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Need to Know: Five things to watch at Redskins Park including a Plan B for Meriweather

Aug 25, 2014, 5:05 AM EDT

Meriweather-penalty

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 23, three days before the Redskins wrap up the preseason against the Bucs.

Nickel coverage

Here are five things I’ll be watching this week at Redskins Park and in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Bucs:

Clarity at running back—The Redskins had four players who are vying for one or two roster spots when training camp started and nothing has changed. In fact, the picture has grown more muddled by Evan Royster changing from being an afterthought to a real contender with some strong play and with Chris Thompson’s ankle injury dropping his stock.

The kicking competition—It appears that Zack Hocker missed the sweet spot on a couple of kickoff attempts, sending one short and another squibbing down the field. For his part, Kai Forbath booted a mediocre kickoff in the late going that was returned to near midfield. It still seems like Hocker is ahead but is he up by enough to make Jay Gruden and company comfortable jettisoning the tested (but kickoff-challenged) Forbath?

QB controversy buzz—There is not really a quarterback controversy but Joe Theismann’s comments do ramp up the rhetoric. Does this become a national “thing” with media asking the players about it?

A Plan B for Meriweather—It would not be surprising at all if strong safety Brandon Meriweather is suspended for at least the season opener and perhaps longer after he delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Ravens WR Torrey Smith last night. Will they start Phillip Thomas, who has worked more at strong safety but hasn’t played much in the preseason due to a hamstring injury? Or will it be Bacarri Rambo, who is more of a free safety?

Injury recoveries—It appears that Stephen Bowen and Leonard Hankerson will start the season the PUP list but we don’t know that for certain. The trickier injuries are to inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who has a high ankle sprain, and Morgan Moses, who has a sprained MCL. If it looks like they will be out for a while, extra bodies at their positions may need to be carried on the  53.

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I’ll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice and player availability, times TBA

—It’s been 239 days since the Redskins played a game; in 13 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Final cuts 5; Home opener vs. Jaguars 20; Redskins @ Eagles 27

In case you missed it

  1. barrymoyer - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    My 2 cents…They’d be nuts to give Forbath the boot. Both Meriweather and Griffin appear to be slow learners when it comes to correcting flaws and both are fast becoming huge disappointments, especially Griffin, who seems to be regressing in spite of Gruden’s insistence that he isn’t ( Frankly, I fully expect Griffin’s play to be so poor that we’ll see Cousins as the starter by game 6 in spite of the payroll). Keep Royster. Cut Hankerson. Lastly, mute buttons were put on remotes to deal with motor-mouths like Theismann. Do yourself a favor, USE IT!

    • patrick - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:17 AM

      Here’s one problem, this isn’t asuperbowl or bust year. This is a developmental year so you will have to wait an extra year if Griffin doesn’t show progress in this system. It won’t happen right away. We are in build mode like it or not.

      • deepball1 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        if this is a developmental year then why go out and get a 35 year old safety? Why bring in a 32 year old Defensive Lineman and keep a bunch of other 30 plus defensive linemen? Why keep 35 year old Santana Moss instead of bringing more young receivers on board?

        Ya see, the theory that the Redskins just want to develop young guys for the future in place of winning doesn’t hold up. With all those 30 plus defensive players, and adding D. Jackson with basically a 2 year contract, they obviously are intent on winning the division THIS YEAR, and with that said, they must believe that Griffin gives them a better chance to win each game than Cousins.

        Cousins looks better than RG3 as a drop back QB. But we haven’t seen the 2014 real offense yet.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:37 PM

          if this is a developmental year then why go out and get a 35 year old safety?
          –It’s to groom the young safeties you have and also because Clark is still a quality starter for teams like ours that have inexperienced Safeties.

          Why bring in a 32 year old Defensive Lineman and keep a bunch of other 30 plus defensive linemen?
          –Because even at 32 Hatcher was still among the better down rushing linemen in the league. The preseason game against the Ravens actually validated this somewhat.

          Why keep 35 year old Santana Moss instead of bringing more young receivers on board?
          –Do any of the other the other WRs we may cut instead of Moss show any long term potential? Moss is a long time Redskin and can still provide immediate help on our offense. As for me, I’d consider keeping Rashad Ross because he’s had the best kick off return so far and also has shown he is good on go routes. However, I haven’t seen how Ross handles catches in the middle of the field on play against 1st team opponents. So I leave that up to the coaching staff.

          I don’t exactly agree we are in a development year but hiring a rookie coach seems to allude to it being one. We certainly are not intending on being Superbowl contenders. Those question you posed doesn’t absolve the idea of a development year. Lastly, what was our record last season?

