Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins Gameday Preview
By Lori Chase - Staff Columnist
Published: August 13th, 2010
Washington cleaned house again after finishing 4-12 last season, bringing in Mike Shanahan and trading for Donovan McNabb to right the ship. But with the aging Joey Galloway starting across from Santana Moss and second-round picks Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly so far failing to live up to expectations, one wonders who he’ll be throwing the ball to this season besides Chris Cooley. We’ll also see how much tread Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker have left on their tires. (Early returns on Parker aren’t promising.)
Like the Bills, the Redskins and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett are shifting to a 3-4 base defense this year, which left $100-million man Albert Haynesworth an unhappy camper about the idea of moving to nosetackle. He might not have to, though, if free-agent pickup Ma’ake Kemoeatu is ready to go. The Skins also added Adam Carriker and Vonnie Holliday to the front line, allowing the tandem of Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo, who tied for the team lead with 11 sacks last year, to focus on rushing from the linebacker spot. Ageless London Fletcher, finally rewarded with his first Pro Bowl selection last season, returns for another year in the middle.
BILLS PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB: As offseason workouts began, I was hoping that Brian Brohm might show enough to challenge Trent Edwards for the starting job. Looks like that’s not happening. So instead, I’ll remind myself that Chan Gailey made Tyler Thigpen look like an NFL quarterback, and hope that he and George Cortez can break No. 5 of some of the bad habits he’s acquired in recent years. If we end up watching Ryan Fitzpatrick start again this season, it’ll be time for Buffalo to draft a “franchise” signalcaller next April.
RB: Despite an offseason full of trade rumors – none of which seems to have been started by the team itself – Marshawn Lynch is still here, and seemed to be running with renewed purpose in the practice sessions I saw. With fellow 1,000-yard rusher Fred Jackson and playmaker C. J. Spiller on the roster, Gailey has a ton of options at the position, and I’ll be interested to see how he works them all into the mix.
WR: Are there any healthy wideouts behind projected starters Lee Evans and Steve Johnson? Injuries to James Hardy, Marcus Easley, and Felton Huggins have opened up a chance for reclamation project Chad Jackson and rookie free agent David Nelson to make an impact. If either takes advantage of the opportunity, Hardy’s disappointing tenure in Buffalo could be over. In fact, at this point, few would be surprised if that happened. As with the running backs, I’m curious to see what wrinkles Gailey can throw into the gameplan for Roscoe Parrish.
TE: So Jonathan Stupar is listed first on the depth chart, and offseason import Michael Matthews is ahead of Derek Schouman? Interesting. Sounds like the new regime at One Bills Drive actually expects its tight ends to block. Shawn Nelson won’t win many competitions in that department, but continues to flash signs of potential in the passing game ... and wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those guys for a change?
OL: With Jamon Meredith and Kirk Chambers slated to start at tackle and Eric Wood also sitting this one out, we’ll get an early look at the Bills’ depth on the line, or lack thereof. It’ll be interesting to watch them work against Brian Orakpo, the guy many fans wanted Buffalo to draft last year.
DL: I’d automatically penciled in Spencer Johnson as the swing end in a rotation with starters Marcus Stroud and Dwan Edwards, but with Johnson absent from the fields at St. John Fisher as of late and third-round pick Alex Carrington drawing notice, I’m beginning to wonder. With Kyle Williams and Torell Troup locking down the top two spots at nosetackle, it doesn’t look like there’s much room left on the roster for John McCargo.
LB: Probably the most fascinating position on the roster. Andra Davis, Paul Posluszny, and Kawika Mitchell should give the Bills a decent set of inside ‘backers, but question marks abound on the outside: Can Chris Kelsay make the switch from end, or has Chris Ellis progressed far enough to make the veteran expendable? On the other side, if journeyman Reggie Torbor can continue to keep Aaron Maybin out of the starting lineup, it doesn’t say too much for the former first-round pick.
DB: Other than Drayton Florence trying to hold off Leodis McKelvin’s bid to reclaim his starting job, the secondary appears pretty much set unless Gailey decides to keep only five cornerbacks.