NFC East: Chad Rinehart
Receiver Pierre Garcon (calf) was limited, but everyone else participated fully -- including Doughty, who missed Sunday's loss because of a concussion.
Meanwhile for the San Diego Chargers, corner Donald Butler (groin), tackle Mike Remmers (ankle) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice. Guard Chad Rinehart (toe) was limited. Rinehart was a third-round pick by Washington in 2008. He lasted two seasons, starting only four games.
Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: draft rewind -- examining the past five drafts.
Best choice: Mike Jenkins, CB, first round (2008). The Cowboys have selected 40 players over the past five drafts. Jenkins is the only one to earn Pro Bowl honors. Check back in a couple seasons to see whether receiver Dez Bryant has joined him. Doug Free, a fourth-rounder in 2007, made a run at this distinction after emerging as a solid starting left tackle in 2010. Jenkins suffered through a down season and needs to bounce back.
Worst choice: Bobby Carpenter, LB, first round (2006). The Cowboys got very little from Carpenter and their 2006 class overall. Carpenter started three games for Dallas in four seasons with the team. The Cowboys traded him to St. Louis before the 2010 season in a deal that brought them penalty-prone tackle Alex Barron.
On the bubble: Felix Jones, RB, first round (2008). By bubble, we’re not talking about job security, but rather about Jones’ status as a player seeking to realize more of his potential. The weight Jones added last season might have slowed him. He has the talent to take the next step. Improved play from the offensive line would help.
Best choice: Brian Orakpo, OLB, first round (2009). Two Pro Bowl appearances in two seasons make Orakpo the clear choice for Washington among the 33 players drafted since 2006. Some of the others are productive, of course, but none has earned Pro Bowl honors.
Worst choice: Chad Rinehart, G, third round (2008). Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly made this a three-way race. The Redskins have used only nine choices in the first three rounds of the past five drafts. I wasn’t going to single out later-round picks as disappointments. Rinehart suffered a broken fibula during his second season. He had a DUI arrest shortly after Mike Shanahan arrived as head coach. The Redskins released Rinehart before last season.
On the bubble: Kevin Barnes, CB, third round (2009). Barnes has only two starts, but he finished strong last season after getting a look at safety. Barnes picked off a pass against Jacksonville to set up the winning field goal in overtime. A sign of things to come?
Best choice: DeSean Jackson, WR, second round (2008). Jackson is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Making two Pro Bowls in three seasons is particularly impressive for a receiver. Lots of receivers put up good numbers, but few can match Jackson in the big-play department. He is a game-changer.
Worst choice: Tony Hunt, RB, third round (2007). Hunt was a curious selection because he didn’t seem to fit the Eagles’ offense. The team tried Hunt at fullback before releasing him during the 2008 season. Hunt has recently resurfaced in an Austrian league. Seriously.
On the bubble: Kevin Kolb, QB, second round (2007). Kolb enters a crossroads season with the Eagles after losing the starting job to Michael Vick. It was nothing personal -- Vick simply outplayed him. Will the Eagles trade Kolb or keep him around?
New York Giants
Best choice: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, seventh round (2007). Bradshaw broke out with 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns last season. That was terrific production for any back, let alone one selected with the 250th overall choice. Bradshaw lost five fumbles in the first 10 games of the season, however, and lost his starting job.
Worst choice: Sinorice Moss, WR, second round (2006). Moss started only two games and caught three touchdown passes during four seasons with the Giants. A hernia injury sidelined Moss last season, and the team released him. He has not played in a game since 2009. The Eagles signed Moss earlier this offseason.
On the bubble: Aaron Ross, CB, first round (2007). Ross has only two starts with no interceptions over the past two seasons, a sharp downturn from his first two seasons. Injuries have played a leading role in Ross’ diminished production. A hamstring injury bothered him in 2009. Plantar fasciitis was a problem last season. He needs to get healthy.
Stephen McGee hopes to build on a 2009 season that was spent learning about life in the NFL.
No matter where he lines up, Miles Austin has high expectations for himself in 2010.
New York Giants
ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk identifies five things to look for in the team's mandatory minicamp.
Running back Gartrell Johnson talks about his comfort level heading into his second season with the Giants.
