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20 questions in 20 days: 4 Is the defense ready to carry the load?

20 questions in 20 days: 4 Is the defense ready to carry the load?

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.com20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 5:Is the defense ready to carry the load?The background:The preseason focus has been on Robert Griffin III and rightfully so. Although expectations are high for Griffin, he is still a rookie quarterback and it is unreasonable to expect the offense to light up the scoreboard right away. If the Redskins are going to be successful the defense will have to keep the other team out of the end zone and do a better job of taking the ball away than it did last year (21 takeaways, 24thin the league).Tandler:The conventional wisdom is that the front seven, one of the best in the NFL, will have to cover for deficiencies in the secondary. And in this rare case the conventional wisdom is right. Any secondary is vulnerable if the quarterback has all day to throw and it could get ugly if the likes of Eli Manning and Drew Brees have the time to pick apart the shaky back end of Washingtons defense. Brian Orakpo needs to reach his potential as a pass rusher and Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley need to take steps forward in their second seasons as starters. But the front seven cant do it all. Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall will need to make plays when they have opportunities and Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams have be solid as the last line of defense. It seems to be a tall order.El-Bashir:When the Steelers switched to a 3-4 scheme under Bill Cowher in 1992, their defense jumped from 22nd to 13th to 3rd in the NFL in a span of three seasons. The Redskins made a similar switch two years ago under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and last season improved to 13th, up from 31st. But can the Redskins make a Steelers-like leap in 2012? The players are familiar enough. But are they talented enough? The concern is a secondary that recently lost hard-hitting safety Tanard Jackson to suspension. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall needs to bounce back from a subpar 2011 season, while his counterpart, Josh Wilson, needs to find consistency. Safeties Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams, meantime, need to be better than they were in the preseason. A unit, after all, is only a strong as its weakest link.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 Aug. 28Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 Aug. 29Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 Aug. 30How much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 Aug. 31Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
8 Sept. 1Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
7 Sept. 2What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
6 Sept 3Is the offensive line depth good enough?
5 YesterdayWill a running back by committee work?
4 TodayIs the defense ready to carry the load?
3 TomorrowHow many wins is enough?
2 FridayHow much should RG3 run?
1 SaturdayCan RG3 . . . ?

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One Redskins defender is honoring Chief Zee with his cleats Sunday

One Redskins defender is honoring Chief Zee with his cleats Sunday

As NFL players often do, Ricky Jean-Francois will be sending a message on his cleats on Sunday when the Redskins take on the Giants in New York. And it's a message that'll make a lot of fans smile when they see it.

This past July, the famous Zema Williams, known to thousands of other Burgundy and Gold supporters as "Chief Zee," died at the age of 75. After hearing the news of his death, many Redskins players reacted on Twitter. But Jean-Francois will be taking it a step further at MetLife Stadium for his team's Week 3 game, as he honors Williams with a pair of custom cleats that bear both Williams' name and his face.

Here are some photos of the shoes, from Su'a Cravens and Redskins Insider JP Finlay:

Jean-Francois' choice of footwear is just the latest example of a Redskin returning some of the loyalty that Chief Zee showed to the franchise during the last handful of decades.

MORE REDSKINS: TEAM IS SWITCHING UP THEIR UNIFORMS VS. NYG

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Redskins vs. Giants Live Updates: Scores, stats, highlights, analysis

Redskins vs. Giants Live Updates: Scores, stats, highlights, analysis

The Redskins head to New York City on Sunday afternoon to take on NFC East rivals Giants at MetLife Stadium with the Redskins looking for their first win of the season.

The Giants enter the Week 3 matchup with a 2-0 record, having defeated the Cowboys 20-19 in Week 1 and the Saints 16-13 in Week 2. 

The Redskins and Giants are set to kickoff at 1:00 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on FOX. CSN Mid-Atlantic is providing live updates of the game, with stats, highlights and analysis.

RELATED: Redskins vs. Giants Week 3 preview

WASHINGTON REDSKINS VS. NEW YORK GIANTS LIVE UPDATES

11:50 a.m.  — The Redskins announced the list of players who will be inactive for the Giants game. DeSean Jackson and Trent Williams will be in uniform. Josh Doctson will not be in uniform. That is sonewhat a surprise. 

11:55 a.m. — Jackson has some solid career numbers against the Giants. He has 56 receptions for 921 yards and five TDs. He also had this little beauty. 

Noon — Only an hour away from kickoff. Odell Beckham Jr. is ready for his rematch against Josh Norman.  

12:05 p.m. — Speaking of Norman, you can expect the Redskins' star cornerback to be flanked on Beckham for the entire game.

12:10 p.m. — Also, FOX's Jay Glazer is reporting that Beckham was fined for an illegal hit on a Saitns cornerback last week. Since he was suspended one game following his game-long melee with Norman last season, any tussling today would result in a more serious suspension. 

12:15 p.m. — Worried about the weather? Fear not. It's a beautiful day for football in The Big Apple.