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5 Things To Watch: Redskins vs. Ravens, Preseason Week 4


Ten days separate the Washington Redskins from their regular season opener in Philadelphia.

But before they square off with the Eagles on Sept. 8, they'll play their preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField on Thursday night. And while the starters will not play, there's plenty of storylines to follow, especially considering roster cuts are this weekend.

Here are five things to watch:

1. Dwayne Haskins To Make First-Career NFL Start

Recently named starting quarterback Case Keenum will not play Thursday night, nor will fellow veteran Colt McCoy, who continues to rehab from the leg injury that ended his 2018 campaign. That leaves first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins to make his first-carer NFL start against Baltimore. Training camp signee Jalan McClendon will also receive time under center.

"Just getting in the huddle, communicating the offense in the huddle, snap count, all that stuff is very important for a quarterback," head coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday when asked about what he wants to see out of Haskins in the preseason finale. "Not just worrying about what you have to do, but you also have to relay the message to 10 other guys in a positive way, so he's getting better at that."

Haskins' preseason performances thus far have included moments of promise and inexperience.

He threw a pair of questionable interceptions against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason opener -- one of which was returned for a touchdown -- and then delivered a pristine pass to Robert Davis for a 55-yard touchdown the next week. Against Atlanta on Aug. 22, he made the correct read on several passes but overthrew multiple receivers. He also took three sacks, one of which resulted in a lost fumble.

With Keenum being named the starter for Week 1, Thursday night will serve as the last guaranteed chance for Haskins to showcase his development in a game setting. He'll be able to work on his footwork and run-checks on running plays, Gruden said, while practicing going through his progressions and making accurate throws on passing downs.

All of these snaps will be beneficial for Haskins as he continues to mold himself into an NFL signal-caller.

"I love his progression. I love where he is at," Gruden said. "But I think this is a great opportunity for him to get some more meaningful game reps."

2. Wide Receiver Conundrum

The Redskins have 11 wide receivers, all of whom deserve consideration for the 53-man roster for different reasons. Yet the team will only keep six or seven wideouts, meaning multiple pass-catchers will be let go during roster cuts this weekend. Their final audition comes Thursday night.

Projected starters Trey Quinn, Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson will not play, which means more playing time for several reserves who have stood out during various points of training camp and the preseason.

Robert Davis caught two long touchdowns in three games, Darvin Kidsy led the Redskins in receiving in the preseason opener and Cam Sims emerged as the go-to receiving option against Atlanta on Aug. 22. All three wideouts offer unique skillsets, as do veteran Brian Quick, 2019 draft picks Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon and special teams aficionado Jehu Chesson.

The only undrafted rookie of the group is Steven Sims Jr., who wowed in Richmond but has recorded just two receptions for 25 yards this preseason. Gruden hopes the Kansas product will have a larger role against Baltimore.

"When [Sims] has to ball in his hands, he's a very exciting player, electric. He's got the speed and quickness to separate and with him as well," Gruden said. "He's still got a ways to go as far as getting himself ready to play, but we love the prospect of him with the ball in his hands."

Take a look at photos from Redskins practice before they take on the Baltimore Ravens on August 27th, 2019.

3. Emergence Of Rookie Wes Martin

A day after announcing Donald Penn as the starter at left tackle, Gruden said at his press conference Tuesday that Ereck Flowers is currently the first-team left guard. New to the position, Flowers has endured his ups and downs during the preseason. But he's still a former first-round pick with 55 starts over his first four NFL seasons.

Behind Flowers on the depth chart is fourth-round rookie Wes Martin, who has primarily played with the second unit over the past several months and has garnered praise from his teammates. Gruden has also been pleased with the 6-foot-3, 315-pound mauler and said he'll receive plenty of reps Thursday night.

"He's doing a good job," Gruden said. "He's learning the offense, and coming out as a rookie has done a lot of good things."

4. Fighting To Make The 53

In addition to the aforementioned wide receivers, plenty of others have put themselves in position to potentially make the Redskins roster for Week 1 in Philadelphia. Keep a close eye on the following players who have made their presence felt throughout training camp and the preseason.

"Every position group has something there we have to look at, verifying guys who we think might make it and then there's legitimate competition for others, and special teams will play a major part of that as well," Gruden said after practice Monday. "Safety, corner, receiver, and then offensive, defensive line -- you're always looking -- and not only that but for practice squad possibilities as well."

5. Battle Of The Beltway

The Redskins have dropped the past two preseason games to the Baltimore Ravens, which is insignificant because it's the preseason and even more understandable considering the Ravens have been unbeatable in these games over the past few years.

The Ravens enter Thursday night having won 16 straight preseason games. It's the longest streak over the past 25 preseasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau, and one that dates back to 2015. Beating Washington would cap their fourth straight undefeated preseason.

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