This preseason the Washington Redskins have had their ups and down. The team finished the preseason with a 3-1 record and a few things have stuck out as the team concluded its trial. It started week one against the Buffalo Bills with the starters seeing limited action but playing well with the time they spent on the field. Robert Griffin III connected with Pierre Garcon on a touchdown pass in his professional debut. The defense kept Buffalo out of the end zone and the team left Buffalo with a 7-6 victory.
Week two against the Chicago Bears was more of a struggle. The Bears blitzed Griffin, causing him to fumble on one drive and pressured him numerous other times. The defense looked rattled allowing Jay Cutler to pick them apart and once connecting on a 41-yard touchdown to his returning buddy, Brandon Marshall. The defense was playing without linebacker Brian Orakpo and safety Brandon Meriweather. The second team, led by Kirk Cousins made the game interesting in the second half. They brought Washington back from a 21-point deficit only to fall short and lose on a 57-yard field goal by Chicago’s Robbie Gould. This game allowed fans to see the depth Washington has this season. In past years the second string team lacked talent, but with the free agents and draft picks this offseason, Washington has one of the deeper teams in recent years.
The Redskins played their third preseason game this past Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts in a much-anticipated matchup of the top two picks of the 2012 NFL draft. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III didn’t disappoint the fans that came to FedEx Field for the home preseason opener. While the two quarterbacks received much of the attention, rookie running back Alfred Morris led the team with 14 rushes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Morris, who was thought to be a long shot to make the 53-man roster, seemed to solidify his spot on the team with Saturday’s performance. The first team played into the third quarter with Griffin hitting Santana Moss on a 4-yard bootleg touchdown pass just before halftime. RG3 went 11 for 17 for 75 yards in the most action he has seen thus far this preseason.
Most, of the starters, sat out of the fourth preseason game Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This allowed some players to battle for those last few roster spots that are still undecided. Even though the game was meaningless, Kirk Cousins played well in his first NFL start. He went 15/27 with 222 yards and one interception. The defense however, was the highlight in the game. The Skins’ D really beat on the Buc’s QB Brett Ratliff, forcing 3 interceptions and a total of 5 sacks. They held Tampa Bay to 3 points.
The Redskins also brought in former Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, on Tuesday in a weird turn of events. After releasing Neil Rackers on Monday, it was almost certain that Graham Gano had won the Kicker’s competition without even having to kick a ball this preseason. However, the next day the Ravens cut their long time kicker in Cundiff, and to make room the Skins released Gano, who had been the team’s kicker for the past three seasons, and picked up Cundiff. Cundiff went 3-4 on field goals in his Redskins debut, his longest made being 39, and the miss on a 46.
Another position that had attention drawn to it on Wednesday is the Tailback position. Rookie RB Alfred Morris has shown that he definitely deserved a spot on the roster and the Shanahans showed that was promised as they gave Morris the night off with the other players that already had a spot. The returning RB’s on the team, with the exception of Tim Hightower (knee), however did not get the night off as Evan Royster got the start followed by Roy Helu Jr.
Royster looked great in the first half with 10 carries for 44 yards and 1 touchdown. On a play that he seemed to be hurt as he limped off, Helu went in and fumbled the first play in. Luckily the ball was recovered by the Skins and Royster entered back in the game, taking Helu out. Although the game may have started on a bad note for Helu, he actually had the best game in the backfield with 15 carries for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both RB’s also had 2 receptions in the contest. Washington walked away with a 30-3 victory over the Bucs.
Robert Griffin is taking care of the ball this preseason with only one turnover. Turnovers killed Washington last season with the team ranking near the bottom of the league. Rex Grossman had 20 interceptions along with 5 lost fumbles.
Friday Washington will have to make roster cuts, from 75 to the final 53 for the regular season opener in New Orleans. Notable players on the bubble include Brandon Banks Anthony Armstrong, Dezmin Briscoe and a few others. Banks’ case seems to be the most intriguing as despite the fact he may not be a diamond in the rough as a receiver, his explosiveness makes him a great punt returner. He helped his cause with a punt return for a touchdown in the second preseason game against the Bears, but is that enough for the Skins to hold a spot on the 53 man roster that is already tight?
Stay tuned to @fmWSl as the Redskins make their final cuts Friday nights and we see the squad to represent the 2012/2013 Washington Redskins.