5 things we learned as Redskins rested 8 starters in edging Titans 22-21 in preseason opener
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Shanahan knows how to give everyone what they want to see in the preseason.
First, Washington's coach let Robert Griffin III warm up during the pregame, dress up and go out for the coin toss. Then Shanahan avoided overtime in the preseason opener by going for a 2-point conversion and the win Thursday night as Washington edged the Tennessee Titans 22-21.
Pat White capped an 80-yard drive by running untouched 9 yards for a touchdown with 2:23 left, and Shanahan kept his offense on the field rather than simply tying it up with an extra point. White rolled back to elude pressure and found Emmanuel Ogbuehi in the end zone for the win.
Surviving the preseason as healthy as possible may be the biggest goal in the NFL, and Shanahan rested eight starters with nine Redskins not playing.
Here are five things we learned from the Redskins snapping Tennessee's 11-game preseason winning streak at home:
1. EFFICIENT COUSINS: Griffin got plenty of headlines and attention for leading the Redskins to the NFC East title last season along with winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But Kirk Cousins, a rookie himself last season, is taking advantage of Washington easing Griffin back in this preseason by working to improve himself as a quarterback. He was an efficient 6 of 7 for 52 yards and a touchdown, and showed he can spread the ball around. His first five passes went to five different receivers.
2. CJ2K'S STILL GOT IT: Chris Johnson has scored 14 touchdowns in his career of 50 yards or longer. With Tennessee's revamped offensive line pushing the Redskins right, Johnson went left and found himself with only rookie safety Bacarri Rambo to beat. Johnson made a little move, Rambo bit and the running back went back to his right and up the field for a 58-yard TD.
"Guys need to get a dose of that," Redskins receiver Santana Moss said when asked what he said to Rambo. "This league is filled with guys with that kind of ability. ... Next time, he'll be ready for it."
3. REVAMPED LINE: Tennessee signed a new left guard in Andy Levitre, signed several veterans for depth and drafted Chance Warmack at No. 10 overall. The Titans ran for 92 yards in the first quarter against a Washington unit that ranked fifth against the run last season, though four starters did not play Thursday night. The Titans ran 13 times with Jake Locker throwing only 11 passes in the first half.
4. TOO MANY PENALTIES: Maybe having nine Redskins not play was too much, but they wound up being flagged 11 times for 89 yards. And it wasn't only the bottom-of-the-roster guys. Washington had seven penalties for 59 yards by halftime, and they included tight end Fred Davis being flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. He went to the ground for what might have been a dance celebrating his 3-yard TD catch.
"I think we just have to look at the little things, the details," Davis said.
5. ORAKPO'S HEALTHY: Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo missed most of last season after tearing his left pectoral muscle. He started, and the two-time Pro Bowler looked healthy against Tennessee, especially as he beat left tackle Michael Roos in sacking Jake Locker. Orakpo said he had butterflies going into the game.
"It felt phenomenal man to work this hard in the offseason to get to this point," Orakpo said. "It just felt great to be out there."
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