Report Card Grades for Every Washington Redskins Rookie Through Preseason Week 2
Although the NFL preseason is really just the preseason, football fans can't help but to react with the same emotion they do during the regular season. Despite preseason games meaning absolutely nothing, we all treat it differently because it's the first piece of American football we've tasted in the last six months.
Naturally, rookies are under our microscope. Sure, we like to see the vets and returning youngsters. But getting a look at the new kids is what's most exciting. Whether they're fighting for a roster spot, or preparing themselves to be potential starters, rookies are arguably the best part.
Robert Griffin III
Is it everything you'd thought it would be and more?!
Probably not. As hardcore fans, I think it's safe to say that we all had lofty expectations for Robert Griffin III—even in the preseason. However, Griffin's first two games are in no way a forecast of the rookie's future career in Washington.
Likely a strategy by Mike Shanahan to help ease the transition for his rookie, Griffin has seen very little action in two games. But after a few snaps against a blitz-less Buffalo team, Griffin felt the heat of a real NFL pass rush in his second game when the Chicago Bears sacked him three times and forced him to fumble deep in Redskins territory.
Not to place blame or give the rookie a free pass, but the current state of the offensive line and the absence of three starters doesn't make anything easy for him. Add that to his limited experience and you can understand why we've seen more of Griffin's speed and quick feet than any sort of resemblance to the near-perfect passing of his college career.
I wouldn't get used to this. Griffin entered this season with a lot of change—from the speed of the game, to the look of a pro-style offense. But we do have reason to be concerned over the health and reliability of the offensive line. And Griffin's success will depend on it.
Bring on the quarterback controversy in Washington!
Hardly. Although some are crazy enough to fall victim to the football drama, you rest assured that Robert Griffin III—and only Robert Griffin III—is the Redskins' starting quarterback.
With that out of the way, however, fellow rookie Kirk Cousins has been nothing shy of awesome in his first two preseason outings.
Cousins' orchestrated comeback against the Bears last weekend was a cap to his overly-impressive statistics. His 96.3 quarterback rating ranks fifth in the league, he ranks second in the league in passing yards (338), he's tied for first with three touchdowns and his completion percentage (60.0) ranks second amongst quarterbacks with at least 40 passing attempts.
And perhaps Cousins' most impressive stat—zero sacks.
There was one time when Redskins fans bashed the front office for drafting Cousins— another quarterback—in the fourth round of last April's draft. Those same fans have probably adopted a new liking for Cousins after getting a good look at his pocket presence and maturity.
Cousins is a rookie and continues to learn the quarterback position, very much like someone else we know. There's also a fair argument that Cousins' offensive line is better matched by the time they come into the game, as opposed to Griffin's patchwork offensive line against first-string defenses. Still, Cousins deserves credit.
Antwon Bailey was a camp project that had very little chance of making the Redskins roster, barring numerous big plays in limited action.
Bailey didn't help himself last weekend when he was given three carries against the Bears and one of them resulted in a fumble. It then appeared as if Mike Shanahan let Bailey hear about his displeasure when the rookie came to the sidelines.
I wouldn't necessarily call the running back position a deep one, but there's a lot of talent there when healthy. Assuming Tim Hightower returns to full speed and Roy Helu can get back on track, they would be accompanied by Evan Royster and potentially rookie Alfred Morris.
There simply isn't any roster room for Bailey. And his performance, albeit limited, hasn't led the coaches to believe otherwise.
Other than Kirk Cousins, running back Alfred Morris has been arguably the team's most impressive offensive rookie so far this preseason.
I may be a little higher on Morris than most, but I don't think there's any denying the harmony between his skill and Shanahan's system. He has great vision in the zone-blocking scheme and he's deceivingly quick in traffic.
Once considered a dark horse to make the team, Morris continues to impress in both games and practices. At this point, Morris has a very good chance of making the Redskins' final 53.
As the Redskins' most crucial position, the offensive line will continue to attract the attention of both coaches and fan.
Standing out the most amongst rookie linemen have been guards Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis.
Although undersized, Gettis is an athletic guard that can get out and move, making him a great fit in Shanahan's system. And after watching him this preseason, I think he is valuable depth on the Redskins' 53-man roster.
LeRibeus—Washington's top offensive lineman selected—has looked good in both games so far and he has demonstrated his versatility. Shanahan and the Redskins don't seem completely sold on LeRibeus and a final position, but gaining experience along the entire offensive front is never a bad thing.
I've never questioned whether or not Keenan Robinson would make the team, but his play through his first two weeks makes the decision easier for his coaches.
Robinson is transitioning from an outside backer, but it shouldn't be a move that takes very long. Robinson has great play recognition and he's a reliable tackler.
Robinson has also shown up on special teams, which is a must for rookie backers selected in the middle rounds.
Because the secondary hasn't looked very good in general, former Iowa Hawkeye Jordan Bernstine has a chance to make the team. However, I'll stick with my original prediction that Bernstine doesn't quite make the cut.
Fellow rookie corner Richard Crawford, on the other hand, has played well in practice this summer and his last game against the Bears was enough (for me, anyway) to have him near the top of my bubble list.
The secondary is a shaky position for the Redskins and developing a young guy like Crawford, while still receiving some decent production, would be a huge asset this season.
Crawford has good ball skills and holds physical with the opposition. He also demonstrated some pass-rushing skills during blitz packages in Chicago last weekend.