The Washington Redskins had an impressive debut with their 16-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night. Sure it’s only the preseason, but not only did the Redskins earn the win, there were plenty of performances to be encouraged by.
Basically preseason games boil down to one important, and simple concept – evaluation. So here’s my look at the guys who helped themselves, and the guys that may have hurt themselves.
Helped their cause:
Rex Grossman – Looked great… composed… patient… not sure that a Redskin quarterback looked that comfortable in the pocket in all of 2010. In a half of work, Grossman was 19 of 26 for 207 yards with one touchdown. Impressive numbers, and an impressive overall performance. John Beck can be as confident as he wants, Grossman has the starting job if he looks like that throughout the preseason.
Brandon Banks – A lot of ado about the new kickoff rule, and whether or not Banks will even get a chance to work his magic this year. He’s still electrifying – he’s still a potential difference maker, and if he’s going to return punts for 20 yards – then whatever he does on kickoffs will just be a bonus. Oh wait, he had a 58-yard kick return too. There have been some rumblings of his roster spot not being secure – hopefully Friday night’s performance ends that nonsense.
Tim Hightower – Great day from the import running back, in his first game in the B&G. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy, just great north-south running. He finished with 10 carries for 44 yards in a half of action. On top of the good day on the ground, he also had at least two good blocks.
Graham Gano – While one Graham kicker was sucking, the other Graham kicker was rocking! Gano was a perfect 3-for-3, and hit from 32-yards, 34-yards, and 45-yards. As or more impressive, were his kickoffs that were actually sailing through the uprights. Now that’s some leg. It remains to be seen if he can do it when it counts, but he certainly moved into the lead in the kicking competition.
Evan Royster – solid debut, and actually saw work BEFORE Roy Helu did.
Starting Offensive Line – What was supposed to be one of the biggest question marks, looked more like a position of strength. They dominated the line of scrimmage, and pushed the Steelers up and down the field. As a amtter of fact, the second unit fared very well as well. Mike Shanahan said himself after the game, “We’re a better football team up front.”
Darrell Young – Continues to improve, and though I had Keiland Williams slightly ahead of Young on the depth chart – not after the Steelers game. Young also had arguabably the best hit of the night on special teams, on Banks’ 20-yard punt return.
DeJon Gomes – had a couple of great plays in the backfield, including a sack, and showed a great nose for the ball.
Coach Shanahan – The Redskins looked prepared, they looked focused and they looked ready – that’s on the coaches. In this preparation-starved offseason, you have to give a nod to a coaching staff that put together a bunch of new pieces and came up with something workable, in such a short period of time.
Hurt their cause:
Shayne Graham – It doesn’t matter that you’re one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL for the past few seasons, when you can’t make a field goal from 29 yards. He had a chance to redeem himself at the end of the half with a 49-yarder, but pushed it right. He may not get another chance to redeem himself.
John Beck – there’s nothing that Beck can do about not playing due to injury, but he’s in tough after Grossman’s inaugural 2011 performance. If I’m honest, the whole not-playing-but-dressing-anyway went from kind of cute, to a bit disturbing by the fourth. Take your helmet off John, you’ll get a better view of the guy stealing your thunder.
Leonard Hankerson – While I think Hankeron will make the team regardless, he has to stop dropping passes. He’s been dropping plenty through the first week of training camp, and he missed another easy one against the Steelers. If he earns the reputation of having the ‘hands of a snake’ – his quarterbacks will stop looking in the rookie’s direction.
Chris Horton – Missed a couple of tackles, and a pass assignment or two; with a glut of good, young secondary talent available to the Redskins, The Predator will have to step up his game.
Aldrick Robinson – The Redskins drafted two other wide receivers before Robinson in this year’s draft – so Aldrick is up against it making this team. Muffing a couple of returns isn’t going to help – especially when special teams are likely the only hope Robinson has of making the 2011 roster.
It’s unlikely that any of the above listed players will make, or be cut from this team, based on one game’s performance. But when you didn’t have any offseason workouts, have CBA mandated light training camp practices, and only four games to let your game speak for itself – you definitely don’t want to be on the ‘hurt their cause’ list more than once.
Who did you think stood out? Follow us on Twitter @TheHogsdotNet, and let us know who your picks would be.