No NFC East team has gone through less change over the last eight months than the Washington Redskins. Especially now that Robert Griffin III appears to be fully healthy, they enter their final preseason game Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking nearly identical to the team that won the division last December.
Still, there are some items to keep an eye on in the team's final preseason tuneup.
Brandon Meriweather debuts
Meriweather has been tortured by nagging injuries during his time in Washington, but he's finally healthy right now, just in the nick of time. He's not a star, but he's the most accomplished safety on the Redskins roster, so it'll be interesting to see how effective he is on that surgically-repaired left knee against the Bucs.
You might also recall that Meriweather was injured during pregame warm-ups upon returning from injury last season, so he could be quite tentative Thursday night.
Chris Thompson makes a final push as a running back/return man
The fifth-round pick out of Florida State is competing with Evan Royster, Keiland Williams and Jawan Jamison for the third running back spot, but Richard Crawford's season-ending knee injury has opened up an opportunity in the return game.
Williams and Royster have looked better than Thompson in the backfield, but versatility could be the key here with Alfred Morris and Roy Helu locked into the first two spots on the depth chart anyway. Thompson has been superb as a returner in a limited sample size. Look for him to gain more cracks at it in Tampa.
Niles Paul becomes a fullback
At least for one night, anyway. The primary reason Paul remains a Redskin and might make the 53-man roster again is because he's so versatile. The wide receiver-turned-tight end is a top-tier special-teamer, can return kickoffs and is now going to be used as a fullback in place of regular starter Darrel Young.
"I’m hopefully just adding more tools to my toolbox. I’ll be playing the whole time, so it should be interesting," said Paul this week, per the Washington Post. Now we'll see if he can become a jack of yet another trade, maybe even by getting a handoff or two.
Pat White's final audition?
White will start and play all four quarters, barring injury. He's been decent throughout the preseason, but it would probably take a dramatic turn of events for him to make the final roster over veteran Rex Grossman, especially with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins on the mend.
Still, this will be an opportunity for White to prove that he can still cut it as an NFL quarterback. A strong performance could lead to backup shots elsewhere. And at the very least, it'll get him on the Redskins' speed dial in case problems arise.
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