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There were a lot of positives from the Redskins' preseason win over the Steelers, but no sign was more encouraging than the flashes rookie defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins showed.
The Redskins beat the Steelers 16-7 Friday night at FedEx Field, and they did it in impressive fashion, leading to some unexpected positive vibes for Washington fans this early in the preseason. In fact, with all the talk in training camp about how awful this Washington team may be, Hogs Haven nicely summed up what most fans were thinking when they sat down to watch the preseason opener:
I can't remember the last time I sat down to watch a game where my expectations were lower than they were last night.
When you combine the lack of the offseason, the youth and inexperience up and down the Washington roster and the fact that the reigning AFC champions seemingly never have an off night against us, the game promised to be a long one for us.
Alas, the Redskins looked extremely impressive on offense and much more active on defense, an all around performance that, simply put, was dominant. But again, what does dominance in the preseason mean? As Hogs Haven, and virtually all of twitter reminded us last night, it is still just the preseason...and Skins fans only need to think back a few years to another performance that had Washington overly excited:
I won't get too carried away over a preseason game, but I think for where we are, getting excited about a preseason game is a necessary step. If it wasn't for Osaka, maybe we could get a little more crazy.
Hey, at least Rex Grossman got everyone off his back for a week.
Quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kellen Clemens operated Kyle Shanahan's offense with ease Friday evening in the Redskins 16-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steeleres. The quarterbacks were a combined 28 of 43 for 312 yards in the game, with Grossman (19 of 26, 207 yards) throwing the game's lone touchdown pass in the second quarter. The wide receiving core on the other end of these throws is one of the more interesting competitions in camp, with a nice blend of youth and experience battling to climb the depth chart.
Santana Moss took no time in establishing that he is Washington's number one wide receiver, catching seven balls for 64 yards, and the aforementioned eight yard touchdown. Grossman looked Moss' way early and often, and was quite obviously the quarterbacks favorite target on the evening. Veterans Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth also looked sharp, with Gaffney grabbing five passes for 38 yards and Stallworth 3 passes for 46 yards. Terrence Austin and Anthony Armstrong also both kept their names in the backup wide receiver conversation, making several fine catches between them.
On the flip side, rookie wideout Leonard Hankerson struggled for Washington, catching only one throw for eight yards. Hankerson showed signs of the dropsies, and will clearly need to work on catching the ball as the preseason progresses. His route running was also nitpicked by the television analysts, but let's be honest, that can be worked on relatively easily in practice - Hankerson's number one goal needs to be catching the ball, even if I need to go buy him crazy glue. Obviously the Redskins will not quickly give up on a third round draft pick with Hankerson's athletic talents, but let's hope the Miami product doesn't go down the path of Devin Thomas and (so far) Malcolm Kelly.
Rex Grossman might be the talk of the town after his impressive performance in the Redskins 16-7 defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the preseason opener for both teams, but the Washington coaching staff must also be happy with the play of their running backs, two newcomers in particular. Recently acquired Tim Hightower and rookie sixth round pick Evan Royster showed both an ability to run the ball effectively and, perhaps just as importantly, the ability to pick up the blitz. (though not always, right Evan?)
Hightower, the former Richmond Spider and sometime Arizona Cardinals starting running back, rushed 10 times against the Steelers for 44 yards. He also caught one pass for eight yards. Nice stats for a preseason game, but the real key is he looked Clinton Portis-esque at times picking up blitzing defenses and buying his quarterback time in the pocket. Ryan Torain will need to return quickly from his broken hand to keep this a competition for the starting running back job, that's how good Hightower looked Friday night at FedEx field.
The former Penn State star Royster played in the second half of the opener, and he too looked extremely comfortable carrying the ball in the Redskins zone blocking scheme. Royster was actually the leading rusher in the game, carrying the ball 15 times for 66 yards. Expectedly, the rookie had some good and bad moments trying to protect his quarterbacks from getting lit up. Royster did show enough promise blocking in the backfield, combined with his work running the ball, that he certainly looks to be a challenger to fellow rookie Roy Helu Jr. for a backup role in the Washington backfield..
LANDOVER,Md - And so the Redskins first preseason game is in the books, with the team defeating the Steelers 16-7 on Friday night.
As is always the case in preseason, the score of the game obviously means a whole lot less than the execution seen in the game.
