Reporting Grant Paulsen
Here is my stock report with a few of my thoughts from the Washington Redskins win over the Tennessee Titans in their preseason opener.
Players Really Helped Their Cause
Kirk Cousins: The second-year passer is now one-for-one in his quest to spend the preseason proving to NFL teams that he is a viable starting option. Cousins connected on 6-of-7 passes, spreading the ball around to five different receivers on his first five completions. He led Washington on a 64-yard scoring drive in the first quarter that gave the Redskins their first lead of the night. Cousins made quick decisions and consistently found the open receiver against Tennessee’s top defensive unit.
David Amerson: The rookie cornerback knocked a pass down (Jake Locker’s first throw of the game), covered well in isolation and showed tackling skills against the run. On a night where fellow debuting defensive backs Phillip Thomas (injured his left foot) and Bacarri Rambo (juked on a 58-yard touchdown run) didn’t shine, Amerson stood out. The NC State product’s combination of length and speed are two major pieces of a skillset that could end in him being viewed as a solid second round find.
Roy Helu: Healthy again, the third-year tailback turned the clock back to 2011. Helu rushed 13 times for 57 yards, consistently showing the shiftiness and cutback propensity that allowed him to lead Washington in rushing two seasons ago. The 215-yard back ripped off a 13-yard run while regularly working back against the grain for extra yardage. Helu made several defenders miss in the second-level, drawing a positive review from head coach Mike Shanahan after the game.
Chase Minnifield: A roster hopeful who has overcome a torn ACL and micro-fracture surgery on his knee, Minnifield is a couple more strong preseason showings away from forcing himself onto Washington’s 53-man roster. The one-time UVA star defended a pass and made several open-field stops on a night where the Redskins missed way too many tackles as a club.
Leonard Hankerson: Posted a team-high four receptions while scoring one of Washington’s three touchdowns. The 6-foot, 2-inch target leap-frogged a defender at the goal line to get into the endzone. Hankerson continues to get open in the middle of the field with ease. He uses his big frame to shield defenders from the football while working inside routes as a possession threat. The next phase of the former Hurricane’s development? Hankerson has to become more of a threat after the catch.
Brian Orakpo: Orakpo would’ve liked to have played Chris Johnson’s 58-yard touchdown run a little bit better, but the outside linebacker had a strong showing as a pass-rusher. The 27 year-old tallied a sack and multiple other quarterback pressures during his stint on the field in the first half, pinning his ears back while winning one-on-one matchups off the edge consistently.
Pat White: After a few weeks of struggling with his accuracy in practice, White delivered with the bright lights of LP Field shining down on him on Thursday evening. The Redskins’ coaching staff allowed him to operate the zone-read offense, something Washington doesn’t typically do in the preseason. White felt right at home doing so, getting back to his WVU routes with five rushes for 33 yards while completing 5-of-8 passes. He led Washington on a game-winning drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, rushing for a touchdown to pull to within a point before connecting on a two-point conversion pass to win the game. It should be noted that White was operating against players who won’t be in the NFL in a few weeks, but his performance was steal a neat moment for a guy who once gave up football to play baseball.
Donté Stallworth: Re-aggravated the tweaked hamstring that kept him out of several practices last week. Stallworth, 32, is in a battle for Washington’s sixth wide receiver spot. He made a pair of catches for 33 yards before suffering the hamstring injury.
Bacarri Rambo: The rookie safety was on the wrong end of a highlight touchdown run by Chris Johnson. Johnson darted into the open field, sprinting directly at Rambo, who was Washington’s last line of defense. Rambo broke down, falling for a Johnson juke as the elusive tailback cut-back and past Rambo before scooting all the way to the endzone. Yielding the touchdown wasn’t solely on Rambo. Frankly he was put in a bad position because safeties aren’t typically going to win one-on-one showdowns with Johnson in the open field. But that play added to a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty will give Rambo plenty to think about as he gets back to the practice field this week.