Saturday, September 12, 2009
With everyone having participated fully in practice Friday at Redskins Park, Washington's coaching staff will face tough decisions in picking the 45-man active roster for Sunday's game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium, Coach Jim Zorn said.
"It's going to make it difficult to choose the right group," he said. "This is the first time I've been involved with that, I think, on any team. We can choose."
The staff was eager to observe cornerback Carlos Rogers, who sat out often during the preseason because of a lingering calf injury.
"We were wondering how he was going to respond," Zorn said. "He responded well. It looks like he's going to be fine. That's about it."
Will the Redskins have five active wide receivers? If so, impressive rookie wideout Marko Mitchell would be with the unit for the opener. Or how about an extra running back? Marcus Mason earned a spot on the opening 53-man roster and could provide extra depth at the position.
"It's a possibility," Zorn said of having Mitchell or Mason active. "That's one of those difficult choices. That's kind of where I'm looking at."
The defensive line also is an area that could be reviewed. Albert Haynesworth and Cornelius Griffin are the starting tackles. Versatile tackle-defensive end Lorenzo Alexander will have a bigger role this season, defensive coordinator Greg Blache said recently, and Kedric Golston is ahead of Anthony Montgomery on the interior.
"Those guys have a rotation. They all have to play," Zorn said. "Playing defensive line is probably the most difficult place to play when you're asking . . . full speed is the only speed to play on the defensive line."
-- STOPPING JACOBS: Brandon Jacobs ran over the Redskins for 187 yards in two meetings last year. So what's the big strategy for stopping the Giants' fifth-year running back this time around? Apparently, not overthinking it.
"We try and make this game more complicated than it is. . . . Guys stand in front of you and try to make this sound like it's rocket science," Blache said. "It's not. It still comes down to blocking and tackling. . . . There are no magic schemes, unless you know where to come up with more than 11. If we've got a way to get an invisible 12th, I'm listening, I'm up for it."
To translate: As it concerns Jacobs, expect to see eight men stacking the box on Sunday. There's really no other way.
What that does, though, is force the Redskins' cornerbacks to go one-on-one with the Giants' young wide receivers, a gamble Washington coaches don't mind making.
The Giants will bring seven wide receivers into the game. None is older than 25. Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith are expected to start, by the way.
"I think it's a great opportunity for their wideouts," Blache said. "I would love to be a wideout on that offense because you're going to get some single coverage just because of all the other weapons that they have."
-- TWO TIGHT ENDS: Don't be surprised to see the Redskins line up in a two-tight-end formation Sunday. The Giants' defensive line is the league's best, and the Redskins need to be smart, creative and efficient in trying to protect quarterback Jason Campbell.
"Obviously, with the Giants, you're talking a great defense, a great line," Campbell said. "Those guys do a great job putting pressure on the quarterback and disrupting the timing of your offense.
"Whenever you play any team, you know you have to have your pass pro set. You have to get your pass pro right against any defense, but especially with the Giants."
Led by Pro Bowl defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, New York applies immense pressure from the edge, which could make things difficult for tackles Chris Samuels and Stephon Heyer in the opener.
The Redskins probably need to help Heyer on the right side as much as possible -- and Samuels at left tackle at times as well -- which means they'll have to commit a running back or a tight end in protection on many plays.
Zorn rarely used a two-tight-end set last season because Fred Davis looked lost, but Davis made plays in the preseason and, most importantly, was where he needed to be at the right time.
"After last year, I just wanted to work hard and show the coaching staff I'm ready to do this," Davis said. "I feel like I've done that. I'm ready to do what I need to do if I'm out there with Chris [Cooley], and I know what I need to know if they need me to be in there for Chris. I'm ready."
-- Jason Reid and Rick Maese