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3 Keys To Washington's Preseason Matchup Against The Bengals

Jamin Davis makes an interception in the end zone against Ryan Fitzpatrick in practice. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Jamin Davis makes an interception in the end zone against Ryan Fitzpatrick in practice. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the team.

The Washington Football Team will host the Cincinnati Bengals at FedExField for its second preseason game. Here are three keys to the matchup, presented by Van Metre.

1. How Does The Secondary Perform Against The Bengals' Receivers?

Joe Burrow won't be suiting up at FedExField, which makes sense considering Cincinnati's priority is making sure he's ready for a return during the season. His weapons will be on the field, though, and they'll be just as challenging for the secondary.

Don't mistake Tee Higgins and first-round pick Ja'Marr Chase's inexperience for a lack of talent; the two are known as two of the league's most promising wideouts for a reason. Higgins, a rookie in 2020, led the Bengals with 908 yards and six touchdowns last season. Chase was the first receiver drafted in the 2021 Draft after hauling in 84 receptions for 1,780 yards. Chase decided to opt out of LSU's 2020 season.

There was plenty of promise in Washington's performance against New England's pass-catchers; it held all three quarterbacks to a combined 141 yards. Granted, there wasn't anything complicated in either team's scheme, and most of the starters were out by the end of the first quarter.

Still, the younger additions of Washington's secondary held their own. With final cuts less than two weeks away, they'll need to do so again.

2. An Opportunity To Build On Positives For The Offense

Last week's game against the Patriots was an opportunity for Washington to give a taste of what the offense could look like this season. Fans didn't get to see much; the starters were only on the field for half of the first quarter. With that said, there were some encouraging signs.

If anyone was looking for Ryan Fitzpatrick to have a solid connection with his receivers, they were not disappointed. Fitzpatrick targeted four different players in his two drives and completed 5-of-8 passes for 58 yards. Taylor Heinicke also had a solid night, completing 60% of his passes for 86 yards. A staggering 20 players were targeted during the game, and 17 of them made at least one catch.

There were several admirable individual performances as well, most notably by Jaret Patterson, who had 70 total yards on 14 touches.

Like the defense, the game plan was intentionally simple. Rivera was looking for things like consistency and ball distribution, and he was pleased with what he saw. Starters generally get more playing time in the second preseason game, so Friday's game will be an opportunity for them to build upon what they showed against New England. There still won't be any complex plays, but there will be a closer look at the operation with Fitzpatrick running the offense.

3. Further Development For Jamin Davis

Last Thursday was a learning experience for Jamin Davis. He got a feel for the speed of a game atmosphere, and after breaking down the film, he said he could have been better in coverage and running downhill.

Now he gets to put those tweaks into action.

Davis had a respectable debut for Washington, recording four tackles in limited action. Rivera didn't think the moment was too big for him, which is a good sign for the first-round pick. It was Davis' first opportunity to make calls against an opposing defense, and he held his own by being confident and getting everyone on the same page.

Davis has been praised by many people in the organization for loving the preparation of being a professional football player. His coaches have raved about how well he takes coaching points and implements them into his skillset. On Friday, he gets to show that he's improved from his first preseason game, and he can show people "who I really am."

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