Keys to the Game: Redskins at Packers

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GREEN BAY PACKERS

Strike first, often

The Green Bay Packers went three-and-out on their first drive Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. They did it again to start the second half. The team was able to keep itself in the game with a few quick-strike drives, but that isn’t as good as establishing dominance right away. The Packers need to start quicker. A quick-strike drive to start the game would force the opponent, instead of the Packers, to play catch-up for the rest of the game.

Don’t limit Lacy

Rookie running back Eddie Lacy didn’t get very many opportunities against a stingy 49ers defense. In the few he did have, he showed he’s more than a short-yardage threat. He can catch, run screens and be a reliable check down when needed. The Packers would love to have the rookie establish a running game, and he’ll have opportunities to do that, but the Packers also need to get creative with Lacy, who is a type of weapon the team is not used to having.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Limit turnovers

The Redskins had a fumble, two interceptions and a safety on Monday night against Philadelphia. It’s not just a problem for the Redskins. The Packers had an interception and fumble lost in last week’s game. Both teams will be focused on winning the turnover battle, but it’s more important for the Redskins playing on the road. Those type of self-inflicted wounds are deadly anytime, more so in a hostile stadium like Lambeau Field.

Let RGIII settle

Robert Griffin III had a great rookie season last year before a knee injury derailed everything. RGIII is back, but on Monday night he looked tentative against the Philadelphia Eagles for much of the night and had his first multi-interception game of his career. Griffin will need time to trust his knee before he is all the way back. Until then, the Redskins have to be safe with the quarterback and get him as comfortable as possible. Against the Packers, that means limiting his exposure in the read-option and keeping him away from Clay Matthews III.

OTHER KEYS

MUST-SEE MATCHUP

Jordy Nelson vs. Redskins secondary

After having surgery on his knee to start training camp, there were some doubts Jordy Nelson could return to form in the first game of the season. There’s no doubt anymore. Nelson had a great game, catching seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Nelson at one point made a tip-toe catch on the sideline to keep a Packers’ drive alive. At the moment he appears to be Rodgers’ favorite target. The Redskins have some issues in the their secondary, most notably the absence of strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who is dealing with knee and groin injuries. He was inactive Monday night and replaced by Reed Doughty, but practiced Wednesday.

HOT SEAT

Packers defensive backs

After giving up 400 yards through the air against San Francisco, the Packers defensive backs have to prove they can stop teams when they need to. With the status of Morgan Burnett up in the air, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian need to play better than they did last week. The short-notice of Burnett’s absence may have contributed to the young safeties’ poor performances. They won’t have that as an excuse if Burnett can’t return from a hamstring injury this week.

ABOUT DUE

Tramon Williams

Williams came close to grabbing a interception last week against the 49ers, but never came up with the ball. Williams and the rest of the Packers corners need to not only get their hands on more throws, they need to intercept the ball. Turnovers play a large role in the success of Dom Caper’s defense and the Packers as a whole.