by Brian McNally

LANDOVER, Md. (CBSDC) — The Redskins got what they needed out of Thursday’s 23-6 preseason victory over the New England Patriots at FedEx Field.

They left the field relatively healthy. They saw good things from the running backs competing for the final roster spots and received a strong opening drive from the starters. The tackling, such a disaster last year, was much better. About the only bad thing?

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t count,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “But I was impressed with the way they came out, offensively and defensively. We got a couple stops right away. We had some pressure on the quarterback, which is exciting. Special teams did a good job other than the couple penalties. Overall, all three phases [performed well] – something to build off of. That’s all we’re looking for.”

The running backs were almost all good against New England. The opening drive barely featured quarterback Robert Griffin III. Instead, Alfred Morris rushed for 27 yards on just five carries during an 11-play opening drive that ended with a Kai Forbath field goal from 39 yards.

The Redskins ran for 177 yards total, with rookies Lache Seastrunk (63) and Silas Redd (45 yards) doing damage against New England’s reserves in the second half. Both players needed to show well. Washington might have only four spots at running back and two of them are accounted for in Morris and Roy Helu.

“What I did today is the coolest thing in the world,” Seastrunk said. But I can’t get complacent. This game is already over. I’ve got to get ready to play Cleveland next week.”

Roy Helu (two receptions, 23 yards, five rushes, 14 yards) sustained a minor knee injury. Chris Thompson twisted an ankle. Both men downplayed the severity of their injuries. Thompson’s durability is always an issue though so any hint of an injury is a concern. He carried the ball four times for five yards.

The battle for the kicker spot intensified. Forbath, the incumbent, made one kick, missed a 46-yarder and struggled on kickoffs. Zach Hocker, the rookie drafted out of Arkansas, had two touchbacks and made a nice open field tackle to stymie a second-half return by the Patriots. Hocker also made field goals from 27 and 39 yards.

Gruden has been consistent all training camp. This competition is going to come to down to the final preseason game. Forbath should have an advantage given his track record in the league. But Hocker will be given every opportunity and on Thursday he took advantage.

Another Redskins player who needed a big night and got one: Aldrick Robinson. Too often his hands let him down, negating the blazing speed that’s kept him on the roster. But Washington needs insurance as a deep threat in case DeSean Jackson – who missed Thursday’s game with an ankle injury – can’t stay healthy. It’s happened to him in his career before.

With Pierre Garcon (hamstring) out, too, Robinson started and thrived. He was targeted five times, caught three passes for 45 yards and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Kirk Cousins.What has he improved upon?

“My route running. I was known as fast guy. As you can see tonight, I can run routes and catch the ball,” Robinson said. “Consistency is key and I’m still trying to work on that…You want to be known as an all-around receiver. You don’t want to be a one-trick pony in this league.”

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