Redskins LB Preston Smith needs to build off strong opener

The Washington Redskins play their second preseason game at 7:30 Thursday night versus the Detroit Lions. Here are some non-Robert Griffin III areas of interest for your wake-up call:

Tom Compton/tight ends. How much will they work Compton at tight end with the first unit? And what do they run with him. Yes, it limits the overall plays they could call with him, but he can play there for runs and play-action throws. As for the other tight ends, how will they block and do any of them look like a legitimate possibility for a roster spot?

Running backs. They showed well as a group for the most part versus Cleveland, starting with No. 1 back Alfred Morris. But Matt Jones had two nice runs and Chris Thompson was solid in his role, especially as a blocker. Thompson picked up blitzes well, identifying where they were coming from and meeting them with energy.

Rookie work. Linebacker Preston Smith had a good first outing, with most of his success coming versus backups. But it was a good first effort from him; he showed (mostly) good strength setting the edge and was better with the timing of his hands. Rookie right guard Brandon Scherff showed power playing next to Morgan Moses. They handled the one stunt they faced.

Receiver Rashad Ross. Had a strong game versus Cleveland and has had a decent training camp. Evan Spencer is not a lock as the sixth receiver (they could always keep more) and if Ross keeps playing well then he'll have to warrant strong consideration. Spencer's strength right now is special teams; he's dropped a few passes in camp and ran a route short last week, leading to an overthrow (the ball might have been off anyway even with the right route).

Return game. Even though Jamison Crowder will be a serious threat to win the job and he didn't play last week (and won't this week), this area still needs to show more. Andre Roberts fumbled a ball and Thompson misjudged a punt. But, in general, the special teams just needs to do better. Coverage units are difficult at this time because there are always new faces once the season begins. But at some point this area has to become a strength if the Redskins want to improve as a team.

The red zone. The Redskins need to start converting inside here, something they did not do well at during 2014. They moved the ball well for the most part last season (13th in the NFL), but did not translate that into points (26th overall). They were held to a field goal on their lone red zone trip.

Kicking game. Kai Forbath had a good start to the preseason with two field goals, but he's been inconsistent in practice. His kickoffs don't appear to be much different. However, Ty Long does not seem like a challenger close to winning a job. So Forbath is competing against himself as well as kickers from other teams who might be cut.