Redskins Must Get Youngsters Going Early Against Eagles

Montez Sweat

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Heading into Sunday’s NFL Week 1 opener against NFC East division rival, Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Redskins will enter Lincoln Financial Stadium with a talented but young football team.

Now the Redskins and coach Jay Gruden will have to get the many young faces on the roster up to speed. Sunday in Philadelphia may be an unforgiving environment for the Burgundy and Gold to break in new starters and first-year players.

Washington will have to quickly execute a gameplan that has been getting implemented over the past few weeks.

Players such as wideouts Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon, Robert Davis, and Steven Sims will be receiving their first-ever NFL regular-season action and nerves will be high. RB Derrius Guice will also be playing in his first-ever regular season contest as well.

On defense, linebacker Montez Sweat and cornerback Jimmy Moreland will have important roles in helping contain the Eagles offense. The rookie duo looks to continue impressive training camps and preseasons into their first regular-season action.

It will be imperative for Gruden to get everyone involved early and contribute. The sixth-year coach touched on that from the teams’ INOVA Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park while speaking with the media after the first regular-season practice.

“It’s a big thing, especially on offense,” Gruden said about his young players. “We’ve got to get everybody some touches, somehow. Obviously, we want to stay balanced, but get the ball to some of our key players that are very good with the ball in their hands is going to be critical for us. Defensively, they’ve just got to rally and play together and communicate – that’s the biggest thing. Philadelphia does a good job on offense giving you different sets and personnel groups and motions and all that stuff so communication is going to critical. Got to know where Zach Ertz is at all times and they added DeSean Jackson the deep threat. Obviously, Alshon [Jeffery] is still a great player. Communication is going to be huge for the young guys, but with Landon [Collins] running the show in the secondary and [Jon] Bostic running the show at the linebacker we feel good about it.”

The Redskins have continued a youth movement that started three draft classes ago and continued into final cutdowns for this year’s roster. The team has a high number of picks from those past three drafts still on the roster with the addition of many from this past April’s group.

“I think we’ve drafted well the last couple of years,” Gruden said. “These guys have been pretty productive. It’s a matter of growing your people in your system, which is good. These guys, you want to develop them and keep them here, so that they get better under your tutelage, you hope. We’ve got some pretty good skill guys here. The draft we had this year, the rookies we feel like they can come in and help us right away, which is good. Doesn’t happen very often, we’re going to have to ask about five or six of those guys to contribute early and contribute a lot. Feel good about the draft, where we’re at and the players that we’ve added over the last few years, the youth, the experience they’re gaining and the way they’re getting better.”

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