- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008

7 p.m.

Where: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV: Chs. 4, 11

Radio: AM-980, AM-570, AM-730, AM-1260, FM-94.3, FM-92.7

REDSKINS

STARTERS

Offense

WR89Santana Moss

WR82Antwaan Randle El

LT60Chris Samuels

LG66Pete Kendall

C61Casey Rabach

RG77Randy Thomas

RT74Stephon Heyer

TE47Chris Cooley

RB26Clinton Portis

FB45Mike Sellers

QB17Jason Campbell

Defense

DE99Andre Carter

DT96Cornelius Griffin

DT64Kedric Golston

DE92Demetric Evans

OLB52Rocky McIntosh

MLB59London Fletcher

OLB53Marcus Washington

CB24Shawn Springs

CB22Carlos Rogers

FS30LaRon Landry

SS37Reed Doughty

Specialists

K6Shaun Suisham

P14Durant Brooks

PR82Antwaan Randle El

KR31Rock Cartwright

KR83James Thrash

Injuries

Out: WR Malcolm Kelly (knee).

Doubtful: S Kareem Moore (hamstring).

Questionable: DE Jason Taylor (knee).

Probable: CB Shawn Springs (calf), S LaRon Landry (hamstring), WR Antwaan Randle El (hand), LB Khary Campbell (thigh).

GIANTS

STARTERS

Offense

WR17Plaxico Burress

WR81Amani Toomer

LT66David Diehl

LG69Rich Seubert

C60Shaun O’Hara

RG76Chris Snee

RT67Kareem McKenzie

TE89Kevin Boss

RB27Brandon Jacobs

FB39Madison Hedgecock

QB10Eli Manning

Defense

DE91Justin Tuck

DT96Barry Cofield

DT98Fred Robbins

DE97Mathias Kiwanuka

OLB55Danny Clark

MLB58Antonio Pierce

OLB59Gerris Wilkinson

CB31Aaron Ross

CB23Corey Webster

FS20Michael Johnson

SS37James Butler

Specialists

K5John Carney

P18Jeff Feagles

PR25R.W. McQuarters

KR87Domenik Hixon

KR28Danny Ware

Injuries

Out: LB Jonathan Goff (back), K Lawrence Tynes (left knee), CB Terrell Thomas (hamstring).

Questionable: WR Domenik Dixon (back).

KEY MATCHUP

REDSKINS RT STEPHON HEYER VS. GIANTS DE JUSTIN TUCK

Who would have guessed last year that Jon Jansen wouldn’t start at right tackle for the Redskins and Michael Strahan wouldn’t anchor the Giants’ pass rush? For sure, not that many.

But Jansen’s preseason struggles have sent him to the bench, replaced by second-year player Heyer. And Strahan retired to a life of Greek vacations (instead of training camp) and being a Sunday morning chatterbox (on Fox). Enter Tuck.

Heyer (6-6, 314) held his own in pass protection against a variety of players. He started the last five games - including the playoff loss at Seattle - at right tackle.

Tuck had a breakout 2007 with 10 sacks and a breakout game in the Super Bowl with two sacks and a forced fumble. The Giants led the NFL last year with 53 sacks but are without Strahan and fellow end Osi Umenyiora, who combined for 22.

Jim Zorn hopes left tackle Chris Samuels can handle linebacker-turned-pass rusher Mathias Kiwanuka one-on-one, leaving Zorn the option of giving Heyer help against Tuck.

“Stephon is going to have his hands full with Tuck,” Zorn said. “He’s a great football player. I feel like it’s going to be one of the better pass rushes we’ll see. Every week we’ve played in the preseason, the defensive lines have gotten better and better and better. This is a notch up, and it’s full tilt.”

The Giants had four sacks in two games last year against the Redskins.

THREE KEYS

1. Survive the first quarter

The Giants are sure to be pumped up because it’s their home opener, some kind of Super Bowl banner is likely to be raised and the Meadowlands crowd will be in a frenzy. The Redskins have to withstand that initial wave of momentum even if it means playing conservatively on offense. Since the defending champions have begun hosting the Thursday night opener, they haven’t lost and have won by an average of 13.2 points.

2. Move Manning around

As good as he was on that once-in-a-lifetime completion to David Tyree in the Super Bowl, Giants quarterback Eli Manning still isn’t a great passer when he’s flushed out of the pocket. In last year’s loss to the Redskins, he ran for his well being and finished 18-for-52. Even if Jason Taylor doesn’t play, the Redskins don’t necessarily have to get six sacks but do need to force Manning off his spot.

3. Carried by Clinton

This is Jim Zorn’s first opportunity to see whether Clinton Portis can carry the offense without the benefit of regular breaks. Portis carried 30 or more times only twice since the beginning of the 2005 season. If Zorn has his way - and Portis’ production obliges - he could eclipse 30 tonight. Portis ran 25 times for 126 yards in December’s win over the Giants.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

Like the Redskins’ defense in 2007, the New York defense ranked among the top 10 in yards allowed a game and a play. But unlike the Redskins, the Giants have undergone changes to their lineup. Gone are pass rushers Michael Strahan (retirement) and Osi Umenyiora (injury) and linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor (free agency). But they’re still formidable and deserve the edge because of run stoppers Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield. The exploitable part of the Giants’ defense is safeties James Butler and Michael Johnson, so look for the Redskins to test them down the middle of the field.

Edge: Giants

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

New York is without tight end Jeremy Shockey, who was traded to New Orleans early in training camp. But the Giants won the Super Bowl without him, so it shouldn’t be a huge adjustment. Second-year player Kevin Boss is a developing threat, but Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache expects New York to use a lot of four-receiver sets. Plaxico Burress is Eli Manning’s go-to guy on third down, and Amani Toomer is still an effective possession receiver. The Giants ranked fourth in rushing last year, something they will exploit against a Redskins defense that Carolina gashed two weeks ago.

Edge: Giants

SPECIAL TEAMS

Until the Redskins prove they are more explosive in the return game this year (no touchdowns in 2007) and rookie Durant Brooks proves he can be a consistent punter, the special teams will remain in transition. With a new offense, it’s up to kick returner Rock Cartwright and punt returner Antwaan Randle El to provide good field position. The focus will be on Brooks, who made the team instead of veteran Derrick Frost. The Giants are decent on coverage and returns but get the edge because of experience at punter (Jeff Feagles, age 42) and kicker John Carney (age 44).

Edge: Giants

- Ryan O’Halloran

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