After a feisty couple days of practice against the New York Jets, the Washington Redskins tonight face them in a live game format. There’s a lot to watch tonight and players to focus on. With that said I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you which guys my eyes are focused on tonight.
1. Daron Payne– He practiced all week against the Jets. I want to see him under the lights in uniform. Word at camp was when he was healthy, he was dominant and looked like the best defensive lineman on the roster. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but I want to see that tonight. I believed prior to the draft that Payne could be more than just a nose guard (Yes, I say nose guard instead of nose tackle) and can be a disruptive playmaker on that defensive front. I also am very excited to watch him play next to Jonathan Allen. If Payne can play at the level he’s expected to next to guys like Allen and Matt Ioannidis, this defensive line will all of the sudden be a major strength of this roster. How long has it been that we could say that? Too long…
2. Tim Settle– Sticking with the defensive line, rookie DT Tim Settle had fantastic showing last week while playing a ton of snaps with no substitution. I want to see that carry over to this week as well. I also want to see him get some snaps against the Jets’ starting OL, assuming their starters will play. I was extremely high on Tim Settle this past draft, I had a low 1st to 2nd round grade on him and believed that we got one of the biggest steals of the draft with him in the 5th round. Again, with Allen, Ioannidis, and Payne we got a solid starting trio. Adding Settle into the mix, assuming he continues to play the way he has, makes this already promising DL that much better.
3. Danny Johnson/Greg Stroman-Both guys had great games last week, and Johnson, by reports, has been one of the biggest standouts at camp. Both of these guys’ play lead to the release of Orlando Scandrick. The best way to prove that the move right is to have great showings tonight. While extremely young now, this group of corners has promise and has the benefit of looking to Josh Norman for leadership. The concern is that this group could be too young and will need some time to develop.
4. Troy Apke– Apke was just a step behind on a lot of plays last week, but in the process showed some encouraging signs. If he starts to put things together mentally, he’s got a ton of tools to be a good player. The pick of Apke was scrutinized by the fanbase and media, mostly because of how high he was selected. Most draft talking heads had Apke as a later round guy compared to the 4th round where he was selected by the Redskins. It would be a big lift to the Redskins safety depth if he shows positive signs of development as the preseason continues to play out.
5. Cam Sims– The tall rookie wide receiver from Alabama has some exciting traits and showed really well last week. With the injury of Robert Davis, Sims should be seeing more reps tonight and more chances to make his case for the 53 man roster. Plus being from Alabama certainly helps his chances. Kidding…..I think.
6. Samaje Perine– Besides the “saved by refs” no fumble. Perine had an impressive night last week running the ball and showed more burst than I remember from his rookie year. I still would like to see him run more aggressively, particularly when running between the tackles and running through contact, but his vision looked like it has improved. I still have hope for Perine, he just needs to protect the football.
7. Geron Christian– I was majorly disappointed in what I saw in the University of Lousiville rookie OT last week. He appears to lack the strength to handle a power rush and on top of that, his technique is sloppy. I would love to see him show some signs of improvement but based on last week, I’m not holding my breath. We may just have to re-visit him next year.
In the end, obviously, the major thing that we all want to see is good clean football played out there and to come away injury free. The Redskins have already suffered a major blow by losing rookie running back Derrius Guice. They can’t afford to lose anyone else to a major injury. I also hope to watch Alex Smith play tonight, of course. Jay Gruden hasn’t confirmed whether Smith will play yet as of yet. One would hope that your new quarterback will play in more than one preseason game, besides the week 3 “dress rehearsal” game. One final thing I am interested to watch is Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold and how our defense plays against him. Darnold was arguably the top QB prospect in the NFL Draft and I am genuinely curious to see how he looks as a player. Who are you most looking forward to watching tonight?
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