Andy Reid will be a part of a group of coaches who will visit troops in the Persian Gulf this summer.
Cornelius Ingram is eager to get back on the field to show what he can do.
Coming off a fractured fibula, Chad Rinehart is seeing time at right guard in coach Mike Shanahan's offense.
After expressing frustration with his contract situation, linebacker Rocky McIntosh signed his tender offer.
Many seem to think that Washington, a 4-12 team in 2009 that failed to win a game in the NFC East, is vastly improved and no longer is overwhelmed with weak spots on its roster. I tend to disagree. They still look like the NFC East’s bottom feeders to me.
The situation at running back is worse. Mike Shanahan has a great reputation of getting excellent production from ordinary running backs in his scheme, but I contend that Clinton Portis, Willie Parker and Larry Johnson are all over the hill and used up.
While these two positions are problematic, they might be even more glaring if the line is not vastly improved. Once again, I have my doubts. Using the fourth pick in the draft on a very talented left tackle, Trent Williams from Oklahoma, certainly made a lot of sense. But the rookie is far from a sure thing and, despite his immense talents, doesn’t have a lot of college experience on the left side. And there is no getting around that he is a rookie. This is just a hunch, but I am betting that DeMarcus Ware, Trent Cole and the Giants’ slew of defensive ends are not losing sleep knowing that they have to face Williams twice during the 2010 season.
Last year, the Redskins' pass blocking was poor while the run blocking was atrocious. At left guard and center respectively, it looks pretty certain that Derrick Dockery and Casey Rabach will return as starters. Dockery is a good pass-blocker and the left side of the line certainly does have potential, but Dockery needs work in the running game. Plus, he isn’t exactly the small, quick lineman that we have become so accustomed to seeing in Shanahan’s scheme. Rabach is about as ordinary as they come at the pivot, but isn’t a young player, so a decline might be imminent.
At the two spots on the right side, there will be competition for the starting roles and a combination of Stephon Heyer, Mike Williams, Artis Hicks and Chad Rinehart will get the nod. Heyer was among the worst starting offensive linemen in the league last season. Williams isn’t much better and doesn’t move well enough to recover in protection. Rinehart remains somewhat of an unknown and might be primed to come into his own, but banking on that doesn’t seem prudent considering what he has shown to this point. Hicks is versatile and was a solid signing considering the situation up front for Washington, but he has proved to be more of an ideal sixth lineman as opposed to starting material.
By the way, Donovan McNabb isn’t the most durable quarterback around and as noted above, there are some serious pass-rushers in the NFC East. If the Redskins don't get the line tightened up, McNabb could be in for a long season.
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Busts and late-round gems.
From a bust standpoint, let me offer up the '09 draft class. But that's not completely fair because the class was pretty much wiped out by injuries last season. The one unquestionable gem is USC kickoff specialist David Buehler. Some of us laughed when the Cowboys spent a sixth-round pick on a player who wasn't supposed to compete for the place-kicking job. But Buehler led the league in touchbacks and participated on the punt and kick return units. Another gem is 2008 fourth-round pick Tashard Choice. When offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has gotten him on the field, Choice has produced in a big way. In 2008, he appeared to be the most complete back on the roster at times. From a bust standpoint, go back to the '07 draft and look at third-round pick James Marten out of Boston College. You could tell pretty quickly that Marten wasn't a player. And in the fourth round of that same draft, the Cowboys got cute in taking former University of Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback to play wide receiver. Stanback was a shoulder injury waiting to happen and he didn't take advantage of numerous opportunities.
