In the wake of the suspensions of TE Fred Davis and OT Trent Williams for the rest of the season, the Redskins promoted DL Chris Baker from the practice squad and re-signed TE Dominique Byrd to the
active roster. OT Cole Pemberton was signed to replace Baker on the
If FB Darrel Young (concussion) can't start again
Sunday against New England, former starter Mike Sellers will take his
If SS LaRon Landry (Achilles) can't play for a
third straight game, Reed Doughty will likely start in his place.
A week after they rallied from a 17-7 deficit with less than 10 minutes
to go to beat Seattle 23-17, the Redskins marched 82 yards to the end
zone on their opening drive against the New York Jets. The rest of the
way, they managed just four field goals and 222 yards. And that was
with TE Fred Davis, their leading playmaker, and LT Trent Williams,
their best offensive lineman. Those two are now suspended for the rest
of the season after failing a third drug test. Roy Helu did become the
first Redskins rookie running back to gain 100 yards in consecutive
games, but the Patriots, led by linebacker Jerod Mayo, are 10th in rush
defense. Ex-Patriot WR Jabar Gaffney is now Washington's leading
receiver with 46 catches and 655 yards.
The Redskins held the Seahawks and Jets to an
average of 258 yards the past two weeks but now they get a much more
serious challenge in the Patriots, who average 423.8 yards and have
scored 43 touchdowns compared to just 20 for Washington. The Redskins
are ninth against the pass, but New England's Tom Brady is a whole
different level of opposing quarterback from the likes of Tarvaris
Jackson, Matt Moore, Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith while losing five of
their past six games.
Washington is also tied for the NFL-low with a
minus-13 turnover ratio. Ageless ILB London Fletcher leads the league
with 124 tackles. The Redskins have 33 sacks but didn't get to Sanchez
once last week.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Redskins LTs Sean Locklear/Willie Smith vs. Patriots RDE Andre Carter -- Locklear was so lightly regarded by the Seahawks
after he started 15 games in 2010 that they didn't re-sign him this
summer. He caught on with Washington and has been functional in three
starts but might be replaced by undrafted rookie Smith. Carter, who
didn't fit Washington's 3-4 scheme last year, is better than ever in
New England's 4-3 defense with a team-high nine sacks.
Redskins ILB London Fletcher vs. Patriots
QB Tom Brady -- A decade after they matched wits in Super
Bowl XXXVI with Brady's Patriots edging Fletcher's Rams in the final
seconds, the two stalwart leaders of their franchises will go at it
again for the first time in four years. Brady is having a typical Hall
of Fame-level season (3,916 yards, 30 TDs, 105.9 rating). Fletcher, the
NFL's top tackler, quarterbacks the ninth-ranked defense.
The Patriots recently added WR Dorin Dickerson to the
practice squad. He replaced OL Nick McDonald, who was promoted to the
Dickerson also has the ability to play tight end, but that position has
been filled ably by Rob Gronkowski, so the second-year pro from
Pittsburgh will more than likely compete for a spot on the active
roster at wide receiver, which is an open battle right now.
Dickerson reportedly quit in Pittsburgh after the
Steelers signed him to their practice squad in September, but Dickerson
denied that report. At 6-foot-2, 227-pounds, Dickerson certainly has
the size to fit in this system and could provide depth down the stretch.
Much like the Packers, the Patriots tend to give up a ton of yards
defensively, but they're capable of making a big play at any given
time. This might be the theme of Sunday's game considering Rex Grossman
will be at the helm for the Redskins.
After throwing four interceptions against the
Eagles, the 'Skins benched Grossman in favor of John Beck, who promptly
lost the next three games. Grossman won back the job, but has thrown
only four touchdowns since his return with a whopping six interceptions.
Washington can't seem to find an answer to its
woes in the passing game. Playing New England is an elixir or sorts,
but not with a mistake-prone quarterback. This could be a recipe for
disaster, whether it's Grossman regaining his footing, or New England's
ball-hawking secondary making yet another statement against a weak foe.
The key for Washington will be Roy Helu, who has
been outstanding as Tim Hightower's replacement. Helu has hit the
100-yard rushing mark in each of the last two weeks and also has a
touchdown in each of the past two games. Stopping him is New England's
No. 1 priority.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Redskins WR Jabar Gaffney vs. Patriots CB Devin McCourty
-- Gaffney was never more than a second or third option in New England,
but he's been more valuable than any receiver in Washington this year
-- even Santana Moss. Gaffney has more touchdowns and is averaging more
yards per catch. Conversely, McCourty has struggled in his sophomore
season and looked particularly sluggish last week in his first game
back from a shoulder injury. Gaffney might have a chance to make some
big plays on Sunday.
Patriots RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Redskins LB
London Fletcher -- While he may not be the same
explosive player he was in Buffalo, Fletcher is having a productive
year in terms of big plays; he's forced two fumbles, and has two
interceptions and 1 1/2 sacks. He can still be a disruptive force at
times, so ball security will be as important as ever on Sunday,
particularly in the running game.
Patriots C Dan Connolly v. Redskins NT
Barry Cofield -- The Patriots are somewhat familiar with
Cofield from his days with the Giants, so they know he is as capable of
being disruptive up the middle as any nose tackle in football.
Connolly, who has filled in most of the year for injured starter Dan Koppen, is beyond the point of being a backup and is expected to be as
much of a leader as his predecessor was. This is a good matchup in the
trenches and can determine which side controls the line of scrimmage.
Patriots - Redskins: Game Plans & Matchups
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