W2W4: Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins (0-0) and New England Patriots (0-0) open the preseason at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

  1. Tackling: The Redskins were a bad tackling team last season, ranking among the worst in yards after contact and yards per pass attempt. Both negative stats were tied in part to their inability to consistently tackle. It wasn't just the secondary, either, as the inside linebacker play was impacted as well. The Redskins have tackled more in practice than they did the past four years under Mike Shanahan. It hasn't been a ton, but it has been more. In the past couple of preseasons they struggled with their tackling early. But if they want to improve as a defense, it starts with their tackling. And it needs to start ASAP.

  2. Pass protection: The Redskins will only play their starters perhaps 10 plays so there's not a great chance to see them in protection and how much time they'll give quarterback Robert Griffin III. But he needs to start developing trust in the pocket and it starts with the protection (not just the offensive linemen either). The offense obviously will be vanilla with their schemes but it would be good to see Griffin have time and to see what he does with it -- is he going through his progressions and finding open targets.

  3. The rookies: It's the first chance to see the young players in game action. Linebacker Trent Murphy will work with the starters in the fast nickel package, but he needs to develop as an overall outside linebacker and will get plenty of chances to do so. Guard Spencer Long could end up pushing for a starting job at some point this season; does he look close to being ready? Does tackle Morgan Moses bend more at the knees in games than he does in practice? Receiver Ryan Grant has looked good in practice, but he needs to now do it in games. Corner Bashaud Breeland has impressed the coaches in practice, but like Grant he now must do it when there's more pressure.