It's less than 24 hours until we finally get to see the Redskins in action against a live opponent. Although we will quickly become frustrated by the meaningless nature of these games, right now we are all in severe withdrawal and I'm sure you can't wait for it to start either. And as much as I appreciate the detailed and high-quality training camp blog posts, tweets, and other observations of Rich Tandler, John Keim, Mike Jones, and others I am pretty eager to see the Redskins for myself.
Here are some things I'll be hoping to learn from watching the first three preseason games (we all know the fourth game is useless):
1) Is Maake Kemoeatu healthy enough to get significant preseason playing time? If not, should we worry about his availability for the regular season?
2) Does the comptetition between Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter for the starting LOLB job have meaningful playing time implications, or are they going to rotate based on game situation?
3) Are the defensive linemen able to keep the inside linebackers clean? My skepticism that London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh can consistently overcome blockers in their face is one of my primary reasons for concern about switching to a 3-4 defense.
4) Is H.B Blades settled as the primary backup for both ILB spots or are Perry Riley, Robert Henson and/or Chris Draft actually in the mix for serious playing time?
5) Does Darrell Young - a converted linebacker - really have a chance to make this team as a fullback?
6) Is there an open competition between Justin Tryon and Philip Buchanon for the nickel corner job? Or was the depth chart more than just a motivational ploy?
7) Is it true that in nickel situations Carlos Rogers will mostly slide over to cover the slot receiver?
8) How are the safeties used in this defense? Jim Haslett has claimed there is not really a distinction between free safety and strong safety in his defense, but will different guys have noticeably different roles?
9) How does Trent Williams do blocking for screens? When Jammal Brown comes back he will be an even bigger question on screens – is he healthy enough to cover the necessary ground for a screen play? (Warning: I really, really like screens to an alarming, even creepy level)
10) Is Selvish Capers advanced enough to push for the job as primary backup swing tackle, or will he need to be redshirted for a year to learn his craft?
11) So far it’s looking like William Robinson is the primary backup at left tackle. Has he improved over his poor performance in his one chance at game action in 2009?
12) Does either Kory Lichtensteiger or Eric Cook have the ability to be the Redskins starting center in 2011?
13) Does Lichtensteiger have any chance of pushing Artis Hicks for the RG job? Does Chad Rinehart?
14) Is quarterback motion – bootlegs, rollouts, and so on – as huge a part of this offense as we have heard?
15) Will Rex Grossman be as terrifying as we all fear, or does he have a good enough handle on the offense?
16) Does Rich Bartel have any attributes other than "strong arm," which is all anyone seems to know about him? (Bartel’s out this week, so this will have to wait until at least the second game)
17) What was so attractive about John Beck? I’ll admit I am dying to see him play to get a read on the guy, and since Bartel is out for the Buffalo game, we should get a good long look at Beck on Friday.
18) For all of the non-Portis running backs: can they pick up a blitz effectively? I want nothing to do with a RB who would pose a threat to Donovan McNabb’s health no matter how pretty he is running with the ball.
19) Willie Parker has gotten almost no respect from the vast majority of commentators, including me. Can he prove us all wrong by showing that he still has something to offer?
20) Are Mike Sellers, Dennis Morris, and Darrel Young ever used as blocking tight ends, or do they stick to the fullback and H-back positions?
21) Is there any discernable difference between how Fred Davis and Chris Cooley line up, e.g. is one more likely to be in the slot while another spends more time as a traditional tight end? Or are they considered interchangeable?
22) In this offense do tight ends often line up behind the line of scrimmage in an H-back type position? Or is that mostly the territory of the guys listed as fullbacks?
23) Has Fred Davis’ blocking continued to improve after he progressed to the point of near-adequacy in 2009?
24) Is 38 year old Joey Galloway really still capable of playing a significant role in the offense, as glowing reports from training camp suggest?
25) Can either Anthony Armstrong or Shay Hodge flash enough ability to be that one wide receiver that always seems to attract attention for making plays late in preseason games?
26) Word out of camp is that rookie Terrence Austin has shown himself to be surprisingly polished as a wide receiver. Will this translate into games, and if so is the ability sufficient that he could actually contribute as more than just a special teamer as a rookie?
27) Does Brandon Banks really have the speed and vision to survive on an NFL field despite weighing 150 pounds (if even that can be believed)?
I'm sure I've forgotten some important questions, so feel free to add your own in the comments section. Enjoy the game, such as it is.