Redskins preseason: Five storylines for Monday’s game vs. the Browns

August 18
Johnny Manziel won't start for the Browns in Monday night's preseason game against the Redskins. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Johnny Manziel won’t start for the Browns in Monday night’s preseason game against the Redskins. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Starters may only play a quarter or so against Cleveland on Monday night. Redskins coach Jay Gruden will likely keep the first-teamers on the field more in the third preseason game — traditionally the most telling showcase in August — when Washington plays in Baltimore on Saturday. But tonight’s matchup, the last preseason home game for the Redskins, will offer only a glimpse at the starting offense and more of a look at Browns reserve quarterback Johnny Manziel. This is more about backup jobs than schemes. Here are five things to watch:

1. Is Griffin progressing?

Yes, quarterback Robert Griffin III remains the top thing to watch for the second straight week. He’s the main focus every week, as the Redskins try to improve his decision making in the pocket. The Browns ranked eighth against the pass last year, so this will be a good test. Will Griffin be able to connect with receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson down the field?

2. Johnny Football

Johnny Manziel is the reason to watch after halftime, as the rookie fights for the Browns starting quarterback job with Brian Hoyer. It would have been nice to see Manziel play against Washington’s starting defense, but him coming in later in the game will allow coaches to gauge the Redskins’ Bacarri Rambo, Bashaud Breeland and Akeem Davis against a potential No. 1 passer.

3. Kicking competition

The battle between veteran Kai Forbath and rookie Zach Hocker is starting to get serious. The early part of camp means little, though Hocker’s longer kickoffs and Forbath’s poor field goal conversions have the challenger ahead. This will go down to the final preseason game. Forbath needs a couple strong outings to keep the job. If neither kicks well, the Redskins could look for other options.

4. Right guard

The Redskins would really like to upgrade from aging right guard Chris Chester. Washington ran left more often the last two years behind tackle Trent Williams, but this season it may use more power running up the middle. Chester, 31, might last one more year, but rookie Spencer Long and reserve Josh LeRibeus are getting every chance for the job. Both would have to greatly improve, though.

5. Reserve backs

Alfred Morris is the starter, and Roy Helu’s the backup. The other roster spots are a toss-up between veteran Evan Royster and rookies Lache Seastrunk and Silas Redd. Then there’s injured Chris Thompson, whose status looks shaky. Gruden seems to want a rookie more than Royster, and Redd and Seastrunk both had good training camps. Seastrunk pops outside well, while Redd has good speed.

Read more from Rick Snider:

Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s style echoes predecessors

Redskins don’t have a QB controversy despite buzz surrounding Kirk Cousins

Five things to watch in the Redskins’ preseason opener

Redskins get a glimpse at how an elite NFL team practices

A guide to RGIII having a successful season

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