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Brandon Meriweather Suspended
While it's common practice for a team's starters to miss or play sparingly in the final preseason game, for the Redskins, Brandon Meriweather's absence will be an extended one.
Fined and suspended in the past for illegal hits, as ESPN's Chris Mortensen notes, Meriweather's latest one on Baltimore's Torrey Smith was quite costly:
With Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo being the team's best options to fill this void, Washington is fortunate that it'll face two quarterbacks, Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will struggle to expose this weakness.
Starters to Play Finale?
With the injuries that Washington suffered against Baltimore, you can't blame Gruden if he exercises caution and rests his starters. By the same token, with the new system he's implemented on offense, his first team could use the reps.
While he relayed to ESPN's John Keim that he's still undecided on the matter, Gruden acknowledged that the execution on offense has been lacking:
We’re running concepts that should be successful, should be more successful than they are. We ran a couple outside zone plays where the guard went the wrong way a couple times and that can never happen. We had pass plays that should be OK, shouldn’t be as bad looking as they were. We should be better at what we’re doing.
Ultimately, factoring in the risk of injury with the probability that Tampa's first-team defense sits out this contest, the risk outweighs the reward.
Defining Game for Chris Thompson
Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk, even Evan Royster, have all had their moments this preseason. Chris Thompson, on the other hand, is clinging to a roster spot because of potential.
Injured in college and during his rookie season, the ever-consistent Thompson has been hampered by an ankle injury all preseason. As enticing as his speed and pass-catching ability are, he has to at some point translate his vast potential into actual production.
With Roy Helu's durability also a question mark, can Washington really overlook Thompson's injury woes? While it's possible that the Redskins could sneak Redd and Seastrunk onto their practice squad, the team can't risk losing either player when Thompson has shown nothing in live games.
Now back at practice, according to CSN's Tarik El-Bashir, Thompson needs to perform well against the Buccaneers if he's to make the roster.