Some notes, quotes and observations from Redskins Park on Tuesday:
Coach Mike Shanahan did not say which quarterback will start against Baltimore on Thursday.
However, he did say: “It really doesn’t matter who starts.” Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday said QBs John Beck and Rex Grossman each will play with the first-string offense, so perhaps we should pay the most attention to which player comes out for the second series. I could see Beck and Grossman alternating series or quarters.
Remember that many of the Redskins’ starters did not dress for the fourth preseason game last year. If Mike Shanahan follows that approach again this year, Thursday is the last tune-up for most of the first-stringers.
Because the offseason program was lost to the lockout, though, Shanahan isn’t certain he’ll rest the starters in the final preseason game. He said he’ll evaluate how they play Thursday before deciding. The amount the starters play Thursday will be determined independently of any considerations about the preseason finale.
Mike Shanahan immediately after the Indianapolis game downplayed the team’s 2-for-9 red-zone success rate in the preseason by pointing out how the Redskins did not game-plan for those situations in either game. That’s not an issue this week, though.
“This is the first time we’ve had a game plan with really all facets of the game,” Shanahan said.
Scoring touchdowns in the red zone was problematic last season, too (51 percent, good for 19th in the NFL). It’s fair to wonder whether the misdirection and bootleg passes aren’t as effective inside the 20. With the defense condensed, it can be difficult to advance the ball by rolling the quarterback out and playing to one side of the field. The sample size still is small, though, so let’s see how it goes this week.
Today’s earthquake was my first. Pretty wild stuff, huh? The media room annex here at Redskins Park shook for what felt like five to 10 seconds, apparently much shorter than how long it lasted downtown.
Practice ended well before the 5.9-magnitude earthquake rattled Redskins Park. Some players still were in the main building when the shaking started, and apparently their reaction was animated. At least one player with earthquake experience was amused.
“Funniest thing ever seeing a bunch of east coast natives scrambling because of an earthquake lol it’s a west coast thing!” WR Terrence Austin; a Long Beach, Calif. native; wrote on his Twitter account.
KR/PR Brandon Banks, a North Carolina native, painted a picture of apprehension.
“Never seen so many football players scared!!!!!! EARTHQUAKE!!!” he wrote on Twitter.
QB John Beck on Thursday will see Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who drafted him in the second round in 2007 with the Miami Dolphins. Cameron was fired from his position as head coach after the Dolphins went 1-15 in 2007. Cameron’s departure effectively sealed Beck’s fate in Miami.
Beck eventually followed Cameron to Baltimore before being traded to Washington last summer.
“He was a really good college player, and he got thrown in probably way before anybody anticipated,” Cameron told reporters in Baltimore this week. “But, he is one of the harder workers I have been around. I am hearing good things about what he is doing. I think everybody around here has a lot of respect for him, because when he was here, he worked hard. Nothing John can do in a positive way would surprise me. That is the kind of person he is and the kind of worker he is.”
ILB Perry Riley’s closing speed has been impressive during the first two preseason games. When he decides to go, he gets there quickly and has proved he can hit.
That’s physical execution, though. For Riley to ever get promoted to the first-string, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants to see Riley improve from a mental standpoint. That’s what Haslett said at the start of training camp, and it hasn’t changed.
“Not having the whole offseason hurts guys like Perry,” Haslett said. “They don’t get an opportunity to learn everything. That’s probably one of the hardest spots to learn in this defense. There’s a lot of different combinations. It takes time to learn to play this defense. One minute you’re playing all the weak hooks the vertical stuff, one minute you’re playing all the 3-receiver stuff, all the strong stuff. It takes a while.”
If KR/PR Brandon Banks believes he has a roster spot locked up, he’s not saying so publicly.
“You fight for a job every day you walk here,” he said. “I’m battling, and hopefully I gain the coaches trust to stay here.”
Banks won’t play Thursday because of his ailing left knee. He didn’t play last week against Indianapolis.
“In order for you to keep your job, you have to be out there on the field showing the coaches what you’re going to do,” he said. “It’s tough, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me.”
Since the start of training camp, I have predicted Banks would make the final roster if he’s healthy. Coach Mike Shanahan really values Banks’ unique play-making ability, and who could blame him considering the Redskins’ dearth of explosive playmakers. If Banks is hurt, though, all bets are off.
DE Adam Carriker (severe blisters) is questionable for Thursday. He hasn’t practiced all week, though, so I’d be surprised if he plays. That would give rookie Jarvis Jenkins a grand stage on which to hone his leverage and technique.
RT Jammal Brown (finger) practiced.