Five to Watch
1. Stephon Heyer.
He has to become a better run blocker if this offense is ever to get moving. Heyer missed enough blocks last week to slow the ground game, not to mention the passing attack. He'll face Leonard Little Sunday; no easy task for him.
2. Jason Campbell.
If he struggles early, the boo's will start ringing out. His confidence will take a hit, regardless of what he says, if this happens. So Campbell must get off to a strong start. Like score-on-the-first-drive start. The Redskins should be able to run the ball well, which will help Campbell.
3. Andre Carter.
At right end, that is. That's where he'll face rookie Jason Smith. In the preseason we saw Smith play once and he had a tendency to stay too high. If that happens Sunday, a speed-rusher like Carter will take advantage. Someone needs to get to fragile quarterback Marc Bulger.
4. Santana Moss.
We expect him to get double-teamed again, but it's up to the Redskins to find ways to get him the ball. He's their big-play threat on offense. But for this to happen other receivers must make plays. The best way to beat double teams is for Campbell to stay patient, the line to block well, and Moss to outrun the safeties.
5. Albert Haynesworth.
The big fella is going against Jacob Bell, but center Jason Brown will provide many double teams. No way Bell can handle Haynesworth on his own. Brown is the one who commented on Haynesworth's conditioning in the summer. Yes, Haynesworth is well aware of what was said.
1. Clinton Portis will have a big game.
Julius Jones ran pretty well vs. the Rams last week and the Redskins should be able to do the same. Portis missed some holes last week and with a more sustained effort on some other blocks he would have been in position to get more. It'll be his first 100-yard game.
2. The Rams secondary will provide some fits.
Corner Ron Bartell is a solid player and does not give up many yards per reception. In fact, last year he led the NFL with the lowest completion percentage on passes his way. That stat can be played with, but suffice to say he's not bad. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is a turnover machine. Believe it or not, since he entered the starting lineup in 2007 he leads the NFL in the combination of forced fumbles and interceptions (33). Remember him from last year – with the 75-yard return for a touchdown? The Rams likely will create a turnover – they forced 12 in the preseason and three in the opener. We're not saying the Redskins can't hurt them, but we are saying it won't be a gimme in this area. Hence the run game importance.
3. The Redskins will win.
OK, we were wrong last week. But the Rams just aren't in position to win yet. We expect them to be better than last week's penalty-filled game, but not a whole lot. This is not a repeat scenario of last year when the Rams had made a needed coaching change and had a bye week. They will not improve that much from week 1 to week 2. The Rams do not have a balanced offense, which will hurt. Their defense is not all that good, either. The Redskins should be able to exploit the youth at linebacker with some play-action tosses. Redskins 27, Rams 10.
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