At 1-4, the Redskins have all but used up their mulligans. And while they probably don’t need to win out, they certainly need to pull off a few upsets along the way. Which brings us to Sunday’s game against Jay Cutler, Devin Hester and the Chicago Bears.
Here are three story lines I’ll be keeping an eye on:
1st down - Robert Griffin III rushed for 77 yards on nine carries last Sunday night in Dallas. It was RG3’s most productive game on the ground since Week 11 of last season and his rushing total was five more yards than he gained in the previous four games combined. But Griffin couldn’t get it done with his arm, completing only 49-percent of his passes. Will this be the week Griffin puts it all together? The Redskins’ hopes could be depending on it. “It’s a matter of miscommunications, some missed throws in there, some dropped passes,” Griffin said of his completion percentage (59.8) for the season. “All that accumulates into what the stats says. It’s a long year and we have a chance to make sure those numbers do get back up. And we’ll make sure it does."
2nd down — The Redskins’ porous coverage units couldn’t stop the Cowboys’ Dwayne Harris, who took back a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 90 yards. And without special teams’ ace Bryan Kehl who suffered a season-ending knee injury, the unit’s challenge will be even more daunting Sunday as the Redskins attempt to corral three-time Pro Bowl returner Devin Hester, who is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. “He’s probably licking fingers,” special teamer Niles Paul said of Hester. “It’s a great challenge for us as a special teams unit. We have to step up and be big.”
3rd down — In addition to losing Kehl, the Redskins will also be without long snapper Nick Sundberg for the balance of the 2013 season. But the team did get some good news regarding David Amerson. The rookie cornerback suffered a concussion Sunday but he said on Wednesday that his symptoms are not serious and that he felt “fine.” He was limited in practice but there’s a good chance he’ll be on the field against the Bears. That’s huge. Amerson is the Redskins’ No. 3 corner—and the Bears have four pass catchers on pace for 75 or more receptions. “He had no side effects,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “So hopefully he’ll be okay tomorrow.”
Extra point - Wide receiver Santana Moss needs only 71 yards to become only the seventh active player to accumulate 10,000 yards in his career. The 34-year-old also needs only four catches to pass Gary Clark for third on the Redskins’ all-time list.
Rookie running back Keith Marshall is expected to miss three weeks after suffering a strained elbow in Friday's preseason game.
Marshall was scheduled to have an MRI exam on Saturday. While there has been no official word from the team as to the severity of Marshall's injury, CSN's Chick Hernandez is reporting he will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
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Judging by the small sample size that the NFL preseason has become it looks like the Redskins’ starting defense is ready to go for the start of the NFL season.
The Redskins’ opponents had six possessions with their staring quarterbacks in the lineup, which usually means that those teams had all of their healthy starters in the game. In those six possessions the Redskins’ opponents mustered 53 yards of total offense.
As far as the starting quarterbacks, the Redskins didn’t face anyone who is bound for Canton five years after retirement. But there wasn’t a Case Keenum in the group either. Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Matt Ryan combined to complete six of 18 passes for 46 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns. That comes to a combined passer rating of 42.4.
This is a major improvement over the 2015 preseason when starting quarterbacks were much sharper against the Redskins’ defense. Josh McCown, Matthew Stafford, and Joe Flacco completed 19 of 26 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a stellar passer rating of 128.4.
This year the other teams apparently wanted to get the QBs some work and didn’t run a lot. The Redskins gave up 36 rushing yards on eight attempts. That’s an average of 4.5 yards per attempt. Over a year that would be an improvement over last year (4.8 per carry) but still well above the league average (4.1).
It’s hard to overemphasize the small sample sizes involved here. It would be a mistake to draw any sweeping conclusions from a few dozen snaps. But among the goals of the preseason are to look competent and, as Jay Gruden said, create some “positive vibrations”. The Redskins defense can check the boxes next to both of those.
After days of speculation if Bryan Stork would actually end up in Washington, the former Patriots center clarified his next move via Twitter.
Redskins GM Scot McCloughan traded for Stork earlier this week after it became apparent New England intended to release the 2014 draft pick out of Florida State. It was unclear, however, if Stork would accept the trade to the 'Skins as he mulled retirement options.
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Stork has dealt with a number of concussions in his two-year NFL career. After playing in a Super Bowl as a rookie, his 2015 season was limited by head injuries.
Coming to the Redskins, Stork may have an opportunity to compete for playing time. Kory Lichtensteiger is installed as the starting center, but he struggled in the third preseason game against the Bills and was lost for much of the 2015 season to injury.
McCloughan has openly said he wants big, tough guys up front on the offensive line. Stork - at 6-foot-4 and 310 lbs. - with a documented nasty streak definitely fits that bill.
Whether or not Stork pushes Lichtensteiger for the starting spot - or even competes for the No. 2 center job with Spencer Long - the price for Stork is tough to argue. McCloughan gave up just a conditional seventh round pick to acquire the former New England starter.