Keim Time

The Redskins have Tuesdays off. I don't. So, with the opener five days away, here are three things I'm worried about -- for Sunday and the season.

Antonio Pierce in the middle. He's a nice summertime story, but we really don't know what he'll do in this spot. And we're assuming Mike Barrow won't play -- and might not be much of a factor all season. So Pierce needs to play well. But can he? How would we know? I rarely saw him making any tackles this summer and didn't see an ability to shed blockers, as he must. He's fundamentally sound and knows his assignments, which will help. But if the Redskins are going to ask their outside backers to be forces against the pass, then the middle guy must be that way against the run, as the Redskins figured Barrow would be. And I'm not sold that Pierce can be that guy. Not yet.

Injuries. Especially on the offensive line. I know that Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels will play Sunday. I also know that Thomas has been in and out of practices all summer because of his knee and then his neck. The Redskins can't afford an injury to either player. They lack a true backup for Samuels. And I worry about Ray Brown backing up Thomas. Is Brown quick enough to pull against quick defenses (like Tampa Bay and Dallas, etc)? I worry about that.

The pass rush. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said the corners looked bad against St. Louis because the pass rush wasn't any good. Guess what? It won't be that great all season, at least not when it's just the front four. And the corners are a question mark entering the season, which means they'll need help from the rush. Will it be there? Sunday, Brad Johnson will know how to handle the blitzes, and know where to throw if he's given any time at all. I've liked Joe Salave'a all summer and Ron Warner is another nice story. But the man has played only six games since first entering the league in 1998. He's persevered to reach this point, but he's highly inexperienced for a 29-year-old. And if something happens to Phillip Daniels, Warner is a starter. Cornelius Griffin hasn't done much as a rusher of late. He or end Renaldo Wynn must produce more in these situations. Wynn has looked a little quicker this summer. Someone in this group must help produce a rush.


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