When the NFL announced its 2007 preseason schedule earlier this week, you can bet the Redskins paid serious attention.
Last season, you may recall, the team didn't exactly take the preseason as an opportunity to showcase the full potential of Al Saunders' new offense or to display Gregg Williams' multi-faceted defense at full throttle.
It cost them in a huge way.
An 0-4 preseason built up no momentum to the start of the regular season and the Redskins found themselves in an 0-2 hole after being upset by Minnesota 19-16 at FedExField and falling to Dallas on the road 27-10.
This time around, the preseason should be a more dependable proving ground. It's one thing to want to hold back from showing all of your weapons. It's quite another to make huge assumptions about them when they're basically untested.
The low point of last year's preseason was in the third outing when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots looked to be in mid-season form when they buried the Redskins 41-0 up in Foxboro, Mass.
Overall, the Redskins were outscored 104-27 in the four preseason losses of 2006. They need to close that gap, obviously, and perhaps even come up with at least a 2-2 finish before the real show begins.
The Redskins-Titans opener is a rematch of last year's game at FedExField, where the Titans pulled out a 25-22 win. Tennessee found its QB that day in Vince Young.
The Redskins' preseason home opener comes against a Pittsburgh team that features a new head coach in the youthful Mike Tomlin. Antwaan Randle El, a Steeler Super Bowl hero, gets to see his former club.
Week 3 of the preseason, the best indication of a team's progress, has Baltimore coming to FedExField. The Ravens have won the last two versus Washington in the preseason.
On Aug. 30, a Thursday night, the Redskins take on a Jacksonville team they beat 36-30 in overtime at FedExField on Week 4 of 2006.
At Tennessee. Home to Pittsburgh and Baltimore. At Jacksonville.
That schedule shouldn't sound like an "exhibition" season to the Redskins. It should come across as an opportunity to get some serious work accomplished.
They really need to prove a few things in that Aug. 11-Aug. 30 stretch.