Nickel Package: 5 Things to Watch for Tonight

The Redskins have made it clear what their preseason objective is: look better than 2006. In reality, that shouldn't be too hard considering they were outscored 104-27 last summer. And, if it's possible, they looked even worse than the numbers indicated. So they'll put more of an emphasis on looking good, if not winning. But it won't matter if they win and the starters look bad.

Here's what you need to look for tonight:

1. Left side of the line. One word could sum up this side: Yikes! OK, we don't think it'll be that bad, but the Redskins are putting out a rookie left tackle, an undrafted one at that, and a novice left guard. This is who will protect franchise QB Jason Campbell. It's a tremendous test to see if a) The Redskins have any depth at tackle and b) if they have their left guard. The problem is, neither can really help the other because they're both inexperienced at what they do. On the other hand, at least Todd Wade can tutor Stephon Heyer on the field, having played tackle in the past. The Redskins have to hope the Titans don't try to consistently pressure from this side. They'll likely line up the tight end on this side, but we also know that they're not always confident leaving Jon Jansen one on one.

2. Jason's progress. His mechanics have clearly been sharpened this offseason. Watch when he's throwing the ball: does he take five steps, plant and throw? That's good. Sometimes, he needs to hitch before he throws, but never more than twice. Also, is he looking off the safeties? That's a big area that needs to be developed. Is he winding up? That, too, has been cut down this summer but he has yet to show his new form in the heat of battle.

3. LaRon Landry. I really like this kid, but it's hard to really gauge his progress until he gets in a game. Landry wants to go for the big hit often and that could get him in trouble. But it'll be interesting to see how he handles himself in the box, and with Sean Taylor. Landry is clearly being groomed to start early. Landry is not considered great in coverage, but he is fast which will allow him to cause some havoc in the box.

4. The defensive line. Are they better? Well, we really won't know until the season begins because much of their success depends on them staying healthy. But pay attention to Andre Carter. At times he's been very unimpressive in camp, much like last year when he started painfully slow (not according to the coaches, however). Is he getting driven off the line against the run? Is he getting any pressure? Is Cornelius Griffin plugging the middle? We need to see those signs early. They can no longer rely on flipping some switch.

5. Defensive lineman Lorenzo Alexander. OK, he won't really figure much into the Redskins' rotation this year. Or will he? The coaches do like Alexander, who spent last season on Washington's practice squad and the previous year on Carolina's. He's got some muscle and tends to flash once a practice or so. He whipped past Randy Thomas the other day and has had his moments against Jason Fabini and others. Not sure how this will play out, but Alexander bears watching.

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