Tyler Polumbus returned to Ashburn last week expecting to challenge for a backup job on the Redskins offensive line.Nine days into training camp, though, Polumbus has taken every snap with the first team because of the uncertainty surrounding Jammal Brown, and appears to be the frontrunner to start at right tackle when the team opens the preseason Thursday in Buffalo.Brown is sidelined indefinitely with a lingering hip ailment.I have no idea whats going on with Jammal, said Polumbus, who started four games for the Redskins last season. But as of right now, Im just going out here and doing the best I can and making sure theres no lost production.Coach Mike Shanahan added: Hes very sharp. Hes a good athlete and I thought, when he did play last year, he played well.Polumbus competition for the starting job, however, has gotten a bit stiffer.On Monday, the Redskins signed tackle Jordan Black, who had been out of the NFL for a year. Willie Smith, who replaced Trent Williams at left tackle when he was suspended last season, returned from a knee injury this week and could also in the mix.A week into camp, Polumbus hasnt been a dominant presence like Williams. Hes be an adequate pass and run blocker who has limited his mistakes which is precisely whats expected of him.Hes done a good job, Shanahan said of Polumbus performance.At the moment, Polumbus has a key advantage over Black: Hes familiar with Shanahans blocking schemes from last season. The 27-year-old also played for Shanahan as a rookie in Denver in 2008 and is comfortable with his players lining up on either side of him.But the fact that the Redskins signed Black this week suggests they want options.Polumbus has never started more than eight games in a season. But this year hes hoping for more. If Brown misses significant time during the regular season, Polumbus could get that opportunity.Any time you get a chance to get on the field, thats a good opportunity for you, he said. Thats why you play the game you want to be a starter.
After playing just seven snaps in the Redskins’ first two preseason games, Kirk Cousins played the entire first half against the Bills and, for the most part, everything went according to plan. But he did have some good luck and he had some bad luck during the 47 snaps that he played.
Some good fortune came before the opening kickoff. The Bills decided to rest five defensive starters as well as some key reserves. Playing Buffalo without the likes of cornerback Stephon Gilmore is an easier task than playing against the Bills at full strength.
The Redskins’ first possession ended with a combination of bad luck and a bad decision by Cousins. He dropped back, looked to his left and then decided to go back to Rashad Ross on the right sideline. Cousins threw late and backup cornerback Corey White made a nice interception on his back.
“If you look at the interception, it was the product of a defensive back making a good play on a tight throw, the ball bounces up in the air and it lands where it lands,” said Cousins. “I don’t know if that’s a product of anything, other than the fact that it’s the way it happened.”
Some drops also happened and those were bad luck for Cousins. When normally sure-handed pass catchers like Jordan Reed and Pierre Garçon drop passes that would have resulted in first downs it just may not be your day.
Jay Gruden mentioned the drops during his postgame press conference. He also talked about the penalties against the Redskins (13 accepted for 104 yards) making drives more difficult. But Cousins and the offense benefitted from some yellow flags at well. Two roughing the passer penalties kept drives alive and a defensive holding call negated what would have been a second Cousins interception.
The Washington offense finally got going thanks to some sloppy tackling (and good running). With the Redskins still scoreless in the second quarter, Cousins threw short passes to DeSean Jackson and Ryan Grant. They both made tacklers miss. Jackson took a pass in the flat and dodged some tackles for 39 yards into Bills territory. Two plays later Cousins threw to Ryan Grant on the left side. The defensive back missed the tackle and Grant ran in to complete the 38-yard touchdown play. On two throws that went a total of maybe 10 yards past the line of scrimmage Cousins got credited for 77 of his 188 passing yards.
The missed tackles were a theme for both teams last night. According to Pro Football Focus the two teams combined to miss a whopping 31 tackles. There were 137 snaps in the game so nearly one play in every four had a missed tackle.
DeAngelo Hall's position will be new in 2016, but judging by his performance against the Bills, his aggression will be the same as it's always been. But it was that aggression that drew the ire of some of those who were watching and rooting for Washington's opponent on Friday.
In the first half of the game, the 32-year-old took down Bills tight end Chris Gragg with a strong, low tackle, a play in which Gragg was injured on. Afterward, Bills head coach Rex Ryan revealed Gragg tore his ACL in that sequence and will therefore miss the 2016 season.
As a result of that, many took to Twitter to call Hall a "scumbag" and "dirty," among other things, which caused the defender to respond with this series of tweets:
It's so funny how I got people that have never played football telling me how to tackle. #JumpOffABridge I'm 5'11 200lbs I'm hitting LOW— OG aka CAPTAIN 23 (@DeAngeloHall23) August 27, 2016
No disrespect to the #Bills Player I wish him nothing but the best. But I play 1 speed and that's all out. That's why I been here 13years— OG aka CAPTAIN 23 (@DeAngeloHall23) August 27, 2016
I'm playing within the rules. If that hit was so dirty tell the league the fine me or throw a flag. And the one flag the whistle didn't blow— OG aka CAPTAIN 23 (@DeAngeloHall23) August 27, 2016
Listen up Bills fans get off my Twitter I could care less what y'all talking about. I'm a Redskin 😎. #HTTR4Life— OG aka CAPTAIN 23 (@DeAngeloHall23) August 27, 2016
Gragg, meanwhile, had this to say on social media:
Rather get hit high than low.....#imJustSayin— Chris Gragg (@Gragg80) August 27, 2016
Hall is listed at 5-foot-10, 202 pounds, while Gragg is 6-foot-3, 244 pounds, which would explain why the former decided the best course of action was targeting the latter's legs. While Gragg's injury is an unfortunate one, the hit Hall delivered didn't seem particularly out of the ordinary or egregious.
RELATED: GAME RECAP — REDSKINS 21, BILLS 16
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.”
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.