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Offseason review: Skins counter youth movement, re-sign Fletcher

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Offseason review: Skins counter youth movement, re-sign Fletcher

While the offseason has few weeks to go, its safe to say that offseason personnel and coaching moves are pretty much over. There might be a minor trade or a waiver wire pickup here or there but the cake is mostly baked.So before training camp starts, lets take a look back at the five biggest moves of the offseason. Well count them down in order of how important they were. Earlier, we looked at the hiring of Raheem Morris and the roster decisions made at the start of free agency and the signings of wide receivers Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan. Today we examine the re-signing of London Fletcher.The Redskins are on a youth movement. In 2009 they were the oldest team in the league. By putting a greater emphasis on the draft and by signing free agents who are in their primes they have become younger. When the final cuts are made on Sept. 1 the team should have an average age of about 27, which is near the NFL average.However, they had no interest in going young at one particular position. London Fletcher became a free agent in March but the team had let it be known as early as last season that they wanted to re-sign the 37-year-old Pro Bowl inside linebacker. Fletcher indicated that he would like to return but there were hints that the money would need to be right.For their part, the Redskins were not going to lowball Fletcher but, as has been their practice since Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen arrived in Ashburn in 2010, they werent going to bid against themselves for their services.As the March 13 start of free agency approached, the concern among Redskins fans that the team might not bring back Fletcher started to grow. When the teams salary cap space was chopped by 18 million when the NFL imposed a cap penalty on the team, anxious turned to panic as many wondered if the Redskins would have enough money to get Fletcher back in the fold.Those fears escalated when the Redskins dropped a sizeable contract on wide receiver Pierre Garon and spent some more on receiver Josh Morgan. A Twitter campaign using the hashtag resign59 was launched to try to use popular sentiment to push the Redskins into making a deal with Fletcher.Meanwhile, there seemed to be little panic at Redskins Park or in Fletchers camp. Both sides waited patiently for the market at middle linebacker to be set. There were no reported visits by free agent inside linebackers to the Redskins, with the exception of one by ex-Giant Jonathan Goff not to long before Fletcher eventually agreed to terms. If Fletcher visited another team, it was kept very, very quiet.It took a while for the market to set itself. It wasnt until late March and early April that deals came in for inside linebackers David Hawthorne (Seahawks to Saints for 5 years, 19 million) Stephen Tulloch (staying with the Lions for 525.5) and Curtis Lofton (Falcons to Saints for 527.5).Those other three players are all younger than Fletcher but they dont have his credentials as a three-time Pro Bowl performer (plus several other seasons where he played at a high level but was snubbed) and unquestioned team leader. It seemed reasonable to pay him according to the market set by Hawthorne, Tulloch, and Lofton, which was around 5 million per year.And, ultimately, they did. On April 13, just a few days before the start of the teams offseason workouts, Fletcher announced on his Twitter feed that he was back with the Redskins. One of the least contentious contract disputes in memory came to a close. The deal is for 10.75 million over two years.The Redskins will have Fletcher through the 2013 season after which he presumably will retire. The Redskins drafted his heir apparent, Keenan Robinson, and so a smooth transition could be in the offing.

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How Robert Kelley took the lead in Redskins backup RB race

How Robert Kelley took the lead in Redskins backup RB race

FEDEX FIELD -- The Redskins got what they wanted in the running game against the Bills on Friday. But perhaps they didn’t get it from the expected source.

It was Robert Kelley, not fellow rookie Keith Marshall, who ran the ball consistently well in the absence of injured starter Matt Jones. Kelly had 12 carries for 51 yards. His longest run was nine yards indicating that he kept on grinding out years and not piling up a lot of them in one or two pops.

“I thought he ran hard,” said head coach Jay Gruden. Protected the football, had a couple of good blitz pickups that I saw. I have to make sure I look at the film and see how he did in protection overall. But for the most part I’m happy with the way he played.”

MORE REDSKINS: RECAPPING WASHINGTON'S WIN OVER BUFFALO

Unfortunately for Marshall, he did not get the time with the with the first offense that he was expected to get. He had one carry for three yards. On that attempt he suffered a sprained elbow and left the game. He did not return.

It’s possible that both Marshall and Kelley will make the 53-man roster as Jones’ backups. But if only one of them makes it, Kelley has to be the one. So far in the preseason he has 22 carries for 99 yards, an average of 4.5 per carry. Marshall has 16 carries for 28 yards, a 1.8-yard average.

Yes, they have been playing with different blockers in front of them and against defenses of varying qualities. But the difference in production is stark and if Jay Gruden meant what he said a few weeks ago when he stated that preseason games matter a lot when it comes to shaping the 53-man roster it’s hard to make any case for Marshall making it over Kelley.

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Several players injured in win over Bills

Several players injured in win over Bills

The Redskins had plenty of players leave their preseason game against the Bills early but it doesn’t appear that any of the injuries are too serious.

Two players will undergo MRI’s, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Ryan Kerrigan, who left with a groin strain, and RB Keith Marshall, who has an elbow strain, both will get MRI’s on Saturday.

According to Brian McNally of 106.7 The Fan, Kerrigan said that he came into the game with soreness in his groin, felt it tighten up in the early going, and decided to call it a night.

Also leaving the game early were OT Morgan Moses, who has a sprained ankle, and CB Quinton Dunbar, with a shin bruise. Gruden said both are day-to-day.