    • realfan82 - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:29 AM

      Newsflash: this isn’t a superbowl or bust year so you can cancel throwing griffin to the curve as you’d like to get your “traditional” face on the franchise. This is a building year to develop griffin so don’t expect a 10 win season, don’t expect the playoffs, none of that. We should see the finished product next year if we go good this year, great but don’t expect it.

      • Danny - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:36 AM

        Why should we not expect some level of success from our 3rd year Qb that won rookie of the year? I simply dont understand this line of thinking, and I actually think the people using that logic are being much more condescending toward RG3 than the people directly calling out his poor play. You dont even here this crap about Ryan Tannehill.

        We should not expect perfection… but proficiency? Competence?

  2. cowboyhater - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    Let’s see….we have a punter who has no hang time, a kicker who can’t get kickoff’s past the 10 yrd line, a QB who is having issues learning Gruden’s system, a strong safety who will not make it out of the preseason because he can’t control how he tackles, a over the hill free safety; a underwhelming offensive line, an injury prone outside LB, but we do have decent receivers, and a good RB. Uh, oh…..I think we may be in trouble. I will have to find something to do on Sunday’s this fall. I think I will keep up with my yard work.

    • realfan82 - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:32 AM

      yea keep up with your yard work, championships are built off of impatience. I think we are finally doing something that hasn’t been done since the previous owner, and that’s building a championship team. Gibbs didn’t come in his first year and just “win it all” don’t expect gruden to either

      • cowboyhater - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:53 AM

        Oh…is that what you call it? Blind homers crack me up. Listen, been a fan for over 35 years and it’s great to have optimism before the season begins, and to have patience with another new staff to build a championship, but when you have seen this movie over and over and over for past 20 years at some point you have to be a realist with this organization. I’ve had patience to see this organization trying build a championship level team, but now I’m just at the point of instead of being stressed watching this team struggle game in and game out every week, it would better for my health to just find another activity so I don’t end up throwing my shoe through my tv. How’s that for sharing a thought from at real fan. Trust me, I’m not looking at a win it all/now team, but I am looking for progress and improvement, and as it seems to me we have begun to regress once again. I hope I’m wrong, but the sniff test tells me this will be a long year, and for your sake you better hope to see Griffin mature and grow in this offense to lead this team in the future.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:59 PM

          You made this determination about progress and improvement based on one poorly played preseason game?

          Also, calling another Redskins Fan a “blind homer” for having hope for this team suggest to me that you should just remove Cowboys from that name of yours since you are being just a plain hater. Work on that yard work as you suggest since I think you are better at doing that than being a Redskins Fan.

    • deepball1 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      and with all that said….now the positive. You have next years draft to look forward to when the Skins get the number one pick according to your analysis.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    How many years did it take for Drew Brees to become a star QB?

    How about Aaron Rodgers?

    Yet people are ready to give up on Griffin after 1 great rookie year, and one horrible injury-plagued season in which everything that could went wrong for the team.

    Get a grip, people.
    ~

    • cowboyhater - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      Now since you are using other QB’s to make your point…..Let’s see Russell Wilson (3rd yr QB w/a superbowl championship), Luck (3rd yr playoff QB, showing improvement every year), Kapernick (4th yr QB taking his team to a superbowl, nfc championship), Andy Dalton (4th yr QB taking his team to the playoffs 3 straight years). I have a grip, but if Griffin doesn’t show us any progress throughout the year, what do you do now? I’m not giving up on the kid, but giving up 3 #1’s and going to the playoffs in 2012, I have high expectations just as every fan of the redskins should have. Let’s be real here…..

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        Kaepernick, you say?
        —-
        San Francisco’s first-team offense continues to struggle, as it’s produced just six points on seven series through three preseason contests. Kaepernick played four drives Sunday, and has gone 12-of-22 passing for 115 yards and no touchdowns or picks this preseason.
        —-

        OMG! Bench him!

        Look, you aren’t being real. You’re freaking out over about 3 quarters of preseason by a QB who is being converted into a pocket passer for the first time in his life.
        ~

      • Bruce Ware - Aug 27, 2014 at 7:56 PM

        Still can’t get it right didn’t give up three 1st round picks jeez

    • deepball1 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      nobody is giving up on Griffin if he wants to be like Aaron Rogers then he should do what Rogers did which is stand on the sideline with a Clip board and learn how to fit into the offense. Rogers did not play during his 3rd season. Griffin would benefit from watching Cousins run this offense for a year.

  4. bowlregard - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Sorry to be optimistic, but the defense played great against the Ravens. All they needed to do was figure out how to control Steve Smith. And the Ravens just needed to figure out how to control Santana Moss.

    • deepball1 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      re: the defense. There have been a WHOLE LOT of teams that have had problems with Steve Smith. Plus the Skins won’t play on the road and have to bring down a 6 ft. 6 inch QB every week

  5. deepball1 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    There most certainly is a QB controversy in Washington right now….BUT…..if the Redskins win the first game on the road ……come home and beat Jacksonville….ALL of this will go away and people will go back to talking about how much value Cousins will bring in a trade.

