The Redskins got good news this week when they found out that quarterback Kirk Cousins did not suffer any ligament damage from an injury suffered on Monday against the Steelers and that he could still play on Saturday against the Bills. Even though Cousins is only the backup in Washington, perhaps no backup in the NFL is quite as valuable.
After watching Robert Griffin III go down with a significant knee injury against the Seahawks in the playoffs, the team knows how important it is to have a reliable backup. Cousins is considered to be one of the best insurance options in the league, if not headed to another team as a starter somewhere down the line.
The Bills are one team that's been trying to find a franchise quarterback for a while and they hope that player is rookie E.J. Manuel. The only quarterback taken in the first round of the draft this year, Manuel is battling veteran Kevin Kolb to be Buffalo's starter this season. That competition is on hold for now, as Manuel is out for the rest of the preseason with a knee injury.
The preseason might not count on a team's final win-loss record, but it is certainly very important, especially in the third game where most teams consider it to be the biggest dress rehearsal before the regular season. For these two teams, it could be even bigger.
Meet the Redskins
Skins fans got a big scare when they saw Griffin go down in such pain in January, but it appears as though he will be able to return by Week 1. That's great news for the team, but you still won't see any of RGIII on Saturday as he will sit out the entire preseason to ensure his health. You probably won't see as much of Cousins after his Monday night scare. That could mean a lot of Rex Grossman and even some of Pat White as he tries to mount his NFL comeback.
You may also see more of 2012 second-team All-Pro running back Alfred Morris. Despite being a sixth-round pick last year, Morris ran for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns in the read-option offense. The team will also be keeping an eye on receivers like Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson as they search for someone to provide a threat besides Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss.
Meet the Bills
Kolb gets the majority of snaps now by default and seems on track to start Week 1 if Manuel can't get these vital reps in with the team. That's too bad, as Manuel looked much better in Buffalo's second preseason game, going 10-of-12 for 92 yards and a touchdown. Kolb was 13-of-21 for 111 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. The absence of Manuel also means that the Bills will get a much longer look at undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel. The former Washington State Cougar was 2-of-3 for 24 yards last week.
Buffalo got some great news on defense though, when it was announced that safety Jairus Byrd signed his one-year tender and will join his teammates this week. Byrd is one of the most talented players on this roster and makes a world of difference to the defense.
Local Takes: Washington Redskins
Hogs Haven says the Redskins are testing a nickel pass-rush in the preseason, but that it's not doing so well:
I like the pressure the Redskins have gotten out of this package so far when teams have actually dropped back to pass. Bowen, Kerrigan, Jenkins and Orakpo caused a lot of pressure against the Titans, and Tapp filled in well for Orakpo against the Steelers. Getting good pressure from four rushers makes things a lot easier in the secondary, but they have to be ready for teams that are willing to run the ball against this package.
Local Takes: Buffalo Bills
When it became apparent in July that the Bills and Byrd would not agree to a long-term contract extension this off-season -- and that Byrd would be missing training camp time as a result -- most believed that Byrd could hold out as long as just prior to Week 1, in similar fashion to Jason Peters' holdout in 2008. Instead, Byrd has signed with the team 18 days prior to their opening day tilt with the New England Patriots, meaning that he'll have a solid chunk of time to familiarize himself with Mike Pettine's defense.
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It's almost impossible to know what to expect in any preseason game, but we will do our best.
The loss of Manuel is a huge one for Buffalo. It looked like he had won the job, but now we know for a fact that he won't play in the next two games and that means you will see a lot of Kolb on Saturday. He has played well in the past, but his last few outings have not gone so well and that's going to put more pressure on the Bills' talented running backs.
Meanwhile, the Redskins won't have Griffin and could be urged to sit Cousins what with their recent rash of injuries to key players. Grossman might be a veteran, but he's never played all that well. Although against the Bills defense, anyone might be able to look good. The Redskins defense also didn't play that well last season.
I'll go with the home team and the better team from last season.
Redskins 23, Bills 17
Again, neither team will have their young franchise picks available next week. The Redskins travel to play the Bucs in Tampa on Aug. 29 and the Bills go back to Buffalo to wrap up their preseason against the Lions.