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Cousins Stakes A Claim, Injuries Mount As Redskins Fall To Bears

by Chuck Carroll
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Robert Griffin III runs against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Robert Griffin III runs against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBSDC) — Robert Griffin III wasn’t the story Saturday night in Chicago.

Injuries and a near second half comeback orchestrated by the hot-handed Kirk Cousins stole the headlines at Soldier Field. Had it not been for a 57-yard Robbie Gould field goal with 31 seconds remaining, the Washington Redskins would have successfully overcome a 20-point deficit to win their second game of the preseason.

As it turned out, the first half hole Washington dug themselves proved to be just too much and the Bears came away with a 33-31 victory.

On the injury front, Brian Orakpo hurt his left shoulder while trying to make a one-armed tackle on Devin Hester in the first quarter. The linebacker writhed in pain after being spun around on the play.

PHOTOS: Redskins vs. Bears

The 26-year-old Orakpo underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle sustained in last year’s season finale.

Shortly thereafter, safety Brandon Meriweather injured his left knee while Chicago’s Michael Bush scampered in for his second touchdown of the night. The safety signed with the Redskins this offseason after playing for the Bears in 2011.

Head coach Mike Shanahan confirmed Orakpo injured the same pectoral muscle that was surgically repaired.

He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday.

As for Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner finished the night 5-of-8 passing for 49 yards. He added 17 yards on the ground courtesy of three scrambling attempts.

The man with Superman socks proved to be human after all.

He spent much of the night under pressure, was sacked three times and lost a fumble which gave the Bears a 1st and goal at the 8-yard-line. Chicago converted the turnover into a touchdown two plays later.

Cousins, Griffin’s fellow rookie, surprisingly served as Washington’s second quarterback ahead of Rex Grossman. The fourth-round pick out of Michigan State made the most of his opportunity and easily turned out the best quarterbacking performance of the game.

Cousins led Washington on consecutive scoring drives in the second half en route to a 18-of-23, 264-yard, 3-touchdown performance.

Cousins will not overtake Griffin as the team’s starter. However, he did stake a claim to be the Baylor product’s backup.

Rex Grossman did not play against his former team.

Another rookie, Alfred Morris, found himself in the spotlight Saturday as he started ahead of Evan Royster in the backfield.

The Florida Atlantic product ripped a 21-yard run on his first carry of the night and finished the night with 34 yards on 10 carries.

Brandon Banks didn’t make much of an impact on offense, but made the decision to cut him a very difficult one for the coaching staff.

Mike Shanahan said the undersized third-year player would need to make the team as a wide receiver. However, a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown served as a reminder of how dangerous Banks can be on special teams.

Aldrick Robinson, one of Banks’ chief competitors for a roster spot, compounded the coaches’ difficult decision with a big night of his own. The 23-year-old caught 6 passes for 104 yards, highlighted by a 15-yard dig that turned into a 49-yard touchdown after he found an extra gear.

Robinson was a primary target for the hot-handed Cousins in the second half and finished the night as the Redskins’ leading receiver.

Washington will open their home preseason schedule next Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts and first overall draft choice Andrew Luck.

NOTES: The kicking competition between Neil Rackers and the incumbent Graham Gano will continue. Rackers missed a 54-yard attempt, but successfully connected on a 28 yarder and two extra points. Gano did not attempt a field goal, but was 2 for 2 on extra point attempts.

Follow @granthpaulsen and @1067TheFanDC and @TheChuckCarroll on Twitter for breaking Redskins news.

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