Five areas to monitor as the Redskins prepare for the Giants

October 17, 2012

The Redskins don’t yet know if they will have wide receiver Pierre Garcon for Sunday’s game against the Giants. (Margaret Bowles/Associated Press)

Week 6 is in the books, and now the Washington Redskins turn their attention to their meeting with the New York Giants Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

It’s the team’s first NFC East matchup and the first of back-to-back road games.

The Giants present a tough challenge on both sides of the ball, ranking second in total offense and third in points scored. On defense, New York boasts an aggressive pass rush and has held opponents to 19 points a game – seventh-fewest in the NFL.

Here are five areas to monitor as the Redskins prepare for what figures to be one of their stiffest tests yet.

1.)  Garcon’s health – The Redskins will try to give wide receiver Pierre Garcon some rest in hopes that his lingering foot injury will heal, but they don’t know if that means they will be with or without him Sunday. A healthy Garcon would bring an added element of explosiveness to an offense that already ranks third in the league in yards gained and points per game. But Garcon has shown that while playing hurt, he is a non-factor. The Redskins will monitor him this week and try to get an idea of his availability by week’s end.

2.) Secondary tweaks – For two straight games now, Washington’s secondary has now managed to eliminate the big pass plays that torched them for much of the first quarter of the season, and the defensive backs combined for two interceptions and a touchdown versus Minnesota. Now prepping for the third-best passing attack in the league, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will continue to look for ways to get more out of his players. The team has been without cornerback Cedric Griffin three straight games now (hamstring), and possibly could get him back this week.

3.) Pass rush wrinkles – After getting Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson and Mario Addison involved this past week, it will be interesting to see what other modifications Haslett makes in an effort to further bolster his team’s pass rush. Getting to Eli Manning is no easy task. He has been sacked only five times all season. That’s the fewest in the league.

4.) Game plan for Griffin – After back-to-back weeks of a more traditional approach, the Redskins reverted back to the option-oriented attack as they took on the Vikings. Robert Griffin III set a career-high in carries and yards gained. What will Kyle Shanahan cook up this week as his rookie quarterback prepares for his first divisional foe?

 5.) Punt returns – Field position figures to be a big key in what will be what usually is a hard-fought game between these two teams. The Redskins will need to get more out of Brandon Banks, who currently ranks 27th in the NFL, averaging just 5.4 yards a return. As a team, the Redskins rank 31st on punt returns. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Banks rip off a big play for his team. Can he make something happen this week?

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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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Mike Jones · October 17, 2012

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