That being said, the team played relatively well given the fact that there wasn't much time for them and their bevy of new players to get ready. They have several new starters on both sides of the ball and only had two weeks in camp to practice (without tackling) and get used to one another, and they wound up faring pretty well.
Here are some from the takeaways from Friday's preseason opener:
Rex Grossman: Have to start with the obvious. Grossman made his case for the starting job by going 19 of 26 for 207 yards and a touchdown. He ran the offense with good tempo and seemed to be in rhythm with his receivers. He did a good job of getting to the line of scrimmage with around 15 seconds left on the playclock, which is a major improvement over a year ago. He still had a few throws that were Grossman-esque, but overall he had a very good outing. Mike Shanahan also seemed encouraged by Grossman's performance after the game, but still didn't want to anoint him the starter for Week 1.
"I thought Rex had a good game. I thought he played well. I thought he managed the game well."
A pretty measured response from Shanahan. It's clear next week's game against Indy will be a huge one for Grossman and his co-competitor John Beck, who is expected to be healthy enough to play.
Tim Hightower: His statline says 10 carries for 44 yards and 4.4 yard per carry average. But that doesn't tell the story for Hightower's performance Friday night. It's clear that his running style fits the zone blocking scheme, as his ability to plant his foot in the ground and make decisive cuts was evident time and time again.
Hightower is a violent runner, and clearly doesn't mind getting physical with opposing defenders when it's warranted. Not only that, but Hightower's ability to pick up the blitz was key, being able to stone oncoming linebackers giving Rex Grossman the time he needed. His ability to pick up the blitz alone makes him at the very least a servicable third down back. But with the way he ran tonight in addition to his blocking, he's making a case for being the opening day starter.
"I love it man," Hightower said. "I love this system, and I feel like I'm right where I need to be."
As for Mike Shanahan, he didn't seem surprised by Hightower's performance.
"I felt very good about Hightower when we traded for him. He didn't disappoint me today," Shanahan said. "He's a strong runner. I thought he had an excellent game for the first game, getting used to the system."
They key for Hightower moving forward will be his ability to hold on to the ball, as his fumbling issues have already shown to be rearing it's ugly head in training camp practice. If he can take care of the ball, he could be a big time contributor this season.
Brandon Banks: There was plenty of doubt about whether or not Banks would be able to make the team in the early going of training camp, even after having a stellar rookie year a year ago that saw him emerge as one of the better return specialists in the league.
Banks has said all along during camp that the doubters motivate him, and tonight he proved it. He had an impressive 19 yard punt return where he made several cuts to his left and allowed his blocks to develop, giving him more space to maneuver. And then he later made a statement when he broke a 58 yard kickoff return that for a brief moment looked like it could go the distance, and that was despite the new rules that push kickoffs further back.
For those who wrote Banks off prior to this game (and I was one of them) , it may be time to perhaps change who you think will wind up on the wide receiver depth chart come Week 1.
"He's got the ability," Shanahan said. "[If] he breaks one tackle and he's got the ability to go the distance."
The defensive front seven: The Redskins clearly focused on upgrading their front seven from the unit that struggled mightily a year ago. And though this game gave us a very small sample size, they didn't disappoint.
To put it simply, the defensive line rotation of Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins, Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker is light years ahead of what the team had this time last year. Cofield was able to get into the backfield several times, disrupting several runs and getting his hands on the quarterback, something that Redskins nose tackles rarely did prior to his arrival.
Bowen was able to get himself a sack, and you could tell how much that energized the team. The linebackers especially were enthused, realizing that they have a chance to be more successful now that they potentially have a much more dynamic defensive line in place.
"I love them," linebacker Brian Orakpo said after the game. "Those guys are phenomenal. They are gong to push that pocket and make plays and, not only take just blocks up,they're going to get sacks, they're going to get pressures and the showed that tonight."
Struggles of the starting secondary: And as good as the front seven played, let's just say that the secondary didn't have it's best night. While the first team defense was in, DeAngelo Hall got beat twice along the sideline, with overthrown passes baling him out each time. On another play the other starter at cornerback, Josh Wilson, who was also one of the Redskins biggest offseason pickups, there was clearly some miscommunication as Wilson expected safety help over the top from Chris Horton, who was very late in getting over to help in coverage. Luckily for both of them, the pass was overthrown yet again. I know it's just preseason, but you don't want to see that early on, especially given the team's injury situation in their secondary.
