. . . The Redskins' run defense. So the tackles are a weakness, huh? Well, let's not get carried away with one preseason game--just like you shouldn't panic over a bad summer loss. But the tackles did their job. Jermaine Haley and Bernard Holsey plugged holes, just like they're supposed to do. More importantly they kept the linemen off the linebackers.
Of Baltimore's seven rushing plays against Washington's first unit, five of the tackles were made by linebackers. And the other two were made by end Renaldo Wynn and Haley.
. . . Receiver Patrick Johnson had an excellent night, making up for a bad one a week ago. Johnson, though, was already a lock to make the team--as we've been saying for a while. His special teams play is excellent. Besides, if something happened to Chad Morton, there's no one else to return punts.
. . . The special teams were good. Finally. The first coverage units excelled at staying in their lanes, something that's been a problem. On one return, Chad Morton missed a tackle, but because he was in his right lane, he slowed the returner down and Lemar Marshall cleaned him up a couple yards later. Another time, Ravens returner Lamont Brightful raced across the field, hoping to take advantage of a breakdown. There weren't any and Matt Bowen and Leonard Stephens tackled him for a loss.
. . . Receiver Laveranues Coles was awesome again. But it's not just catching the ball. It's getting in Ray Lewis' face after a tackle out of bounds. It's running up to longshot wideout Pat Woodcock after he makes a catch late in the game, it's his blocking on receiver screens. The more I see of Coles, and see what he does for others, the more I think the Redskins underpaid him. He is a team player. And when your star offensive player is that way, good things happen.
. . . Running back Sultan McCullough ran violently again, breaking tackles en route to a 15-yard touchdown run. It's hard to guess his chances on making the team: he's fifth on the running back list. But he certainly allows Washington to entertain offers for another back. Problem is, he's still not ready to contribute as much as Ladell Betts or Kenny Watson would. McCullough still must prove he can pick up the blitz--key in this offense--and contribute on special teams. All he's shown is that he can run--and run well. Which is a terrific start.
. . . Rookie Derrick Dockery was up and down. But, considering it was his first start, let's focus on the good. He cleared out a linebacker on one play and pulled well on McCullough's run. Dockery was called for holding and allowed a pressure, but he made up for his miscues.
. . . Running back Trung Canidate was mediocre on the ground, averaging 2.5 yards on eight carries. I'm still not sold on him--but I am intrigued. And I'll gladly point out things he does well. One little thing: he made an excellent blitz pickup, allowing Patrick Ramsey to hit Coles for a 15-yard gain (the same play Lewis hit him out of bounds).
. . . Right tackle Jon Jansen had not played his best in the first two games. But he looked good Saturday. He and tight end Robert Royal threw the key blocks on Canidate's three-yard scoring run. Jansen completely turned his man inside, opening a huge hole.
. . . Punter Bryan Barker ended any speculation about his job with another strong game, averaging 52.3 yards per punt. His kicks were high and the direction was good. What more can you ask? David Leaverton actually punted OK, too. But not good enough.
. . .Chad Morton had two punt returns of 10 yards apiece. Nothing special. But here's what I like: he makes one move, makes a guy miss, then dashes forward. He didn't dance in situations where many would have.
. . . Linebacker LaVar Arrington was very active. Perhaps he wanted to prove a point to Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis.
. . . Receiver Cliff Russell looked horrible. But he won't get cut. The kid has way too much speed and is too inexperienced to consider anything like that. Russell has looked good in camp. Give him time and you'll be happy. Believe it or not he hasn't dropped many passes in practice.
. . . Corner Rashad Bauman's size was exploited last year. And it was again last night. He's listed at 5-foot-8, which is a stretch, no pun intended. OK, maybe it was intended. But the Ravens attacked him by throwing over him. Which is what teams did last year, too.
. . . Quarterback Patrick Ramsey looked pretty good at times, though four of his eight completions were receiver screens. My big quibble with him center on a couple of decisions. On both occasions he threw downfield to a covered tight end. My question: why? Neither Zeron Flemister or Robert Royal will make a play in those situations. So why bother? Other receivers were open. The preseason is for learning. Let's hope Ramsey learned not to throw those passes. And Flemister should pay attention to other tight ends who know how to use their bodies. He allowed a defensive back to come through him and almost intercept the pass.
. . . I like receiver Scott Cloman. But he needed to make more plays to justify a roster spot. And he was too quiet.
. . . Canidate still goes down too easily at times. On one play, blitzing Ravens safety Ed Reed hit him in the backfield, dropping him with no problem. Canidate actually got too low on the play. Two plays later Reed blitzed again, this time hitting fullback Rock Cartwright. He kept going, gaining two yards.
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