The injured players have plenty of time to heal up. Players at the lower end of the depth chart will play the fourth and final preseason game in Tampa Bay next Thursday. The front-line players will have until the Redskins open the regular season against the Steelers on September 12 to heal up.

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Redskins use fantastic second quarter to beat Bills, 21-16

Redskins use fantastic second quarter to beat Bills, 21-16

The Redskins’ starting offense, playing as a unit for the first rime this preseason, got off to a slow start but Kirk Cousins and company got rolling in the second quarter and posted 21 points. It was enough for the Redskins to outlast the Bills and leave FedEx Field with a 21-16 win in preseason game No. 3.

Buffalo had a chance to take the lead late but an apparent touchdown pass was negated by a pass interference call and Kendall Fuller interception a final, desperation pass.   

In the first quarter, Cousins completed three of nine passes for 17 yards with an interception. That added up to a passer rating of 2.8. To be fair, Cousins was victimized by a number of drops by his receivers.

But he got rolling in the second quarter, throwing touchdown passes to Jordan Reed, Ryan Grant, and Pierre Garçon. By the time the half was over he was 12 for 23 for 188 yards and had a passer rating of 101.3.

Rookie running back Robert Kelley may have locked up a roster spot with a strong performance. He had some tough yards, blocked well, and gained 51 yards on 12 carries in just over a half of work.

The starting defense was solid throughout although Bills starting QB Tyrod Taylor played just two series and completed five passes.

One goal in the preseason is to get out without injury concerns and the Redskins didn’t fare well in that department, although no injuries appear to be serious. The worst appears to be rookie running back Keith Marshall’s sprained elbow. He was supposed to compete with Kelley for carries but he went out after just one carry.

RELATED: RECAP OF KIRK COUSINS' NIGHT

Injury Updates:

Ryan Kerrigan left the game with a groin injury in the first quarter. He did not return.

RB Keith Marshall left the game in the first quarter to get X-rays on his left elbow. Was ruled out with elbow sprain.

OT Morgan Moses left the game in the second quarter with an a left ankle injury. He did not return.

CB Quinton Dunbar left in the second quarter to get his left shin X-rayed. He did not return.  

C Spencer Long left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return.

Scoring drives:

First quarter

FG Carpenter 28

Drive: 6 plays, 21 yards, 2:50

Drive summary: The Bills got a short field after Kirk Cousins looked left and then threw to the right. Corey White made the interception from his back after the ball was tipped. A Tyrod Taylor pass to tight end Jim Dray got a first down at the 25 but they couldn’t keep the drive going and Dan Carpenter came in a booted the field goal.

Bills 3, Redskins 0        

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Second quarter

FG Carpenter 52

Drive: 8 plays, 50 yards, 3:56

Drive summary: The Bills got a scoring drive going with E.J. Manuel at quarterback. He got things going on the first play with a 21-yard completion to Chris Gragg. An roughness penalty on DeAngelo Hall turned a third and long into a first and 10 in Redskins territory. Dan Herron ran around right end for 12 yards, getting the Bills into position for the Carpenter field goal.

Bills 6, Redskins 0        

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Grant 38 yard pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 4 plays, 70 yards, 2:39

Drive summary: The Redskins put together a quick drive to take the lead. First Cousins threw a short pass to DeSean Jackson, who zigged and zagged his way down the field for 39 yards to the Buffalo 34. A couple of plays later Cousins threw to Ryan Grant a benefitted from some more YAC as the receiver spun away from a would-be tackler and dashed to the end zone.

Redskins 7, Bills 6        

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Reed 20 yard pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 9 plays, 69 yards, 4:21

Drive summary: The Redskins got some help in the form of Buffalo penalties in the course of this scoring drive. A defensive holding call negated an interception and a third-down sack turned into a first down when the Bills were called for roughing the passer. The Redskins earned some yards when Cousins threw to Pierre Garçon, who dodged a tackler and scampered 15 yards for a first down. A few plays later Cousins threw to Reed, who had gotten past the defense and easily made it across the goal line.

Redskins 14, Bills 6      

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Garçon 9 yard pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 5 plays, 40 yards, 0:48

Drive summary: The Bills were trying to get a two-minute drill going but after a completion Will Blackmon stripped TE Nick O’Leary and Greg Toler made the recovery at the Buffalo 40. They got close on a 22-yard connection between Cousins and Vernon Davis. Then on third and goal at the nine Cousins threw a nice fade to Garçon, who got both feet in in the left corner of the end zone.

Redskins 21, Bills 6      

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FG Carpenter 52

Drive: 5 plays 41 yards, 0:29

Drive Summary: The Bills got that two-minute drive on their second try. Manuel scrambled for 18 yards and then Manuel threw to Boom Herron for 18 to the Washington 34. Then Carpenter booted the long field goal to let the Bills steal some points with two seconds left in the half.

Redskins 21, Bills 9

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Third quarter

Williams 37 yard run (Carpenter kick)

Drive: 3 plays, 46 yards, 1:19

Drive summary: This was a quick one for the Bills thanks to a 36-yard punt return by Walter Powell. Three plays later Jonathan Williams went up the middle on third and one, broke some tackles, and dashed in for the score.

Redskins 21, Bills 16   

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Fourth quarter

No scoring