The kicking competition: Not much to discuss here. Shayne Graham may have handed the job to Graham Gano by going 0-for-2 on 29 and 49 yard kicks.
Some rookies playing like rookies: Aldrick Robinson, the sixth round pick out of SMU, didn't exactly make the best impression on special teams. He muffed two punts well inside his own territory, but luckily was able to recover it each time. With the receiver competitiion being so stiff, Robinson's only shot to make the roster is to excel on special teams, and this wasn't a great start.
And then there's Leonard Hankerson. When you watch him, he's clearly someone who has all the physical tools to succeed in this league. He's a pretty solid route runner and found himself open quite a bit in the second half. The problem for him against the Steelers was the same problem he has had in practice: drops. He short-armed the first pass targeted to him and then later he flat out dropped an easy pass on a crossing route over the middle. Ironically, not only was the pass he eventually caught a tougher one to reel in, but it also led to him getting a bit shaken up on the play (though he eventually returned). It's hard not to get the sense that fans will be frustrated by Hankerson's drops as the season goes on.
Rex Grossman was the star of the show in the Redskins preseason opener, completing 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. John Beck has a battle on his hands for the starting quarterback job.
The Washington Redskins have won their preseason opener, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-7 behind a highly effective and efficient offensive performance. Though it will be said many times, "It's just a preseason game", at least Kyle Shanahan and the players who executed his offense looked like a competent and confident group in the game, showing a nice run to pass balance. It was at least a good start for a team who many pundits said could be one of the worst teams in the league this year, and could ill afford to have an atrocious performance in preseason game one.
Rex Grossman was the star of this game, completing 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in the first half to veteran wideout Santana Moss. As a team, the Redskins ran 78 plays (with only three penalties and zero turnovers), had 27 first downs, and amassed 452 yards of total offense.
London Fletcher looked like his old reliable self in the first half, and newcomer Stephen Bowen added a sack for a Redskins defense that was able to pressure the quarterback. Rookie DJ Gomes from Nebraska was the defensive star of the second half, making big plays in the back field and managing to always be around the ball.
The biggest storyline from the game, aside from the play of Rex Grossman, might actually be the kicking battle, which is basically resolved after this evening. Graham Gano was three for three on field goals, and Shayne Graham missed two first half field goals, one a 29 yard gimme. It looks like the incumbent might retain this job after just one week of preseason play.
As the second half of the Washington Redskins preseason opener began, it was time for the starters (for the most part) to sit and the competition for roster spots to begin in earnest. The Redskins added a field goal to their halftime total, and finished quarter three leading the Steelers 10-7, but the score is not nearly as important as the play of some Redskins newcomers.
Kellen Clemens started the third quarter in place of Rex Grossman, and looked very efficient in Kyle Shanahan's offense, just as Grossman did in the first half. Clemens, was 6 of 10 for 77 yards, throwing three times to veteran Donte Stallworth (for 46 yards). Rookie Evan Royster from Penn State was given the majority of the carries in the third quarter, and produced 45 yards on the ground (10 carries).
Defensively, Perry Riley was in on several tackles, as he vies for a starting inside linebacking job. One of the hundred Cornhuskers on the roster, DJ Gomes, was active throughout the quarter and had an impressive tackle for loss as he looks to secure a backup job in the Washington secondary.
The Redskins scored their third quarter points on a 32 yard Graham Gano field goal, which I think means Shayne Graham is out of a job. Just a hunch.
Fans of the Washington Redskins are most likely happy with their team's play in the first half of their preseason opener, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Washington and Pittsburgh are tied 7-7 going into the half, and Rex Grossman has been efficient and effective in leading Kyle Shanahan's offense. Grossman, who has spent the last week taking major media flak for confident comments he made about his team's chances in the NFC East this season, looked extremely impressive in his 2011 debut, completing 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown, an eight yard pass to veteran wide receiver Santana Moss. The touchdown pass to Moss highlighted a second quarter eight play, 82 yard drive that took just three minutes and 51 seconds.
Tim Hightower has provided nice balance to the Redskins offense, rushing ten times for 44 yards. Santana Moss has contributed seven receptions for 64 yards and the lone Washington touchdown.
The Redskins defense yielded a touchdown to Isaac Redman of the Steelers, but do have two sacks on the night, one from mainstay London Fletcher and one from newcomer Stephen Bowen, and should be happy with the play of Jarvis Jenkins. The young defensive lineman has been talked about a great deal in training camp as a possible breakout star, and has brought consistent pressure on Steelers' quarterbacks when he has been on the field.
