STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
WR DeSean Jackson (left hamstring) is moving closer to a return. Injured in the first quarter of the season opener, Jackson returned to the practice field for the first time on Wednesday. He participated in individual drills, but not the team portion of practice and says he's "optimistic" he could play against the Falcons, though that remains unlikely.
ILB Perry Riley (left calf) is expected back against Atlanta. He missed the previous two games and the Redskins were woefully thin at that position, using just three inside linebackers against the Giants on Sept. 24. Riley practiced for the first time Wednesday since the Sept. 20 game against St. Louis when he was injured.
TE Derek Carrier could see increased playing time if Jordan Reed is out. Acquired from San Francisco in a trade late in training camp, Carrier caught two passes in the second half of the Philadelphia game, including one on the game-winning touchdown drive.
RB Chris Thompson is finally fulfilling the promise he showed at Florida State before injuries derailed his career. He had six carries for 53 yards against the Eagles and caught two passes for another 24.
K Dustin Hopkins was brought in because former kicker Kai Forbath struggled on kickoffs. Hopkins has 16 kickoffs and 13 of them have gone for touchbacks (81.3 percent), which ranks sixth in the NFL.
The Redskins remain the NFL's top rushing team (139.5 yards per game). That's allowed them to take the pressure off quarterback Kirk Cousins and grab early leads, as they did against Philadelphia, St. Louis and Miami. Expect more of the same against Atlanta, which doesn't give up many rushing yards per game (85.3), but lots of yards per play (4.43), which ranks 27th in the NFL.
That means lots of running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, who have traded off this season. Against the Eagles, Washington gave Morris the ball on the first three carries of the game and eventually they wore down Philadelphia's front seven. On the Redskins' 90-yard game-winning drive, Morris had runs of 16 and 13 yards.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Redskins WR Pierre Garcon, who leads the team with 24 receptions, vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant, who had three interceptions last season and has turned into a viable shutdown corner.
Falcons WR Julio Jones vs. Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland.
Atlanta has been good at moving Jones around, but they might not have to against Washington's corners. Breeland did make a name for himself last season battling Dallas star receiver Dez Bryant on Monday Night Football.