Rookies look like stars at FedEx Field
Robert Griffin III showed what speed could do. Andrew Luck showed what pocket presence could do. And both gave reasons why their respective teams should be optimistic.
It was only the third preseason game, but in the Redskins' 30-17 win over Indianapolis on Saturday, the top two quarterbacks in the NFL Draft displayed their talent. Griffin completed 11 of 17 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Luck completed 14 of 23 passes for 151 yards and a gorgeous 31-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton.
But Griffin also provided moments that made the Redskins and their fans smile. Facing a lesser defense than he did a week ago in Chicago, Griffin had time in the pocket. He also looked more comfortable, flashing hints of what's to come.
The Redskins have shown little of what they're going to run with him, but there were glimpses. He was calm in the pocket and moved outside while keeping his eyes downfield and throwing a perfect pass to Josh Morgan for 11 yards. On an 18-yard run by Tim Hightower, Griffin almost looked like he could have run the zone reads he used to at Baylor.
And on his 4-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, Griffin quickly sprinted to his right after a bad snap. Griffin gets to the edge so fast the receiver only needs to get instant separation for this play to work.
Griffin did run once on a third-and-5 in the first quarter. A Colts defensive end rushed too far upfield, allowing Griffin to slip out to the right. He sprinted for the first down. Defensive coaches likely won't want their ends rushing that far upfield against him, knowing the danger he presents out of the pocket.
The one thing Griffin didn't do is hit the three deep passes he threw -- two to Pierre Garcon and one to Leonard Hankerson -- overthrowing all of them.
Griffin wasn't the only Redskins player to stand out. Running back Alfred Morris has played well this summer and finished with 107 yards on 14 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. Morris again showed excellent body control and lean, with the ability to make the first defender miss or at least to get positive yards after first contact.
Veteran outside linebacker Chris Wilson, who did not play last season, is fighting for a backup spot again. Wilson has looked sharp all summer, albeit against backups. But he has looked a bit faster and a bit stronger than in previous years. And he showed Saturday what he could do vs. starters when Rob Jackson exited with an injury. Jackson already was subbing for Brian Orakpo.
Wilson, who typically plays on the left side, played strong on the right, once rushing through two defenders for a pressure. He also recorded a safety from the other side when he beat the right tackle with his speed and turned the corner with a big swat of his left hand before sacking backup quarterback Chandler Harnish.
Wilson remains a valuable special teams player because of his speed. If he makes the final roster, that means second-year Markus White could be placed on the practice squad.