CHICAGORobert Griffin III turned in an uneven performance in the Redskins second preseason game, a 33-31 loss to the Bears on Saturday night.Griffin played the entire first half, completing five of eight pass attempts for 49 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. He also was sacked three times, losing a total of 19 yards, and fumbled for the second consecutive game.There were two injures to defensive starters, however that overshadowed Griffins struggles.Linebacker Brian Orakpo suffered an apparent left shoulder injury, while strong safety Brandon Meriweather sustained a left knee injury.Neither player returned to the game and the seriousness of the injuries will be determined after further examination.If either is sidelined long term, the Redskins depth will be seriously tested. Rob Jackson is listed as Orakpos backup at right outside linebacker. Meriweather was replaced by Tanard Jackson.Coach Mike Shanahan is expected to update the status of both players during his postgame news conference.A few other observations from Soldier Field:--If Brandon Banks was on the bubble entering the game, he should be off it now. The diminutive special teams ace returned an Adam Podlesh punt 91 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter to cut the Redskins deficit to 17-10.Banks fielded the punt near the left hashes, burst through a seam, then raced down the right sideline. It marked the third straight preseason in which he returned a punt for a score.--Alfred Morris was tapped a starter and given he biggest opportunity of his young career. It was so-so. He rushed for 38 yards on his first five carries, including a 21-yard scamper on his first carry. But the rookie, who is competing for a spot on the 53-man roster, had only 34 yards on 10 carries when he left the game at the end of the second half.--Kirk Cousins, playing primarily against Chicagos reserves, put up impressive statistics and made a strong opening argument to be tapped as Griffins backup (instead of Rex Grossman). Cousins tossed three touchdown passes and finished 18-23 for 264 yards and three touchdown passes. with a passer rating of 153.Well have more news, notes and reaction from the locker room in a bit.
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 23, 35 days before the April 27 NFL draft.
—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 25
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 50
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 62
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 114
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 171
The Redskins’ five most valuable backups
QB Colt McCoy—The one time that McCoy came into a game for Kirk Cousins was in 2014, when he took over for the struggling starter at halftime and led the Redskins to a comeback win over the Titans. The way things stand now the only way that McCoy plays this year is if Cousins gets injured. And the fact that Cousins has never missed an NFL snap due to injury doesn’t guarantee that he won’t.
OT Ty Nsekhe—In his seven seasons in the NFL Trent Williams has played in 16 games just twice. That makes the backup player who must protect the quarterback’s blindside very important. It would take just one hit for that Cousins streak to come to an abrupt end. The Redskins had shaky solutions for a backup tackle until they found Nsekhe in 2015.
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DB Will Blackmon—Versatility is the key with Blackmon. With only 46 active players on game day it helps to have someone who can play either side as a corner, cover the slot, and play free safety. He might be a jack of all trades and master of none but the ability to fill in when the need calls for it is important.
DL Ziggy Hood—I’m assuming here that Hood is indeed a backup. That’s what everyone thought he would be last year but due to injuries and free agent flameouts he ended up 14 games and playing 60 percent of the defensive snaps. Hood could be much more effective as a reserve. And consider the injury histories of projected starters Stacy McGee (7 games missed last year) and Terrell McClain (missed most of 2015) and the teams likely reliance on some rookies (durability unknown), a good rotational lineman who can step up and start could be critical.
TE Vernon Davis—The Redskins moved quickly to ensure that Davis will return in 2017, signing him to a three-year deal early in free agency. Jordan Reed proved that he is as tough as they come by playing through his shoulder injury in Dallas but it still cost him a couple of games. Reed has missed between two and seven games in each of his four NFL seasons so a good backup for him is critical.
Tandler on Twitter
@MrDavidB21 There are always surprise picks. Much more likely to trade down than trade up.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) March 22, 2017
In case you missed it
The Redskins will host Tim Hightower for a visit on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reported. Bringing Hightower in at this point represents an impressive story far beyond a mundane free agent visit.
If his career ended today, Tim Hightower's story would already be remarkable. Hightower - a DMV native that played his college ball at the University of Richmond - played for the Redskins in the 2011 season. That season, he tore his ACL, and was limited to five games.
While torn ACL's happen frequently in the NFL, what happened next for Hightower was anything but ordinary. He missed the next three seasons with an undiagnosed infection, before incredibly returning to the NFL in 2015 with the Saints.
His last two years in New Orleans, Hightower has been a solid contributor behind starting RB Mark Ingram. He's rushed for more than 900 yards, gained another 330 yards through the air and hit the end zone nine times in 24 games for the Saints.
In Washington, Hightower would join a backfield of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and Matt Jones. It will be interesting to see if Washington adds any other backs through the draft in April as well.
Born in Waldorf, Hightower went to high school in Alexandria before playing college ball at Richmond. Playing with the 'Skins in 2011, Hightower quickly became a fan favorite, especially with his local ties.
The Redskins run game has not been particularly strong for a few seasons, and questions remain if the current stable of runners will be enough to improve. Hightower doesn't necesarily equal a significant talent boost, but perhaps coaches and front office staff are looking at the group.
Be aware, however, this could be nothing more than a visit. Triplett reported it remains possible Hightower returns to the Saints. He also visited the 49ers last week, and new San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was running the 'Skins offense in 2011 when the team originally acquired Hightower.
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