New York Giants
They'll be talking about the '07 draft for years. The Giants have four starters from that class and they found the ultimate gem in seventh-rounder Ahmad Bradshaw. The former Marshall running back had some off-the-field issues that caused him to plummet in the draft, but he was a valuable part of the Giants' march to the Super Bowl in '07. The Giants also landed cornerback Aaron Ross (first), wide receiver Steve Smith (second) and tight end Kevin Boss (fifth) in that draft. And don't forget about starting safety Michael Johnson (seventh). That's the draft that put new general manager Jerry Reese on the map. In '08, the Giants were able to land starting safety Kenny Phillips late in the first round and Terrell Thomas late in the second. Phillips appeared to be on his way to stardom but a season-ending knee injury in '09 has tempered those expectations. Thomas was forced into a starting position in '09 and performed admirably. We're still waiting to find out what mid-round picks Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff turn out to be. Those guys aren't really gems or busts. The verdict's still out on 2009 second-round pick Clint Sintim. Certainly not a bust, but he needs to show something this season. And for all the time we spent bragging on Cal Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden, the guy couldn't get on the field. If he can't get on the field in 2010, he'll be trending toward bust status. North Carolina State running back Andre Brown had gem potential, but he suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.
The Eagles found two gems in the '07 draft. Stewart Bradley is a quality starting middle linebacker who was selected in the third round and the Eagles took Pro Bowl-worthy tight end Brent Celek in the fifth round. The two players have become close friends and they're a huge part of the Eagles' future. In fact, Philly has already signed Celek to a contract extension. From a bust standpoint, the Eagles wasted a pick on Penn State running back Tony Hunt in '07. It's hard to believe that they took Hunt in the third round. And it's not as if Victor Abiamiri has been some type of standout second-round pick. Obviously, we're still waiting to see what becomes of the Eagles' top pick in '07, Kevin Kolb. In '08, the Eagles landed DeSean Jackson in the second round. But two picks before Jackson, they selected defensive tackle Trevor Laws. So there's your boom and bust scenario. The rest of that class is pretty forgettable. Fourth-round selection Quintin Demps has been serviceable, but I wouldn't refer to him as a hidden gem or anything. From the '09 class, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy were excellent value picks. They should both be a huge part of the offense for several years. Moise Fokou was a gem in the seventh round. He has the potential to be a special-teams standout and he eventually cracked the starting lineup, although that was predicated by a string of injuries. Still, it's obvious the Eagles like Fokou. He's constantly around the ball.
The '07 draft was pretty much a waste of time. The Redskins barely had any picks, but they did manage to select safety LaRon Landry sixth overall. The tragic loss of Sean Taylor meant that Landry had to become the main man at safety. He wasn't ready for that type of responsibility and he's never really lived up to his immense potential. We'll see if Jim Haslett can help him reach the next level. In the second round of the '08 draft, the Skins took wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. Neither player has really distinguished himself, although Thomas took some important steps in '09. Kelly won the starting job coming out of training camp, but he didn't do anything with it. Sandwiched between those two picks was former USC tight end Fred Davis. He came on strong in '09 once Chris Cooley was lost to injury. It looks like Davis will be a player. Thomas and Kelly could go either way. Unless there's a dramatic change this offseason, third-round pick Chad Rinehart will be a bust at guard. Seventh-round pick Chris Horton was a great story early in 2008, but his star has faded a bit. Until he reclaims his starting safety spot, it's hard to call him a gem. The '09 draft was another one-hit wonder. It looks like first-round pick Brian Orakpo will be a perennial Pro Bowler. He's an excellent pass-rusher and I think he'll flourish in Haslett's 3-4 scheme. No one else in the class stood out.
The Redskins also lost starting right guard Chad Rinehart to a broken right leg in Sunday's game against the Cowboys. Veteran running back Rock Cartwright will replace Betts in the starting lineup and he'll be backed up by Quinton Ganther. The Redskins will likely sign another running back this week in order to create a little depth.
Clinton Portis is still recovering from a concussion and he won't play Sunday in Philadelphia. Cartwright doesn't bring as much power as Betts, but he's a better option in the passing game -- as evidenced by his 73 yards receiving in Sunday's loss.
Quarterback Jason Campbell is used to losing weapons, so this latest setback won't faze him. As crazy as this sounds, I think he may have played his best game of the season Sunday in a 7-6 loss to the Cowboys.
He did a really nice job of managing the game and he beat the blitz with quick and decisive throws. I don't think he got much help from Sherm Lewis and Jim Zorn once the Skins moved inside Cowboys territory. And Shaun Suisham picked a bad time to miss two field goals. He connected on his first 13 attempts of the season, but the miss from 39 yards at the end of the first half was a killer.
