Thursday's slate of games kicks off the preseason in earnest, but one of last season's main attractions is still on the sidelines. Robert Griffin III has yet to be involved with 11-on-11 drills during training camp, giving up the starter's reins to Kirk Cousins for Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans.
While the Redskins are hoping for life to return to RG3's knee, the Titans have a host of new players to break in. Offensive guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack are expected to lead a revamped offensive line that hopes to open up big holes for Chris Johnson and Jake Locker. The defense, meanwhile, was bolstered with the additions of safety Bernard Pollard and defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill.
Meet the Titans
The Titans invested a lot of money in a beefier offensive line, making their priorities clear. The team has a lot of faith in Johnson and Locker to lead the offense, despite their hit-or-miss production last season. With an interior line that should rival the best any team has to offer, the Titans' offense is expected to be much improved. Of course, it would help if their wide receivers could stay healthy for consecutive weeks.
On defense, the Titans didn't change much in the offseason. Hill was buried on the Detroit Lions' depth chart last year, but is expected to start in Nashville. The addition of Pollard gives the Titans a hard-hitter in the secondary, but does little to improve the team's coverage. Overall, the Titans don't appear much approved from last year's poor defensive unit, with the secondary still plenty torchable even with the addition of Blidi Wreh-Wilson in the third round of this year's NFL Draft.
Meet the Redskins
With Griffin back, the Redskins' offense has the potential to be formidable. Alfred Morris thrived as a rookie with Griffin leading a read-option attack, and the passing game should feature plenty of downfield passing with Donte Stallworth and Devery Henderson joining Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Co. in the offseason. An unchanged offensive line may have to be much improved if the Redskins hope to advance in the playoffs, however.
The Redskins' defense also underwent little change, though it figures to improve greatly with the return of Brian Orakpo from a season-ending torn left pectoral muscle. The addition of Orakpo's pass rush should help a secondary that was one of the league's worst last season. The team drafted cornerback David Amerson, safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo in the second, fourth and sixth rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft, respectively, and all three players could play a big role this season.
Local Takes: Titans
The good news is that he's identified the issues. It's that whole "realizing you have a problem is the first step" thing. Sometimes there's an assumption that, at the professional level, these problems in player's games are always identified and put front and center. I'd say more times than not that is true, but it's not necessarily a given. Knowing that Locker understands these problems and is working on them is only a good thing.
Local Takes: Redskins
1) Trent Williams -- I said it above and it bears repeating. An offense is only going to go as far as its offensive line takes it. Last season, our offensive line would not have won many beauty pageants, but they helped us win a bunch of games. Anchoring that unit was a guy that we have all been waiting to have a breakout season. Seeing #71 work last year was just amazing. In addition to earning a Pro Bowl spot, he earned the respect of his peers and got into the Top 100 Players list. No matter who our quarterback is, without a left tackle that can handle anyone that lines up opposite him, you are going to lose more games than you win.
Follow the Fun
Add these follows to your Twitter timeline:
Brown picks Locker, but Locker has been sharp #Titans— TitansMCM (@TitansMCM) August 5, 2013
@Rich_Campbell - Redskins beat writer
@jwyattsports - Titans beat writer
@SirAdkins A few guys on PUP trying to come back -- Walker, Walter and Rojo— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) August 7, 2013
Seriously? You want a prediction for a preseason bout? Do people actually bet on this stuff? Well, all right.
The Titans have a lot of new pieces, including an offensive line that, though talented, may still need some time to jell. The Redskins, meanwhile, are largely returning their 2012 squad on both sides of the ball, and could be much sharper as a result. The Titans have the better backup quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, which could play an important role in the final score given how little starters usually play early in preseason.
The pick: 24-23, Redskins
Titans are favored by 2.5 to three points across the board, according to Oddsshark.