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Redskins-Steelers: 4 Players to Watch

Posted Aug 11, 2011

Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald breaks down the key Redskins players and matchups in Friday night's preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedExField.


Redskins.com looks at four key players to keep an eye on during Friday night’s Redskins-Steelers game at FedExField.

“Redskins-Steelers: 4 Players to Watch” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


-- REX GROSSMAN

The Redskins’ quarterback competition is the storyline of preseason. Grossman is expected to be front and center on Friday night with John Beck uncertain due to a groin injury.

This is Grossman’ third year in Kyle Shanahan’s offense so he should be well-equipped to make the right reads and run through his progressions. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense, ranked No. 2 in the NFL last year, could make things difficult, though.

Turnovers remain the concern with Grossman. In 41 career regular season games, he has thrown 40 interceptions to match his 40 touchdown passes and has also fumbled 14 times.

-- WILL MONTGOMERY

With Trent Williams at left tackle, Kory Lichtensteiger at left guard and Jammal Brown at right tackle, three-fifths of the Redskins’ offensive line is back in place. Newcomer Chris Chester, a free agent addition, mans right guard.

Montgomery takes over at center, his natural position. He played mostly right guard for the Redskins last year.

How the 6-3, 310-pound Montgomery competes against Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton, 6-1 and 325 pounds, could be telling. If Montgomery can hold his own against the powerful Hampton and minimize pressure up the middle, then it bodes well for the Redskins’ interior offensive line.

-- BARRY COFIELD

Cofield was perhaps the Redskins’ marquee free agent signing. He was identified as an ideal fit to play the nose tackle in the Redskins’ 3-4 even though he previously excelled in a 4-3 scheme with the New York Giants the last four years.

Most elite nose tackles such as Casey Hampton and Haloti Ngata command double teams that free up defensive ends, linebackers and safeties to make plays. If Cofield is able to develop into a dominant presence on the line, then it should open things up for defensive playmakers Brian Orakpo and LaRon Landry.

Cofield faces a challenge vs. Pittsburgh. Center Maurkice Pouncey, a second-year player, has already emerged as a Pro Bowl lineman.

-- RYAN KERRIGAN

Kerrigan, the Redskins’ first-round draft pick last April, played defensive end at Purdue but must transition to outside linebacker in Washington’s 3-4 scheme.

Pass rushing comes naturally for the 6-4, 267-pound rookie, but playing in space and covering running backs and tight ends is sure to be a challenge. In training camp, he has spent extra time working with linebackers coach Lou Spanos on coverage technique.

How fast Kerrigan learns coverage could be the deciding factor in whether he starts in Week 1. On Friday night, he will likely be tested by Steelers tight end Heath Miller, a 2009 Pro Bowler who has 282 catches and 28 touchdowns in his career.