The Redskins are looking for role players to emerge Thursday during their second preseason game, against the New York Jets at FedEx Field (8, ESPN). Washington’s starting lineup is secure enough that coach Jay Gruden may again decide to keep some regulars on the bench, but he said the defense is expected to play at full strength for at least one quarter. Whether that includes rookie nose tackle Daron Payne remains to be seen. Gruden needs to decide on a featured running back and fill backup spots on both sides of the ball. Here are five players to watch tonight.
Byron Marshall, running back
What’s Plan B now that rookie running back Derrius Guice is out for the season with a torn ACL? If any of the Redskins’ backs are still capable of surprising coaches, it’s Marshall, a one-time 1,000-yard rusher at Oregon who went undrafted before playing three games with the Eagles in 2016. In four games last year with Washington, Marshall flashed some talent before suffering a hamstring injury. He rushed for only 2 yards on two carries in the preseason opener against New England, but his 25-yard touchdown catch helped his chances of making the roster.
Greg Stroman, cornerback
The seventh-round pick’s growth in training camp is one reason the Redskins released veteran corner Orlando Scandrick this week. Stroman, a first-team all-ACC corner at Virginia Tech last year, is strong in coverage and doesn’t get fooled often. He made five tackles against the Patriots and flashed his speed crossing the field. At 5 feet 11, Stroman has the length to excel, but he could bulk up from 180 pounds to improve against bigger receivers. Stroman is a backup this season, but it’s possible for him to become a starter one day. He also could prove valuable as a return man.
Montae Nicholson, safety
The Redskins are betting that the 2017 fourth-round pick who has practiced well will hold up as a starter. He started six games last season after Su’a Cravens left the team, but he missed eight games with shoulder and head injuries. Nicholson played through a torn labrum during his last season at Michigan State. If he can stay healthy, he can show off his tremendous speed and vision. A former state high school hurdles champion in Pennsylvania, Nicholson flies to the ball and hits hard when he gets there. And he rivals fellow safety D.J. Swearinger as the team’s best trash talker.
Cam Sims, wide receiver
He’s out to prove that Calvin Ridley isn’t the only rookie receiver out of Alabama who will make an impact this year. After making just 41 catches in four college seasons, Sims went undrafted. But he’ll catch your eye in practice with a play or two each day. Because 2017 sixth-round pick Robert Davis is out for the season with ligament damage in his right knee, Sims will get more reps behind Paul Richardson. Coach Jay Gruden said Sims, who is 6 foot 5, has “a good chance” to make the team. He hauled in passes of 57 and 17 yards against the Pats, and Gruden likes to keep a developmental receiver.
Pete Robertson, outside linebacker
Why do teammates talk so much about his potential? He made just four tackles in four games last year, but has shown he can be a ferocious hitter. Robertson, who is a cousin of left tackle Trent Williams, proved his toughness while coming back from a herniated disk suffered while training for the 2016 draft. He went undrafted and was cut late in camp by Seattle. Then he worked the night shift in a warehouse last year, making $400 a week while rehabbing before he joined Washington’s practice squad. In 2014 at Texas Tech, he was sixth in the nation in sacks (12). He could be a fine backup.
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