Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 7, two days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.
1. Mark Maske of the Post is reporting that the Redskins are now $1.85 million under the salary cap. They recently created some cap room by restructuring the contracts of Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, and Adam Carriker. The money was needed to get the Redskins under the cap using the in-season rules. All year up until now, only the top 51 cap numbers counted towards the limit. Now, the cap charges of all 53 players plus those on injured reserve and the PUP list plus the $48,000 per week they pay the eight members of the practice squad are charged to the cap. The team’s spending was squeezed because they are in the second and final year of their cap being lessened by $18 million due to an NFL imposed cap penalty.
2. Tarik El-Bashir had this tidbit on Twitter yesterday: “A league source says the Redskins will bring in a left-footed punter to kick to rookie Chris Thompson. Eagles P Donnie Jones is lefty.” The spin of the ball is different coming off the foot of a left-footed punter and given Thompson’s inexperience—he hasn’t returned a kick in a game that counts since high school—it is a good idea to give him some practice handling those kicks.
3. Of course, Thompson has not yet been named the punt returner. On Thursday, Thompson said that he fielded two punts for every one that Josh Morgan and Santana Moss did in practice. Mike Shanahan said that the “competition” was ongoing and that Thompson had fielded so many punts due to his inexperience. I guess Shanahan just has to have something to keep secret. The world knows who the starting quarterback will be. He can’t drive fantasy owners crazy by playing musical running backs every week. Punt returner is all he has left.
4. One of the story lines floating around for this game is that the Eagles will have the same advantage over the Redskins on Monday as the Redskins did over the Saints in last year’s season opener. The Redskins surprised New Orleans and posted 40 points with the Pistol formation and option plays executed by rookie QB Robert Griffin III. The Eagles should be able to surprise the Redskins the same way, per this story line. But the difference is that Chip Kelly will be trying to mold Mike Vick into his scheme. It may not play to his strengths. The Redskins’ system was customized to fit the strengths of RG3. In short, it comes down to the player and not the scheme and the Redskins know Vick very well. They have faced him four times and there are miles of film on him. He won't be able to immediately change his tendencies and his strengths and weaknesses will remain.
5. It’s possible that Brandon Meriweather won’t be able to play on Monday due to his groin injury. If he can’t go, Reed Doughty is likely to start at strong safety. If that happens, expect Jordan Pugh to get a significant number of snaps at strong safety as well. With Meriweather out virtually the whole year in 2012, Pugh played anywhere from third to half of the snaps in most games when he first hit the field in Week 5 after he joined the team a few weeks earlier. Pugh isn’t going to make a lot of plays that you’ll see on SportsCenter but he also won’t make many mistakes.
Stat of the day
—Robert Griffin III posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the Redskins’ first meeting with the Eagles last year. The NFL did not recognize the performance as a record, however, because Griffin’s 15 attempts did not meet the minimum of 18 the league requires for such marks.
—It’s been 241 days since the last Redskins game; there are two days until the next one
—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 2; Redskins @ Packers 8; Lions @ Redskins 15
—Today’s schedule: No media availability; the team will practice in late afternoon
Morgan, Biggers talk to B-Mitch
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