There are three in the books, and now only one preseason exhibition game remains for the cast of wannabes and hopefuls all vying for a place on the Washington Redskins‘ final 53-man roster. Some are really standing out and making serious cases for further review. Others are not.
Washington’s defense was ridiculous against a high-flying Baltimore Ravens offense. As a matter of fact, it has been lights-out through three preseason games. The first-team defense put the Ravens’ ground game in neutral, allowing a microscopic 82 yards to a unit that averaged a league-best 194 per game.
The defensive front also denied the Ravens on two big fourth-and-short attempts. Washington’s defense has the ingredients to make some serious noise in 2014.
I can’t say the same thing about the offense just yet. Numbers don’t lie, and the first-team hasn’t exactly produced jaw-dropping figures throughout the preseason. But then again, it doesn’t need to. First-year head coach Jay Gruden reserves the right not to reveal wrinkles in his playbook until the Redskins’ Week 1 season opener against the Houston Texans, and he is more than likely exercising that right at this point.
On that note, Washington’s Thursday night preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will feature the Buccaneers’ reserves playing against a Redskins second-team offense that has been nothing short of razor-sharp, decisive and near frightening at times.
And while we’re talking about uncertainty, the Redskins’ special teams unit is still surrounded by question marks at this point.
Washington’s return game has been upgrades considerably with the acquisitions of Andre Roberts, Adam Hayward, Trent Murphy, Clemson DB Bashaud Breeland, Indiana TE Ted Bolser and Arkansas placekicker Zach Hocker. The placekicking battle should continue to go through Washington’s preseason finale against the Buccaneers, as neither kicker has been booted from the depth chart. This is assuming, of course, that Gruden hasn’t been planning to have two placekickers on his roster; it’s unlikely, but stranger things have occurred.
The Buccaneers are riding the wake of a decisive win over the Buffalo Bills, and are chomping at the mouthpiece for one more dress rehearsal. It’s all or nothing now, and the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher for both rosters.