The Washington Redskins play their first home preseason game Saturday, hosting Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The game will represent the most extensive playing time that the starters will see. For many, it will be the final game before the Sept. 9 regular season opener because coach Mike Shanahan doesn’t plan on playing many - if any - of his starters in the preseason finale Wednesday.
Here are five storylines to follow Saturday:
1.) Griffin and Luck - It’s not truly a showdown because their performances will count for very little. But this game carries plenty of intrigue. How will the top two picks of the draft fare? What progress has Robert Griffin III made? How good is Andrew Luck’s command of his offense?
2.) Hightower’s return - Ten months after a torn ACL ended his 2011 season, Tim Hightower makes his comeback. Shanahan said the running back won’t start the game, but he will get carries and a chance to knock off the rust as he begins competing for the starting job.
3.) Secondary adjustments - The Chicago Bears picked on the Redskins’ defensive backs last week, and it’s clear Jim Haslett, Raheem Morris and the gang are still experimenting with roles and combinations. Cedric Griffin and Kevin Barnes are still gunning for that third cornerback spot, and DeAngelo Hall is still learning his new, creative role. Strong safety Brandon Meriweather is out with a knee injury, so Tanard Jackson gets another extended look in place of the starter.
4.) Offensive line - Except for left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, the Redskins will have their starting line in place for the first time, as right guard Chris Chester returns from a sprained ankle. After playing alongside center Will Montgomery and right tackle Tyler Polumbus for significant stretches of time last year, Chester believes it won’t take much time for them to get up to game speed with each other. Running backs have struggled to find lanes in the first two preseason games. Will Chester help change that?
5.) Receiver, kicker competitions - At receiver, Anthony Armstrong will try to catch up to Aldrick Robinson, Terrence Austin and Dezmon Briscoe, and Brandon Banks will try to show he can make plays with his hands as well as his feet. Meanwhile, Graham Gano and Neil Rackers remain in their kicking battle. Rackers went 1-for-2 last week, and Gano didn’t attempt a field goal.