"We've got to get an MRI on this to see if it's just a little partial tear," said Zorn. "We've got him in a soft cast, so that's all I can tell you right now. We'll get a better evaluation after we get back."
Zorn also delivered the news that starting right guard Chad Rinehart had a fractured fibula. Obviously Rinehart will probably be out for the season. If Betts only has an MCL, he could return in three or four weeks. But when I saw him being carted off, it didn't look like an MCL to me. We'll keep you updated tomorrow.
Here's how Zorn summed up the game: "I think just from the emotion of losing that game, it's just a heart-yank for our players. We felt like 'here we go, we're climbing ourselves out of it.' I just told them I was proud of them. To lose it that way at the end in a hostile situation is just so harad. It wasn't any one thing, but at the particular time that things were happening, you were getting stabbed every time something happened, even with our injuries. Yet, we hung in there. I really believe this is a special team of players who will not just check things in being 3-7. It is bleak, and yet we're going to come back, we got a big game next week. We're going to look at our roster and patch it up and go again."
You can't question the Redskins' effort in this game, but you can question some of the playcalling. To play it conservatively late in the first half was something that bothered me. You're 3-6 and you have the Cowboys on the ropes in their brand new stadium. Take a shot in the end zone on third-and-1 with 15 seconds left. I've tried to defend Zorn at times, but there's no defending him in that situation.
Quarterback Jason Campbell played a really good football game, but it was like Sherm Lewis wouldn't completely show trust in him. The Skins got conservative any time they sniffed the red zone -- and that's a problem. The Redskins called plays like they were scared to death of losing. Give me a break.
This offense honestly played well enough to win. So take some shots. Don't play for field goals. On this day, that strategy came back to haunt Zorn and his playcalling buddy, Sherm Lewis.
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 10:
I think the Eagles will ride Brian Westbrook in this game. Yes, I know this is a different team with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but the Chargers did a nice job taking away the deep ball against the Giants. Westbrook appears to be healthy heading into this game, and I think he could give the Chargers' linebackers trouble in space. I think Andy Reid needs to get Westbrook involved early so he can take a hit or two. He hasn't played since that violent collision with London Fletcher's knee. Once Westbrook feels some contact, I think he'll be ready to go. I see a breakout game coming for him. And if you know my track record on predictions, make sure you bench Westbrook on your fantasy team immediately.
The Redskins are catching the Broncos at a bad time. After a brilliant start to the season, the Broncos have dropped two straight to the Ravens and Steelers. They can't afford a three-game losing streak. I think Josh McDaniels will take advantage of the Skins' issues in the secondary. With Levi Jones taking over at left tackle and Chad Rinehart possibly getting some valuable time at guard, Washington's offensive line will have a different look. I don't think it can be any worse. Mike Williams was struggling mightily before he was injured. Here's hoping that Jim Zorn and Sherm Lewis discussed ways in which Jason Campbell can get the ball away quicker. Don't waste time sending Santana Moss on double moves 40 yards downfield when there's no hope of getting the protection. And on defense, this is the game where you need Albert Haynesworth to earn his money. I know his legion of apologists has spoken, but it's time for him to take over a game. This would be a good place to start. The Redskins can't afford the turnovers that have plagued them all season. If they get a quick start and a heroic performance from the defense, the Redskins can hang around in this game. Am I predicting a win? C'mon!
The Cowboys must dominate the line of scrimmage on defense. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware could have three or four sacks. The Packers' offensive line has been awful this season, but those 37 sacks are also a product of Aaron Rodgers holding onto the ball too long. He won't be able to get away with that Sunday. Packers left tackle Chad Clifton is back from an ankle injury, but it's not like he's completely healthy. He really struggles when pass-rushers try to make an inside charge. At this point, Clifton's just a guy. Someone named T.J. Lang is going to get the start at right tackle. This is a big, big problem for the Packers. And keep your eye on Keith Brooking and Ware in this game. This offensive line has allowed linebackers to come racing through the line of scrimmage in the running game.
