It's dress rehearsal as the Washington Redskins travel to Charlotte for a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, 7:30 pm ET. Get your licks in now because it is likely that starters will play the first half and possibly into the third quarter. Next week in the preseason finale at home against the Jaguars I expect the starters will only play a series or two and give the game over to those fighting for roster spots.
The last time these two teams played was in November of the 2006 regular season, it was a rare solid performance by the Redskins in an otherwise difficult season, it was Jason Campbell's first stirring performance featuring a helmet radio on the fritz, strong defense and power running. Ahh what a bright spot in the 2006 season that game was...
Anyway, back to preseason football. Winding down as we are it is time to start looking at some of the serious training camp competitions and how the units are faring, if you have been following training camp as closely as I have then there are players you have come to know, even just a bit, many of these guys will be gone in less than a week and a half. Keep that in mind as you watch them.
Quarterback: a done deal, Jason Campbell > Todd Collins > Colt Brennan, Derek Devine will need an act of god or nature to make the team, I believe he still has practice squad eligibility. Will Colt do it again tonight? And if not will we continue to drink the kool aid, some of you while pretending you don't care or aren't amused, it is Colt's world, we just live in it.
Tailback: everyone will make it, Clinton Portis, who will play the whole half despite his bitching, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, Marcus Mason. Period.
Receiver: Malcolm Kelly might actually get into a frigging football game this preseason (ibid.), he is hurrying back from a hamstring and a knee scope. Although Malcolm and Devin Thomas are not going to be able to contribute much early in the season (op. cit.), they are in along with Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and James Thrash. Fighting for that fifth and possibly sixth are Billy McMullen, Anthony Mix, Maurice Mann and Burl Toler who has been practically invsible the past two games.
Tight end: Chris Cooley is in as is rookie Fred Davis. Todd Yoder has a year with the team and after making the grab of Colt Brennan's pass through a defender last week, Jason Goode is out with a sore turf toe (ibid.), that's a tough break for Jason Goode. There's no way the team keeps four tight ends.
Offensive tackle: Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels are still chugging, main backup tackles Todd Wade is out with a high ankle sprain (ibid.) and Stephon Heyer is still dinged with a knee, Chad Rinehart should get a long look tonight. The grab bag of other players is on the bubble.
Offensive guard: Randy Thomas and Pete Kendall are looking good, Jason Fabini is back as the top backup and the rest is catch as catch can. We'll find this year's Mike Pucillo out of the crowd of Justin Geisinger, Devin Clark and Tavares Washington.
Defensive end: Jason Taylor and Andre Carter are our main men (op. cit.), Demetric Evans seems like a good keeper, seems like the team could keep five, with the newly returned Erasmus James, rookie Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson fighting for two spots. Dorian Smith is a guy I don't know much about, the team knows enough about him to re sign him.
Defensive tackle: Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston are fighting it out, politely I might add, for the privilege of playing alongside Cornelius Griffin. Both are in. The rest, except maybe for Ryan Boschetti, are playing for supper.
Linebacker: injuries are a problem here though Rocky McIntosh is back, it really is astounding how fast the guy and football players in general at the peak of conditioning can come back to such a physical activity so soon after major injuries. London Fletcher and Marcus Washington are good to go. Matt Sinclair (bad back but he's a bubble guy so you know he is sure as shit going to play), HB Blades (coming back from a knee scope), Khary Campbell and the other number 46 Alfred Fincher, that guy always seems to be around the play. Below that look out.
Cornerback: Carlos Rogers will be pushing his knee a little harder with a bigger role in the offense tonight, he also has recovered in excellent time after his gruesome injury. Locked in: Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot. Competing for two or three spots, five guys: Byron Westbrook, Leigh Torrence, Justin Tryon, Matteral Richardson, Cedrick Holt.
Safety: it disturbs me that LaRon Landy still is not in shape to play, he will be sitting out tonight's game (op. cit.). I have become so gun shy about hamstring injuries than you can just say the word and I flinch and look behind me. Reed Doughty is in, both rookies Kareem Moore and Chris Horton seem to be in, Vernon Fox is the only real veteran, Patrick Ghee and Justin Hamilton are fighting for their jobs.
Punter: Durant Brooks got all the work in the Jets preseason game so it is Derrick Frost's turn to punt in this game (op. cit.). I have no idea who is ahead in this one, typically when a team drafts a punter it means the incumbent is out so I would say a tie goes to Durant, that said I have no idea who is leading obviously, if it were a blow out one would already be gone.
Kicker: Shaun Suisham is getting a pass this training camp, don't make coach Zorn regret it.
Long Snapper: Ethan Albright is awsum.
Offense first unit: Jason Campbell was tentative in the first two series last week (ibid.) and threw a couple of floaters that would have been picked off in a regular season game, coach Zorn was not happy. Given that teams are gradually making starters a bigger part of the game as we go through the preseason, was last week's game a bad sign or an inevitable return to normalcy?
Defense first unit: the starting defense looked awful in the first two series of the game (op. cit.) yet the Redskins played well against the Jets' ground game last week (op. cit.), so what's up with all that? This unit can only get better with LaRon Landry and Rocky McIntosh on the way back.
Try not to zone out during the second half of this game, there will be some hard playing for few roster spots, this is when it gets crazy, when bodies start flying around.
(more to come)
I will be watching this game in real time with neighbors, blog in hand and I'll be on chat for anyone with Gtalk. I hope you will join me here and over at Hogs Haven and let us clink glasses virtually in a toast to preseason football.
This is a gameday open thread.
Saturday, August 23, 2008