Shanahan's caution extends well beyond RG3

David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

RICHMOND, Va. -- Maybe Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is trying to test the depth of his roster.
Shanahan, heavily criticized for not pulling Robert Griffin III when the franchise quarterback was obviously hurting in January's playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, certainly erred on the side of caution in Thursday's preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans.
Shanahan rested nine regulars, all of whom could have played if it had been a regular season game.
The huddle of sidelined players included:
--Nose tackle Barry Cofield and running back Alfred Morris have no reported injuries.
--Receiver Pierre Garcon and cornerback Josh Wilson had been practicing in camp since returning from shoulder surgeries.
--Safety Reed Doughty had missed a couple of days with what was referred to as general body soreness.
--Cornerback DeAngelo Hall had returned from an ankle injury only to dislocate a finger, but that wouldn't keep him out if the game had mattered.
--Safety Brandon Meriweather had returned to practice last week after missing time with a balky post-surgical knee.
--Tackle Trent Williams has a club protecting his injured wrist.
Griffin, who wants to play now, will miss the entire preseason as he finishes his recovery from knee surgery.
With more than a third of the lineup out, it's hard to truly judge the 22-21 victory over the Titans.
However, there were some obvious takeaways as Washington won a third straight preseason game for the first time since 2008.
With fellow second-year quarterback Kirk Cousins subbing for Griffin, Roy Helu in for Morris, Leonard Hankerson in for Garcon and the raw Tom Compton in for Williams, the starting offense played well. It drove 64 yards in seven plays for the opening touchdown, with a 3-yard toss from Cousins to wide-open tight end Fred Davis, who played for the first time since he tore an Achilles in Week 7 of 2012.
That wasn't the case for the starting defense -- minus Cofield, Hall, Wilson and Meriweather -- which was burned for two long touchdown runs. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who hadn't played since tearing a pec in Week 2 of 2012, and free safety Bacarri Rambo -- one of three rookie starters in the secondary -- were the major guilty parties on Chris Johnson's 58-yard scamper.
No one got close to less elusive Titans back Shonn Greene on his 19-yard burst a little over five minutes later until Rambo hit him late in the end zone. That was one of Washington's 11 penalties for 89 yards.
"We made some silly penalties that you can't have and expect to win," Shanahan said.
Hankerson tied the game 14-14 on a screen from veteran third-string quarterback Rex Grossman, but fellow reserve receivers Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe each had a bad drop. Backup tight end Logan Paulsen had the catch of the night, a one-handed, left-handed grab.
Orakpo and fellow Pro Bowl outside backer Ryan Kerrigan recorded sacks as did backup end Phillip Merling while end Kedric Golston and reserve defensive backs Chase Minnifield -- in his first game since he was at Virginia in 2011 -- D.J. Gomes and Jerome Murphy each blew up Titans in run defense.
Richard Crawford was burned for a long, leaping catch in the fourth quarter but two plays later, the second-year cornerback got revenge with a brilliant breakup in the end zone that was oh-so-close to an interception. Instead, Tennessee kept the ball and scored the go-ahead touchdown four plays later.
However, fourth-string quarterback Pat White -- who had been out of the NFL since the 2010 preseason -- marched Washington 12 plays in 80 yards, scooting the final nine yards himself and then adding the game-winning 2-point conversion toss to rookie free agent Emmanuel Ogbuehi with just 2:23 remaining.