November 19, 2019

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 2 Preview: Cleveland Browns

by Joe Miller, Staff Writer

Robert Griffin III will play up to a quarter in the Washington Redskins second preseason game Monday night against the Browns (photo by Brian Murphy)

Here’s what to look for in the Monday night showdown between Washington and Cleveland:

Normally, Johnny Manziel coming to town for his second ever NFL game would be excitement enough, especially for a preseason game. But Kyle Shanahan will also make his first trip back to FedEx field since he and his father were shown the door following the 2013 season.

While both provide their fair share of drama to an otherwise mundane preseason game between two of 2013’s bottom-dwellers, there are an abundance of other intriguing storylines that have greater implications for the Redskins upcoming season.

Here are a few things to watch for:

RGIII and the Offense

Monday will represent the first time this season that we’ll see the Redskins offense in live-action fully loaded with all their starters, as receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both set to play after sitting out against the Patriots. Jay Gruden earlier this week was unsure of how much playing time the starters would get but expects an increase from their minimal action in the first game. That means we have to figure the starting offense will have at least two drives if not more.

It’ll be interesting to see how in sync Robert Griffin III looks with his receiving corps, especially with DeSean Jackson and fellow newcomer Andre Roberts. Reports from camp have been mixed, which is to be expected any time a new offense is being installed, but a solid showing from the starting offense would bode well.

Who Can’t Play Due to Injury?

The injury bug is always frustrating but it seems to have hit the Redskins 2013 draft class especially hard. Third round pick Jordan Reed, fourth round pick Phillip Thomas, and fifth round pick Chris Thompson all missed significant time in their rookie year last season due to injury and it’s imperative they get as many reps as possible as they look to make an impact in year two. All three have missed practice time in the past week due to various injuries and ailments so it’ll be intriguing to see who ends up suiting up.

While Reed proved himself to be a valuable asset last year before getting hurt, Thomas and Thompson still have much to prove and the preseason is an ideal time to show what they can do. Reed and Thomas both returned to practice Thursday so expect at least those two to be full-go barring any setbacks.

Tackling

This was obviously a huge area of weakness for the defense last year as the Redskins were among the league worst in yards per pass attempt and yards after catch (YAC) allowed. The coaches hope this will improve with a few new starters and the more physical practices run by Jay Gruden. However, the games will serve as the best test as to whether or not they actually have improved their tackling.

The team looked good in this area in the first game against New England, making sound tackles and collectively swarming to the ball as a team. But the Redskins didn’t face a dynamic mobile quarterback like Manziel last week so it’ll be interesting to see if they can repeat their strong showing.

Kicking Competition

Kicker is one of the few starting spots legitimately up for grabs. The rookie Zach Hocker edged out incumbent Kai Forbath against the Patriots last week and he’ll certainly look to continue that momentum. Jay Gruden said after the game that he expects the competition to last throughout the entirety of preseason, but this game will serve as yet another big opportunity for each to prove they deserve to be the starter.

Special Teams

Special teams was one of the Redskins weak points in 2013, and GM Bruce Allen made it a point to bring in players with special teams background in an effort to improve this area. The Redskins special teams unit had its ups and downs in the pre-season opener, it will be an interesting area to watch throughout the pre and regular season. Solid special teams play is the best way for rookies and roster bubble players to make the roster and there are several who could make a big impact.

About Joe Miller

Joe Miller is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. Joe is a southern Maryland native and an alumnus of the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. He’s been a passionate follower of D.C. sports, especially the Redskins, his entire life. Joe works for the Bowie Baysox and contributes content for Son of Washington. You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeCoolMiller.

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