Aug. 9, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) runs the ball in for a first half touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE
Robert Griffin III impressed in his NFL debut Thursday night against the Bills. But who else stood out from the Redskins preseason opener?
Thursday night's preseason opener for the Washington Redskins probably won't be remembered for anything other than the debut of Robert Griffin III.
And why not? After all the hype, all the excitement, it was time to see the kid in action.
Griffin did not disappoint, looking poised as he finished the game completing four of six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown on three drives. During those three drives, he demonstrated his ability to survey the field and get the ball out of his hands quickly, something that was a mild concern through the early parts of training camp.
And while Griffin was the headliner for the Redskins' preseason opener, here are some of the other things that stood out in Thursday night's game:
Pierre Garcon showed what he can do: One of the primary reasons the Redskins wanted to acquire Pierre Garcon in the offseason was because of his ability to excel after the catch.
Against the Bills, it only took one play for Garcon to showcase the skill the team so badly coveted. He caught a bubble screen from Griffin, weaved his way through traffic, and somersaulted into the endzone for a 20-yard score that capped an eight play, 80-yard drive.
"It was good," he told the Redskins Radio Network. "It was a great feeling having a long drive that we really needed. Playing against a different opponent, we really need to put it on tape and see where we can get better. But it was good to have some drives and good to obviously score a touchdown, too."
Garcon also showed some toughness. He caught passes over the middle and wasn't afraid to lower his shoulder to defenders, finishing off one of his receptions with a punishing hit. He may look small (he's listed at 6-0, 212), but he plays much bigger.
Stiff competition among the Redskins backup defensive linemen: There's little doubt that the Redskins defensive line is one of the more solid units on the team. And it's no secret that , barring injury, the starting front three will be Barry Cofield, Adam Carriker and Stephen Bowen.
But on Thursday, it was their backups that stood out most against the Bills. Led by defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and nose tackle Chris Baker, the defensive line had an impressive goal line stand in the second quarter. Though their performance was mostly against reserves, seeing players like Baker and Jenkins consistently get penetration and clogging running lanes had to be an encouraging sight for the team.
Jenkins is coming off of an ACL injury, and while not all the way back, coaches say he's closer to returning to his 2011 form. Baker, a journeyman early in career, has been coming on as of late in practices and now has a solid preseason performance to add to his strong camp.
Jim Haslett has said recently that the key to having a better defensive line is to keep his starters fresh. The best way to do that is to keep a solid rotation that doesn't see a huge drop off once starters come out of the game. To that end, Thursday night was a good showing for those potential rotational players, and speaks to the potential depth the Redskins could have in an area that's key to running a 3-4 defense.
A few rookies not named RGIII fared well - Griffin certainly was the highlight of the game, but there were fellow members of his draft class who acquitted themselves nicely in their NFL debut's as well.
First was fifth round guard Adam Gettis, who drew the start at right guard with Chris Chester sitting out with an ankle injury. He flashed the most -- much like the entire offense -- on the Redskins' third series. He used his quickness to get to the second level and seal off linebackers on a few running plays, helping to pave the way on a few solid carries by Evan Royster. Though it's only a small sample size, plays like those are examples of why the Redskins feel like he's a good fit for the zone blocking scheme: He relies more on his athleticism than strength to get the job done, and it's why he could be a key backup heading in to this season.
Cornerback Richard Crawford had a solid performance as well, notching an interception to go along with a few nifty punt returns. Crawford's game was much like his performances in training camp, showing good instincts, ball skills, and the ability to make men miss with the ball in his hands. What'll be interesting to see is where Crawford can fit on this roster. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are locks to be the top two cornerbacks, and Kevin Barnes and newcomer Cedric Griffin are likely backups. But if he continues to make noise, Crawford might have a good chance to make the team as its fifth corner ahead of someone like Brandyn Thompson.