Second year WR Terrence Austin has likely won a spot on the team with a good training camp and strong performances in preseason games. Photo by Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
My preseason refrain remains the same -- it's only preseason. There are no definitive answers, just indicators. Let's take a look at the good and bad from last night's 34-31 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Redskins offense consistently moved the ball and scored against a Ravens defense that has been among the league's best units for years. They ran the ball effectively, they made plays in the passing game. Tim Hightower found gaps created by excellent play from the line, then gashed the Baltimore defense for short and long gains. This is two games in a row featuring a long run from Hightower.
Terrence Austin was outstanding as a pass catcher and likely secured his spot on the roster. That makes 5 solid WRs, meaning that Donte Stallworth and Niles Paul are probably fighting for the remaining slot. Unless, of course, Brandon Banks recovers.
Trent Williams bounced back from a bad outing against the Colts with a solid performance against the Ravens. Best thing I can say about his play last night: I didn't notice him. That's good for a tackle, who typically draws attention by giving up a sack.
Both Rex Grossman and John Beck were efficient and effective at quarterback. Both made good decisions and throws. Both moved the chains, engineered lengthy drives, and led the team to scores. Many feared the Skins would be hamstrung by QB play this season. The preseason performances from these two suggests the team may be okay there.
Jarvis Jenkins tore his ACL. Jenkins was having a great rookie training camp and impressing coaches and teammates with his strength. On the verge of winning the starting job from Adam Carriker, Jenkins tried to plant his foot while battling a Baltimore lineman, and blew out his knee instead. He'll undergo surgery and have to miss the season. That's a big blow to the Skins' defensive line depth.
Both Grossman and Beck were good. The ONLY reason I list this under "bad" is because the game provided no clear answer to who the opening day QB should be. The coaches were hoping one of these guys would begin to distinguish himself, but it hasn't happened yet. If I had to decide right now, I'd pick Beck because I think there's upside that I don't see with Grossman (based on Grossman's past performance). Plus, Beck can run, which is a dimension Grossman doesn't have.
The defense was inconsistent. They'd stuff the Ravens on one play, then give up a first down on the next. They'd rattle Joe Flacco with creative blitzes, then blow a coverage. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall made a nice interception and ran it back for a score, then gave up a long touchdown. If the Skins have playoff aspirations, they need the defense to reliably stop the opponent and force turnovers.