Insider Preview: Redskins vs. Ravens

Nemo Broughton

The starters, regardless of how they look, will give way to the backups early. This is when those on the roster bubble will make their final cases to make the roster.

Don't be surprised if: Neither team does much offensively. Both haven't done much this preseason. In the Redskins' case, the coaches haven't revealed much about their respective sides of the ball, why start now?

Tired of: The excuses. Yes, the Redskins haven't schemed for these games. But all we hear from most coaches is how little plays really matter, that it's the execution that counts. If that's the case, then the Redskins have executed poorly, regardless of whatever vanilla scheme they're calling. This does not mean gloom and doom for the regular season. We've seen too much in the past to not get snowed one way or the other. But, come on, they've been bad. Period.

Battle to watch: The last spot among the running backs and fullbacks. If they keep five, that means trouble for Nehemiah Broughton and Manuel White. But if the Redskins keep six, figuring that Rock Cartwright is the special teams guy, then one of these players will make the roster. Actually, there's a scenario under which both make the roster. They offer different skills; Broughton is a better blocker (though White is fine in pass protection) and more physical overall. He can play fullback and running back. White, meanwhile, can also play tight end. It's hard to believe third tight end Buck Ortega could make the roster ahead of one of these players. Here's the other thing: Running backs coach Earnest Byner said Broughton could be one of the best fullbacks in the league. Sorry, but such players don't get cut. And Byner likes both player's ability to catch the ball.

Defensive battle: The backup defensive linemen have an interesting battle. Ryan Boschetti, Cedric Killings, Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery all are fighting for probably two, maybe three, spots. Vaka Manupuna is also in the mix. Montgomery looks like he has the longest ways to go among the first four, but his size makes him intriguing. Golston's motor is impressive, but he lacks the size to sometimes hold his ground.

Still wondering: who will be the punter when the Redskins' season opens. Derrick Frost has been far from impressive, both last year and this summer. The problem is finding a kicker who can fill their requirements for kicking off and holding. What they need to do is find a placekicker who can also kick off.

Last chance for: offensive tackle Jim Molinaro. He returned to practice this week, after missing the first three games following knee surgery. He's clearly on the bubble. If it were up to some vets, he'd be cut. But a decent game might keep him around.

Doesn't matter: what quarterback Jason Campbell does tonight. He'll open as the No. 3 regardless. The Redskins, especially Al Saunders, clearly don't think he's ready to handle such a large playbook just yet. Still, we'd like to see Todd Collins' play warrant a No. 2 role. So far, save for one outing against third-stringers, that hasn't been the case. Then again, no quarterback has made much of a case for anything.

They're out: defensive end Phillip Daniels (back), defensive end/tackle Demetric Evans (tooth), defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (knee), linebacker Robert McCune (hamstring), running back Clinton Portis (shoulder), cornerback Shawn Springs (abdomen) and defensive end Renaldo Wynn (ankle) will not play Thursday.

Flashback game for: Jimmy Farris. He closed the 2005 preseason by catching two touchdown passes against the Ravens. But a day later he was cut. However, this is why that game mattered – he was resigned on Nov. 21 and appeared in four games, even causing a fumble in the playoff game against Seattle. Farris' only chance is if they keep six receivers. But it will come down between he and players like Broughton and White.

Final cuts: The Redskins will announce their final cuts at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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