Jim Zorn views the final preseason game not as the end of an interminable training camp but rather as a last chance for fringe players to show why they belong on the 53-man roster.
Which is why the Washington Redskins coach is excited about his team’s exhibition finale against the Jaguars on Thursday in Jacksonville.
Zorn wants to see how quarterbacks Colt Brennan and Chase Daniel perform, finalize the kicking position and assess the progress of the reserve offensive linemen and linebackers since the opener three weeks ago.
Most of all, he wants to see whether his staff’s observations are confirmed or their minds changed.
“That’s why we play this game - because there are some decisions that will be based on this,” Zorn said. “Maybe you get a confirmation: ‘You know what, I was right about this.’ Or maybe [a player] will perform at a different level that will change the complexity of [the decision].”
All 22 offensive and defensive starting positions appear set heading into the Sept. 13 opener against the New York Giants, and most of the backup slots are filled. That means a lot of hopes will be quashed Saturday when the roster is cut to 53 from 75.
“I recognize with some guys, it’s their last chance,” defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. “They’re going to be selling insurance or working at Wal-Mart. … It’s the end of the road for them. For some other guys, it’s the end of a dream. It’s a life’s dream that is gone.”
Once the starters finish their quick appearance on Thursday, five key battles will continue:
1. Third-string QB
Candidates: Colt Brennan and Chase Daniel.
First three games: Brennan completed 13 of 29 passes for 166 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Daniel, a rookie free agent signee, went 6-for-8 for 58 yards and two touchdowns (all vs. Pittsburgh).
Analysis: Both players will get plenty of playing time against Jacksonville. Because of his experience in the system, the job is Brennan’s to lose. The surprise with Brennan is that he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to win the No. 2 spot - Todd Collins performed better - and struggled so much that the No. 3 job is up for grabs.
Daniel has been a surprise. He doesn’t have great size - he generously is listed at 6 feet - but appears to have a stronger arm than Brennan.
Quote: “It’s the last chance for me to go out there and leave a good mark,” Brennan said. “It’s just as big as any other game I’ve been in, but it’s probably more important because it’s the last impression you get to make.”