Redskins-Panthers: The basics

Redskins-Panthers: The basics
October 22, 2011, 3:26 pm
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A look at the Redskins game at Carolina:

When: 1 p.m., Sunday.

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

TV: FOX (Chris Myers and Tim Ryan). Pre-game coverage on Comcast SportsNet begins at 11:30 a.m.

Radio: ESPN 980 AM, WWXX 94.3 FM, WWXT 92.7 FM (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff).

Records: Redskins 3-2, Panthers 1-5.
Last week: The Redskins lost 20-13 to Philadelphia; Carolina lost 31-17 at Atlanta.

Line: Panthers by 2 12.

Weather: Sunny with a high of 65 degrees.

Injuries: Redskins Out: TE Chris Cooley (fingerknee), LT Trent Williams (ankle), CB Byron Westbrook (hamstring). Questionable: S O.J. Atogwe (knee), CB Phillip Buchanon (neckknee), WR Donte Stallworth (hamstring). Probable: WR Anthony Armstrong (hamstring), CB DeAngelo Hall (toe), RB Tim Hightower (shoulder). Panthers Doubtful: LB Omar Gaither (knee), S Jordan Pugh (head). Probable: TE Greg Olsen (toe), LB Thomas Williams (head).

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH1. THE NEW QB OBVIOUSLY
It wasnt a tumultuous week at Redskin Park by a lot of standards, but there was change at the most high profile position. Quarterback Rex Grossman is out after five games and nine interceptions and in is 30-year old John Beck. He makes his fifth career start and first in four years.

In a quarter of work last week against Philadelphia, Beck didnt look like the stage was too big for him. But Carolina has had a week to game-plan specifically for Beck. Its important for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to call early plays to get Beck into a rhythm quick throws, a designed roll out, a screen pass, etc.

Its paramount for Beck to limit the turnovers that plagued Grossman.
There are a lot of plays that happen when the quarterback takes chances sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt work, Beck said. The windows are so small, you have to be aggressive. Ball security is a point every single week because its very hard to win if you turn the ball over and now its on my shoulders to take care of the football.

2. PRESSURING NEWTON
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is putting up record numbers but he is prone to mistakes like every young passer. He has nine interceptions in six games. The Redskins havent had recent success against rookies, but expect defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to provide a couple different looks.

The Redskins have stressed ramping up their takeover total and it started with two interceptions last week against Philadelphia. It will help if the Redskins can get a lead.

If you can have teams playing catch-up football, usually youll have a little bit more, coach Mike Shanahan said. Were going to constantly work on turnover ratio.

3. THE RE-BUILT OFFENSIVE LINE
Out for the season is left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and out for at least a few weeks is left tackle Trent Williams. The new starters are Sean Locklear (left tackle) and Erik Cook (center). Will Montgomery moves from center to left guard. Get all that?

The Redskins overcame injuries along the line last year for a little bit. The latest group got three quarters last week and then a full week of practice to figure out how to work together. Especially with Beck getting his first start, its key for the line to get the running game untracked. Carolina is 31st against the run.

Im confident in our players, Kyle Shanahan said. Its a challenge any time you have starters go down but Im excited to see them play Sunday.

4. DEFENDING SHOCKEYOLSEN
Carolinas base offensive set is one running back, two receivers and two tight ends. Jeremy Shockey (pre-lockout) and Greg Olsen (post-lockout) were added to the mix and through six games, theyve combined for 43 catches, 541 receiving yards and three touchdowns (all by Olsen).

Olsen can catch a lot of balls and Shockey is still a good blocker and is violent after the catch, Haslett said. Thats a good duo theyve got.

The Redskins are accustomed to defending effective tight ends in their division Dallas Jason Witten and Philadelphias Brent Celek and it will be up to Ryan Kerrigan and Rocky McIntosh to cover Shockey and Olsen. It will be interesting to see if Haslett elects to play base nickel and put a third corner (Kevin Barnes) or a third safety (Reed Doughty, assuming O.J. Atogwe plays) on the field to account for the extra tight end.

5. STEVE SMITH VS. DEANGELO HALL
The biggest beneficiary of Newtons arrival has been veteran receiver Steve Smith. He already has 32 catches for 675 yards and three touchdowns (he had two TDs all of last year). His per-catch average has jumped from 12 to 21 yards.

The Panthers will move Smith to both the right and left sides and the Redskins could elect to have DeAngelo Hall shadow him like they did against Larry Fitzgerald in Week 2. Hall and Smith know each other well from their NFC South duels when Hall was in Atlanta.

Hes unbelievable, Haslett said of Smith. Hes the most competitive guy Ive probably seen playing that position. You can see he wants the ball and hes dangerous when he has it. He can still run and can run after the catch.

PICK: Redskins 27-21.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com