The Robert Griffin III era won't officially begin for another four weeks, but he'll see his first game action tonight when the Washington Redskins kick off the preseason against the Buffalo Bills. Everyone will be watching RG3 during his 20-odd-snap appearance, but there's a lot more to keep an eye on at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Can Tristan Davis and/or Alfred Morris break up the three-headed monster?
Tim Hightower is in the top spot on the Redskins' depth chart, but he's still out with a knee injury. That means second-year backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster will begin their battle for reps early tonight. But beyond that, there's hope for two other backs who have emerged this month.
Davis, who spent much of last season on the team's practice squad and was recently activated from the PUP list, is expected to be worked tonight. Same for Morris, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic who might also be able to step in at fullback.
The odds are stacked against either making the team, but I don't think anything is guaranteed to any of those big three backs at this stage.
Tyler Polumbus gets his first test at right tackle
Polumbus has filled in for Jammal Brown before, but now he's being counted upon to do so from the get-go. It has a different feel to it. Plus, who knows how long Brown will be out. I'm not panicking about the change, simply because Brown wasn't very good last year, or the year prior to that.
As a backup and occasional spot starter the last three years in Denver, Seattle and Washington, Polumbus has often been terrible. But can he really be any worse than Brown has been? We'll get our first indication tonight.
The entire offensive line could be in for a tough night. They're facing a stacked Buffalo defensive front that features Mario Williams making his Bills debut, and they're also down a left guard with Kory Lichtensteiger out. Griffin could be under quite a lot of pressure. Polumbus has to step up, as does fill-in left guard Maurice Hurt.
First look at a completely new secondary
OK, technically two of the four regular starters are back, but DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are actually adjusting to altered roles. Hall will move into the slot for the majority of snaps, but Wilson is being trained to do so as well. New arrival Cedric Griffin will take over Hall's old post on the outside, while Kevin Barnes moves back outside after struggling in the slot spot in 2011.
The idea is to make the secondary more versatile.
The 'Skins also have a slew of new safeties. Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams will start tonight, but expect mainstays DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty to get plenty of playing time. Another newbie, Tanard Jackson, is playing catchup after missing the start of camp due to injury, but he and rookie Jordan Bernstine are expected to compete as well.
When you actually look at this roster, the only position that is completely open is safety. Something tells me new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is cool with that.
Check back after the game so that we can review what we learned.