The Washington Redskins meet the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3 of the preseason Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Here are five things to watch ahead of the game.
1. Final Dress Rehearsal
With Week 3 of the preseason often serving as the final live snaps for projected starters prior to the regular season, head coach Jay Gruden will be closely monitoring the reps for first-teamers on both sides of the ball.
Under center, the reps will be split between veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, with a few snaps from Jalan McClendon likely mixed in. Colt McCoy will miss his third straight preseason game as he continues rehabbing the leg injury he suffered last season.
“Ideally, it'd be after this game," Gruden said on when he'd like to choose a starting quarterback. “There's still some work to be done. You might have your general thoughts on who it might be, but if something happens in preseason game three where you might have to flop them, you never know."
Keenum started the first two preseason games and showed strong command of the offense, even though his numbers (3-for-7 passing) against the Cincinnati Bengals appeared lackluster. Several penalties put Keenum in difficult down-and-distance situations, while another yellow flag negated a long touchdown to wideout Steven Sims Jr.
Haskins, meanwhile, worked primarily with the second and third units during these contests. After a two-interception effort in the preseason opener, Haskins produced a turnover-free, 114-yard performance against the Bengals that included his first NFL touchdown.
2. Wide Receiver Roulette
One of the Redskins’ most-intriguing position battles will take center stage Thursday, though two projected starters will likely spend the night on the sidelines.
Trey Quinn, who has been dealing with a thumb injury from the preseason opener, returned to practice Monday but will not play against the Falcons, Gruden told reporters Tuesday. Gruden added Richardson will probably not go after missing some time with a quad issue.
Their absences will provide roster hopefuls with increased opportunities. One of those players is Robert Davis, who will look to continue his standout preseason that includes two receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
“[Davis] continues to make plays," Gruden said. "The more he gets his legs under him I think he’s got a chance to do some more things this week. Mentally, he’s doing a good job. Physically, he’s making some plays. Looks like he’s running pretty good.”
Other beneficiaries include slot receivers Darvin Kidsy, who led the Redskins in receiving in the preseason opener, and undrafted rookie Steven Sims, who has garnered praise from Gruden throughout training camp and the preseason. There’s also Cam Sims, who fully understands the importance of having preseason success. After going undrafted in 2018, Sims wowed the organization enough to make the 53-man roster. This preseason has not been nearly as productive (one catch for six yards), but Thursday night offers the best opportunity yet to stand out.
3. Offensive Line Rotation
Thursday's game will likely provide a clearer picture into how the Redskins will rotate their offensive linemen to start the 2019 season. Geron Christian and Ereck Flowers are the starters at left tackle and left guard for now, but Washington could opt to rotate in veteran Donald Penn and rookie Wes Martin on Thursday night. Whoever wins these jobs will join Chase Roullier (center), Brandon Scherff (right guard) and Morgan Moses (right tackle) along the offensive front in Philadelphia.
4. Success of the Starting Defense
After an un-relenting performance against the Bengals, the Redskins starting defense will look to limit a high-powered Falcons offense. Touting a speedy-group of wideouts, Redskins defensive backs Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar and Jimmy Moreland will receive a solid test. Moreland seems poised to earn the start at nickel as Fabian Moreau nurses an ankle sprain. Thursday’s game will also give Redskins fans another opportunity to see more of the team’s talented front seven as well as safety Landon Collins, who has made his presence felt throughout training camp.
5. Injury Report
After the conclusion of Tuesday's practice, Gruden addressed multiple injuries and each player’s outlook for Thursday night.
As mentioned above, Quinn will not play and Richardson will probably sit as well. Moreau will also be sidelined after injuring his ankle.
Along the defensive line, Tim Settle (knee) and Caleb Brantley (foot) participated in individual drills Tuesday, but Gruden said their statuses for Thursday remain uncertain.
Tight end Jordan Reed is healthy but will be a “game-time decision” according to Gruden. The team may decide to save one of their best pass-catching threats for Week 1 of the regular season Sept. 8.