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Five Storylines: Raiders vs. Redskins

The Redskins will continue their quest for their first win of the season Sunday afternoon when they head to O.co Coliseum to face the Raiders. Five storylines are worth following.

BY ZAC BOYER

The Redskins will make their first visit to Oakland in five years on Sunday when they face the Raiders. Here are five storylines worth watching for:

1. Will Terrelle Pryor start at quarterback?

Terrelle Pryor sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ loss to the Broncos on Monday and is considered questionable to face the Redskins on Sunday as he continues his recovery. Pryor passed all subsequent examinations and was able to practice in a limited fashion both Thursday and Friday, but head coach Dennis Allen has said he won’t announce a starter before the game begins to maintain a competitive advantage. If Pryor can’t start, the Raiders will turn to Matt Flynn, who was the first-team quarterback through much of training camp before Pryor earned the role.

2. How will injuries shake up the tight end rotation?

Both Fred Davis and Jordan Reed have been hampered by right leg injuries, leaving them both questionable to play against the Raiders. Davis, the starter, sprained his ankle in practice a week ago and was inactive against the Lions, and he was limited in practice all week. Reed took a helmet to his thigh in the third quarter of that game and has been walking around gingerly all week, though he did catch a few passes at practice on Friday. If neither player is able to go – Davis seems more likely than Reed – the Redskins will turn to Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul.

3. Can the Redskins stop the run?

Progress was made last week against the Lions, when the Redskins allowed only 63 rushing yards after surrendering 263 in the opener against the Eagles and 139 a week prior to the Packers. One problem with assuming there have been improvements: The Lions are a pass-first offense, and their top running back, Reggie Bush, was out with an injury. The defense will then get a good test Sunday against the run-first Raiders and Darren McFadden, who’s thick and quick and a good open-field runner. McFadden ran for 129 yards against the Jaguars in Week 2 but gained just nine on 12 carries Monday against the Raiders.

4. Will the defense be able to match up with the receivers’ speed?

One of the hallmarks of the late Al Davis’ drafting strategy was to favor the fleet-footed, and speedsters such as Jacoby Ford (a blistering 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) and Denarius Moore (an also-respectable 4.45 seconds) will stretch the field and test the secondary. The Redskins matched up against the Eagles and Lions with a three-cornerback look – against the Lions, they kept their front seven intact all game – and the challenge will only be greater if Flynn is under center.

5. How much will players feel the sense of urgency?

In one respect, the Redskins should be given credit for not panicking during their three-game losing streak to start the season. They’ve maintained that there are 13 games remaining on the schedule, which is plenty of time to make up ground, and that the mediocrity of the other teams in the NFC East has kept them firmly in position to recapture the division title. History, though, suggests otherwise – only three 0-3 teams have qualified for the postseason since the league adapted the current 12-team format in 1990, and only one, the Chargers in 1992, did it after starting 0-4.

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