As badly as the Washington Redskins want and need Robert Griffin III back, they will have to wait until Week 1 of the regular season at the earliest for their Pro Bowl quarterback to return from his torn ACL.
Instead, the Redskins will start second-year passer Kirk Cousins on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in both teams' preseason debut.
Washington head coach Mike Shanahan said last month Griffin won’t play at all during preseason, but that has certainly opened up a window opportunity, albeit a crack, for Cousins to prove his worth once again.
In three games last year, Cousins completed 68.8 percent of his passes for a 101.6 rating, and the Redskins won two of those games en route to the team’s first playoff appearance in five years.
After a disappointing 6-10 post-Jeff Fisher campaign last year, Tennessee is also hoping to end a long playoff drought behind the fully healed shoulder of quarterback Jake Locker. Entering his third season, Locker was 4-7 as the regular starter last season, but had little help from the running game in Chris Johnson.
Failing to play up to the big money contract he held out for back in 2011, Johnson rushed for 1,243 yards last season, but spent much of the time criticizing his offensive line. According to NFL.com, Johnson has put that behind him and will instead trust his teammates more as he tries to get back to his 2009 form when he totaled 2,509 yards from scrimmage.
The Redskins, ranked 30th in pass defense last season, will have the opportunity test their rookie defensive backs in David Amerson, Phillip Thomas, and Bacarri Rambo. All three will start against the Titans, as reported by the Washington Post.
Tennessee needed across the board improvements, but especially on the offensive line, and first-round pick Chance Warmack could be the answer. Taken out of Alabama, Warmack and the Titans finally came to terms on a contract a little over a week ago. He was the last of the top 10 picks to sign, and missed five days of training camp as a result.
The game kicks-off at 8 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
For Titan fans they can watch the game WKRN-2, while those in the nation's capital can tune into to NBC4/CSN.
Betting Odds: Tennessee is favored by 3.0 points
Over/Under: 34 points
Prediction: Washington 17, Tennessee 14