Redskins Look at Bright Side

The Redskins open their preseason schedule with a 23-0 loss in Baltimore.
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 14, 2009

BALTIMORE, Aug. 13 -- With the focus again on their struggling offensive line, the Washington Redskins began the preseason Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens hoping for positive signs from the unit.

The injuries and pass-protection problems of training camp could continue to stir concern, but the first-team offensive line appeared to perform effectively during its brief appearance in a 23-0 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

A crowd of 70,723 watched as the offensive line, which played without right guard Randy Thomas, who has been slowed because of knee soreness, helped the Redskins' offensive starters gain three first downs in two first-quarter series. Second-year guard Chad Rinehart filled in for Thomas, and quarterback Jason Campbell was not sacked during his outing.

"I was pleased with the pass protection," Coach Jim Zorn said. "But we need to finish drives."

In fact, the only significant pressure Campbell received occurred when the Ravens overloaded the left side on a third-down play and tight end Chris Cooley was beaten by linebacker Antwan Barnes, who took down Campbell as he released the ball.

Campbell also had to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure on some plays, and the starters produced only 45 net yards and no points.

In their internal offseason assessment of what went wrong in the 2-6 second-half collapse last season, the Redskins determined the offensive line was the team's weakest link. Considering the offensive line hasn't had the practice reps coaches would have preferred at this point because of injuries -- and that Campbell is coming off a season in which only three quarterbacks were sacked more -- the Redskins were satisfied with their opening test on a night many key veterans sat out.

As their performance against the Ravens attests, the offensive line, and many of the other position groups, still need a lot of work.

Of course, it could have been worse.

"We felt good," said Campbell, who completed 3 of 6 passes for 38 yards. "We felt comfortable. I thought the offensive line did a good job of protecting. We came out and completed our first two passes. The offensive line gave me good time on one of them."

On the opening play of the game's first possession, the Redskins got a first down when Campbell teamed with Ladell Betts, who started in place of top running back Clinton Portis, on a 12-yard swing pass.

It appeared Campbell intended to start off with a deep ball to wide receiver Devin Thomas, who is competing with Malcolm Kelly to be the starting flanker. Thomas, who opened at split end with top wideout Santana Moss getting the game off, was covered well, so Campbell checked down to Betts.

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