SNIDER: Can Redskins find gems under the lights?

Rick Snider
August 08, 2018 - 2:52 pm
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The Washington Redskins' starting lineup is pretty much set. It's the reserves that coach Jay Gruden will most watch when opening the preseason at the New England Patriots on Thursday.

Gruden won't decide on which starters will play and for how long until game day, but the first preseason game is never more than a quick appearance for first-teamers.

"The big thing to get out of this game Thursday night against the Patriots is to get a good look at some of our core guys that are battling for a roster spot," he said, "give them plenty of looks, try to get everybody out of here and have a good week of practice against the (New York) Jets (for three days beginning Saturday.)"

Certainly, the biggest rookie to watch is Derrius Guice, who is the lead running back despite a depth chart that lists him last. But, last year's opening starter Rob Kelley is competing for a roster spot, while Samaje Perine wants to ensure he's not overlooked. It's a crowded backfield.

So is reserve receiver. Maurice Harris, Brian Quick, Robert Davis and Trey Quinn are competing for three spots. The last pick in the draft, Quinn, may also return punts and is definitely the one most needing the big preseason to make the team.

It's a night for a quick taste of new quarterback Alex Smith before wondering who's number such-and-such. Gruden hopes a few newcomers make people notice.

"I think we have to see who rises to the occasion under the lights, really," Gruden said. "Special teams is huge. You know, we'll see some guys run around on special teams, making some plays on teams obviously, and then the battles. You know, see some of these young guys play. You know you come out here, you got ones go out there, and then the twos come out there, some of the threes get limited reps, so it's going to be a great opportunity to see how far they are along in their learning another system and how they produce on game day."

Get ready for a long night of watching a lot of players who will be released in three weeks. But maybe, someone proves why they should remain.

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Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks