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Continuity Breeds Preseason Success

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The Redskins offense is rolling on all cylinders this preseason, piling up 452 total yards and 30 points against the Buffalo Bills, and tallying 1,031 yards this preseason with 73 points.

On Saturday, the offense controlled the ball for a preseason-high 38:52, running 81 plays and averaging an absurd 5.6 yards per play.

Perhaps most impressive, is that the team piled up 208 rushing yards on 48 team carries, while starter Alfred Morris made nothing more than a cameo appearance.

"I was impressed with our offensive line and our [running] backs," head coach Mike Shanahan said after the game. "It's a group effort anytime you run the football and our wide receivers blocked exceptionally well.

"I thought we had a couple of play-action passes off of it as well that set up a couple passes, but it was a good day overall."

Shanahan attributed the key to the offense's success out of the gate to roster stability, specifically familiarity along the starting line.

"I think you could see it today the continuity of everybody being on the same page," he observed. "Knowing what to do, what to expect going against different defenses and different secondary coverage."

One area of obvious substitution was at quarterback, where the team leaned on third-string candidates Rex Grossman and Pat White to carry the load, with both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins sidelined by injury.

Following an uncharacteristic gameplan, Grossman started the game and went three series with the starting unit. He gave way to White, who went three series with the starters before flipping back to Grossman.

The two alternated the rest of the way, working with the first, second and third-string units.

"I thought they both played very well," Shanahan remarked. "Anytime you rotate guys in there like we did, for them to play at the level they did, I was impressed with that."

While unconventional, the carousel makes sense for players competing for a backup role.

"When you're the second-team, third-team, or fourth-team quarterbacks, that's what happens during the game," Shanahan explained. "You have to come off of the bench cold, you have to produce even though you're not warmed up and we wanted to put both guys in that similar situation today.

"We wanted both to get a chance to play with the same players."

And yet regardless of which players they huddled up with, the offense produced results.

"[Continuity allows] your quarterback can feel comfortable with the system," Shanahan said. "Rex [Grossman] is a vet so it doesn't surprise that he played well and the way he did. But it was nice to see [quarterback] Pat [White] come in and play exceptionally well.

"Those guys don't get a lot of reps compared to a guy like Kirk Cousins and Robert [Griffin III] over the last couple of weeks. They were limited in reps but still played well."

Saturday was likely to be the last that fans see of Redskins starters, with the fourth preseason game expected to highlight competitions for final roster spots.

But after a successful third preseason game, Shanahan is satisfied with what he sees.

"I was impressed with our football team, especially with two days less preparation time," he said. "For them to come out and play as hard as they did and as well as they did, there was a bunch of positive things.

"I'll look forward to looking over the film and trying to come up with the best 53 [man roster] for the Monday night game."

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