It’s only Wednesday, and already the 4-8 Redskins have had an eventful week, losing Fred Davis and Trent Williams to season-ending suspensions, promoting nose tackle Chris Baker to the 53-man roster and signing tackle Cole Pemberton to the practice squad.
In the next four days, the team will try to assemble a gameplan that will compensate for the latest losses as they prepare for the high-powered New England Patriots.
Here are five areas to monitor this week:
1.) Left tackle – Should the Redskins go with Sean Locklear, who has some experience, but is better suited for right tackle? Or should they throw rookie Willie Smith to the wolves and see if the rookie out of East Carolina can protect Rex Grossman’s blind side? Whomever Washington picks, he’ll be going against former Redskin Andre Carter, who has nine sacks this season.
2.) Tight end – Fred Davis has been Washington’s top playmaker this season, and he also has contributed in the running game with his blocking. Logan Paulsen suddenly takes over as the No. 1 – and currently only – tight end on the roster. Paulsen this season has only seven catches for 95 yards. Can he help shoulder the load? The Redskins also can use Mike Sellers at tight end, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make an additional move.
3.) Wide receiver – More pressure falls on the shoulders of Washington’s receiving corps, which hasn’t exactly been explosive on a consistent basis. Expect to see more three- and four-receiver sets as the Redskins seek playmakers. Santana Moss’s best outing this season was a six-catch, 76-yard game, and that was with Davis on the field. Jabar Gaffney is the only receiver (other than the now injured Leonard Hankerson) to top the 100-yard mark in a game this season. Will this mean more opportunities for Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin and Niles Paul? Somebody’s got to step up.
4.) Grossman’s poise – No stranger to adversity, Rex Grossman will find the going even tougher. He will have to take on the New England Patriots without his top offensive lineman and playmaker. Coach Mike Shanahan said Grossman didn’t have his best game against the Jets, but he expects the quarterback to wipe those struggles out of his mind and come back on a strong note this week. Grossman has to put on a near-flawless performance Sunday for Washington to have a chance. As he takes the podium Wednesday for his weekly press conference, we’ll get a glimpse into the state of his psyche.
5.) Landry’s health – Finally a non-suspension-related issue, right? The team’s starting strong safety hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug this season, having battled a bad hamstring, a problematic Achilles’ tendon and now a pulled groin. Time is running out for the fifth-year pro to prove to the Redskins and other teams that he is deserving of the big payday he hopes to land this offseason. After sitting out Sunday’s game, will the free-agent-to-be manage to get back into the mix this week and finish off the season on a strong note?
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