Welcome to the longest dress rehearsal– a month of preseason football. Unlike baseball’s spring training that gives fans an excuse to visit Florida or Arizona…football’s monthlong prep sessions largely involve two trips to your home stadium at odd times during the August heat (sadly in DC there’s no “Friday night 7pm kickoff” that implodes beltway traffic from noon to midnight this year). At full price. So enjoy the summer storylines…as your team tries to stay healthy and find pieces to make them better-or at least less awful-than last year.

Skinsational!– What an opening night for the Burgundy and Gold! Nothing like a come from behind victory over a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. Break out the NFC East Banners!

Understudy Shines– Kirk Cousins completes 6 of 7 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown…hitting five different receivers before finding Fred Davis for a 3-yard scoring strike on the team’s second possession. The second-year pro looks very comfortable in a system primarily designed for somebody else. And unlike legendary preseason hero Babe Laufenberg, this guy actually contributes in the real games.

Relieving the Reliever– the backup’s backups fared all right…Rex Grossman and Pat White combining to connect on 15 of 29 attempts for 150 yards and a touchdown (White ran for another score). One concern is the lack of stretching the field (10 yards per completion?)…but that White was able to generate a game-winning drive in his debut and Turnoverasaurus Rex was, if not extinct, at least dormant have to be glass half-full facts.

Which one is Slater and which one is Screech?– Mr. Morris had the night off (much like Zack skipping school after working a summer at the Malibu Sands)– and the Redskins ran the ball just as well… gaining 163 yards on 34 carries. Could you imagine an episode of Bell without Mark-Paul front and center? Even when it’s about Jessie or Lisa, he plays a key part(albeit minor). Evan Royster (14-62) and Roy Helu Jr. (13-57) give coach Mike Shanahan needed depth at a collision position. The question is now– does one take over the 3rd and long or 3rd and short role?

Hankering for an Increased Role– with Pierre Garcon sitting and Santana Moss seeing limited action, Leonard Hankerson caught 4 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown to pace the receiving corps. Josh Morgan tallied 3 grabs for 39 yards…while the duo of Donte’ Stallworth and Aldrick Robinson each caught two passes. Quite a bit to be sorted out over the next few weeks.

Third and Uneven– the Skins converted 8 of 15 third downs: 2 of 3 when the yardage needed was 1-3…5 of 6 at third and medium (4-6)… and 1-6 for third and long (7+). Breaking down the QB’s: 2-3 under Cousins, 2-7 under Grossman and 4-5 under White. And just one run on third down: a 15 yard carry by Royster on third and 3 with under a minute to play.

Dirty Laundry– penalties were a problem last year; and 11 flags last night was nothing to salute at. An illegal formation penalty wiped out what would have been a game-tying touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter…and then a flag on the next snap moved the Burgundy and Gold out of field goal range. Josh LeRibeus was ticketed twice for holding…two of five flags against the offense. The defense was whistled four times and special teams earned two penalties.

Defensive Dynamics– no takeaways but three sacks. Allowing 65% completion rate but only 8.4 yards per completion (and 5.5 per attempt). Getting off the field on 8 of 12 third downs. Not bad for a unit ranked 28th last year…and 30th against the pass. Just keep in mind they were facing the Titan three-headed quarterback monster of Ryan Fitzpatrick (flushed out of Detroit), Jake Locker (huge upside but underwhelming results) and Rusty Smith (huge forehead but underwhelming goatee).

Tracking the Triumvirate II– the next generation trio do their predecessors (Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly & Fred Davis) proud as the three defensive backs all start the first night of the preseason. A mixed bag of results: David Amerson tallies 3 tackles and one pass defended, Phillip Thomas notches one stop before leaving with a mid-foot sprain, and Bacarri Rambo’s main takeaway wasn’t his assist on a tackle but his miss on Chris Johnson as the Tennessee tailback rumbled 58 yards for a touchdown. I can imagine that clip will be shown in film study.

Cobra Kai– just a pair of extra point attempts to sweep the leg back in the swing of things…as Mr. Forbath prepares to show no mercy for a second season. Concentrate! Focus Power!

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