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Thursday, August 25, 2011
Three things: Redskins-Ravens

By Dan Graziano


Three things to watch for in the Redskins' preseason game at Baltimore on Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.

1. The quarterbacks, of course. John Beck and Rex Grossman should both play plenty with the first-team offense, but Beck remains the more important guy to watch because Grossman is the known quantity. Beck is the quarterback the Redskins' coaches are hoping can grab hold of the job, since they believe he offers more in terms of upside and athleticism. Grossman looked good in Washington's first preseason game against the Steelers, who have some of the best defensive players in the league. The Colts didn't put up much of a fight against Beck last week. The Ravens, though ... well, this is the kind of thing that can fire up the Ravens, even in the preseason. If people are talking about the way Beck played last week, the Ravens (who plan to play most of their starters into the second half) could take it upon themselves to be the team that shows him things aren't that easy in this league. I'm remembering the way the Ravens went after Mark Sanchez in a Jets preseason game two years ago. Baltimore is banged-up at cornerback, which could create some opportunities. But the Ravens remain fearsome up front, so something's likely to go wrong for Beck at some point in the game. What will be telling is the way he handles it when that something inevitably does.

2. Improvement in the secondary. Things won't be completely settled for the Redskins back there until starting safeties LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe are both back and fully healthy. But in the meantime, it'll be interesting to watch cornerback Josh Wilson against his former team. The Redskins signed Wilson thinking he could be the starter opposite DeAngelo Hall, but he's been kind of spotty and struggled with some nagging injuries so far, and they'd like to see a good, consistent coverage game out of him in order to feel better about that particular area of their much-improved defense.

3. Trent Williams and the offensive line. The extent to which the quarterbacks will be tested by that Baltimore front seven will have a lot to do with how effective Washington's line is at blocking it. Williams was a mess in the Indianapolis game and must show more game-to-game consistency this year if the line is to hold up. Another former Raven, Chris Chester, is playing right guard next to right tackle Jammal Brown, and the line as a whole has held up better than expected so far this preseason. But again, this is the line's stiffest test to date, and Williams especially is on the spot. Redskins coaches and fans would feel a lot better about the line if it came out of this game with some good, impressive and consistent Trent Williams tape.