Skins Hope Preseason is Soon a Distant Memory

The Redskins hope the worst part of their season is over. At least they'd better hope that's the case.

After Thursday night's loss to the Ravens, at least Washington can now turn its attention towards Minnesota, a game that matters. And if the Redskins beat the Vikings and start strong, then this 0-4 preseason, featuring zero points by the first offense, will be a long, distant memory. One that will serve as a reminder in the future as to how meaningless these games are.

They'd best hope it doesn't serve as a predictor. In truth, the Redskins have to be much better than they've shown. But this is not Pittsburgh struggling last summer en route to the Super Bowl. Remember, the Steelers went 15-1 the previous season.

The final tuneup featured more bland offensive sets, little scheming by the defense and many reps for backups. After all, Washington will make its final cuts by 4 p.m. Saturday.

There's no reason to panic. The players say it; the coaches say it -- though at least Joe Gibbs is rightly bothered by their preseason showing -- and we say it. But after a month of bad play, at least now we get to the games that count. Now we'll finally be able to tell just how good they are. Or are not.

The offense: Washington's first-team offense ran one motion -- the fullback -- and never used a three- or four-receiver set. All of which will be staples of their attack. Also, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El did not play. Still, wouldn't it have been nice to, you know, score at least a couple points?

Worried about: safety Adam Archuleta. He's been unimpressive this entire preseason, save for one sack. His coverage skills are questionable, at best; and his run defense is not spectacular, either. We're not convinced he's an upgrade over Ryan Clark. But he sure is more expensive.

Good night for: Punter Derrick Frost. He figured out he was kicking the ball at the wrong spot; it was too low on his foot, resulting in too many shanks. So he's aimed to kick it at a higher point. It worked for one night, but one night does not make a season. There's still concerns over his consistency. There has to be. Also, he's still weak on punts inside the 20.

Also a good night for: Offensive lineman Ikechuku Ndukwe. He played the entire night as the Redskins wanted to get a long look at him. Buges likes him and we're guessing he earned a roster spot. Also, receiver Steven Harris had a good night, but at the end of his long catch we didn't like that he slowed down so much to absorb the hit. But at least he got down there.

Tough night: tackle Jim Molinaro and right guard Jasper Harvey. The latter had mixed results. He had some good run blocks, but he also allowed pressure through his gap. Molinaro always looks off-balance when he engages. Defensive back Julian Battle also wasn't very impressive.

Did you notice: When Christian Fauria was hurt for a play in the first quarter, Manuel White entered as a tight end. He could be the third tight end in addition to a fullback. Remember, White played there last summer. It's really hard to believe they'd keep Buck Ortega, a small tight end whose blocking skills are questionable, over White.

Wondering about: Fullback Nehemiah Broughton. He's a physical blocker, etc., etc. But what impressed us last night was his special teams performance. He covered punts well, once making a tackle and another time forcing a change of direction leading to a good smack. The Redskins need big players who can run on special teams. Is there room for him?

Ouch: Receiver Jimmy Farris hurt his hamstring and that kept him out of the game. Will it keep him off the roster?

Questionable: Receiver Mike Espy. He's a nice feel-good story, but did he really show enough to warrant a roster spot? He's not very good on returns and that's where he needed to make his mark.


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