Many fans consider the fourth preseason game to be ‘a waste of viewing time’ because so many starters will not only not play much, they will not play at all. However, it may be the game where the most NFL roster positions are decided, as the second and third stringers battle it out for the right to back-up their often more heralded teammates. Sometimes the games can be a little less polished, but they can also often be a little more hotly contested.
Here are five Redskins that I’ll be paying close attention to, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight:
Kirk Cousins – So far this offseason, Cousins has been impressive both on and off the field. He knows that he isn’t gunning for RGIII’s job, but he should be gunning pretty hard for Rex Grossman’s back-up job. The Redskins aren’t likely to go into the season with two rookies as the only options at quarterback, so Grossman will be there; but if Cousins can light it up tonight, he might be able to secure himself more reps at practice each week, as the Skins youth movement continues in full force.
Cousins likely couldn’t do enough to prove that he could come into the middle of a game, should RGIII get hurt, but he might be able to show the coaches that he’d be able to start the following week, if that less-than-ideal scenario were to play out. He’ll be starting and will see a little bit stiffer defensive competition than he has so far, so it will be a good test for the young man.
Anthony Armstrong – The Redskins wide receiver battle in 2012 is complex. There is absolutely no doubt of the top 3 of Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, and Leonard Hankerson. I would put Santana Moss in there too, but with Chris Cooley’s release yesterday, how deep is this youth overhaul going to go? I still think he’s our absolute best option in the slot, so put Moss in at 4, but it gets a little more convoluted after that. I think Aldrick Robinson is a lock at number 5, but not all would agree. Then you have Dez Briscoe, Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, and Armstrong vying for basically one roster spot (maybe two after Cooley’s release yesterday). AA has been on the shelf most of the preseason with an injury. He would appear to be on the outside looking in right now, but one thing is for sure, tonight’s game is his last opportunity to show for himself. Armstrong has to know that if he is given an opportunity tonight, he’s playing not only for the Redskins coaching staff, but any NFL coaching staff scouring waiver wires next week for wide receivers.
Dez Briscoe – In my opinion Briscoe has already shown enough to be considered the #6 receiver, but another strong performance tonight would just cement that. That isn’t to say that that’s enough to earn a roster slot because this deep in the 53-man, other positions can come into play, but I think the Redskins keep 6 receivers and if Mike Shanahan is true to his word and won’t keep Banks on the strength of special teams alone, then Briscoe deserves the last receiver spot. So tonight is a big opportunity for him to show the Redskins coaches that his size and hands, are a worthwhile selection over AA’s speed, or Banks’ ST abilities.
Brian Kehl – Unfortunately Kehl is in really tough, vying for a spot in what is undoubtedly the Redskins deepest unit on the team – linebacker. But after reading Zac Boyer’s great piece this week, I’ll definitely have an eye on him. He’s had a good camp… will it be good enough to earn that roster spot created by Cooley’s departure yesterday?
Billy Cundiff – If the Redskins are just going to hand the former Raven the job after not really letting Neil Rackers or Shayne Graham TRULY compete for it in the last two preseasons, I will certainly be watching Cundiff closer than I might normally watch a kicker in preseason game number four. Obviously the Redskins are confident enough in Cundiff to not even let Graham Gano continue to fight for the job that he held, so I’m anxious to see how the much-traveled kicker does. I won’t be watching his kicks, so much as I am watching the timing and rhythm of the entire field goal kicking unit. Long snapper Nick Sundberg and holder Sav Rocca don’t exactly have a lot of time to smooth out the kinks with Cundiff, so hopefully they can get off to a clean start tonight against the Bucs.
Who will you be watching closely?
Follow me on Twitter @TheHogsdotNet and let me know!
Kickoff is at 7pm. Hail to everyone at Fed Ex Field holding it down!