I love this Charles Woodson vs. Jason Witten matchup. It looks like the Packers will try to keep Woodson close to the line of scrimmage and let him press Witten. I think Witten's athletic enough to get releases on the long-armed Woodson, but we'll see if quarterback Tony Romo has enough time to get the ball to him downfield. I think it will be one of the best matchups on the field. Romo will be looking for Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush. The Cowboys think he's susceptible to double moves. That's why they hope he jumps on Miles Austin or even Patrick Crayton at times. If Bush gets burned a lot Sunday, remember that you read about it on Final Word, one of America's fastest growing features on the Internet.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Greetings from the biggest NFC East game of the evening. I've just been handed tonight's incactives, so let me pass them along:
Redskins: Kevin Barnes, Quinton Ganther, Robert Henson, Chris Samuels, Chad Rinehart, Marko Mitchell, Anthony Montgomery, Renaldo Wynn
Eagles: Kevin Kolb (third quarterback), Dimitri Patterson, Joe Mays, Mike McGlynn, Max Jean-Gilles, Kevin Curtis, Victor Abiamiri, Omar Gaither
Eagles coach Andy Reid obviously has a lot of faith that left guard Todd Herremans is fully recovered. I'll be interested to see if Stacy Andrews gets any reps at right guard. Something tells me that we won't see tonight.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
With veteran right guard Randy Thomas out for the season with a right triceps injury, former third-round pick Chad Rinehart and Will Montgomery are competing to replace him. Today in practice, Rinehart started out with the first team and then was replaced by Montgomery after several snaps.
From what I can tell, personnel chief Vinny Cerrato is rooting for Rinehart to win the competition. He's a homegrown draft pick while Montgomery is a former seventh-round by the Carolina Panthers who has bounced around the league. Either way, it's not an ideal situation.
"Chad was strong," Zorn said after today's practice. "I saw him battling in there and I saw Will battling in there as well."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Kevin Boss told Newsday's Tom Rock the silence inside Cowboys Stadium after Lawrence Tynes' game-winning FG was the "best sound in the world."
- Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post says this organization has made winning commonplace. No one on the Giants sideline had any doubts as Eli Manning trotted out with 3:40 left in the game.
- Uh-oh. Brandon Jacobs is apparently mad at Cowboys right tackle Marc Colombo. I didn't see it, but apparently the two had a little altercation following the game.
- The game's not over until Vinny DiTrani says it's over -- in the Bergen County Record.
- Justin Tuck is vowing to play against the Bucs next Sunday.
- Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger provided some injury information early this morning.
- Flip Bondy of the Daily News has a pretty good time making fun of Jerry Jones' debut.
- Here's Ralph Vacchiano's game story in the Daily News.
- Joe LaPointe of the New York Times looked a little frazzled on deadline, but he got the job done.
- Barry Svrluga of the Post says the Skins were awful in the red zone Sunday -- and I'll have to agree.
- Here's Jason Reid's game story from the Skins' 9-7 win over the Rams.
- Dan Daly of the Washington Times sees blackouts in the Skins' future.
- Mike Wise of the Post thinks Dan Snyder needs to stand by Jim Zorn -- at least until the end of the season.
- The Redskins begin the process of trying to replace Randy Thomas. I think Chad Rinehart will get the nod.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Redskins did little to fortify their offensive line in the offseason and it's already coming back to haunt them. Veteran right guard Randy Thomas tore his right triceps and will be placed on injured reserve, according to coach Jim Zorn. It's not the type of loss the Skins are prepared to deal with -- especially this early in the season.
On Sunday, Will Montgomery replaced Thomas against the Rams. And there's also the option of second-year player Chad Rinehart, who's never played in a regular-season game. The Skins could also reach out to 36-year-old Pete Kendall, who played the '07 and '08 seasons on arthritic knees. I think they'll end up going with Rinehart so Montgomery can continue serving as the backup center.
Oh, and there's the part about Rinehart being the team's No. 96 overall pick in 2008. Rinehart started 37 games for Northern Iowa at left tackle. The Skins like his versatility, and now it's time to put it to use.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
At this point, you'd think the Redskins would be happy with any win -- even one against the sad sack St. Louis Rams. But it sounds like it was a quiet locker room after Sunday's 9-7 win at FedEx. The Redskins were 0-of-5 in red zone efficiency, a stat that will get you beat against most NFL teams.
