Behind the news that star quarterback Robert Griffin III had been cleared to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football 11 days from now, was the Redskins’ team-oriented domination of not only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday but over the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in preseason.
Putting aside the Chris Johnson 58-yard touchdown for a minute, the Redskins have been clicking all cylinders in every facet. Coming from a two-time Super Bowl champion in Mike Shanahan and a general manager who was born to be a football great in Bruce Allen, the duo’s decision to move training camp away from home, citing its influence on team camaraderie, need not go unwarranted. After an 11 day hiatus from game day, the Washington Redskins outscored their final three opponents 84-32. Twist those stats any way you may and it’ll still equate to a team that’s determined to add to the trophy case.
Still, there were a few performances that stood out tonight and have been selected as candidates for MVR(edskin).
QB Pat White
When White signed with the Washington Redskins earlier this year, he was almost automatically labeled as a training camp body who was only in town to simulate what Robert Griffin III while he’s still recovering from injury. Week after week though, White showed himself to be a true gamer and by Tuesday Shanahan had selected him as the starter for the Buccaneers game. Besides an interception from linebacker Najee Goode, White once again showed that if given the reigns, he can make the most of his opportunities. He also reminded everyone that he is only one of a handful of quarterbacks that can keep defenses on their toes as he scored his third redzone touchdown of preseason—all of which came from his record-breaking feet.
Final Stat Line: 13/21, 181 yards, one interception, 66.7 quarterback rating, seven carries, 20 yards and one touchdown
It isn’t so much what he did for the offense last night (four carries for 18 yards) but what he did to possibly win himself the honor of primary punt returner heading into the regular season. Last week against the Bills Thompson returned a punt 31 yards, leading the offense directly into scoring position in the process. Tonight however, he told the offense to keep sitting on those white sideline benches as he returned a punt 69 yards to pay dirt to end the first quarter.
Last week Thompson admitted that he hadn’t returned a punt since high school. Now he might very well be fielding punts at the NFL level. What a difference a week makes.
Final Stat Line: Four carries, 18 yards, two punt returns for 73 yards and a touchdown, one kickoff return for 21 yards
Coming into training camp, Merling’s biggest career achievement had been his interception return for a touchdown against a Brett Favre led New York Jets—and that was his rookie season in 2008. So yeah, it’s okay to admit that you knew little about him before training camp. But during the preseason, Merling made himself stand out week after week, generate a solid pass rush and swatting down passes with authority. Not only did he redeem himself from an early 15-yard penalty by knocking down a Mike Glennon pass, he nearly sacked him a few drives later. With Jarvis Jenkins’ suspension about to begin and Adam Carriker still nursing his injuries, Merling may find himself on the field a whole lot more soon.
What else is there to say about a guy when his interception to game ratio was one-to-one his junior season of college ball. While the Redskins did finish third in the league in picks last season, only seven came from the cornerbacks. So when the cash strapped franchise had an opportunity to draft a guy with 17 interceptions over his last two seasons of college ball, his phone was ringing off the hook.
While Amerson’s play improved week after week, interceptions kept eluding him like Pat White versus defenders in the red zone. However against a quarterback that I’m sure he’s picked off many a times before (NC State teammate Mike Glennon), Amerson jumped a route and returned it 35 yards. If Amerson can duplicate his success in the regular season, teams are going to severely struggle with moving the ball.
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