Brunell will start against Miami at 8 p.m. ET Saturday in the Redskins (1-1) third preseason game. It's his second start of the summer as he jostles with Patrick Ramsey for the starting job. Neither quarterback has distinguished himself, but Brunell would appear to be ahead by default, based on Ramsey's struggles.
But if Brunell can show the Dolphins what they missed out on, then maybe this race will have a firm leader.
Here's a primer for the game:
What Brunell needs to do: Show accuracy. This offense, any offense, demands it. If he can do that, then he'll win the job. But he also needs to lead some touchdown drives, not just by one long pass, either.
What Ramsey needs to do: Look comfortable. He's jittery in the pocket and doesn't seem to be throwing with the zip of the past couple seasons. Ramsey looks like a rookie, albeit one who is used to the speed of the game. But he's clearly behind Brunell in comfort level. Ramsey must prove he can execute this offense, something he hasn't shown yet. In some ways, playing for Steve Spurrier's experimental offense has put him way behind when it comes to running an actual NFL attack. After watching practices and games, it seems the best thing for him might be to sit and learn for a year.
Battle to watch: Running backs. John Simon could get some carries in the second and third quarter and needs to prove he could help on more than just special teams. Rock Cartwright appears to have moved ahead in the battle for what could be the last spot. Also, watch how Sultan McCullough performs in roles other than carrying the ball. How does he do picking up blitzes? Last season, players privately complained he didn't know what he was doing -- hey, he was a rookie. But if he can show he can play special teams and do little things in the backfield, he'd be worth keeping.
Show me something: Scott Cloman is one of the nicest guys you'll meet in the NFL. We'd love to see him make the roster. But we haven't seen him do anything yet.
Keep your eye on: Defensive end Ron Warner. He's coming off an excellent game against the Panthers; can he keep it going?
Keep another eye on: Right tackle Kenyatta Jones. He's supposedly only at 85 percent. Still, he needs to show he can be a fulltime tackle and he hasn't shown that yet. His balance is shaky because he loses leverage too fast. Last week they provided him with plenty of help. When they didn't, he stumbled.
Player on the rise: Defensive back Rufus Brown. Made a few nice plays last week and opened the eyes of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. . . . Safety Sean Taylor. An obvious one.
What we'd like to see: A nice drive by the first offense. We know the Redskins are being vanilla. So are other teams and they move the ball. This comes down to execution and the Redskins must show that they can open holes without the help of schemes. But it would help if the Redskins had a consistent lineup rather than having so many players miss practice with nagging injuries. It robs them of the necessary cohesion. At some point, that will matter.
We'd also like to see: better tackling by the defense. The Redskins have barely opened the defensive playbook. Instead, the coaches just want to see the fundamentals, like tackling and shedding blocks.
Starting to wonder about: Returner/running back Chad Morton. He's electric and can be a major pest out of the backfield. He's also constantly hurt. Not saying he should be cut, or will be, but I would like to see some consistency there. If he wants to be a third-down back at all, then he must prove he can stay healthy. Otherwise, he's just a returner.
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