OLB Montez Sweat
The first-round pick should make his preseason debut tonight after he was slowed by a calf injury. Sweat is expected to beat Ryan Anderson for the starting role, but needs to prove himself. His size and speed are impressive, but let’s see some skills. Anderson has been fair against the run over two seasons, but the Redskins want more pass pressure to keep opponents from focusing on Ryan Kerrigan on the other side. In practices, Sweat had quick moves past tackles and his run defense seems equal to Anderson’s. Sweat wins the job with a sack or two.
LT Geron Christian
The Redskins will need a Plan B even if Trent Williams returns, given the Pro Bowler has missed games in each of the past five seasons. Christian, a third-round pick in 2018, is coming off a poor rookie season. He played only two games before getting injured. The Redskins weren’t impressed with his practices, either. But he has looked better this preseason, especially when pulling. Still, veteran Donald Penn lurks as a close second. Most likely, Washington will give Christian two starts to prove himself before Penn gets the regular-season nod.
WR Josh Doctson
He might not be fighting for a starting role, but a roster spot. The 2016 first-rounder will be a free agent next year and given his lackluster performance and injury woes, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Redskins cut Doctson for younger options. So he has to give them a reason to keep him. In recent practices, Doctson made two leaping grabs that showed why Washington drafted him so high. But the GM who drafted Doctson is long gone, so he has nobody to champion him. He gets two preseason games to prove himself.
RB Samaje Perine
Coach Jay Gruden loves this underperforming running back. Perine often disappears into the line and never seems to re-emerge for a long gain. As a rookie in 2017, he averaged 3.4 yards per attempt and had only one touchdown in 175 carries. Last year, he was inactive 11 games with only eight carries. It figures Perine is on the way out, but he practices well and Gruden talks him up. Still, Perine needs a big game effort to secure his role or he’ll be vulnerable when injured Bryce Love returns. Byron Marshall could take his spot, too.
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