Cincinnati's secondary coaches must be salivating after reviewing game films of the Redskins-Rams game. And don't think for one moment that they're going to take the pedal off the metal against Washington's receiving corps.
The St. Louis defense did all it could do last week to pick on, intimidate and get under the skin of veteran wideout Santana Moss and youngsters Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson.
Moss was nearly invisible in the game (three catches, 14 yards), Robinson dropped a perfectly thrown long ball and Morgan came apart at the seams, with the Redskins in range for a game-tying field goal.
Emotional outbursts can be costly and the Bengals know it. So look for more of the same from a defensive backfield that's old, wise and can bring the heat.
Cincy starting cornerbacks Leon Hall and Nate Clements will try to get inside the head of Morgan, who has been the unfortunate victim of Twitter threats against his life this week.
According to Redskins.com, Morgan has taken responsibility for his unsportsmanlike penalty and plans to use it as motivation for the rest of the season. But Morgan will need to re-earn the trust of Mike Shanahan, and if he starts Sunday, the Bengals will try to take advantage of an ego that has been shaken.
No. 1 receiver Pierre Garcon (foot) is doubtful for Cincinnati, so the Redskins will rely on their youngsters again.
On Friday, Rotoworld reported (per Zac Boyer of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star) that 'it's very likely' Hankerson has surpassed Robinson on the depth chart." And Boyer wrote that that there's a strong possibility that Leonard will start at Garcon's 'X' position on Sunday." Rotoworld also claims that "RGIII's first read on the majority of passing plays [is on the split end side of the field]."
For Cincy to have success on defense, safeties Reggie Nelson and Jeromy Miles will have to be aware of Hankerson, who burned the Rams for a 68-yard score last week. Play-action passes from should be plentiful from RGIII, as he'll look for Nelson and Miles to bite. If they do, they'll see the back of Leonard's jersey down the middle of the field.
In the meantime, Cincinnati fans are waiting patiently for the return of first-round draft choice Dre Kirkpatrick. The former Alabama star is still recovering from a broken bone in his knee, so the Bengals have turned to a pair of veterans to pick up the slack.
Former Cowboys corner Terence Newman and former Dolphins and Texans starter Jason Allen can sub for Hall and Clements or play in the slot. So, it's imperative for the Redskins to be balanced on offense, so they can outduel a secondary that's not often fooled.
Hall is currently suffering from a sore calf, so Allen may be forced into starting duty. According to StripeHype.com, Hall was limited in practice Wednesday, which is likely the result of the left Achilles tear [he suffered last November 13].