  6. yournameisoffensive - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Nothing annoys me more than Meriweather still being on the Redskins roster. He is built for previous years when the highlight knockout was still acceptable. He is not good for the Now NFL. He will cause more bad than good. I think it’s humorous that people want Cousins over RGIII. Cousins has been playing against 2nd and 3rd stringers and since he’s viewed as a potential starter in the NFL it would only make sense that he would look good against players who are just hoping to make a roster. I believe RGIII would also look really good against these players. I don’t think its a rebuilding year but it also shouldn’t be a Super Bowl or bust year either. We should be able to stay competitive with the roster we assembled and theoretically compete for the division. I don’t think they are on the same level as Denver or Seattle but I do think the roster should compete with the NFC East. I stress the word compete. That is where this team should be.

    • gasngo14 - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Agree but if RG3 continues this kind of play we won’t compete with anyone! Then what?

      • yournameisoffensive - Aug 25, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        If RGIII is this terrible during the regular season then I guess they would have to see if Kirk can do any better. Remember though last year when RGIII was struggling and they shut RGIII down and put Cousins in that he struggled with the same team. He actually did worse than RGIII. I know it’s a different offense this year and Kirk might be stronger in this one but nothing from the 2 previous years says Cousins can do what RGIII can’t. Now get me wrong I like Cousins too. I just think RGIII has more talent.

  7. manchild157 - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Rich- can there actually be clarity at the rb position in the final preseason game when they will be going against 2nd, 3rd, 4th stringers. Usually starters get no creditability by going against those players. I realize they aren’t starters and I assume this is the only means available. Your comment please.

    • Rich Tandler - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      It’s as clear as it will get. Special teams play, practices also will count (especially special teams).

      > >

  8. moneylova - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    They shouldn’t suspend Brandon merriweather for the hit on torrey smith cause torrey smith lower his helmet and it showed on the replay that B. Merriweather didnt hit his helmet he aim at his mid section of his body but the reaction to torrey smith made the refs called the flag torrey smith…it was a clean hard hit that shook up the wide receiver thats all…and rg3 showed he can move the offense down the field it wasnt just him who made mistakes on Saturday that right side of the O-line need to be fixed if they gonna turn rg3 to an elite pocket passer…I think kirk cousins wouldve struggle just like rg3 if he was in there with the starters…ppl thought kirk was gonna light it up last year in the final 3 games but he didnt he had more INTS then touchdowns and showed the same struggle as rg3 ..why kirk struggle ? Bad O-line who cant protect the pocket and the lack of weapons we had but this preseason our O-line been getting man handle…our starting O-line look like backups and the backup O-line look like starters

    • goredskins11 - Aug 25, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      FINALLY!!! Someone gets it. I agree with everything you said here %100. I was about to make the same remarks about Merriweather (Smith lowering his head) and RG3 playing against the first team defense, but you did an excellent job making those points. I’ll just add that RG3 didn’t have the luxury of the same level of protection from his line that Cousins enjoyed against the Ravens second team defense and RG3 also had some bad luck on some big plays. First, there should have been interference called on that long throw to Jackson when the defender stuck his arms into Jackson arms and guided him out of bounds before the ball even reached him. Jackson still made the catch, but was out of bounds because of the contact. Second, RG3 made another big throw to Reed that was called back by a call on Williams for holding. Yes, RG3 made some mistakes but he didn’t look as bad as people are making it out to be. Cousins made quite a few mistakes as well and missed some open receivers and that was against a second team defense.

    • kenlinkins - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      The problem with the Merriweather hit is the way he lowered his head and launched his body even thou he connected with his shoulder first (into T Smiths shoulder). As T Smith lowers his head to protect himself after the two shoulders hit, the two head hit as Merriweather then followed up by using his arms to push T Smith over. This gave the effect of T Smith being “rag dolled” on the hit (which did not happen). If Merriweather had not lowered his head and used the crown of his helmet there would have been no flag. If Merriweather’s facemask had connected T Smiths facemask then IMO everything would have been alright. The replay shows Merriweather’s helmet crown hitting T. Smiths facemask which will get you a flag every time. The term “heads up play’ comes from guys who hit with eyes looking at the other player, not down at the ground (the smart way because you can still see what is happening). I understand wanting to defend Merriweather but this is not the play to do that. He will be fined and maybe given a game or two off at the start of the season and if so, the NFL will be right to do so under the rules.

