Five areas to monitor as the Redskins prepare for Carolina

October 31, 2012

Santana Moss and his fellow receivers look to rebound from a shaky performance. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins get back to work today and hope to put their 27-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers behind them.

Up next for the 3-5 Redskins are the 1-6 Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton. Washington hopes to pick up its second home win of the season and go into the bye week on a positive note. Meanwhile, the Panthers are trying to snap a five-game losing streak.

Here are five areas to monitor in the week leading up to the game:

 1.) Response to the blowout – Until last Sunday, the Redskins had been in every game, and hadn’t lost by seven points in any of their four previous losses. But the Steelers dealt them an embarrassing blowout defeat. How do the Redskins respond? Are they able to use the poor performance as motivation? Or, do they continue their slide, commit many of the same gaffes and suffer their first three-game losing streak of the season?

2.) Meriweather’s health – The Redskins would love to have strong safety Brandon Meriweather return to boost their struggling secondary. Word after the latest re-aggravation of his knee injury was that he’d be sidelined four weeks. That four-week period has ended. He went through a limited amount of practice last week, but reported some soreness and went back to observing. Can he make his season debut this week?

3.) Hall’s status – DeAngelo Hall could receive a suspension from the league for his late-game meltdown that was directed at a member the officiating crew. At the very least, he could be fined. The cornerback has yet to hear from the league, but hopes to speak with Commissioner Roger Goodell. Although Hall has had his share of struggles in coverage, his absence on Sunday would only further complicate the efforts of Jim Haslett, who is trying to find a way to cure his limited unit’s struggles.

4.) Search for playmakers – The Steelers on Sunday exposed the Redskins’ lack of speed on offense now that Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis are both sidelined. The Redskins had to use gimmick plays to generate big-gain potential. Aldrick Robinson and Brandon Banks haven’t been major factors in the game plan the last several weeks. Will Kyle Shanahan turn to them to help the offense get back on track? Additionally, the offense would have fared much better had receivers held onto the ball against Pittsburgh. No doubt receivers coach Ike Hilliard will be working on correcting this problem this week.

5.) Trade deadline – The NFL’s trade deadline is on Thursday, and although he said it’s rare for a team to make an in-season deal, Mike Shanahan said that the Redskins are exploring all options. What areas of need stand out the most? Defensive backs and pass-rushers. But the chances of finding a difference-maker aren’t the greatest.

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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Keith McMillan · October 31, 2012