The Washington Post

Redskins-Rams: Five storylines to follow

The Washington Redskins look to get the taste of Monday’s disappointing defeat out of their mouths as they pay the St. Louis Rams a visit Sunday.

The Redskins enter the game with a 2-1 record, while the Rams are still seeking their first win at 0-3.

Here are five story lines to follow as the Redskins aim to enter the bye week on a victorious note.

1.) The mental game – This is one of those “trap games,” because Washington is coming off a heartbreaker, has had a shorter week to prepare, is facing a losing team on the road and players know their vacation week is looming. But Washington’s players insist they’re mentally sharp, fully tuned in and very hungry to redeem themselves. Last year the Redskins expected to roll into St. Louis and thump the Rams, but lost 30-16. They are determined not to let that happen again.

2.) Ball security Rex Grossman says he’s harder on himself than anyone else and is aiming to cut down on turnovers. He has five (three interceptions and two fumbles) in three games. For Washington to succeed, he’ll have to do a better job.

3.) Red zone execution – Until the Redskins can consistently put points on the board, this will continue to be an issue regardless of how much Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan and the players try to downplay it. They all insist they are close and need only small adjustments. The Rams defense is second-worst in the league in points allowed (32 a game). This should be a team Washington’s offense can get right against both in red zone execution and the running game.

4.) Defensive pressure – The unsuccessful third-and-21 all-out blitz call against Dallas hasn’t rattled Jim Haslett, who says his defense will continue to blitz aggressively. Look for the Redskins to go after young Sam Bradford, who already has been sacked 11 times. The Eagles got to him four times, the Ravens sacked him five times. Can Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan & Co. find similar success?

5.) Kicking game – The Redskins obviously would like it if they only had to use Graham Gano, Sav Rocca and Nick Sundberg on extra point attempts, but the team likely will have to settle for some field goals here and there. After that trio enjoyed a perfect preseason, the field goal unit has yet to go a week without some type of blunder. Rocca said the bad hold against Dallas Monday already is out of his system. Gano last week drilled a career-long 50-yarder following that gaffe. Are the struggles over?

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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