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Friday, August 27, 2010
Jets-Redskins: Pregame breakdown

By Rich Cimini

This is Day 27 of the Darrelle Revis holdout -- and the most important day in the New York Jets' preseason. They face the Washington Redskins Friday night at TNMS, the third game. Because the starters will play about three quarters, this is the closest thing to the real thing.

What to watch:

The Big O or the Big Oh-No? After last week's no-show, the Mark Sanchez-led offense will be under the spotlight. So far, the preseason numbers aren't good -- nine possessions, only one TD. Another stinker isn't going to prompt Rex Ryan to break out the color codes again, but you'd like to see some improvement, especially in the passing game -- specifically, screens and play action. You might notice that bulky brace on Sanchez's left knee; let's call it the Slauson brace, which leads us to ...

Slauson vs. Ducasse. This is Round 3 in the left-guard battle. Matt Slauson, still the front-runner and the odds-on favorite to be the opening-night starter, will make his third straight start. He could've locked up the job last week, but he was schooled in pass protection on one play and nearly let a Panthers pass rusher crash into Sanchez's knee. Not happy about that, Ryan will give rookie Vladimir Ducasse some work with the first unit, a late audition.

Holmes, Sweet Holmes. Santonio Holmes, who has appeared in eight of the 49 plays by the first-team offense, should get more opportunities against the Skins. This is a delicate situation for the coaches: They want to give Holmes a chance to learn the offense and play with the starters, but they realize every first-team rep is robbing another player of a chance to work with the first group. Remember, Holmes has to serve a four-game suspension, starting Sept. 3. They want him to leave in great shape, but they can't do it as the expense of another player.

D-Line, S.O.S. As soon as Ryan heard that Ropati Pitoitua (Achilles' tendon) was out for the season, he walked over to Rodrique Wright on the sideline in Carolina and challenged him to make the team. The already-thin defensive line needs somebody to step up, presumably either Wright or Matt Kroul. If not, they will pick up a veteran on the final cutdown.

Washington slept here. RB Chauncey Washington was a virtual goner before last week, but he made a huge hit on special teams and ran for some tough yards, playing his way back on to the roster bubble. He also lost a fumble, but Ryan was so excited about Washington's performance that he gave him the game ball. He's battling Danny Woodhead and Jason Davis for a spot in the backfield.

The Revis Factor. With QB Donovan McNabb (ankle) out of the lineup, the defense should have a big day against Rex Grossman. It might even dominate, which will cause some fans and media types to declare, "Who needs Revis?" Don't buy that nonsense. If the Jets can't shut down Grossman without Revis, they've got problems. This is not an accurate barometer of life without their stud corner.

Is there a punt returner in the house? Little Larry Taylor is a Mike Westhoff favorite, but he isn't running away with the job. Rookie Joe McKnight busted a 67-yard return (lousy coverage by the Panthers), so he warrants another look. Rookie Kyle Wilson? He was supposed to be the guy, but he already has a lot on his plate, learning two positions in the secondary. If all else fails, there's always Jim Leonhard.

Off the Mark. Backup QB Mark Brunell is on scholarship, which means he'll be the No. 2 no matter what, but a first down and a couple of completions would be nice, no?