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Redskins running backs didn't do much running vs. the Ravens

Redskins running backs didn't do much running vs. the Ravens

The 2017 Redskins are hoping to run the ball as well as the 2016 Redskins ran it (4.5 yards per carry, 8th in the NFL) but are also looking to use the ground more than they did a year ago (27th overall in attempts).

In their first shot at making that change on Thursday night in Baltimore, however, the team underwhelmed. 

Jay Gruden split 18 carries amongst his five running backs in the Redskins’ preseason opener, yet the group totaled just 39 yards. That 2.2 YPC average is less than half of what the offense generated last season.

Rob Kelley was dropped for a large loss on an early third-and-1. Samaje Perine had an 11-yard carry — and on his other five touches, posted just four yards. Matt Jones and Mack Brown, both of whom are battling for a roster spot, were quiet, too.

MORE: THE 38 BEST PHOTOS FROM THE REDSKINS' FIRST PRESEASON GAME

"We didn't get a lot of movement," Jay Gruden said afterward. "We had a couple hits there in the second half. But overall, there wasn't a lot of movement... Very good defense for the first six plays. We have to do better."

Gruden’s right: The Ravens had the fifth-best run defense in 2016 and were even more stout at home, where they allowed just 68.9 YPC. Running against them wasn’t going to be an easy task.

On top of that, the Burgundy and Gold’s offensive line wasn’t even close to at its best in the exhibition. Both the starters and the backups had trouble openings holes for their RBs and protecting their QBs all evening long.

With that being said, there’ll be weeks this year where the Redskins will be facing top run defenses or the O-line isn’t clicking, and it’ll be on the backs to find space anyway. Football is largely about the 11 guys on each side of the ball, but sometimes, one player has to emerge and succeed on his own.

None of Gruden’s options showed that ability at M&T Bank Stadium, though. And while the fortunate part about preseason games is that they don’t matter, for an offense that can be deadly if given a consistent rushing attack, an uninspired debut performance feels like something that should matter at least a little.

RELATED: FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM THURSDAY'S GAME IN BALTIMORE

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Top 5: Redskins players and positions to watch vs. Packers

Top 5: Redskins players and positions to watch vs. Packers

The Redskins stumbled out of the gate in their preseason opener after falling to the Baltimore Ravens 23-3. Washington showed very little offense as they struggled to move the ball for most of the game, while the defense suffered some key injuries.

Kirk Cousins and company look to rebound in their second preseason game as they host the Green Bay Packers this Saturday at 7:30 PM. 

CSN's Julie Donaldson and former NFL GM Charley Casserly give their top five players and positions to keep an eye on in the Redskins second preseason game.

RELATED: FOSTER, BROWN TO START VS. PACKERS, GRUDEN SAYS.

Charley Casserly Top 5:

5. Matt Ioannidis: "I like Ioannidis. I thought he played the best of the rest of the defensive lineman. He's a high motor guy, he gives you effort, he's quick."

4. Deshazor Everett: "I thought he played well the other night. I thought he covered well, I thought he was aggressive against the run, he made good tackles."

3. Outside Linebackers: "Hey Preston Smith, this is your opportunity. This is a big year for him because hey, we drafted a guy. Anytime we draft a guy, the pressure is on."

2. Kirk Cousins: "He's got an advantage here. Green Bay is down, two of their top three corners aren't playing. This passing game should be in sync this week."

1. Offensive Line: "This offensive line did not play last week...you got to come out, dominate the line of scrimmage, control the line of scrimmage, and set the tone for the game."

Julie Donaldson's Top 5:

5. Nico Marley: "He has a lot of heart. He's making a name for himself... this guy has more to show for us than just being Bob's grandson, but I want to see can he do it again..."

4. Deshazor Everett: Cc'd: Casserly's comments

3. Samaje Perine: "There were so many expectations for him, he looked a little bit lost. I'm kinda hoping those are just nerves..."

2. Offensive Line: "If Kirk Cousins is going to have any success, or anybody that goes behind him, if that run game is going to have any success then we need to get that o-line in sync."

1. Colt McCoy: "We are one injury away from Coly McCoy taking over this team."

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Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

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AP

Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

Josh Doctson looked like a first-round pick in Richmond, at least, until a hamstring injury knocked him off the Richmond practice fields for a few days. On Thursday, back in Ashburn, Doctson again showed his considerable talents.

Taking the field for 11v11 drills for the first time since he injured his hamstring. Doctson made three catches from QB Kirk Cousins. He showed the same fluidity and smoothness in his routes that he flahes in Richmond. 

Leaving the field, Doctson said he felt good. After practice, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Doctson "looked good." Gruden added the plan is to see how Doctson looks in warmups before the Packers game Saturday (6:30, CSN) night and then the team will decide if the second year wideout will play or not. 

Other notes and observations:

  • In season, the media gets to watch very little of NFL practices, especially in the time leading up to a game. Since Thursday's practice was still technically a training camp session, reporters got to stay and watch as the Redskins prepared for the Packers by running their scout team offense and defense. Cousins and the starting Redskins offense went up against the faux-Packers squad, complete with Dashaun Phillips dressed in a yellow penny playing the role of Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. It was very interesting to watch, and shows that the Redskins will be better prepared for Green Bay this week than they were for Baltimore last week. 
  • Thursday's practice also went much shorter than many of the recent sessions, another sign that the Redskins were treating the Packers game like a normal week. The team skipped the bulk of individual drills, 7v7 and cut down on special teams work. 
  • Deshazor Everett missed the practice session with a personal issue, per Gruden. The coach added that Everett is "okay."
  • Working in drills near the goal line - against the scout team - Cousins looked dialed in. He fired touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Terrelle Pryor.
  • Kendall Fuller has locked up the nickel cornerback role. It also looks like the four down linemen in nickel will start with Jon Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. There will be plenty of changes and rotations among that group though.
  • Gruden announced after practice that Zach Brown and Mason Foster will start at the linebacker spots vs Green Bay. The team showed that duo in drills, which meant Will Compton got pushed to the second team. When that group was on the field, rookie Montae Nicholson tipped a pass at the goal line. Compton came up with it for the INT. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

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