Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Rashad Ross (19) is congratulated by offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe (79) after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the New York Jets at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins are back in action for the first time since their bye week. Who should you be keeping an eye on in Week 10?
The Washington Redskins are coming into the second half of the season with a decent record. The team sits at 4-3-1, and they are currently in sixth place in the NFC. They are looking to hold on to a wild card spot to close the season, but they will run into a tough challenger in the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings got off to a 5-0 start this season before tailing off. Their offense has been struggling a bit, but their defense has played at a high level all year. This game should be an interesting battle between both sides, and there is no way to know what will actually happen.
With that in mind, here is a look at five Redskins to keep an eye on during Sunday’s game.
Oct 30, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) is defended by Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) in the second quarter during game 17 of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
5. CB Josh Norman
Prior to the bye week, Josh Norman endured one of his worst weeks of the season. Working against A.J. Green, the stud cornerback had some issues and allowed a lot of yardage to the receiver. He was coming off of a concussion in the prior week, but it was still disappointing to see him have problems, especially with penalties.
In Week 10, Norman is going to have to try and bounce back. While he should be able to have some success, he will have a tricky matchup against Stefon Diggs. The second year receiver is putting together a solid season, and Sam Bradford loves to target him. In the last game for the Vikings, Diggs caught a whopping 13 passes. Norman has to try and limit him and that could be difficult, especially given the volume of passes he is bound to get.
On one hand, Norman should have the advantage in this battle. He is one of the best cornerbacks in the league, while Diggs is an inexperienced, young talent with quarterback questions. On the other hand, Diggs could catch a lot of short passes and open things up for the other Minnesota receivers. There is no way of knowing.
At the end of the day, I would imagine that Norman has the upper hand. He definitely is more experienced than Diggs, and the seasoned veteran often holds the advantage in these battles.
Oct 30, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) pushes off against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) during the fourth quarter at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
4. TE Jordan Reed
The Redskins are likely going to be without DeSean Jackson in this game, so they are going to be thin at the receiver position. They still have Jamison Crowder, who could have a good game, but the Vikings corners matchup favorably against the Washington receivers. Because of that, Jordan Reed could be forced to play a big role in this week’s game.
Reed has had a great season for the Redskins as he has developed into one of the best tight ends in the league. His unique combination of size and athletic ability can make him a matchup nightmare in a lot of circumstances. The Vikings do have some solid linebackers, but the only safety capable of covering Reed is Harrison Smith. He could be hard pressed to do that the whole game.
Kirk Cousins will probably look Reed’s way early and often in this one. Crowder and Reed have doubled as options 1A and 1B for him over the last few weeks, and that seems unlikely to change. Still, given the difficulty of Crowder’s matchup it seems like Reed would be the more likely candidate to break out this week. For that reason, he is on our watch list.
Oct 16, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws the ball as Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) chases in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
3. LB Ryan Kerrigan
One of the major problems for the Vikings this season has been their inability to block on offense. Their offensive line was supposed to be a strength, especially after the free agency period, but it has instead been a disaster. The team lost their top two offensive tackle to injury, and as a result, they have struggled with edge pressure.
All of this has to be music to Ryan Kerrigan’s ears. The veteran pass rusher was just getting hot before the bye week, and he has to be ready to have a major impact again. He knows that getting pressure on Bradford will give the Redskins a good chance to win, and he is going to jump at the opportunity to rack up pressures.
I would not be surprised to see Kerrigan have a major impact on this game. The Skins need to play very strong defense in order to have a shot at beating the Vikings. That will start with their pass rush as they will have to capitalize on the Vikings top weakness. Joe Barry should dial up a lot of blitzes for Kerrigan, and he will almost certainly notch a sack on Sunday.
Oct 30, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) rushes during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
2. RB Robert Kelley
Move over, Matt Jones. There is a new starting running back in town. Robert Kelley was named the starter this week by head coach Jay Gruden. Kelley has a chance to permanently win the starting job, and this game will be a major test for him.
Simply put, the Vikings have a very tough defense. Gabby Birenbaum of Riggo’s Rag broke down what Kelley would be facing in a piece from earlier this week:
Kelley will face a tough challenge this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings currently rank third in the league in overall defense (by yards allowed), and eighth in run defense. With a talented front seven, including 2015 Pro Bowlers Anthony Barr and Everson Griffen, the rookie will certainly be tested.
Those ranking are no fluke. The Vikings have a very strong front that only a truly physical runner will be able to penetrate. Kelley has a chance to break through, and if he does he could cement himself as the starting option for the rest of the season. That would disappoint Jones, but his issues are just beginning, as he could find himself inactive for this game.
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tackle Ty Nsekhe (79) prepares to block against the New York Jets during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
1. OT Ty Nsekhe
The big question going into this game is: how will Ty Nsekhe fare? The swing tackle has been a quality backup during his Redskins career. However, he has been dealt a tough hand. With the suspension of Trent Williams, Nsekhe is going to have to start at the left tackle position for the next month. Of course, his first game is coming against one of the toughest defenses in the league.
The Vikings have a formidable defensive front, and Nsekhe could be given trouble as a result. Everson Griffen is a strong pass rusher, and the Vikings may put him against Nsekhe to try and rattle the inexperienced starter. Nsekhe will have to hold up to give the Redskins any chance of winning.
This game could also be big for Nsekhe’s future. He is already in his 30s, so if he does not show enough promise the team could look to add a younger offensive tackle in the future to occupy the role he is in. General Manager Scot McCloughan does like him, but his tone could change if he plays poorly in a starting role.
Overall, watching Nsekhe Sunday will be great. He is going to be on edge, and he will have a chance to play one of the most important games of his life. For that reason, he is the No. 1 Redskin to watch in NFL Week 10.