The Washington Redskins handled the New England Patriots marvelously in their Preseason debut. The Offense moved the ball effectively, and the Defense didn't allow a Patriots score until the end of the fourth quarter. The reason for the team's success wasn't due to individual talent, but because of good coaching and strategy by Head Coach Jay Gruden. With that said, not every player performed well. In the same token, there were some players that exceeded expectations.
Preseason may not mean that much to the fans, but to these players who are on the roster bubble, it is the difference between playing in the NFL, or being unemployed. This is why it is important for them to put on a good show for the coaches. Today we will be picking out the players who have raised or lowered their stock after their match up with New England.
Aldrick Robinson, 4th year Wide Receiver: Robinson has always been deemed a one trick pony by critics. Everyone knows how he can take the top off a defense with his devastating speed, but his talents are always downplayed with knocks on his consistency. Here's the thing about Robinson; he has his fair share of miscues, but the more playing time he receives, the better he develops. In his Preseason debut, he showed good hands by winning jump balls and catching passes in traffic. He also drew a foul on Patriots starting Cornerback Brandon Browner. Fellow receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson did not start that day, but Robinson made the most of his opportunities and had an impressive outing. However, it could've been more spectacular. There was one play in particular that Robinson won a jump ball against a Patriots defender in the end zone, but came down with his hand out of bounds, so the score didn't count. Regardless of this, Robinson thoroughly impressed fans and the coaching staff. In return for his stellar play, he was chosen as the player of the game. It will be exciting to see how Robinson utilizes the rest of his Preseason time. If he keeps playing like this, he will make the the final 53 man roster for sure.
Stat Line: 3 receptions, 45 yards, 1 touchdown
Zach Hocker, 1st year Kicker: What? A Kicker? Yes, Hocker makes the risers list for a number of reasons. First, he banged through every single one of his field goal attempts. Secondly, he sent all of his kickoffs hurdling towards the very back of the end zone, preventing most kickoff returns (incumbent Kicker Kai Forbath failed to do either of these things). Thirdly, Hocker made a tackle on what would have been a kickoff return for a touchdown. This was the icing on the cake. Hocker already did everything that was asked of him by making all his field goals and performing well on kickoffs, but he also showed that he is willing to make tackles on Special Teams. As of right now, it looks as though Hocker could be pulling ahead in the Kicker competition in Washington.
Stat Line: 2/2 on Field Goals, 1 made from 20-29 yards, 1 made from 30-39 yards
Lache Seastrunk, 1st year Running Back: Seastrunk looked like a man playing amongst boys when he finally got some playing time. His first rush went for 19 yards down the sideline. He continued to shred the opposing Defense and proved that he deserves a spot on the team. He is currently the last Running Back on the depth chart, but that is sure to change soon enough. The Redskins may have gotten a steal by picking Seastrunk in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft. He has natural talent, now all he needs to do is learn running routes, work on pass catching, and sharpen his pass blocking skills. If he can do that, he will be a dangerous commodity in the backfield.
Stat Line: 12 attempts, 63 yards (5.3 yards per attempt)
Bashaud Breeland, 1st year Cornerback: He was just cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, so it is yet to be seen if there will be any punishment for Breeland. Aside from that, he is among the risers on the Redskins roster. He displayed nice aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage and recorded the most tackles in the Preseason opener. Breeland also has nice speed to keep up with quick receivers. He allowed no big plays and looked comfortable out on the field. Breeland has a high ceiling and he could become a legitimate third Cornerback for the Redskins before too long if he keeps up his solid play.
Stat Line: 2 solo tackles, 5 assists
Stephen Bowen, 9th year Defensive End: Even though Bowen is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list (knee injury) and missed out on the first Preseason game, he has lost some value to this football team. The Redskins defensive line operated perfectly fine without Bowen starting, so is he worth keeping on the team for another year? He is 30 years old and injury prone. There are younger players with less risk waiting in line to make the final roster. Originally, Bowen's 2014 cap number was set at 7,020,000, but there have been recent reports stating that he has reworked his deal with the Redskins and the details of the deal are still in the dark. The aging veteran must prove that he can still be a presence on Defense. If he can't show any form of disruption on the line, the Redskins have plenty of other options they can turn to if needed.
Stat Line: N/A
Kai Forbath, 4th year Kicker: After the failed Billy Cundiff project at the start of the 2012 season, Kai Forbath was a breath of fresh air. He broke an NFL record for most consecutive Field Goals made to start an NFL career. Forbath has good accuracy on Field Goals, but his fatal flaw is on kickoffs. He just doesn't have the leg to send the ball flying out of the end zone. Forbath missed a 46 yard Field Goal and couldn't kick the ball far enough into the end zone to prevent a return. On the other hand, Forbath's competition, Zach Hocker, has shown that he can do everything Forbath can do and more. This certainly doesn't help Forbath's case and if he wishes to secure a spot on this team for the future, he will have to play flawlessly over the next few weeks of Preseason action.
Stat Line: 1/2 on Field Goals, 1 made from 30-39 yards
Chris Thomspson, 2nd year Running Back: Injuries are unfortunate in the NFL; Chris Thompson is all too familiar with this. He just can't seem to shake the injury problems that have plagued his career time and time again. It seems as though he is now nursing a low-ankle sprain. The Running Back position is stacked on this team, and if Thompson can't stay healthy, he doesn't have a chance of making the roster. He can't prove his worth if he can't stay on the field. We are all rooting for him to pull through, but the future looks bleak if Thompson can't shake this one off.
Stat Line: 4 attempts, 5 yards (1.3 yards per attempt), 2 receptions, 12 yards (6 yards per reception)
Santana Moss, 14th year Wide Receiver: Number 89 isn't the same player he was years ago. Nobody is expecting him to put up any more 1,000 yard seasons, although it would be nice. After the Redskins dreadful 2013 season, he decided to come back for another year on a one year contract. Now, there are questions concerning his ability to make the roster at all. Moss was suited up for the Preseason opener, but he didn't record a reception for the entire game. Is the 35 year old struggling to make an impact? There are younger receivers ready to step up and take their spot on the roster. Moss's spot on the team is not carved in stone, so he must prove to the coaching staff that he can still get open and make plays, but he is facing an uphill battle in the fight for 53.
Stat Line: N/A
As fans of our respective football teams, we want to see all of our players succeed, but this is never the case. There will always be risers and fallers. The National Football League is a business and there isn't enough room for everyone on a 53 man roster. A majority of the players donning the burgundy and gold performed well against the Patriots; this outstanding group performance will lead to some difficult roster decisions in the coming weeks. Anything could happen within that time period, though. The risers could become fallers and vice versa. Only time will tell.
We will continue to break down the risers and fallers after each Preseason game, so we can get a handle on who has been most impressive, and those who have fallen short of expectations. In the meantime, we will see how the Redskins match up against the Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel, and former Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan in their 2nd week of Preseason action.