The Washington Redskins' first touchdown of the 2011 NFL preseason came from a familiar face. Santana Moss, one of the longest-tenured players on the team, caught an eight-yard pass from Rex Grossman, and the Redskins now have a 7-0 lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter.
Grossman has been sharp thus far for the Redskins, completing 13 of 17 passes for 152 yards thus far. The Redskins' offensive in general has been humming, with solid performances from Grossman and Tim Hightower. On this drive, Grossman set things up with a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Terrence Austin to get down to the Steelers' 14-yard line. Three plays later, Grossman recovered from a low snap to find Moss in the end zone for the touchdown.
Finally, there is real football being played, and at least for the first quarter of the first preseason game of the season the Washington Redskins looked like a much more competent team than last year's edition of the Burgundy and Gold. Well, that is as long as you ignore the kicking game, but we'll get to that in a moment. The Redskins and Steelers are scoreless after the first quarter, but there have been multiple bright spots for Washington.
With Pittsburgh receiving the opening kickoff, Washington's defense showed some good and bad on their first defensive series of the preseason, with London Fletcher not surprisingly delivering the good while the bad was a breakdown in the secondary luckily not exploited by Steelers QB Ben Roethliesberger. Fletcher had two tackles and a sack on the opening series, once again showing the skill and competitive fire that makes him Washington's defensive leader.
After allowing a punt to be downed on their one yard line, much talked about quarterback Rex Grossman led the Redskins on a 88 yard drive, only to have Shayne Graham miss a chipshot 29 yard field goal. That will not aid Graham in his battle with incumbent Graham Gano. Grossman looked composed on the drive, delivering balls to Santana Moss and Fred Davis off playaction for large chunks of yards. For the game Grossman is 8 of 10 for 76 yards. New running back acquisition Tim Hightower has been impressive as well, rushing eight times for 39 yards, with a long run of 16 yards.
This is all well and good, and I know it's pretty early in the preseason for this gripe, but how about some points?
It is now official: John Beck will not play in the Washington Redskins' NFL preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night. The Redskins' quarterback, who has been limited in practice with a groin injury, has been ruled out by the team. This means that Rex Grossman will start and get the bulk of the minutes.
Beck injured the groin last Saturday, and has been sitting out of 11 on 11 drills all week leading up to the game. He was optimistic he would be able to play, but instead, the Redskins have decided not to push him. The Redskins said all week that Beck would only play if he was 100 percent. Evidently, he is still not 100 percent.
This means Grossman will likely receive more playing time, as will Kellen Clemens, who was signed to be a backup in the offseason.
The NFL preseason is finally underway for the Washington Redskins, who will square off at FedEx Field against the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Here is everything you need to know about the start time and TV schedule for this game.
Who: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins.
Venue: FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Game time: The start time for the Redskins vs. Steelers game will be 7:30 p.m.
TV Schedule: The game will be broadcasted in two places. You can catch it either on NBC-4 or on Comcast SportsNet. The feed will be the exact same, so there's really no difference between the two. For pregame coverage, Redskins Kickoff will air from 6:30-7:30 on Comcast SportsNet, with Redskins Postgame to air following the game.
Announcers: Kenny Albert and Joe Theismann will be on the call for every preseason game, with Rick "Doc" Walker patrolling the sidelines.
The Washington Redskins are playing football again, but it's also preseason and it can be tough to pay attention throughout the game. Luckily, we're here to help you decide what storylines are worth following.
The Washington Redskins will definitely be playing in their preseason opener without tight end Chris Cooley, who was ruled out by coach Mike Shanahan on Wednesday. Cooley had to leave practice on Wednesday, and afterwards, Shanahan declared him out.
"There is concern," Shanahan said. "The knee is sore, but hopefully it keeps on getting better."
Cooley has been struggling with the knee throughout training camp, but it's not expected to be a huge concern going forward. Of course, you never know with these things. Fred Davis, who has been one of the standouts at camp, will replace Cooley in the starting lineup.
Unsurprisingly, running back Ryan Torain also will not play due to a fractured wrist. Shanahan also said that offensive lineman Artis Hicks will be sidelined for the game after having a mild concussion earlier in the week.
Are you ready for some football? The Redskins and Steelers will play their first preseason game at FedEx Field on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
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