The 3-2 Washington Redskins get back to work today to begin preparations for a critical game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte.
After five weeks of relative peace, the Redskins find themselves plagued by uncertainty.
Here are some key areas to monitor this week:
> Quarterback decision – Coach Mike Shanahan says that today is the day that he will announce whether the Rex Grossman experiment continues, or whether the John Beck era gets underway this week. Grossman was benched Sunday after throwing four interceptions, but is it too early to hit the panic button? Santana Moss says Grossman deserves another shot. But will he get it?
> Offensive line moves – The uncertainty extends to the offensive line. Kory Lichtensteiger is done for the year with a knee injury, Will Montgomery is taking over as starting left guard, and unproven second-year pro Erik Cook moves in at center. Washington let the trade deadline pass without making a move for a veteran lineman, and instead has promoted rookie Maurice Hurt from the practice squad to provide depth at guard. But who plays left tackle with Trent Williams out with a high ankle sprain--Sean Locklear, or usual right tackle Jammal Brown?
> Cooley’s fate – Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley is scheduled to have surgery on his fractured left index finger Wednesday, and is out indefinitely. Shanahan said after getting his finger tended to, Cooley and the team will seek additional opinions on the balky left knee that has limited the tight end this season. Will he return this season?
> Armstrong’s status – The Redskins have missed the deep threat that second-year wideout Anthony Armstrong provides. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, but says he plans to play on Sunday. He also was hopeful last week, however, and ended up being limited in practice every day and was held out of the Eagles’ game. We’ll see what he’s able to do when the team hits the field today.
> Shoring up the run defense – Washington let the Eagles run all over them for 192 yards Sunday, and this week will face another mobile quarterback in Cam Newton (4.6 yards per carry), who is accompanied by two effective backs in DeAngelo Williams (5.2 yards per carry) and Jonathan Stewart (4.8 yards per carry). Stopping the run will rank among the top priorities for the Redskins defense this week.