The Washington Redskins tonight will play their second preseason game at 7 p.m. when they take on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Washington started things off on the right foot last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Mike Shanahan & Co. hope to take another step forward in their development this week. Here are five key areas to watch tonight:
1. John Beck -- The fifth-year pro was sidelined with a groin injury for last week’s game and could only watch as Rex Grossman got the first crack at the starting quarterback job. Beck has waited the last four years for the opportunity to compete for a starting job, and now it finally is here. He needs to put up solid numbers and play as close to mistake-free as possible. Beck says that he doesn’t feel pressure to match or top Grossman’s performance last week, but his mission for the Colts game is simple: “Put the ball in the end zone.”
2. Roy Helu – We saw a lot of Tim Hightower and Evan Royster in last week’s game, and with Ryan Torain still sidelined as he recovers from a broken hand, look for the Nebraska rookie to get a significant number of carries as he auditions for a roster spot. Helu isn’t the bruising, downhill runner that Hightower and Torain are. Instead, he boasts impressive speed, and Shanahan thinks he can be the home-run threat the offense desperately needs.
3. Returns game – Brandon Banks is out, nursing his gimpy left knee, so Terrence Austin will serve as primary return man. He needs a strong performance (in addition to a solid pass-catching night) to help distinguish himself at a crowded receiver position. Rookie Aldrick Robinson muffed two punt returns last week, and would like a chance to redeem himself. And fellow rookie Niles Paul hopes to get the chance to impress coaches with some solid returns as well.
4. Kerrigan’s progress – The Purdue product is back in his home state and will be playing in roughly 20 family members and friends. He made a couple of nice plays last week despite limited practice time. But with one game and another week of practice under his belt, he can make a big stride forward in his transition to the professional game.
5. Clint Stitser – Kicker Graham Gano topped Shayne Graham last week, going 3 for 3 on field goal attempts while the veteran went 0 for 2 and was sent packing. But the Redskins still were looking to bring in competition for Gano, and on Wednesday signed Clint Stitser, who kicked in five games for Cincinnati last year. And it turns out that Gano’s wife had a baby, so the kicker isn’t expected to be in Indianapolis. Stitser will get a shot to make coaches consider him.