- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2011

Here are five questions for which I’ll be looking for answers in the Washington Redskins’ second preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on Friday night:

1. How effective will quarterback John Beck be? We’ve heard a thing or two about this Beck fellow since the draft in late April. Now it’s time to see what he can do. He’s waited four years for an opportunity to start, so the stakes are sky-high. If he can finish drives with touchdowns, he’d be better than what Rex Grossman did against Pittsburgh.

2. Will the offensive line duplicate last week’s solid performance? The front five was the main reason Washington gained 119 yards on 20 plays against Pittsburgh’s first-string defense last week. Linemen executed run-blocking assignments, and Grossman’s quick throws masked breakdowns in pass protection. The line holds the key to success in 2011. Another good game would intensify the optimism.

3. How will first-round rookie Ryan Kerrigan build on his first-game action? The defensive end-turned-outside linebacker had a bumpy NFL debut. He was ineffective rushing the passer from a two-point stance and drifted out of position on a couple running plays. The mistakes are tolerable if he corrects them. The Redskins need him to learn fast with the season opener approaching.

4. Will Terrence Austin capitalize on his opportunity to return kickoffs? Austin might be the most intriguing member of the receivers competition. The second-year player doesn’t have the cachet of the three draft picks, but he’s more advanced in the offense and better making cuts. And if Austin demonstrates a level of explosiveness similar to Brandon Banks, the Redskins might feel comfortable giving Austin a roster spot instead of fretting about Banks’ ailing knee.

5. Which young members of the secondary will distinguish themselves? Injuries leave cornerback DeAngelo Hall as the only member of the starting secondary who will play. That will allow cornerbacks Kevin Barnes, Reggie Jones and Brandyn Thompson and safeties DeJon Gomes and Anderson Russell a chance to distinguish themselves. With injury concerns on the back end, roster spots are at stake.

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