willie Parker gets his chance to shine with the starting offense tonight. This is his time to prove he can provide something to this team that young running backs Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams can’t. In training camp, he didn’t consistently show the great speed that once made him a star. Parker enters the game with one preseason carry for a loss of one yard. He’ll have to turn that around against one of the NFL’s top defenses.
3. The Redskins have only two sacks in two games this preseason. Albert Haynesworth has one and third-string ILB Robert Henson has the other. The pass rush has been lacking. Even though defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has kept his play-calling basic, many linemen and outside linebackers aren’t winning individual battles and getting to the quarterback. Starting left outside linebacker Andre Carter, in particular, is under the microscope.
4. The wide receiver competition is coming into focus, and tonight will go a long way toward settling things. The starters are expected to play at least the first half, meaning Joey Galloway will get his most extended playing time to date. He has been targeted only once in the preseason, and he’s played a limited number of snaps. Coach Mike Shanahan said he has played other receivers instead of Galloway because he knows what the 38-year-old can do. No one else has seen it, though. Roydell Williams, Bobby Wade and Terrence Austin will make their push to take injured Malcolm Kelly’s spot.
5. Quarterback Rex Grossman will work with the starters because Donovan McNabb (left ankle) is out. He had three turnovers against Baltimore’s aggressive defense, and he’ll see the same sort of pressure tonight. He must make better decisions when plays break down instead of forcing the ball. John Beck is fighting for a roster spot, and he must make a good impression to convince Mike Shanahan to keep three quarterbacks.