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Five Takeaways: Redskins-Packers

Posted Aug 20, 2017

Here’s five takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ preseason Week 2 game against the Green Bay Packers that took place at FedExField in Landover, Md.

Here’s five takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ preseason Week 2 game against the Green Bay Packers that took place at FedExField in Landover, Md.


1. The first-team offense started off slow before capping off the night with a touchdown throw in the two-minute drill.
After two three-and-outs on their only drives during last week’s preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the Redskins’ starting offense wanted to get off to a better start Saturday night against the Packers.

But that did not happen, as Washington’s first three possessions were three-and-outs. On those nine plays, the Redskins’ mustered just 13 total yards.

Then the offense slowly started to get going on their fourth appearance of the night and then ultimately getting the first touchdown of the preseason with 13 seconds left in the first half.

“We stuttered and sputtered and missed a few throws and I had a couple runs rejected, but they stuck with it,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “I think it was good for them to stay out there for the half, at least get a touchdown in there, have something positive happen.”

On that final possession, the Redskins started from their own 22-yard line before driving 78 yards on 10 plays.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with tight end Vernon Davis for a 43-yard reception before maneuvering the offense down to the 2-yard line with a new set of downs.

The offense would be pushed back on a 1st-and-goal run by running back Chris Thompson before eventually finding the end zone on fourth down with Cousins completing a pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

“It was a two-minute drill, so we hit a couple big plays there,” Cousins said of the drive. “Guys with individual match ups, we throw the ball with accuracy, we protect well and good things happen. But it takes all 11 and when we were moving the ball, that’s because all 11 of the guys were executing. No sacks in the first half, no turnovers, there’s still a lot of positives and we can go back and fix everything that wasn’t good enough.”

2. Fabian Moreau makes a big first impression.
Gruden has said time and time again that some of the younger players need to be big special teams contributors.

On Saturday night in his preseason debut, Moreau stood out with two big special teams plays in the first quarter. The first was a hit on Packers returner Trevor Davis that knocked the ball out of his hands.

Moreau flew down the field before timing a slide into Davis perfectly to free the ball for the Redskins to recover on Green Bay’s 16-yard line.

Then on the next punt return for the Packers, Moreau once again was the first Redskins player down the field to stop Davis for a one-yard return.

“That is what I like to do,” Moreau said of his special teams plays. “I like to make plays just anyway I can do it, anyway possible. Just go out there and be the first one down there and make a play.”

Moreau also saw 25 snaps on defense, although one play in particular stood out to him – a 38-yard completion he gave up.

Moreau was stride-for-stride with Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis down the field, but didn’t turn around his head quick enough to potentially stop the completion.

While he was frustrated in giving up the play, it did show the rookie’s range and coverage skills.

“Fabian, he’s a great athlete,” Gruden said. “I mean, no substitute for speed and he’s got it. He’s a big, physical guy, and I think he’s got the talent and skill level to be a great player for us. But we have to get him taught up and let him play.”

3. Niles Paul continued strong preseason showing with a touchdown reception.
In Gruden’s Thursday press conference in the days leading up to Washington’s preseason Week 2 game, the head coach noted that Paul “has been one of the most impressive guys to me in camp.”

Despite coming off back-to-back seasons that ended in Injured Reserve, Paul remains a versatile and key play in the Redskins’ offense. He can line up wide and even play some fullback if asked.

But on Saturday, Paul was at the tight end spot when he scored a 16-yard touchdown off the arm of quarterback Colt McCoy.

On 3rd-and-8, McCoy dropped back before tossing a back shoulder throw to Paul, who would dive to his left to haul in the touchdown reception.

“It’s been a while since I’ve scored a touchdown so I was happy,” Paul said. “I was very excited.”

While he’s still a few weeks away from making his regular season return, Paul couldn’t be happier to return to the field after suffering two major injuries in the last two years.

“I’m just out here playing ball with my brothers and that’s all I can think about,” Paul said. “Just how blessed I am to play football and do something that I love. Try not to get caught up in the hype of the game, but that’s all I was thinking about.”

4. The Redskins cranked up the pressure with five sacks.
Under new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, the Redskins want to pressure opposing quarterbacks this year and believe they have the talent to do so on a consistent basis.

After tallying four sacks against the Ravens last Thursday, the Redskins added five more against the Packers on Saturday night.

Veteran linebacker Chris Carter lead the way with 1.5 sacks, while linebackers Preston Smith and Pete Robertson along with defensive linemen Joey Mbu and Phil Taylor Sr. were also credited with sacks.

On Taylor Sr.’s sack, the former first-round pick burst through the heart of Green Bay’s offensive line to take down Packers quarterback Brent Hundley on a third down play.

“It was cool,” Taylor said. “You know, just getting back. We still have to work on some things. I have to still work on some things. We will go in there tomorrow and look at things and move forward to Cincinnati.”

5. Entering the third preseason game, the Redskins are still seeking improvement from the running game.
Washington finished the night with 335 yards, but only 64 came from the ground.

In total, those 64 rushing yards came on 22 plays as the Redskins averaged less than three yards per carry.

“You know, we’re a work in progress, no question about it,” Gruden said when asked about the running game. “We’re building something and we’ve got to do some things and quite frankly we didn’t get them done today, but I’m not going to give up on it by any stretch of imagination. We’ve just got to continue with our plan and build on what we’ve done, or haven’t done, learn from it, move on and get ready for the Bengals and try to figure out a new plan.”

Starting running back Rob Kelley managed just nine yards on nine carries while Chris Thompson tallied one rushing yard on two carries.

It wasn’t until the second half that Washington started to gain traction on the ground, as rookie Samaje Perine picked up 45 yards on eight carries. It was a nice bounce back performance for the Oklahoma product after managing just 15 yards against the Ravens.  

“I just felt more comfortable,” Perine said. “You know, being the first game last week, I had to get my first game jitters out. Now I’m just continuing to build and get more comfortable within the system and just continue doing whatever I have to do.”

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