Redskins-Bills: Five more things to watch for

BUFFALO -- The Washington Redskins are here at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where they will kick off the preseason against the Buffalo Bills.

This morning we went over five areas to watch with Robert Griffin III, the battle between Graham Gano and Neil Rackers, the running back and safety competitions, and the return of Jarvis Jenkins rounding out that list.

Here are some other areas to keep an eye on:

1.) Replacement linemen: The Redskins will be without three starters today with left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, right tackle Jammal Brown and right guard Chris Chester ruled out. Coaches say Maurice Hurt has improved, and they like the work Tyler Polumbus has done in place of Brown. There still have been some struggles in practice, however. Rookie Adam Gettis (fifth-rounder out of Iowa) will start in place of Chester. How do these three do tonight?

2.) Leonard Hankerson – The 2011 third-round draft pick makes his return from hip surgery and is battling Josh Morgan for the starting receiver spot opposite Pierre Garçon. He will start. Can Hankerson become a big-time threat?

3.) Barnes vs. Griffin – Kevin Barnes and Cedric Griffin are competing for the third cornerback spot. When DeAngelo Hall or Josh Wilson moves from the outside to play nickelback, either Barnes or Griffin will be the guy who takes over the outside corner position. In practices, Griffin has seen a lot of action with the first team, but Redskins defensive coaches Jim Haslett and Raheem Morris have spoken highly of Barnes as well.

4.) New nickelbacks – Speaking of Hall and Wilson, tonight will be a chance for them to gauge the progress they have made as they take on a new role with the defense. All the new wrinkles will remain under wraps until the regular season, but there will be some glimpses of what can be expected when those two take on opposing slot receivers.

5.) Niles Paul’s new gig – No longer a wide receiver, Paul looks to carve out a niche for himself as a tight end. He has the speed to create mismatches with linebackers, and he has good hands. How will he fare in the blocking department?

More Redskins coverage:

Redskins-Bills: Five areas to watch

Redskins defense wants to be in the top echelons

All things RGIII

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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