Reporting Grant Paulsen
Beck will be asked to throw the ball more than he did a week ago, especially early on in today’s game. The Bills boast one of the NFL’s easiest defenses to move the ball on, ranking 30th against the pass and 30th against the run. But Washington is going to have to score points to win in Toronto and points don’t come by pounding the ball on the ground. If the Redskins are going to make enough plays to hang with the Bills, who average 31.3 points per contest, Beck’s going to have to hit on some long passes. Washington’s passing game has gotten a little too horizontal. Expect to see Beck take a couple chances down the field to Anthony Armstrong in the vertical game.
In his only strong performance of the season, Torain rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in an inspired performance that propelled the Redskins to a win in St. Louis. Since that game Torain has rushed 12 times for just 17 yards. He hasn’t run with the same anger and attitude that helped him gash the Rams, which he’ll have to try to channel again in Canada if he wants to take over for injured running back Tim Hightower as Washington’s new starter.
Is this the week Helu gets his first chance to serve as Washington’s primary tailback? That isn’t yet known. But what we do know is that with Hightower done for the season, Helu’s role is about to increase, even if that means he’s just going to get more touches while remaining a backup. For the season the Nebraska product has averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The problem is that the attempts have been few and far between. After getting just three carries in each of the past two games, Helu’s workload should spike dramatically against the Bills. But can the Redskins get him involved in the passing game? How will he perform in pas protection?
Austin has been waiting for a year and a half to get legitimate play-time at wide receiver. His chance will finally come this afternoon in Toronto. Austin will be the primary replacement for Santana Moss in the slot, during three-receiver formations. The 23 year-old has caught just four passes on the season, but all four have come since John Beck took over as Washington’s quarterback. He and Beck seem to have a decent rapport. Expect to see Austin making catches between the numbers throughout today’s game. If Austin performs well over the next few weeks while Moss is recovering from a broken finger, he could solidify himself as a building block in Kyle Shanahan’s passing attack.
The most pleasant surprise of the Redskins’ 2010 season, Armstrong is back to full-speed after dealing with a nagging hamstring issue over the past month. But the injury isn’t the only reason why the second-year receiver’s numbers have declined. He also hasn’t been nearly as involved in Washington’s passing game as a down-field threat, the role he played last season while finishing third in the NFL in yards-per-catch. A year after averaging 19.8 yards per reception Armstrong is currently racking up 9.4 yards per catch. Why not see if he can get behind a Bills defense that has given up several monster plays through the air?