Before Further Review: Preston Smith, DeSean Jackson star for Redskins

Initial thoughts on the Redskins' "dress rehearsal" preseason win over the Bills, including two playmakers making plays.

LANDOVER -- The Washington Redskins had a eventful dress rehearsal game against the Buffalo Bills Friday night which they ultimately won, 21-16. The Redskins had their share of struggles, especially on offense. Here are our initial pre-film-study reactions on how each side of the ball performed. 

Offense:

  • Kirk Cousins had a roller coaster night. His first-quarter interception was the result of a bad decision as he had WR Ryan Grant wide open. Instead, Cousins tried to squeeze the ball into wide receiver Rashad Ross. He threw several passes behind his intended target, which seems to be a trend. I noticed last year that Cousins struggles at times to lead his receiver on intermediate crossing routes. That continued Friday. Cousins also underthrew DeSean Jackson on a deep fade. He did find more success in the second quarter, albeit against Buffalo's second- and third-stringers. Cousins ended the second quarter -- and likely his preseason -- with three consecutive passing-touchdown drives. 
  • Rookie running back Robert Kelley had a nice third-and-1 conversion on the first drive. He did a great job cutting up field and gaining the necessary yardage. He's very decisive and appears to have solid vision. Kelley piled up 51 yards on 12 carries. He also held his own as a pass blocker. This showing may have secured his spot on the 53-man roster.
  • Right tackle Morgan Moses had a couple poor drives early on before sustaining a left ankle injury. I'm not certain when it occurred, but that may have affected his play. We did see Moses in the locker room after the game and he appeared to be walking fairly well. There wasn't a noticeable limp in his step.
  • Center Kory Lichtensteiger was penalized for holding three times in the first half. He was also pushed back by defenders way too much, which is something that happens often to him. Head coach Jay Gruden played down the Bryan Stork addition Thursday, calling it a depth move. But I think everyone knows this is his job to have if he shows up and stays healthy. Gruden confirmed after the game that Stork is expected to be in Washington on Saturday, although hasn't yet decided whether he's retiring or not. 
  • Shawn Lauvao again outshined Spencer Long at left guard. The two split quarters playing with the starting unit. Lauvao looked especially stout in the run game, creating several big rushing lanes. 

http://www.scout.com/nfl/redskins/story/1699981-pain-and-gain-redskins-d...

Defense:

  • Cornerback Quinton Dunbar injured his shin and was sporting a noticeable limp after the game.  
  • If the Redskins legitimately plan to have Kedric Golston start for them at nose tackle, that's a major issue. Golston was pushed back a lot in this game, which opened huge running lanes down the middle of the defense. 
  • All-Pro corner Josh Norman played lights-out football. He contributed to a third-down stop during the first drive by blanketing wide receiver Sammy Watkins on an out route and forcing Bills QB Tyrod Taylor to look elsewhere. On the second drive, Norman prevented a touchdown in the back of the end zone. I really like the way he blocks off a receiver's leverage. It begins with his stance in off-man coverage. Wideouts are at a disadvantage, leverage-wise, as soon as they get off the ball because of Norman's stance. He's a pure technician.
  • Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was tested twice in the red zone while guarding Watkins, his former Clemson teammate. Breeland won both matchups. He and Norman are going to frustrate and confound opposing receivers.
  • He may not get a ton of press, but outside linebacker Preston Smith has been the star of the preseason for Washington. After the game, general manager Scot McCloughan made a point of it to go over to Smith and compliment his play. How he fought through two blockers to make a tackle for a 5-yard loss stands out. We know he can rush the passer, but I think how well Smith plays against the run is the most overlooked facet of his game. He's in for a big season. 
  • Linebacker Will Compton again showed his on-field intelligence by diagnosing a run and plugging the hole before the play could even develop. He's going to take his game to the next level this year. 
  • Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood made a really nice play by slicing through the interior of Buffalo's offensive line to blow up a run. I think he has just about secured his spot on the 53.
  • I think we got a taste of how the Redskins plan to use linebacker Su'a Cravens. The rookie came on the field for every third down with the starters Friday. As anticipated, that appears to be his duty heading into the season. He's still developing and learning the scheme, but he appears to be coming into his own.
  • Defensive lineman Stephen Paea has created havoc in each preseason game. Granted, he has done so against second- and third-string players, but the fact that he has played well remains. There are some who think he's on the roster bubble and others who think he should be used more. I am part of the latter group.
  • Rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller has had his ups and downs in August, but I like the way he plays. He reminds me of a young Asante Samuel. He's an attacking player against the run and the pass. Fuller finished this game on a high note, forcing an interception. 

You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.

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