The Redskins opened the 2005 preseason with a 28-10 defeat to the Carolina Panthers, with an offense that struggled to produce yards and points and a defense that couldn't come up with big plays when needed.
In all, it was a disappointing beginning for a Redskins team hoping to get off to a strong start--even if it was only the preseason.
The Redskins' starters, with the notable exception of running back Clinton Portis, played most of the first half, then gave way to backups, first-year players and rookies in the second half.
The Redskins entered Saturday night's game hoping to develop an offensive rhythm early. The unit was ranked 30th in the NFL last season, but now has a revamped wide receiver corps, a new quarterbacks coach in Bill Musgrave and right tackle Jon Jansen back in the lineup.
The team's running backs produced just 68 yards on the ground while quarterback Patrick Ramsey struggled to find a rhythm. Of course, Portis left the game after one offensive series. One of the Redskins' key offensive playmakers, Portis had only one carry for four yards in the game.
The Redskins' first offensive series ended after four plays when Ramsey's downfield toss to wide receiver Santana Moss was picked off by cornerback Chris Gamble. For the game, Ramsey was 8-of-12 for 77 yards, but produced no points.
On defense, the Redskins were without five defensive starters for the game. Linebacker LaVar Arrington, defensive linemen Phillip Daniels, Cornelius Griffin and Brandon Noble and cornerback Shawn Springs all sat out the game due to injury. Also, rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers missed the game as he continues to rest an ankle injury.
Walt Harris and Ade Jimoh drew the starting assignments at cornerback and Panthers' quarterback Jake Delhomme attacked the Redskins' secondary from the start. Delhomme completed passes to wide receivers Steve Smith and Rod Gardner on the Panthers' opening drive.
Ex-Redskin Rod Gardner, traded to Carolina before the start of training camp, burned his old team when he caught Delhomme's 21-yard downfield toss. Jimoh had the coverage and was called for defensive pass interference, but Gardner held on to the ball anyway.
In the second quarter, on a first-and-goal at the Redskins' 1-yard line, Delhomme threw a play-action pass to tight end Michael Gaines in the back of the end zone for another touchdown.
The Redskins scored their first points of the game after blocked field goal attempt by Ryan Boschetti and Chris Clemons late in the first half. Sean Taylor recovered the ball and, despite throwing an illegal lateral to Matt Bowen, helped give the Redskins' offense solid field position.
Mark Brunell came in and connected on three of four passes, including a 24-yarder to Rock Cartwright and an 11-yarder to Darnerien McCants, to put the Redskins in position for a field goal. John Hall nailed a 43-yard field goal to put Washington on the scoreboard at the end of the first half.
Brunell led the Redskins' offense on a second-half drive that pulled the Redskins to within 14-10. The 14-play, 82-yard drive included completions to Antonio Brown, McCants, Mike Sellers and Billy Baber.
Nehemiah Broughton, the Redskins' seventh-round draft pick and a touchdown machine at The Citadel the last four years, scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Broughton was the offense's top rusher on the game, running for 28 yards on seven carries.
Brunell finished the game completing 11-of-19 passes for 121 yards. Rookie quarterback Jason Campbell was 10-of-19 for 132 yards.
Carolina scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
The Redskins had a chance to score more points late in the fourth quarter. Rookie running back Jonathan Combs put the offense in position to score with a 33-yard pass from fellow rookie Jason Campbell. Two plays later, Combs fumbled just before crossing the goal line. The ball was recovered by the Panthers in the end zone.
For Combs and many of the rookies competing for a roster spot, that sequence of events may be instructive heading into another week of training camp. Along with every big play, there is the potential for a miscue. Consistency, coaches emphasize, is key.
Of course, consistency eluded the Redskins' veterans as well. With a short week to prepare for next Friday's preseason home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Redskins' coaches and players know there is more work to be done.