Five things to watch tomorrow

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1.  The pass protection — The starting line, which struggled badly beginning with the Week 9 loss to Pittsburgh last year, is healthy. How will it fare against a ferocious Steelers pass rush that played a big role in Pittsburgh winning the Super Bowl last season? The last time these teams met in preseason in 2007, Pittsburgh’s Brett Keisel injured Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell’s knee.

2. The first-string defense — In its only series last week, the ballyhooed unit let Baltimore’s unsung offense keep the ball for 13 plays before settling for a field goal. The Steelers toyed with the Redskins’ defense last November in the second half minus injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who might not play tomorrow after hurting a foot during practice on Thursday.

3. The kickers — Challenger Dave Rayner had a strong kickoff against the Ravens, but didn’t try a place kick. Incumbent Shaun Suisham never even got on the field. Special teams coach Danny Smith would really like to see these guys get some work.

4. The receivers — Former Steeler Antwaan Randle El had a strong camp as he tries to fend off the attempts by bigger, younger targets Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas to take his job. Kelly played well last week and had a fine camp. Thomas hasn’t shown very much and is lucky he was a second-round draft pick.

5. Returning stars — All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the big offseason addition, Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis, top receiver Santana Moss and starting cornerback Carlos Rogers will all make their 2009 debuts tomorrow.

— David Elfin

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About the Author
David Elfin

David Elfin

David Elfin has been following Washington-area sports teams since the late 1960s. David began his journalism career at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., history) and Syracuse University (M.S., telecommunications). He wrote for the Bulletin (Philadelphia), the Post-Standard (Syracuse) and The Washington Post before coming to The Washington Times in 1986. He has covered colleges, the Orioles ...

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