Five areas to monitor as the Redskins enter Week 4 of the NFL season

September 26, 2012

The Washington Redskins get back to work after a day off on Tuesday and will concentrate their efforts on curing the struggles that have them on a two-game losing streak.

Trent Williams
Redskins left tackle tests his injured right knee Sunday.

The Redskins this weekend travel to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4:25 Sunday.

 Here are five areas to monitor as Mike Shanahan & Co. begin their preparation:

 1. Trent Williams’ health: The team was without their best offensive lineman for much of last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati, and quarterback Robert Griffin III was sacked six times. Fortunately for the Redskins, the injury Williams suffered on the second play of the game was classified as a bone bruise and nothing more serious. He’s listed as day-to-day and will be evaluated throughout the week. In each of the past two seasons, Williams has missed two games each year because of knee injuries, so his outlook for Sunday could be glum.

2. The secondary woes: The Redskins now rank 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed thanks to frequent breakdowns in the secondary. Every one of the defensive backs say they need to do a better job executing, and that their struggles aren’t scheme-related. For two weeks they have talked about buckling down and paying better attention to detail and technique. So far, nothing has changed on the field.

3. Garcon and Meriweather statuses: The Redskins have been without two key starters: wide receiver Pierre Garcon (foot) and starting strong safety Brandon Meriweather (knee). The offense has continued to put up points without Garcon, but he is their big-play threat and could help ease pressure on Griffin. Second-year pro DeJon Gomes has struggled in place of Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowler signed this offseason to bring stability to the safety position.

4. Adjustments to protect Griffin: After two weeks of expressing confidence in rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s ability to handle the contact that comes with running frequently, Shanahan admitted Monday that Griffin can’t keep taking such abuse and that modifications needed to be made, whether schematically or execution-wise, to ensure the rookie’s safety. We’ll see what solutions the Redskins come up with.

5. State of the running back position: The Redskins signed former Green Bay Packer running back Ryan Grant on Tuesday night with backups Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr. both ailing. Royster (knee) and Helu (foot) were said to be day-to-day and not seriously injured, but the addition of Grant suggests otherwise. Rookie Alfred Morris, who is averaging 4.3 yards a carry and has three rushing touchdowns in three games, remains the workhorse, but Grant could assume the third-down role Royster and Helu shared.

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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