Redskins vs. Bills: Washington's Biggest Winners and Losers
The Washington Redskins were victorious in their first preseason outing, edging out the Buffalo Bills 7-6 in a very preseason-like game. The first preseason game is the first chance for second-, third- and fourth-string players to make an impact, and the closeness of the score echoes that fact.
Coming out of the first live performance are winners and losers, players who helped themselves en route to solidifying a roster spot or hurt themselves in trying to fend off a feistier competitor.
Here are the winners and loser for the Redskins following their preseason opener.
Loser: Jammal Brown, Right Tackle
Why does it seem that whenever you hear an offseason story about an injury-prone veteran changing his workout, or improving his conditioning in some way that he ends up missing a chunk of time? Jammal Brown reportedly changed his workout routine, took up yoga and improved his flexibility to overcome the hip issues that have plagued him in Washington.
He has been sitting out training camp, and didn't play against Buffalo, being replaced by Tyler Polumbus in the starting lineup.
There is no timetable for his return, and there is no guarantee that the injury won't flare up at any point during the season. He may not lose his spot outright, but his replacement played a part in keeping Robert Griffin III clean in the handful of plays he was out there against Buffalo.
Loser: Brandon Banks, Wide Receiver/Returner
Brandon Banks saw more passes thrown his way in this game than his first two years in the NFL combined. The coaches made it clear that he would have to make the roster as a receiver in addition to his return duties, which Banks has accepted.
Two catches for seven yards on about a dozen targets is not going to cut it with the type of talent the Redskins have at receiver this season.
With Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon having solid evenings, and Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss all but assured to start or get a lot of snaps, Banks needed to distance himself from Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin and Aldrick Robinson.
Banks has the speed to be a threat on offense, but his diminutive size does not lend itself to heavy use on offense, and could be his ultimate downfall.
Winner: Brandon Meriweather, Strong Safety
Aside from the health and talent of the offensive line, the Redskins secondary is the biggest question mark heading into this season. The team added a couple of veterans, each with a lot to prove during preseason and throughout the season.
Strong safety Brandon Meriweather looked great playing with the starting defense, getting his hands on a couple of passes and recording two tackles.
Meriweather himself has a lot to prove following his abrupt exit from New England, an uneventful season with Chicago and a DUI arrest in April. On the field, he looks ready to return to his two-time Pro Bowl form, which is only aided by the presence of Raheem Morris as the team's secondary coach.
Letting LaRon Landry go in the offseason may hurt, but Meriweather doesn't bring the injury concerns and is willing to prove his worth rather than rest on his potential.
Winner: Josh Morgan, Wide Receiver
Anyone who comes back from a broken leg deserves a ton of credit, and Josh Morgan did that—and then some. He didn't make quite the same impression as Pierre Garçon in his Redskins debut, but he proved worth the risk with his respectable production against Buffalo.
Morgan caught four passes for 49 yards in his first live action since his injury, and looks like a solid addition to a needy receiving corps.
A broken leg is not a torn ACL, but it is still a substantial injury to recover from. Morgan has dealt with injuries and inconsistency throughout his career, but his potential is off the charts. Mike Shanahan took a chance on Morgan for a reason, and his 25-yard reception is part of that reason.
The Redskins want big play ability for their rookie, and Morgan showed he can run the underneath routes, as well as stretch the defense downfield a bit.
Loser: Rex Grossman, Quarterback
It may be his fourth year in Kyle Shanahan's offense, but experience proved useless for Rex Grossman. He had to follow Griffin's 4-of-6 performance, culminating in a touchdown, and then suffer the superior performance Kirk Cousins turned in.
Grossman completed just two of his 10 pass attempts, looking flustered when under pressure, and characteristically throwing into traffic.
Though it is unlikely the Redskins send Grossman packing because of an underwhelming preseason performance, he could have helped his case against Cousins for the backup job. Maybe it is residual disdain for Grossman's performance from last season, but he didn't look good against Buffalo, regardless of the players he was on the field with.
Winner: Pierre Garçon, Wide Receiver
The Redskins gave Pierre Garçon a nice contract this offseason after he caught 70 passes for 947 yards and six touchdowns with the Indianapolis Colts last season. The hope is that if he can have that kind of year catching passes from Curtis Painter, among others, that he'll be even better with Robert Griffin, III.
Three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown in their first action together is a great way to start.
Garçon's touchdown came on a short pass that he ran into the endzone, displaying the run after the catch ability that made him an enticing free agent for the Redskins. Santana Moss may get top billing on the depth chart, but Garçon showed why he will be the biggest weapon for Washington.
Loser: Chris Cooley, Tight End
As much as it may pain fans to hear, or me to say, Chris Cooley's time with the Washington Redskins may be coming to an end. He has missed 20 games over the last three seasons, and has spent this offseason working his way back from knee troubles.
He was relegated to fullback duty in the absence of Darrell Young, and registered a single carry for a single yard in the first half.
No one knows how many two tight end sets the Redskins are going to run, but with the additions made at wide receiver, there is less room for Cooley on offense. He isn't the starter—that would be Fred Davis—and he is battling a younger, healthier Niles Paul for playing time.
Though Davis didn't record a single statistic in the game, he isn't the one fighting for his job this preseason.
Winner: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback
After a slow start, Robert Griffin III settled down and turned in a solid performance in his first professional appearance with the Redskins. He completed 4-of-6 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown to Pierre Garçon.
Beyond statistics, Griffin looked comfortable after an early incompletion and botched hand-off that led to a turnover.
The Redskins kept Griffin from doing any running, hoping to avoid any unnecessary injury risk in preseason. Even though three-fifths of the starting offensive line was out for the game, Griffin managed to make it through his first NFL action virtually untouched.
For the price the 'Skins paid, Griffin offered a bit of assurance to fans that he is the real deal.