- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Washington Redskins have treated the lead-up to Friday’s game against the Denver Broncos as a normal practice week. And given Friday will be Washington’s third preseason game, the team’s starters are expected to see significant playing time. With that in mind, here are some players to watch for Week 3.

Alex Smith, quarterback

In his debut with the Redskins last week, Smith was solid and efficient. But appearing in only one series, Washington had to settle for just three points. Against Denver, keep an eye out on how the veteran quarterback commands the offense, particularly on third down and in the red zone. In 2017, Washington ranked second-to-last in third-down conversion percentage (32.3) and 16th in red zone scoring percentage (54.3).

Rob Kelley, running back

Preseason stats are basically meaningless. That being said, Kelley has had only 23 rushing yards on 11 attempts in his very limited playing time. When he takes more snaps against Denver, it will be important for Kelley to show he can help put the offense in manageable situations. Last year, Kelley’s yards per carry was only 3.1 — a significant drop-off from the 4.2 YPC he had his rookie year. Kelley could use a strong performance to quiet the rumblings that Adrian Peterson should be the starter.

Adrian Peterson, running back

Peterson will have a lot to prove over the next two weeks. Despite the running back’s name recognition, coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday that Peterson is not a lock to make the 53-man roster. “I think if you’ve got a Redskins jersey on, you are here to compete and make the squad, and it’s no different with him,” Gruden said. The Redskins coach wants to see Peterson “get a good lather going” against the Broncos.

Quinton Dunbar, cornerback

Denver figures to be a good test for the Redskins secondary. Like the Redskins, the Broncos have a new quarterback (Case Keenum) and are using the preseason to fine tune the passing game. That means Keenum should be targeting wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders — which, in turn, means Dunbar will likely see plenty of action. With corner Josh Norman on the other side of the field, Dunbar will have to get used to opposing quarterbacks picking on him. This game should help prepare him.

Adonis Alexander, cornerback

When the starters exit the game, it will be interesting to watch how Alexander performs. Taken in this year’s supplemental draft, Alexander has been limited the last few weeks with a hamstring injury. But the Redskins like his upside and at 6-foot-3, the 21-year-old has the size that could make him a very good corner if he develops. He is expected to make his preseason debut against Denver.

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