Redskins notes: Hankerson receives praise

ASHBURN, Va. -- Highlights from Mike Shanahan’s day-after-game news conference Tuesday:

• Shanahan would not publicly analyze quarterback Robert Griffin III’s game, making him unlike approximately nine million people Tuesday. Griffin completed 30-of-49 passes for 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He looked for a long time like a player who hadn’t played a snap in the preseason and was coming off knee surgery. Which, incidentally, is exactly the situation he was in.

“I don’t critique players through the media,” Shanahan said. “I critique a unit and offensively we didn’t do the things we normally do as a group. It’s not one person, it’s everybody. It takes a unit to do things that we had done a year ago and things that we did in the second half. We played one of our poorer first halves with turnovers and mistakes and we’ll get better.”

• Shanahan liked what he saw from receiver Leonard Hankerson, who finished with five catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn’t about as much or how many catches he had; it was also about his effective route running on other plays.

“He needs some playing time. He’s got to have some consistency, like he did [Monday] night to make those plays. He did a great job in the red zone. He ran an excellent route. What a lot of people don’t see is the route’s he is running and when he doesn’t get the ball and he’s open. That’s what you are impressed with.”

• The Redskins started corner E.J. Biggers at strong safety in place of injured Brandon Meriweather for a simple reason: speed. Biggers is faster than backup strong safety Reed Doughty and against a team that forces you to defend speed, that was a desired quality. But it didn’t provide a lot of help.

• Biggers started because Meriweather can’t stay healthy. Last year in the preseason, he dealt with a knee injury and ended up only playing half a game. This year, he’s coming off knee surgery and was limited during the summer. He appeared in the preseason finale and then hurt his groin several days later in practice.

“You’re always disappointed when you’ve got a football player you think is going to be ready and then all of a sudden he’s not,” Shanahan said. “I was really pleased with Brandon going into the last preseason game. I’m hoping he’ll be ready to go this week.”

• Rookie punt returner Chris Thompson had a tough night, fair catching one punt at the 5-yard line. The Eagles did a good job covering kickoffs as none of Thompson’s three returns went beyond the Redskins’ 21.

What Thompson showed is the need for a lot more work in those roles.

“We don’t work very often on catching the ball at the 3-yard line," Shanahan said. "I was pleased, though. He had the guts to go back there and at least catch it with a lot of people around him. Even though that’s a negative, it’s a positive that his concentration level is there and we’re going to have to put him through more reps."

The decisions to return kicks from the end zone often are pre-determined. It also depends on how far deep he catches the ball, too.

• The Redskins ran the ball 18 times for 74 yards, not the numbers they would have liked. That’s why, when asked what he thought about the run game, Shanahan deadpanned, “What running game?”

• Shanahan said there was only one play the Eagles ran that the Redskins had not practiced against.

"We had a couple misalignments with their unbalanced set so I always put the responsibility for that on coaches, not on players," Shanahan said.

Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said they adjusted where they aligned the tackles in the second half, which led to greater success stopping the Eagles' offense.

"That's what was getting us in trouble in the first half," Kerrigan said, "starting off in a poor alignment, leading to them getting into bigger holes quicker."