Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman looks at four key players to keep an eye on during Thursday night's Redskins-Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"Redskins-Bills: 4 Players to Watch" is presented by Papa John's, Official Pizza of the Washington Redskins.
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ROBERT GRIFFIN III
No secrecy or competition when it comes to this year's starting quarterback position: Griffin III is the starter for the forseeable future.
He fits the bill of a franchise quarterback, with a dangerous combination of smarts, arm strength and dynamic speed in the open field. But everything we know about him is based on collegiate results, and this will be his first true test against an NFL defense.
Griffin III is expected to take between 12-20 snaps on Thursday night, dependent on what the game dictates. Look for his coaches to put him in situations that favor what he's most comfortable with, as he faces a fierce Buffalo Bills pass rush. He doesn't need to prove anything in a meaningless game, but a good drive and happy/healthy exit would go a long way to building confidence.
The Redskins tried to catch lightning in a bottle last year at the safety position, but were too hobbled by injury to find success. This offseason, the front office revamped the position, adding two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather as a key piece to the puzzle.
Meriweather has a chance to be the missing playmaker that defensive coordinator Jim Haslett craves at safety, taking pressure off the linebackers and cornerbacks to be more aggressive.
Meriweather has the versatility to play both safety positions, and is comfortable near the line of scrimmage and in coverage. The Bills don't utilize their tight ends much in the passing game, but look for Meriweather to help defend against Fred Jackson in the running game.
The old addage says a tight end is a rookie quarterback's best friend, and the Redskins have deep talent at the tight end position.
It's been a while since Redskins fans have seen Davis in action, as a suspension ended his season four weeks early. But a dedicated offseason at team facilities earned him the team's franchise tag, and he has shown up to training camp ready to rebuild his value.
Davis proved last year that he can be an asset for any quarterback under center, and can provide an outlet for Griffin III. Davis uses his speed to get separation against linebackers, and his size to out-physical defensive backs. After Davis, the Redskins have Chris Cooley and Niles Paul, so the tight end competition should be fun to watch.
The kicking competition has been one of the hottest battles in training camp, and is worthy of inclusion in players to watch.
After a 2011 campaign with five missed field goals and five blocked kicks, the Redskins are once again challenging Graham Gano with competition. Given the success that Neil Rackers has had in his career (86.8 percent accuracy on field goals since 2010), Gano has little margin for error.
Last preseason, Gano easily out-kicked Shayne Graham, going 10-for-10 on field goals. He will need to prove his value in both kickoffs and field goals, in an open-air stadium with inclement weather conditions likely. Gano is listed first on the depth chart, but will need to perform well in order to stay there.