Is it official? Is RG3 ready for Week 1 vs. the Eagles?
What: Redskins (3-0) at Buccaneers (1-2)
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet/NBC-4
Coverage begins with SportsNet Central at 6 p.m.
TAMPA – When news broke Wednesday that that Robert Griffin III will start the Redskins’ regular season opener against the Eagles, it came as no surprise to those who cover the team on a daily basis.
For almost two weeks, the second year quarterback has been taking the majority of the snaps with the first team offense in practice. He’s looked comfortable, confident and, in the words of Coach Mike Shanahan, “in football shape.”
But, according to two high-ranking team sources, Griffin’s status for Monday Night Football won’t become official until he’s examined by Dr. James Andrews here on Thursday. The exam is largely considered a formality, which means confirmation of Adam Schefter’s report could come as soon as the postgame news conference.
The result of Griffin’s exam and Andrews’ final recommendation will, of course, overshadow anything that happens on the field, particularly since the majority of the Redskins starters are expected to sit this one out. Still, it won’t be the only storyline. Here are a few more that are expected to unfold at Raymond James Stadium:
- Safety Brandon Meriweather, who has been slowly working his way back from knee surgery, is slated to make his preseason debut and play the first half. If Meriweather proves he's ready, or close to it, he’ll be the starting strong safety Week 1. If he doesn’t, the coaching staff will have to examine its options. One option would be starting rookie Bacarri Rambo at free safety and a backup across from him, but that certainly would not be an ideal scenario. “I thought he’s had good practices here the last week and a half,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said of Meriweather. “He looks like he’s running full speed [but] we’ll see when the tackling comes and all the other hard stuff."
- For the majority of the Redskins’ starters, the game will mark an anticlimactic conclusion to the exhibition season because they’ll be in sweats and watching from the sidelines. For everyone else, though, the game will represent one last opportunity to show they’re worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster, which must be submitted to the league Saturday by 6 p.m. One battle to watch closely is at running back. Alfred Morris and Roy Helu have wrapped up the No. 1 and No. 2 jobs, but that could mean Evan Royster, Keiland Williams as well as rookies Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison are battling for one spot if the Redskins keep three tailbacks as they did last season. Williams originally was considered an afterthought, but after gaining 102 yards and scoring a touchdown on 18 carries, he's entered the conversation.
- Pat White remains a long shot to make the 53, but he’s expected to play the entire game, which means he’s getting an extended audition for 31 other teams, as well. In parts of three preseason games, White has completed 53.6 percent of his passes, run for 82 yards on 12 attempts and scored two rushing touchdowns. “Pat hasn’t been totally consistent in all of his drops and in rhythm of the passing game, but he’s gotten better each week,” Kyle Shanahan said. “And I think he can still get a lot better.” White is expected to face off against rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, according to the Buccaneers.
In addition to those items, here are three other areas the team at www.csnwashington.com will be monitoring:
1—Rambo worked hard on his open field tackling last week in practice and it showed against Buffalo. The rookie safety easily took down Kevin Kolb on a designed running play when the Bills’ quarterback attempted to put a move on him. The question now is can Rambo string together two strong efforts?
2—With starting nose tackle Barry Cofeild sidelined with a broken hand, backup Chris Neild could get the majority of the snaps against the Bucs. Cofield says he expects to be ready for Week 1 and that there won’t be much, if any, drop off in his game. But just in case, Redskins coaches will rest a whole lot easier of Nield has a solid outing Thursday.
3—With Richard Crawford sidelined for the season, the punt return job is wide open. And since veteran candidates Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall are not expected to play, that means youngsters such as Thompson, Skye Dawson and perhaps Nick Williams will get their opportunity. Will one of them grab the ball and run with it – literally?