    • ceetown22 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      I feel like B Merriweather even put his head to the side a little and pushed his shoulder up just before the hit and YES T Smith lowered the helmet but I’m not even sure from the replay if it was helmet to helmet, it looked like it slid off Merriweather’s shoulder pad and then hit the helmet – incidental contact if you ask me

  9. gasngo14 - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Rich, what’s your opinion on our OLine , and is there any word or timetable on Moses & Long becoming a starter?

    I asked you a few articles back when they were going to move these two over to the right side in practice and boom that week they did so I guess that’s encouraging… any thoughts?

    • gasngo14 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      REALLY RICH ..NO IMPUT?

      • Rich Tandler - Aug 26, 2014 at 5:27 AM

        Hey, boss, sorry. I do have a day job. You’ve got to give me 12-24 hours to respond on days when I’m out at Redskins Park.

        There is no timetable for Moses and Long starting. Fortunately Moses’ injury wasn’t serious so it won’t set him back. I think that as of right now the plan is to have them start in 2015. If they push harder in practice maybe it could happen this year.

        Overall, the line is not as bad as fan opinion believes it is. But if they are going to be a good team, a consistent playoff team, it needs to be better. When they get Long and Moses in there it will improve.

        • gasngo14 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM

          Thanks Rich, sounds good to me, the sooner the better I’m hoping. I will be a bit more patient next time.. have a great day at the park!
          HTTR!

  10. colmac69 - Aug 25, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    The scary thing with o-line was ravens getting so much pressure with four guys….they looked completely overwhelmed and got man handled…..watched merriweather hit few times and he definitely didnt go for head shot…..if he gets a ban its because of his reputation(also watched his hit on pierce ,, talk bout stonewalling a player)….

  11. redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    Sorry but I’m carrying a comment over from another post since I’m somewhat disgusted by reaction of some Redskin Fans. For me, I’ll leave it with this comment below about RG3. There is no sense in discussing RG3 status as our staring QB any further until half way through the regular season.

    ———–
    I know what preseason means for teams. It’s all about preparation. For a QB; it’s about getting your reads down, working on the timing with the WRs/TEs, and getting ready for real game speed. For RG3 this season; it also means learning a new system under a new head coach/offensive coordinator. There are similarities in schemes from last season but there is still a learning curve. There is also still the process of learning to better work in the pocket and scramble better when you must. Cousins played under a similar scheme at Michigan State, Cousins didn’t have major knee surgery to recover from in his NFL career nor did he have to start game 1 with no OTA or TC, Cousins didn’t have to learn to play while going up against 1st team players, and Cousins hasn’t had to live under the scrutiny of being a franchise investment, etc. I want to see an environment where he has the best opportunity to grow while some fans are creating an environment that indicates he has already failed, is a bust, and should not be the starter. It’s wrong what you fans are doing to this kid! Like it or not he probably reads our BS and he deserves a better fan base than what he has been given.

    Also, every year some of the best teams have poor preseasons. Those same teams miraculously turn it around when the season starts. Will RG3 fix all his issues by the start of the season? Probably no but I expected some struggles early. What I didn’t expect is the lynching of RG3 by fans that I’m seeing already. I thought we were better and smarter than Cowboy Fans.
    ————

  12. kenlinkins - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Problems at Safety: Just read that Merriweather will get a games off at the start of the season, Thomas is having his sore foot checked, Clark still has a hamstring problem and Rambo is still not yet playing that great. Rich:, What could this mean for the 53 man roster?

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      I think Rambo has played much better but I’d prefer not to see him as our starter opening weekend.

    • Rich Tandler - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      They can replace Meriweather on the roster while he’s suspended. Not sure if they have to cut to 53 and then remove Meriweather and replace him or if he can be moved right to suspended as part of going to 53. Could open a door for Adrian Robinson or Akeem Davis.

      > >

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:45 PM

        Rich, unless politics is prevailing here, Meriweather has a solid case for an appeal

        • Rich Tandler - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:47 PM

          Not sure what you mean by “politics” but his history will certainly play into it.

          > >

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:49 PM

          That is the politics I’m referring to. How can they justify a suspension when there was not actual helmet collision. A man should not be condemned for an offense he didn’t commit because of the ones he committed in the past. I don’t expect a reversal but hold some hope on one.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      Actually we are playing the Texans so Rambo may manage well week one.

  13. redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    It is official Meriweather is suspended two games for what really was a shoulder pad hit to the helmet. The video clearly demonstrates no helmet collision yet the NFL still suspends him. I hope he appeals since this is as valid of a reason to an appeal that one can have.

  14. mlandon24 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:11 AM

    Defensive backs cannot help that any receiver in a blind hit situation is going to duck his head as contact happens. You can aim for the numbers and lead with your shoulder, but it won’t matter if the receiver lowers his pad level a split second before contact is made.
    Real issue here is that BM has a target on his back, but at some point these calls need to be viewed more objectively.

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