The Redskins, who are favored by 31 / 2 points, have a chance to open the season with a 2-0 record for the first time since 2007 and are playing in their final home game until Oct. 16th.
Here are five story lines to follow Sunday afternoon.
1.) Hightower’s revenge – Tim Hightower loves it here in D.C. but he wants nothing more to stick it to the team that traded him away for a backup defensive lineman and late-round draft pick. The Cardinals never believed Hightower could be an every-down back, but the Redskins certainly appear to. Last week, he received 25 of the team’s 26 carries. Yards were hard to come by, however, as Hightower averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. This week he’s looking to break out against a unit that still is working to gain comfort during its switch to the 3-4 scheme.
2.) Grossman’s consistency – Rex Grossman had a strong outing last week, passing for 305 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. How will he follow up that performance? The ninth-year veteran feels comfortable and confident in the system, but he has to remain disciplined and take care of the ball. He should have plenty of opportunities going against a secondary that allowed Cam Newton to pass for 400 yards last week. If the line gives him time, Grossman should be fine. But the question will be how he holds up under pressure against a Cardinals team that loves to blitz.
3.) Williams’s execution – Trent Williams said he felt good about his play in Week 1 despite some apparent struggles, Coach Mike Shanahan said the second-year pro is working hard and making strides, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said his left tackle had “a few bad plays in the second half” of last week’s game and “needs to get better.” Williams won’t have to go against Darnell Dockett – he lines up on the other side – but “Silverback” still will be under the microscope and will be counted on for consistent play.
4.) Pass coverage – The Redskins’ defensive backs will have their hands full against Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the gang. Look for three-, four- and five-receiver sets and all kinds of routes on Sunday. DeAngelo Hall is looking forward to facing Fitzgerald, with whom he trains in the offseason, but he likely won’t do it alone. Oshiomogho Atogwe will be relied upon to ensure Fitzgerald doesn’t beat the Redskins deep. Last time he faced Washington (in 2008), Fitzgerald racked up seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
5.) Gano’s redemption – After a perfect preseason, Graham Gano came out and missed a 39-yard field goal against the Giants – his first and only attempt of the game. Mike Shanahan expressed confidence in the second-year pro, who made 10 straight attempts during the preseason. Gano said his confidence isn’t shaken, but he very much would like to get a chance to redeem himself with a couple of clutch boots.