Jason Campbell put up decent numbers, but he has to find a way to guide this team into the end zone. The Redskins' 2008 season fell apart because of a lack of scoring -- and injuries along the offensive line. Now it looks like they're headed down the same path with the loss of right guard Randy Thomas to a reported torn right triceps. The Redskins could end up going the rest of the way with Chad Rinehart at right guard.
Chris Cooley had a nice game and Clinton Portis put up decent numbers. But you can't keep getting inside the 10-yard line only to settle for short field goals. Jim Zorn tried to show confidence in his team by going for it on fourth down inside the 5-yard line late in the game. The call could have backfired big time, but fortunately the defense played pretty well.
The Redskins have the Lions, Bucs, Panthers and Chiefs coming up. There's no reason they shouldn't stack up some wins. But if they keep stalling in the red zone, at least one of those games will be a loss. We'll have a lot more on the Redskins in the morning.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants will be thin at cornerback and heavy on wide receivers. I just secured a copy of the inactives and it appears that Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster and undrafted rookie Bruce Johnson will be the only cornerbacks in uniform Sunday.
In a surprise move, the Giants will take six receivers into today's game. Rookie Ramses Barden is the only receiver on the 53-man roster who's not active. Here's the complete list of Giants inactives:
WR Ramses Barden, CB Aaron Ross, T Adam Koets, T Tutan Reyes, T Guy Whimper, DL Leger Douzable, LB Clint Sintim
The Washington Redskins put reserve running back Marcus Mason on the inactive list. He's had an excellent preseason, but Jim Zorn decided he couldn't take more than three running backs to the game. Here are the other inactives for the Redskins:
RB Marcus Mason, CB Kevin Barnes, C/G Edwin Williams, LB Robert Henson, G Chad Rinehart, T/G D'Anthony Batiste, DT Anthony Montgomery, Renaldo Wynn.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
It's much easier for me to defend Jason Campbell when he plays like he did last night. The Redskins lost to the Patriots in the final seconds of a preseason game, but they appeared to gain much-needed confidence in the process. Campbell was 13-of-22 for 209 yards and a rushing touchdown, but the most important thing was that he looked poised the entire time. We saw what he can do when the offensive line gives him a little time.
|AP Photo/Nick Wass|
|Marko Mitchell caught a touchdown pass in front of cornerback Jamar Love during the second half of Friday night's game.|
After he called it a night, Campbell told Jim Nantz and Phil Simms that the offense couldn't "dink and dunk" its way down the field and be successful. And that's why you see coach Jim Zorn calling for so many downfield passes. I thought Post columnist Mike Wise summed it up pretty well after last night's game. OK, let's take a closer look at what took place:
Tom Brady and Randy Moss pretty much toyed with DeAngelo Hall. It wasn't an awful performance by the defense at all, but Hall was clearly in over his head against Moss. I realize he's going to make a lot of cornerbacks look bad, but you would hope Hall wouldn't get completely overwhelmed. When receivers such as Terrell Owens, Moss and Larry Fitzgerald showed up, it was always nice to have Shawn Springs on the field. Unfortunately, he now plays for the Pats. The best news for the Skins? They don't have to see Moss again -- unless it's in the Super Bowl. The good news for the defense is the three turnovers. In the second half, linebacker Rocky McIntosh made a superb play to tip the ball away from the tight end and allow LaRon Landry to go the other way. Also a really nice play on the ball by rookie corner Kevin Barnes. He's got some really good skills. This draft class is looking better all the time.
The Skins had 15 penalties for 113 yards? REALLY? Amid some of the positive aspects from this game, the penalties have to be driving Jim Zorn nuts. And you can't really pick on one unit. The defensive tackles may want to work on lining up in the right spots and you should start eliminating the false starts along the offensive line at this stage in the preseason. The 15-yard penalties will get you beat, and that's what happened when Hall grabbed Moss' facemask. The Skins' defense had a chance to get off the field at that point, but the penalty gave the Patriots another shot. You can't do that with one of the most potent offenses in the league.
