- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the second time in three weeks, the Washington Redskins face the difficult challenge of going on the road to play an undefeated opponent.

The Redskins, who are winless on the road, play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

Two weeks ago, the Redskins could have pushed the New England Patriots in a 27-10 loss, but they were hampered by their own mistakes — most notably the seven dropped passes that prevented the offense from gaining any traction.

Washington can get away with mistakes or bad starts against teams such as Tampa Bay, but defensive end Chris Baker acknowledged the Redskins will once again need a near-perfect effort to compete with Carolina.

“The Patriots are a good team, but the game was lost by what we left on the field,” Baker said on Wednesday. “We didn’t cover the people we were supposed to cover, make the tackles we were supposed to make. We dropped a lot of balls on offense. If we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be a good team to beat. There’s certain teams you can get away with stuff and some you can’t give nothing, and this is one of those teams.”

The Redskins‘ offense found its stride in a 47-14 route of New Orleans last week, compiling 514 yards. Quarterback Kirk Cousins posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating as Washington gashed the Saints’ porous defense.

Can Cousins and the Redskins finally succeed on the road? Cousins has been masterful in his last four home games, completing 107 of 138 passes for 1,134 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.

In four games on the road, Cousins has completed 98 of 164 passes for 1,154 yards, but has five touchdowns and nine interceptions.

With that, here’s a look at logistics and three things to watch on Sunday.

Logistics

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Redskins 4-5, Panthers 9-0

Television: FOX (Thom Brennaman, play-by-play; Charles Davis, color; Tony Siragusa, sidelines)

Radio: ESPN 980 (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen, Chris Cooley, Doc Walker)

Weather: 49 and sunny

Lines: Panthers -7.5, over/under 45 per Bovada

Projected Starters:

Redskins offense: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Alfred Morris, WR Pierre Garcon, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Jordan Reed, TE Derek Carrier, LT Trent Williams, LG Spencer Long, C Josh LeRibeus, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses.

Redskins defense: DE Chris Baker, DE Jason Hatcher, OLB Trent Murphy, ILB Will Compton, ILB Perry Riley, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, CB Chris Culliver, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Kyshoen Jarrett, SS Jeron Johnson, FS Dashon Goldson.

Panthers offense: QB Cam Newton, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Ted Ginn Jr., WR Devin Funchess, TE Greg Olsen, TE Ed Dickson, LT Michael Oher, LG Amini Silatolu, C Ryan Kalil, RG Trai Turner, RT Mike Remmers.

Panthers defense: DE Kony Kealy, DT Star Lotulelei, DT Kawann Short, DE Jared Allen, SLB Shaq Thompson, MLB Luke Keuchly, SLB A.J. Klein, CB Bene Benwikere, CB Josh Norman, SS Roman Harper, FS Kurt Coleman.

Injury report:

Redskins: Out: SS Trenton Robinson (hamstring); Questionable — ILB Keenan Robinson (shoulder), NT Terrance Knighton (headache); Probable — RG Brandon Scherff (thigh), WR Andre Roberts (ankle), RB Alfred Morris (rib), LG Spencer Long (hip), RB Chris Thompson (back), CB DeAngelo Hall (toe), CB Chris Culliver (knee), DE Jason Hatcher (knee), DE Chris Baker (ankle/rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (hamstring), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (hand), C Josh LeRibeus (elbow/shoulder), FS Dashon Goldson (wrist/hamstring).

Panthers: Out — LG Andrew Norwell (hamstring); Doubtful — CB Charles Tillman (rest/knee), WR Corey Brown (shoulder); Probable — RB Fozzy Whittaker (hip), DT Dwan Edwards (ankle), DE Jared Allen (rest).

Stats:

All-time record: The Redskins are 7-4 against the Panthers.

Last regular-season meeting: Nov. 4, 2012: 21-13 loss at FedEx Field.

Three things to watch:

** The Redskins defense improved against the run last Sunday versus New Orleans, though tackling was still an issue. Saints running back Mark Ingram broke loose for a 70-yard gain on the third play of the game after safety Dashon Goldson missed a tackle. The Redskins know they need to improve that against the Panthers and their big-bodied runners such as Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. Before the Saints game, the Redskins allowed opponents to rush for an astronomical 748 yards. The Saints still rushed for 158 yards, but nearly half of it came on one run.

“It just comes down to making tackles, understanding where your help is and getting to the football,” Goldson said. “It’s just a tackle miss here, or a guy not getting off the block and it’s causing us big runs. You just got to pack your pads, put your face on [the Panthers] and wrap them up.”

If the Redskins‘ tackling woes continue on Sunday, it’ll make for a long afternoon against the Panthers.

** The Redskins‘ running game finally got going against New Orleans after being stagnant since Week 2. Washington rushed for a season-high 209 yards and running back Matt Jones had even more of an impact as a receiver. The reason Cousins was so successful that day was because the run game opened up the entire offense, as did a 42-yard catch from wide receiver DeSean Jackson early in the game. The Redskins also had great success with screen plays. That simplified the game for Cousins, which is what the Redskins need again on Sunday against Carolina. That success stemmed from a great effort from the offensive line, which struggled in recent weeks. The Redskins also got strong blocking from the tight ends and even some wide receivers. Washington will need that type of complete effort again on Sunday if they want to succeed against a Panthers defense that is much better than New Orleans‘.

** Greg Olsen is Newton’s favorite target and the Redskins will try to mix it up their coverage against the 6-foot-5, 253-pound tight end. With second-year wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin out for the entire season, Olsen has caught 45 passes for 664 yards and five touchdowns. His 45 receptions are 20 more than any other player on the Panthers‘ offense. It will be interesting to see how the Redskins attack Olsen. Safety Jeron Johnson showed his physicality in tackling the likes of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back LeGarrette Blount, so he could get the first crack against Olsen. Even if his coverage skills are good enough to keep up with Olsen, there’s a good chance the Redskins try some different things.

“We’ll have different people on him from time to time,” Gruden said. “Sometimes it could be a safety; Sometimes it could be a corner but he is definitely a great weapon and somebody we have to deal with, but we will have a plan for him.”


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