Game preview: Bills at Redskins

Game preview: Bills at Redskins
August 23, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Who's the odd man out at safety for the Redskins?

Redskins Post Game Live

What: Bills (2-0) at Redskins (2-0)

Where: FedEx Field

When: Saturday, 4:30

TV: Comcast SportsNet, NBC-4 and NFL Network

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live on CSN: 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 

Preseason game No. 3 is almost always treated as a dress rehearsal in the NFL, with starters playing into the third quarter as they aim to establish a rhythm and chemistry they’ll carry into Week 1 of the regular season.

But Saturday’s game in Landover will be different for two reasons: The Redskins might not have either of their top two quarterbacks due to injury and Coach Mike Shanahan has said starters will be limited to 20 snaps because it’s only been five days since they faced the Steelers.

Robert Griffin III still is working his way back from knee surgery and won’t play. RG3 did, however, have two “excellent” full practices this week and remains on track to start Week 1, according to Shanahan. Kirk Cousins, meantime, continues to nurse the sprained right foot he suffered against the Steelers and, according to Shanahan, is a long shot to suit up after not practicing Thursday. 

With Griffin and Cousins likely out, that probably means third stringer Rex Grossman will get the start and camp hopeful Pat White will enter the game in the second half. If Griffin and Cousins also sit out the fourth preseason game in Tampa, that means the No. 1 and No. 2 signal callers will have played a total of 22 snaps (all by Cousins).

It’s not ideal, but it’s the hand the Redskins have been dealt, tight end Fred Davis said.

“It’s good to have people out there you’re going to be playing in the season with,” he said. “But Rex can handle it and I think it’s still going to have the same flow like you saw in the last game.”

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan added: “You have guys go down all the time and I don’t think any of you guys give us a free pass when we don’t play well when we have injuries. So it’s just like the season – next man up.”

As for the workload, the schedule makers did the Redskins no favors, either. With only five days – and only two full practices – between games, Shanahan was forced to adjust his usual preseason routine. Starters were left in the game longer than usual against the Steelers, he said, and will have a reduced snap count Saturday.

“That’s why … the majority of the [starters] played in the first half [against Pittsburgh], offensively and defensively,” Shanahan explained. “A couple of guys didn’t. I think Pierre [Garçon] and Alfred [Morris] were the only guys that didn’t on offense. Defensively, we played the [entire] first half, so we got a lot of work in the second game, and with the short week, we probably won’t play as much as we normally do in the third game.”

Most starters will not play at all in the preseason finale against Tampa, so their final opportunity to fine tune and get into rhythm will come against the Bills.

Again, it’s not ideal. But it’s something the Redskins simply must deal with.

In addition to the big storylines, here are three other areas the team at will be monitoring:

1—Position battles. 

After two games, it’s still tough to handicap the running back competition.

Veteran holdovers Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster have received most of the playing time, carrying the ball 14 times apiece. Keiland Williams has had 10 carries, while draft picks Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison have only gotten 3 and 5 touches, respectively. Williams has 50 yards (5.0 per average); Thompson has 14 yards (4.7 average) and a fumble; and Jamison has 20 yards (4.0).

With Alfred Morris assured of the No. 1 job, the Redskins are expected to keep two, possibly three, additional tailbacks. Helu seems to be odds on favorite to snag the second spot. He has 87 yards rushing (6.2 average), a long of 30, a rushing touchdown and a 14-yard reception.

The remaining job(s) seem to remain up for grabs.

2—Free safety Bacarri Rambo.

The rookie continues to learn on the job. On Thursday, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett praised Rambo’s willingness to tackle but also criticized his tackling technique.  In both of his preseason appearances, the sixth round pick has whiffed on a running back in the open field (Chris Johnson against Tennessee and Jonathan Dwyer against Pittsburgh.)

Haslett said Rambo worked specifically on taking proper angles and wrapping up in the open field during Thursday's practice.

Everyone will be watching Saturday to see if he’s made the necessary adjustments.

3—Loose ends.

The first roster cutown is Tuesday as teams must get down 75 players by the 4 p.m. deadline. …One of the league’s most penalized teams in 2012, the Redskins have already been assessed 19 penalties for 161 yards this preseason. That total also includes six 15-yard fouls. If any fines were levied as a result of Monday’s game, they’ll be announced Friday afternoon. …Safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) will likely sit out again Saturday, while cornerback Josh Wilson (shoulder) is expected to make his preseason debut. Nose tackle Barry Cofield (fractured hand) also probably won’t play. …With Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel sidelined after a minor knee procedure, Kevin Kolb will be the starter.