Published August 29, 2012
LANDOVER, Md. – On his first full day on the job as the kicker for the Washington Redskins, Billy Cundiff made three of four field goal attempts — and was booed for the one he missed — making him the only first-stringer to do something noteworthy in Wednesday night's 30-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cundiff, signed Tuesday after the Redskins cut Graham Gano, converted from 39, 27 and 22 yards and got some grief from the crowd when he sliced one wide right from 46. The 2010 All-Pro, who joined Washington just two days after being released by the Baltimore Ravens, launched five of his six kickoffs for touchbacks.
With head coaches Mike Shanahan and Greg Schiano resting nearly all of their offensive and defensive starters, the teams gathered before a modest crowd and proved that the backups from one consensus last-place team can beat the backups from another consensus last-place team, for whatever that's worth.
The second-, third- and fourth-teamers were vying for roster spots ahead of Friday's mandatory cuts, while the starters are already looking ahead to the regular season openers on Sept. 9.
Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster, who both might have a shot as the Redskins' starting running back job because of injuries, returned from ailments of their own to account for all three of Washington's touchdowns. Helu ran for 90 yards and two scores after missing two games with sore Achilles, while Royster ran for 44 yards and a TD after missing last week's game with a sore right knee.
No. 2 overall draft pick Robert Griffin III was declared the Redskins starting quarterback before training camp, so the Heisman Trophy-winner ran with the other first-teamers on the field before the game. He then watched fourth-round selection Kirk Cousins play into the third quarter and complete 15 of 27 passes for 222 yards and an interception. Jonathan Crompton, signed earlier in the day after being cut Monday, finished the game.
Brett Ratliff, third on the depth chart behind Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky, played the entire game for the Buccaneers and was sacked five times. He completed 14 of 30 passes for 164 yards and three interceptions.
The Redskins decided to go with Cundiff before he had even practiced with the team, judging him off his body of work with the Ravens and figuring it to be an upgrade over Gano, who missed an NFL-high 10 field goal attempts last year — five of them blocked. However, Cundiff struggled with long-distance kicks last year, going 1 for 6 from 50-plus.
Meanwhile, first-year coach Schiano took the backup theme to the extreme by using his reserve long snapper, a decision that became apparent when Zack Pianalto sent a bouncer to the punter at the end of Tampa Bay's first offensive series. Pianalto had two other low snaps, showing he's no threat to unseat regular snapper Andrew Economos.
The game had other moments that showed why these players won't likely be featured when the games count for real. Cousins and Ratliff threw interceptions on consecutive plays. Washington receiver Brandon Banks lined up as running back on a fourth-down play and dropped the handoff. Tampa Bay had just 6 yards rushing through three quarters.
Replacement referee Jim Core contributed to the theme by checking a replay, announcing the call was upheld, then telling the crowd: "We'll look at it one more time."
Redskins running back Tristan Davis and cornerback Richard Crawford both left the game with right knee injuries.
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL