Before Further Review: Su'a Cravens, impact player

Taking a deeper dive into what transpired in the Redskins' 23-17 loss at Atlanta, including an impressive start for Washington's second round pick.

The immediate analysis of the Washington Redskins' preseason opening loss at the Atlanta Falcons is on record. There will be time for a more detailed look at the game film as the weeks moves along. For now, here's a deeper dive into those initial thoughts.

Offense:

  • Kirk Cousins was efficient and left the game without a blemish in his stat line (5-5, 39 yards). It was a lot of short, quick timing throws which will likely be the meat of Washington's offense in 2016.

 

  • Matt Jones seems to forget that he's 6-foot-2, 232 lbs sometimes. Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon had a highlight reel tackle against Jones because he wasn't decisive with lowering his pads and running through the defender. For some reason, he tries to turn into a scatback in the openfield instead of running behind his pads, lowering his shoulders and running through defenders. Jones has to continue improving at that.

  • There's been a lot of excitement about rookie RB Keith Marshall who has had some impressive days in training camp. However, he struggled to do much in his Georgia homecoming against the Falcons. I think tentative would be the word to describe his play. He showed soft hands on a few catches, while otherwise not showing much.

  • Nate Sudfeld had a nice night (10/15, 89 yards and 1 TD). The rookie quarterback looked like a gamer out there just having fun. He's a big guy with a cannon of an arm and made several good decisions. Of course, he has plenty to work on, but he showed that the stage isn't too big. 

  • Rookie RB Robert Kelley (7 carries, 40 yards, 1 TD) had the most impressive night among Washington's running backs, in my opinion. He showed good vision and ran the ball decisively. Game on for the backup running back spot(s).

  • Although DC native Vernon Davis has looked solid in training camp, I was interested in watching him this preseason. He has struggled to catch the football for years now. That unwanted trend continued Thursday night. Davis dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Colt McCoy in the end zone. 

Defense:

  • Preston Smith had a fantastic night. The edge rusher looked explosive and appears to be bursting off the ball better. He had a very nice run stop early in the game. Not to mention, Smith created several QB pressures and had two near-sacks. This guy is primed for a big sophomore season. 

 

  • Inside linebacker Will Compton was also impressive. His athleticism may not be off-the-charts, but it's underrated and maximized by his intelligence. He had a really nice series in the second quarter and a run stop that displayed his range.

 

  • The Redskins have a couple cornerbacks transitioning to safety this year in DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon. While Hall displayed a willingness to come downhill and make tackles, Blackmon seemed lost in coverage. Without reviewing the film, Blackmon appeared to be out of place on both of Aldrick Robinson's deep catches. Although, Quinton Dunbar was clearly beaten on both plays, Blackmon's decisions may have contributed.  

  • Linebackers Martrell Spaight and Su'a Cravens looked very good Thursday night. I was specifically impressed with Cravens' overall vision at the inside linebacker position. He made a few very smart plays with his eyes. The USC product may be a slow safety, but for the linebacker position, he's fast. The second rounder looked great. Not to mention, he shined on special teams. 

  • When you're a potential starter/rotational starter, you should find success against third stringers. Redskins' DE Stephen Paea did just that against the Falcons in the second half. He had one series that he just completely dominated every single down. Paea has to prove to the team that he's worthy of major playing time and so far he's shining. 

Special teams

  • Tress Way is really coming into his own as a punter. I would be surprised if he doesn't make a legit Pro Bowl push this year. If there was anything negative about his kicks in the past, it was his hang time. Way has improved big time on that and it was evident Thursday night. 

You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.

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