Positives and Negatives of the Washington Redskins' Preseason Debut

Dilan Ames@@DilanAmesNFLCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2013

Leonard Hankerson had a great game against Tennessee.
Leonard Hankerson had a great game against Tennessee.Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins traveled to Tennessee to take on Jake Locker and the Titans on Thursday night, and there was a lot to be happy about. While starters like Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon and Robert Griffin III sat out, their backups did a great job in Washington’s 22-21 victory. 

Kirk Cousins began the game at quarterback for the Redskins and did well, but he wasn’t the only backup quarterback who made some noise Thursday night. 

Former Miami Dolphins bust Pat White got his first taste of NFL action in three years and simply shined. White was one of the most poised players on the field last night and made plays with both his arms and legs. While he’s no RGIII, he certainly had his moments. 

He didn’t have particularly big numbers (5-of-8 for 31 yards, five rushes for 33 yards and a touchdown), but he made good decisions and was fearless in the pocket. He stood confident in the face of Tennessee’s pass rush and led what ended up being Washington’s game-winning drive. 

White ran in a touchdown, then followed it up with a pass to Emmanuel Ogbuehi for a two-point conversion, which pushed the Redskins ahead 22-21. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played football since 2009. 

Conversely, Rex Grossman had an pedestrian night. He played more than Cousins and White, but didn’t look nearly as good. He completed less than half of his passes and seemed pretty uncomfortable at times. 

Washington started off hot with Cousins but noticeably cooled down when Grossman came in. Although he’s been around for awhile, his time in Washington could be coming to an end; White is beginning to look like the favorite for the third-string job.

Another knock on an overall good performance by the Burgundy and Gold was their penalties. They were, for the most part, stupid and preventable penalties; the majority of them were either holding or formational infractions. Although this is almost excusable considering it is their first preseason game, it is certainly something that they best not make a habit of. 

Aside from Grossman and their unfortunate penalties, there isn’t a whole lot to pick on in terms of Washington’s performance as a team. 

Third-year receiver Leonard Hankerson had a great game, catching four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. Drops have been an issue for Hankerson in the past, but he looked great in last night’s game. He looked much sharper and more aggressive after the catch, especially when he scored. 

Hankerson wasn’t the only third-year player to shine for the Redskins, though. Roy Helu is a guy who’s been hampered with injuries during his first two seasons, but is back healthy and looking good. Helu was looking a lot like the workhorse runner that Washington hoped he’d be. 

Besides Helu, Evan Royster was also very effective against a pretty solid front seven. The two running backs combined for 27 carries and 119 yards (4.4 yards per carry). Neither of them will be pushing Morris for the starting spot, but they add some nice veteran competition to a crowded backfield. 

While we didn’t see either of Washington’s rookie runners (Jawan Jamison and Chris Thompson) they will have their chance to state their cases as roster-worthy players in the next couple of games. 

While Thompson and Jamison remained on the sideline, we saw all of the Redskins’ rookie defensive backs. Washington’s new-look secondary got off to a rocky start when Chris Johnson made rookie safety Bacarri Rambo look like, well, a rookie, on a 58-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. After an embarrassing start, Rambo played steadily for the remainder of his time on the field, but was outperformed by a fellow rookie defender. 

The Redskins made cornerback David Amerson their first pick of this year’s draft, and it’s looking like a great decision. Amerson utilized his size and length throughout the game and knocked away a crucial pass across the middle early on. Amerson has been practicing with the first-team defense so far in training camp, and it’s unlikely he’ll be losing his spot if he keeps this up. 

Phillip Thomas, Washington’s fourth-round pick, left the game with a shoulder and foot injury, but there’s no word yet on his status for the next game. 

One of the Redskins’ two fifth-rounders, Brandon Jenkins, also had a solid game. He looked like he is picking up the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker rather well, and has a great chance to play a big role in Jim Haslett’s defense. As you can see, this was a great start for Washington. 

While it is only preseason and there is still tons of football left to be played, things are looking just right in the Capital.