- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2011

1. Will the Redskins run the ball effectively? Washington’s first-string offense showed promise in the preseason because the line opened holes for new running back Tim Hightower. That, in turn, made play-action passes and rollouts more effective. The Redskins have to neutralize New York’s pass rush by running well and avoiding third-and-long situations. That starts by winning individual blocks up front.

2. Will Good Rex or Bad Rex will show up? Grossman beat John Beck out for the starting quarterback job because he played well in preseason games. For the most part, he made quick, correct decisions about where to go with the ball. That must continue against a formidable but banged up Giants pass rush. Grossman has to step up in the pocket when pressured, throw on time and hold onto the ball when hit.

3. Can the Redskins’ offensive line protect Grossman? He proved he can be an effective quarterback when he has time and a clean pocket in which to step into his throws. Throwing on time and in rhythm allows him to make throws he’s capable of and masks his mediocre arm strength. It’s up to the line to ensure he has that luxury. The Giants might be without injured ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, so the Redskins must take advantage.

4. How will the Redskins’ new defensive starters play together? Washington is expected to have five new players on the first-string defense. Because of injuries during the preseason, the entire unit has not played together in a game situation. It will take time for them to get comfortable together, but how extensive that process is remains to be seen. Expect the Giants to target new players outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.

5. How effective will the Redskins’ defensive line rotation be? Jarvis Jenkins’ season-ending knee injury undermined the line’s depth. Nose tackle Barry Cofield could be forced to play in the nickel package more frequently, and that could affect his stamina on run-stopping downs. Also, rookie nose tackle Chris Neild is expected to play against a powerful Giants’ line. New York has dominated the Redskins’ defensive line in recent seasons, so we’ll learn a lot about the new rotation.

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