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Need to Know: Which Redskins running back will win a job tonight?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins running back will win a job tonight?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, August 29, 11 days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

Five things from Redskins Park:

1. Griffin news fatigue is beginning to set in among many Redskins fans and, I’m sure, many others as well. The latest example was yesterday’s “RG3 is starting” from Adam Schefter and a quick “not so fast, he hasn’t been cleared yet” response from other sources. And now, when we get the “really, really, this time we promise it’s official he’s starting” story, the same analysis and debate will be rehashed and recycled. I guess all Redskins fans can do is be glad that they have a quarterback—or any player, for that matter—that people care about for mostly the right reasons. This is par for the course when you have one of the biggest stars in sports playing for your team or in your town. Get used to it.

2. Keep an eye on where the cornerbacks line up tonight. Josh Wilson is going to go about 30 snaps and will start with David Amerson. When the Bucs go the three receivers, who slides into the slot? Will it be Wilson, who was the slot corner for some of last year? E. J. Biggers, who will probably be the nickel back coming into the game? It’s not likely to be Amerson, the coaches probably want him to master the outside before trying anything different. In any case, if Biggers goes to cover the slot that might be the way they will go when the season starts.

3. If you want to see how the competition at running back shakes out, look at special teams. Chris Thompson can move from likely to lock if he busts a big return. Keiland Williams is solid on special teams; he was a solid contributor last year even though he didn’t take a single snap on offense. Evan Royster plays some special teams and he may need to play them well tonight. Here’s the thing—the Redskins are going to keep a linebacker, Nick Barnett, who does not play special teams. Those teams snaps are going to have to come from somewhere and they could come from a running back, either Williams or Royster. The best coverage man and blocker, not necessarily the best runner, may win that job.

4. It looks like Kedric Golston will be the starter at left defensive end with the suspension of Jarvis Jenkins looming starting next week. I just think the coaches trust him more than Chris Baker, who moved over from nose tackle when training camp started. Golston isn’t going to give you many big plays, but he should clear the way for Ryan Kerrigan, who lines up behind him, to make some.

5. While it doesn’t seem like anybody thinks that four preseason games are necessary it doesn’t look like we are going to see a reduction any time soon. Mark Maske of the Post wrote an article and while he was able to find great support for the idea of shortening the preseason to two games he couldn’t find a popular solution to replace the lost revenue that would result from playing two fewer games. Both possibilities, expanding the regular season by two games and expanding the playoffs by one or two teams, were met with resistance. So four preseason games is something that is here because it’s here and it’s likely to remain here.

Stat of the day

If the Redskins win tonight, they will be 4-0 in the preseason for the fist time since 1985. After that, they missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.

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Timeline

—If RG3 does indeed start against the Eagles it will be one year to the day after his NFL debut and eight months to the day

—Days until: Final cuts 2; Eagles @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Packers 18

—Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Bucs 7:30 on Comcast SportsNet

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In case you missed it

@Rich_TandlerCSN on Twitter
#RG3 situation is like you're buying a house. Money's in the bank, paperwork's set but not official until transaction's done. Will be Thurs.

— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) August 28, 2013

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.