There's no way in the world you can keep Marko Mitchell off the roster -- and why would you even try? He's big and he makes important catches. He froze a defender in the second half and then changed his route when he recognized that the Patriots had busted coverage. Colt Brennan found him for a 33-yard touchdown. Patriots cornerback Jamar Love never had a chance. The guy keeps getting in the end zone, and he's become perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the preseason for the Redskins. He offers what quarterbacks like to call a wide strike zone and he appears to be learning how to beat jams near the line of scrimmage. He could be a real threat near the goal line because of his body control and hands.
Colt Brennan didn't perform well enough to overtake Chase Daniel -- at least in my opinion: The same things that made Brennan one of the most prolific passers in the history of college football can also get him in big trouble. He's supremely confident and he thinks he can fit a ball into any space. But he has to be smarter when he's around the goal line. For the second time in as many games, Brennan made a horrible decision near the goal line. He forced a pass that was picked off by Jonathan Wilhite and returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Brennan tried the old "I was just trying to make a play" excuse after the game, but that doesn't hold water. He basically surrendered 10 points with that ill-advised throw -- seven to the Patriots and three that he took away from the Skins. I liked that he came right back with the touchdown to Mitchell, but it wasn't enough to overshadow the interception in my mind. I do like the way Brennan handles screens. He's athletic enough to spin away from trouble and dump the ball to Marcus Mason on the run. Not as easy as it looks.
Hated to see Mason get the bruised ribs in the fourth quarter. It's hard to recover from those when you're taking a lot of punishment at running back. I think Mason's put himself in position to challenge Ladell Betts for the backup role. He's more explosive than Betts in my mind, and he's a better change-of-pace back. Mason puts more pressure on defenses -- both on the ground and through the air -- than Betts.
Hello, Anthony Alridge!: I've been waiting to see this guy all preseason. The former University of Houston star -- as proud U of H alum Nantz noted several times -- has elite speed. He's only about 5-foot-9, but as you saw Friday night, no one can seem to get a clean shot on him. I know he was going against the Patriots' backups, but Alridge still popped off the screen. I hope the guy gets a shot. Last year, the Redskins didn't have enough depth at running back. But with Mason, Dominique Dorsey, Betts and Alridge, they look a lot better this season.
Does Chad Rinehart frustrate you guys as much as he does me? I thought he had his moments, but the guard just sort of looks lost at times. On a play in the second half,
he let a Patriots defensive tackle race right past him. The player ended up being flagged for hitting Brennan too low. But that never happens if Rinehart does his job. It's like he never he even made an attempt at the guy. I'd hoped Rinehart would be a lot farther down the road at this point. Too many mental mistakes from what I'm seeing. Zorn will want to cut Rinehart after watching that play. Not saying he will, but the thought will cross his mind.
I'm not sure why Zorn doesn't run the ball inside the 10-yard line. In the second half, I kept wondering why Zorn wouldn't let Mason or Alridge have a chance to run the ball near the goal line. He seemed intent on letting Brennan find someone in the end zone. That would've been a good test for the offensive line to try to plow it in there.
Did the Skins not think the Patriots would blitz? In the second half, a linebacker for the Patriots (Guyton?) came clean from the right side. It's like the Redskins were shocked that Bill Belichick might send an extra rusher.
H.B. Blades is a bad man: How great was that stick he put on Fred Taylor? You don't want to get caught running high when Blades is anywhere around. He absolutely destroyed Taylor, causing him to spin in the air like a merry-go-round.
With 4:30 left in a meaningless games, I find myself shouting at Brennan: When your team's in field goal position, how in the world do you take a sack? This might have been the point when I actually knew Daniel would make the team ahead of Brennan. Just a bone-headed play right there. Once you've escaped the pocket and don't see anything, fling it out of bounds. That play set up Shaun Suisham's miss from 52 yards. Everyone can try to pile on my man Suisham, but that was all Brennan's fault.
What's the deal with the coverage? You're in a close game in the fourth quarter and you let Patrick Chung just shred the punt coverage unit? The punt certainly wasn't high enough (46 yards in length), but someone has to at least force Chung to make a move. He darts toward the sideline and coverage completely fell apart. Bad, bad play right there on special teams.
I'll be keeping my eye on the Cowboys and Giants this evening. Thanks for your continued interest.