Tracee Hamilton - Sports Columnist

For Redskins, Youth Is Served

Two touchdown passes from rookie Chase Daniel carry Washington to its first preseason win.
By Tracee Hamilton
Monday, August 24, 2009

There were a lot of (wet) jerseys on display in the stands at FedEx Field on Saturday night. (Malkin? Really?) The burgundy-and-gold ones ran the gamut from Riggins to Manley to Taylor to Moss to Orakpo. But many of the players who gave the Redskins their first preseason win of the season were wearing one-of-a-kind apparel -- their own. Wilson, Mitchell, Daniel -- those aren't the big sellers in the team store.

But a lot of young players -- some of whom will soon find themselves out of a job -- were responsible for the 17-13 victory over Pittsburgh.

We interrupt this column for the usual disclaimer: The results in the preseason don't matter, it's a delicate experiment, a balancing act, a staggering work of heartbreaking genius, blah blah blah. Or as tight end Fred Davis put it: "It's preseason; it might not mean anything but it does mean something."

The Redskins didn't just lose their Aug. 13 opener; they were shut out and pushed around and generally made to look inept by the Baltimore Ravens. There is no such thing as a must-win preseason game -- but there is such a thing as a must-look-demonstrably-better especially-on-offense preseason game. And this was it.

So what happened? The first team had a nice first-quarter drive. Santana Moss and Clinton Portis made their preseason debuts. The unit greatly improved its third-down efficiency and converted both fourth-down tries. But you can't escape the fact that the first team has yet to score a touchdown, and starting quarterback Jason Campbell was 1 of 7.

Enter the collector jerseys.

Let's start with rookie Chase Daniel. In his first professional playing time, he completed 6 of 8 passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns, one to rookie Marko Mitchell, the other to Davis -- who marveled, "It's like he knew what he was doing" -- and compiled a passer rating of 134.4.

Davis, too, knew what he was doing -- "I kind of redeemed myself a little bit from having those two fumbles," he said, referring to his pair of muffs against the Ravens. "I was just going to get out there and make some plays and do something."

Davis was able to check off his entire to-do list, including the big play. With 13 minutes 24 seconds remaining in the game, the Redskins were forced to punt on fourth and 22 at the Washington 49. Davis hit Pittsburgh's Joe Burnett hard enough to force a fumble, which was recovered by, of course, a rookie, Darrel Young. The next play was Daniel's 18-yard strike to Davis to put the Redskins up, 17-13.

"Luckily I was open and he hit me. He [Daniel] did pretty well," Davis said, adding, "He had two touchdowns, now that I think about it. I was just now thinking about the game."

(Note to self: Talk to Davis after every game.)

Dominique Dorsey spent the past four seasons in the Canadian Football League, so he knows he has to make the most of his time in the lineup. He averaged 12 yards on two punt returns and had 11 carries for 39 yards. Lockermate Marcus Mason of Potomac, in his third season with the Redskins, caught two passes and rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries. Both benefited from the improved play of the offensive line.

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