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Five Storylines: Redskins vs. Eagles

The Redskins finally get their season underway when they host the Eagles at FedEx Field in the first half of a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader. Five storylines are worth following.

BY ZAC BOYER

The Redskins will host the Eagles in the season opener on Monday at FedEx Field. Five storylines are worth following:

1. How will Robert Griffin III fare in his return?

Robert Griffin III will return to the field eight months to the day after undergoing surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his right knee. Griffin didn’t play at all during the preseason in an attempt to continue to build strength in the knee, which therein poses another problem: How will it respond to the instinctive movements a quarterback has to make? The Redskins allowed Griffin to practice against the first-team defense after the preseason began, but even then, he didn’t face contact. The crowd gathered at FedEx Field, and watching around the country, will be holding its breath the first time Griffin is hit.

2. Is the defense prepared for the Eagles’ offense?

The Redskins have been operating their offense during the preseason at a breakneck speed – when one play ends, a new ball is immediately spotted and the next play is run. That pace, several defensive players said during the week, should make the Eagles’ uptempo attack pale in comparison, considering officials will need to replace the ball and make sure everyone is set before blowing the whistle. More attention should be paid to how the Redskins defend the Eagles’ use of the read option. Assignment football has been preached all week, with each pass rusher knowing the responsibility he must take in stopping quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy or whoever is in the backfield.

3. What will the rookies do in their debuts?

Neither David Amerson nor Bacarri Rambo face an easy task in trying to stop an explosive offense in their first NFL game. Amerson, a cornerback taken in the second round, figures to see heavy playing time as the Redskins extensively utilize their nickel package and expects to be targeted by Vick. Rambo, a free safety drafted in the sixth round, has been trying to brush up on his tackling after an up-and-down preseason. But it won’t be just on defense that rookies will contribute, as third-round tight end Jordan Reed and fifth-round running back Chris Thompson could see snaps on offense.

4. Will Brandon Meriweather play?

One storyline that has carried into the new season is the ongoing health of Brandon Meriweather, who played in only one game last year because of injury and is continuing that trend. Meriweather injured a groin muscle at some point last week, and it’s possible it could be related to his ongoing recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. He was listed as questionable on the depth chart, and if he can’t play, Reed Doughty will start at strong safety in his absence.

5. Who will return punts?

All signs point to Thompson fielding punts for the opener, though it’s possible that the job could be farmed out to receivers Santana Moss or Joshua Morgan, or even cornerback DeAngelo Hall, should he struggle against the Eagles. Before the preseason, Thompson last fielded a punt in high school, when he took a 50-yard return back for a touchdown during his senior season. He had a 69-yard return for a touchdown against the Buccaneers in the final game of the preseason, but he still needs to brush up on reading the ball and his decision-making if he hopes to keep the job.

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