The Washington Redskins expect to play their starters for about one quarter in their preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
At least that's the plan.
Depending on how the offense fares those plans could change, head coach Jay Gruden said after a walk-through Wednesday. But Gruden's primary goal is finding out who among the backups and rookies warrant a spot on the final roster.
“This is about finding out your 53-man roster,” Gruden said. “Finding out about the young guys. It's a chance for these guys to play. ... Your backups don't get a lot of playing time unless there's an injury, so this is a chance for them to really show what they can do in game situations because, as we saw last year, we had so many injuries the practice squad guys were brought up, the backups became starters and this is valuable time for them to get the reps.”
Less urgent, he said, is getting the starters on the field together.
“You know what type of camp they have, what type of shape they're in,” he said. “They don't necessarily need a lot of reps, but you do like to get that continuity on offense or defense, keep them out there a little bit.”
The flow of the game will determine how much action starting quarterback Robert Griffin III gets, Gruden said.
“I don't know,” Gruden said. “Depends on the type of plays we call. We'll play it by ear. I told those guys (to) anticipate playing a quarter. It could be less. It won't be more than a quarter unless we are finishing a drive.”
For the players battling for roster spots, Gruden has a list of things he's looking to see.
“Offensively, we're looking for good tempo in and out of the huddle,” the coach said. “You're looking for assignment-sound football. We're looking for people to finish blocks. We're looking for quarterbacks to get the ball out of their hands, make the right decisions.
“We're looking for backs to hit the hole and keep their feet moving and yards after contact and ball security. And receivers -- route distribution, route definition and how they catch the ball and see if they can separate against a very good group of corners for Cleveland.”
On defense, Gruden said the focus will be on “gap security, obviously, knowing your assignment and then great pursuit angles. Then, obviously, tackling, fundamental tackling.”
Gruden said tight end Logan Paulsen has returned from a trip to North Carolina to see a toe specialist and could have surgery on his injured right big toe. Paulsen and fellow tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) will both miss the game against the Browns.
Also sitting out will be fourth-round draft choice Jamison Crowder. The wide receiver has been impressive in camp, but is slowed by a tender hamstring. Gruden said the team would rather be sure Crowder is ready to go for the second exhibition game.
DeAngelo Hall, in his 12th season, will see some action, Gruden said. Hall missed 13 games last season after surgery to repair a torn left Achilles and has been limited in practice. He took his first turns with the first team on Monday.