Our long national nightmare is over. Football is happening. Here’s what to expect as the Redskins visit the Patriots in the first preseason game.
By Evan Redmon, August 8th, 2018
Redskins Patriots preseason game is this Thursday, 7:30pm EST
TV broadcast on NBC4/NBC Sports Washington
Kenny Albert and Joe Theismann will be in the booth
The Redskins Patriots game is fast approaching.
Yes, it’s preseason – and yes, it’s the first preseason game, which rivals only the final exhibition game for the number of starting caliber players relegated to the sidelines. Still, it beats the alternative of … nothing.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we won’t see some highly hyped Redskins marching onto the field. Exactly who, you may ask? Unfortunately, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is mostly playing his cards close to the vest, in regards to who will and won’t play.
During Tuesday’s morning press conference, NBC’s Rich Tandler asked Gruden the first – and most relevant – question.
Tandler: Can you tell us how long you plan to play the starters, particularly Alex, on Thursday?
Gruden: Eh, we’ll decide on gameday. I’m gonna get a good practice out here today, and then we’ll make a decision. I’ve kind of got it in my mind what I’m going to do … don’t want anything etched in stone here and then change my mind last minute.
Gruden might try new approach in Redskins Patriots game
In other words, don’t expect to see Alex Smith, and most of the starters for that matter, for more than one series.
You may recall, in 2016, Gruden elected not to play any of the first team offense in the preseason opener against the Falcons. He took it on the chin a little bit from the local media for that move. People were openly wondering why a 9-7 team who had squeaked into the division title (during a very down year for the NFC East) would take such a cavalier approach.
Last year, he changed his approach and played the starters in the first quarter of the opening tilt against the Ravens. The Redskins starting offense gained a whopping -2 yards and no first downs. It was downright ugly.
So my guess is that we’ll see something between the two approaches. Alex Smith will make a cameo appearance, throw 3 or 4 passes and call it a night.
However, Derrius Guice figures to be a different story.
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Football Is Back
Guice has never played a down of pro football on any level. The 2nd round rookie needs to show coaches, particularly in the blitz pickup department, that he’s ready for the bright lights. Therefore, he figures to see a significant amount of playing time, which should thrill Redskins fans.
If Alex Smith is worried about a rook keeping blitzers off of him, he isn’t showing it.
“To be honest, I don’t feel like there’s a real weakness in his game”, Smith asserted recently. “Pass game, protection, certainly he can run the ball. I feel like he does a heck of a job in protections, I feel like in the pass game he’s a weapon as well. So, I’m excited for him.”
Redskins Patriots Game: Defense
Expect to see about half the starters play to begin the game
It’s difficult to know exactly which starters we will see on the defensive side of the ball. However, there are a few players who we definitely won’t see.
Gruden said that 1st string safety DJ Swearinger will not play due to a sore hamstring. And, obviously, 1st round draft pick Daron Payne will sit out, as he just recently got out of the walking boot he was wearing to help heal his injured ankle.
ESPN’s John Keim tweeted out earlier that it’s killing Payne not to be playing. “I wanted to be out here the whole time”, Payne said, “but they wouldn’t let me. I was on the trainers about it to try to get out here. … Hopefully I’ll be back out here next week… I feel good.”
We want to see…
Jamison Crowder is sitting out as well, but Paul Richardson figures to see some playing time
One player on offense we’re hoping to get a look at is WR Paul Richardson. The Redskins gave Richardson a $40M contract in the offseason to fill their need for a field-stretching deep threat. Early returns have been positive in Redskins training camp, but a few fly patterns against the Patriots secondary should tell us so much more.
Until then, Redskins Nation continues to wonder:
Undrafted Rookies to Watch
Rookie UDFAs suiting up for the Redskins Patriots game. Here are 3 to watch.
This 5′ 7″, 197-lb whirling dervish has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles and our very own Brian Mitchell.
Doug Williams, being both a former QB and coach at Grambling, must have gotten a heads up about the lightening-fast quickness that gave Carter the nickname “Mister Excitement”.
Apparently for the Redskins, size matters. That’s certainly has to be the appeal for Cobbs, a 6′ 3″, 220-lb Hoosier wideout.
This dude looks a lot like Josh Doctson on film. Not the fastest guy on the planet, but boy can he leap right off the field with ease. His vertical was a bit surprising, therefore, at the combine: “only” 30 inches. You’d never know it when you watch him sky over the 4th overall pick in ’18, Denzel Ward from OSU.
He’s got all the tools, the size, the speed, and the pedigree to make an NFL roster. The 6′ 2″, 207-lb safety from just down the I-95 corridor was a first-team all-ACC player in 2016 and 2017. Throw in a rookie of the year award in 2014 and you can clearly see why he was on the Redskins radar.
He’s one of the best tacklers Virginia has ever had.