The offense shook off a slow start and moved the ball, the defense appeared to be in midseason form, and some young players showed some flashes of potential.
Obviously, you can’t get overly excited about the first preseason game, but there were things to build on. Here are five observations from Thursday night’s, preseason game 1.
1.) Pierre Garcon may fit the part - Garcon looked like a much more complete receiver than he did in Indianapolis. With the Colts, he primarily was used as a deep threat. When the play wasn’t designed for him, Garcon would take the lid off the defense and open up things underneath for Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark.
There were questions about whether Garcon had all the skills to be a No. 1 option. Last night the Redskins used him on a variety of routes in the 14-play first-team sampling, and Garcon seemed to get open with ease. We saw some creative formations from Kyle Shanahan, and Garcon appears to be a good route runner. I was a little surprised Mike Shanahan didn’t challenge the called incompletion on Griffin’s first pass of the game, because it looked like Garcon got his first foot down and dragged the other. If he can perform at a similar level each week, then maybe, just maybe, he was worth the big money Washington gave him.
2.) Offensive line held up - It’s the preseason, when teams don’t game plan for their first opponent, but the Bills didn’t touch Griffin. The Redskins’ patchwork line kept the quarterback clean, and the right side of the line opened some holes for Evan Royster on that third possession of the game. Rookie Adam Gettis showed me some things while filling in for Chris Chester at right guard. Tyler Polumbus didn’t do poorly against Mario Williams. Maurice Hurt did have some struggles at left guard, but the Redskins didn’t appear to suffer too greatly because of them.
3.) Jarvis Jenkins is getting comfortable. The 2011 second-round pick had a rather quiet first two weeks of training camp, but he finally began to round back into form this week, Jim Haslett observed. The hope was that things would really start clicking for the defensive end once the games began. Jenkins appeared more comfortable against Buffalo, playing with explosiveness. He fired off the ball, shoved linemen deep into the backfield and didn’t appear to be over-thinking. Jenkins, who hadn’t played in just under a year, said as soon as he got into the game, his old football instincts kicked in.
4.) Brandon Banks got his chances - Coach Mike Shanahan was serious about wanting to see if Brandon Banks can make this team as a receiver. The 5-foot-7 third-year pro was targeted nine times - more than any other wideout - but managed just two catches for seven total yards. Banks didn’t get the separation from Bills defenders that he did from Redskins corner Cedric Griffin in practices. And it looked as if a lack of size hurt Banks at times. Four of the incompletions came as a result of defenders either knocking the ball away from Banks, or shielding him from passes. On another route, Banks slipped.
Banks didn’t return any kicks as Rian Lindell boomed kickoffs out of the end zone. So Banks will be itching to make good on any other chances he gets on offense and special teams next week.
How did the receivers battling Banks for a spot do? Aldrick Robinson caught both passes thrown to him, gaining 28 yards, and Terrence Austin was 0-for-3 on passes thrown his way. Cornerback Richard Crawford - one of Banks’s competitors for kick return duties - had three punt returns for a total of 42 yards, with a long of 17.
5.) Griffin had good control - Griffin said facing a strong defense that knew his offense for the last two weeks made things easier Thursday, and that appeared to be true. The rookie QB made quick decisions, but still was able to work his way through his progressions. He said the touchdown pass to Garcon was actually his fourth read. Veteran teammates said they were impressed with the ease with which Griffin audibled out of plays at the line.
Odds and ends: Trent Williams injured his left foot, but x-rays were negative. He said he was fine, but was limping significantly after the game ... Strong start by Ryan Kerrigan with a sack, quarterback pressure and pass breakup ... Familiar sight: Brian Orakpo was clothes-lined as he rushed off the edge on one play, and it wasn’t called. ... Haslett moved Orakpo and London Fletcher around on one play, with Orakpo rushing up the middle, and Fletcher from the edge. ... Rookie RB Alfred Morris showed some good things on 15 carries for 54 yards. He was able to slip a couple defenders and pick up additional yardage after contact. ... Rex Grossman probably looked the worst of the two backups, but Kirk Cousins threw the lone interception. ... The kicking battle was put on hold for a week because neither Graham Gano nor Neil Rackers attempted a field goal. Curious about how the run game would have functioned had fullback Darrel Young been able to play. ... Niles Paul saw chances at tight end but had a case of the drops.
More Redskins coverage: