The Washington Post

Redskins who hurt their cause on Thursday


Quarterback John Beck hands off to running back Evan Royster. (John McDonnell/Post)

Here are some Washington players who needed to impress coaches but whose chances were hurt in the final preseason game.

Evan Royster — Because Ryan Torain had yet to make a preseason appearance, Royster had a chance to steal a roster spot. While the final numbers from Thursday’s game look good for the rookie running back out of Penn State -- 44 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries -- his performance might not have been enough to convince coaches.

Royster, the team’s sixth-round pick, got off to a slow start. He fumbled the first time he touched the ball and averaged only 2.5 yards per carry in the first half, playing behind the starting offensive line. Royster also suffered a mild concussion in the third quarter, but that should have no bearing on whether he makes the team.

Royster finished the preseason with 110 yards on 26 carries.

Best guess: Practice squad.

DeJon Gomes — One of the preseason standouts, Gomes had a chance to put a couple of exclamation points on his resume Thursday night. The fifth-round pick out of Nebraska started at strong safety and saw the most extensive action of his young career.

He again showed good awareness and coverage skills but also committed his biggest mistake of the preseason. In the first quarter, Tampa Bay threw an incomplete pass on third and 7. The Bucs punting unit was about to take the field when officials flagged Gomes for unnecessary roughness, giving Tampa Bay a fresh set of downs.

Still, Gomes has done a lot this preseason and if Kareem Moore spends the first six weeks on the physically unable to perform list, the Redskins will need an extra body in the defensive backfield.

Best guess: 53-man roster

Aldrick Robinson — The final preseason game is the one where rookies and guys buried on the depth chart see their most important playing time. For the fourth game in a row, Robinson, a sixth-round pick from SMU, wasn’t even noticeable.

Not only did he fail to make a reception this preseason, but he wasn’t targeted a single time. Players earn those game reps in practice, which can’t be a good sign for Robinson. At a crowded wide receiver position that already features two rookies, Robinson appears to be the odd man out.

Best guess: Released.

Matt Gutierrez — Similar to last season, the Redskins picked up a quarterback early in camp and gave him plenty of playing time in the final preseason game. Last year, that quarterback was John Beck. This season coaches kicked the tires on Gutierrez, who’s thrown only two regular-season passes in four years in the NFL.

Though Kellen Clemens hadn’t blown anyone away this preseason, he entered the night with a firm grip on the No. 3 quarterback job (assuming Mike Shanahan wants to keep three quarterbacks). Gutierrez, 27, did little to leapfrog Clemens.

Gutierrez finished the night 5 of 12 passing for 41 yards with an interception and a quarterback rating of 16.3. Clemens finished the game 5 of 7 for 65 yards, including the 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Donte Stallworth.

Best guess: Released.

Ryan Torain — What hurts Torain most took place before the game, when coaches opted to start Royster in his place at running back. It’s a sign coaches were more eager to get the rookie touches with the first-string quarterback and line, and they might have grown weary of the injury-prone Torain.

Torain, though, made the most of his only action of the preseason, running for 73 yards on 17 carries, an average of 4.3 yards per carry. That average falls significantly, though, without Torain’s 18-yard run in the third quarter.

Torain has shown he’s plenty capable when healthy, but he’ll never be as reliable as Tim Hightower, who has yet to miss an NFL game in three seasons.

Best guess: 53-man roster.

Anderson Russell — When there are precious few roster spots to go around, every mistake seems amplified. In the second quarter, the Bucs had a 30-yard completion and entered Washington territory for the first time. Russell was flagged for a horse-collar tackle, adding 15 yards to the play.

On the whole, Russell needed to distinguish himself in a crowded secondary. Several other defensive backs -- Reggie Jones and Brandyn Thompson, among them -- struggled in their final audition for coaches, but Anderson had a chance to sneak on the roster.

Best guess: Released.

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.
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