- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Redskins’ starters will hardly play when the franchise begins preseason play Thursday against the New England Patriots. Coach Jay Gruden did not reveal how long his starters would go, but typically, the first unit will only see a series or two.

Others, like running back Chris Thompson, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and safety D.J. Swearinger, were already ruled out.

But that doesn’t mean the game is meaningless.

Washington’s trip to Foxborough will be the first time players get to go full speed against other competition this year. The games, of course, are a key component in helping the Redskins decide which players to keep when the team has to trim its roster down to 53 in September.

“We have to see who rises to the occasion under the lights, really,” Gruden said.

With that in mind, here are five players who could benefit from a strong showing Thursday against the Patriots.

Samaje Perine, running back

Perine started eight games and was Washington’s leading rusher last season, but his roster spot is far from guaranteed.

The 2017 fourth-rounder has run mostly with the second and third units in camp, and running back is Washington’s most crowded position. Perine, too, has been unspectacular in limited reps, so it will be interesting to see what he can do against the Patriots.

Greg Stroman, cornerback

Drafted in the seventh round out of Virginia Tech, Stroman has had a rough start to the NFL.

Receivers have routinely burned Stroman in practice and the cornerback has done his fair share of jersey grabbing to try and keep up. But there’s a chance he could have an impact on special teams while he adapts to the pro game. On the Redskins’ unofficial depth chart — which should be taken with a grain of salt — Stroman was listed as the Redskins’ kick returner.

Stroman returned punts at Tech and he appears to have good speed. He ran a 4.48 in the combine.

Trey Quinn, wide receiver

If Perine and Stroman have underwhelmed, Quinn has done the opposite. Taken with the last pick in the draft, “Mr. Irrelevant” has demonstrated steady hands and has been targeted often.

Can Quinn keep it up? He will likely see a fair amount of playing time Thursday. Also keep an eye on wideouts Maurice Harris, Brian Quick and Robert Davis, all of whom have had their moments. (But this list is limited to five, so they get honorable mentions instead of their own blurb.)

Pete Robertson, linebacker

Asked last week who among the outside linebackers had stood out beside starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, Gruden didn’t wait for the question to finish before answering Robertson.

“Petey’s been unbelievable,” Gruden said.

The Redskins have moved Robertson around the depth chart, having him take snaps with all three units. But Robertson has shown explosive ability to get off the snap and he’s been creating solid pressure in practice. Now that he’s allowed to actually hit the quarterback, we’ll see if his speed translates against an opponent.

Geron Christian, tackle

With Trent Williams and Morgan Moses recovering from offseason surgeries, Christian has received a lot of valuable reps with the first team. A third-rounder out of Louisville, Christian has done well with the opportunity. The Redskins liked him for his athleticism and he’ll be a swing tackle once Williams and Moses return.

It’s unclear how many snaps Christian will play Thursday. Will the Redskins treat him like a starter or keep him out there to develop further? Christian said he wants to play.

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