Griffin sits as Redskins edge Titans

Matt Rybaltowski, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Less than an hour after flawlessly executing a series of bootlegs and playfully tossing several passes left-handed in pregame warmups Thursday, Robert Griffin III strode onto the field in full uniform and took part in the coin toss as one of the Washington Redskins' team captains.
As expected, though, Griffin remained sidelined for the entirety of the Redskins' 22-21 win over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in the preseason opener for both teams. Griffin, the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, likely will miss all of the preseason as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee.
Washington quarterback Pat White scored on a 9-yard touchdown run with 2:29 remaining to cut Tennessee's lead to 21-20, then followed it up with a completion to Emmanuel Ogbuehi for a two-point conversion. The former West Virginia quarterback bought time by eluding Titans linebacker Kadarron Anderson and delivering a pass off his back foot to the open tight end.
White, the 2007 Big East Offensive Player of the Year, is attempting to make the Redskins' 53-man roster after spending the majority of the past three seasons away from the NFL. White was released by the Miami Dolphins in September 2010 and then was cut by the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League nearly a year later.
"Coach (Mike Shanahan) did an excellent job play-calling, the receivers did an excellent job of getting open, and the offensive line did an excellent job of blocking," White said of the game-winning drive. "It felt good to be back out there. I'm ready to get back, watch film and see what improvements need to be made."
The Titans broke a 14-all tie with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Rusty Smith to fullback Quinn Johnson with 7:55 left.
Griffin's absence provides backup Kirk Cousins with an extended opportunity to showcase his talents with the first-team offense. On Thursday, Cousins capitalized with a steady performance in limited action.
Cousins, a second-year quarterback from Michigan State, completed six of seven passes for 52 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game late in the first quarter.
"I think the first preseason game is a great measuring stick compared to last year's first preseason game," Cousins said. "I can see how much more comfortable I am at calling the play, getting to the line of scrimmage, identifying the coverage, identifying the fronts and getting in and out of the right and wrong plays. All that comes from the practice and work we've done over the last year."
White went 5-for-8 passing for 31 yards. Evan Royster led Washington with 62 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Redskins took a 7-0 lead midway through the first when Cousins rolled to his right, threw across his body and connected with tight end Fred Davis for a 3-yard touchdown on a wheel route.
The Titans responded with a 58-yard touchdown by Chris Johnson on the next offensive play from scrimmage. Johnson, a three-time Pro Bowl running back, took one step to his right, cut back to his left and eluded a sprawling Brian Orakpo. The Titans' electric running back then darted down the left sideline and juked Redskins rookie safety Bacarri Rambo before sprinting into the end zone.
"We had the outside zone stretch," Johnson said. "They were running real hard on the outside, so I cut it back. When I got through the line, it was either the corner or safety, and I just gave him a move."
Johnson had just one other carry in the game, a 2-yard gain.
Orakpo, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker, appeared in his first game since he underwent season-ending surgery on his left pectoral muscle last September. The menacing linebacker atoned for the missed tackle with a sack on Titans quarterback Jake Locker later in the first quarter. Orakpo dipped under Titans left tackle Michael Roos on a speed rush and dropped Locker for a 3-yard loss on a first down from the Titans' 48-yard line.
With injuries to defensive backs DeAngelo Hall (ankle), Josh Wilson (shoulder) and Brandon Meriweather (knee), the Redskins started three rookies in the secondary. Rambo, a sixth-round pick from Georgia, was joined by cornerback David Amerson and safety Phillip Thomas in the starting lineup.
For the most part, Redskins veterans were impressed by the play of the trio. On Washington's first defensive possession, Amerson jumped a slant route by Kenny Britt and deflected a Locker pass for an incompletion.
"They all look the part," Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield told the Redskins Broadcast Network. "They're all willing to learn, and they're all humble. If they continue along that path, our future is bright."
The Titans took their first lead of the game on a 19-yard touchdown run by Shonn Greene with 35 seconds left in the first quarter. Greene received a massive block from Titans first-round pick Chance Warmack on a sweep and found daylight along the left sideline. The former Jets running back signed a three-year, $10 million free agent contract with Tennessee in March.
The Redskins tied the game at 14 on an 8-yard touchdown from Rex Grossman to Leonard Hankerson with 26 seconds left in the second quarter.
A year removed from a training camp battle with Matt Hasselbeck, Locker is firmly entrenched as the Titans' starting quarterback. Locker remained in the game until the middle of the second quarter, finishing 7-for-11 for 58 yards.
Griffin has appeared in individual drills in training camp but has been held out of 11-on-11 periods. The Redskins don't play again until an Aug. 19 home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Monday Night Football."
"What we are going to do is get him some walkthroughs at the start of practice with our offense," Shanahan said. "We will do that for a couple days, then we will get in the normal game plan week, which will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."
NOTES: The game marked a reunion for Griffin and Titans WR Kendall Wright. The former Baylor teammates spoke briefly on the field during pregame warmups. ... Redskins scratches included RB Alfred Morris, LT Trent Williams and WR Pierre Garcon. Titans K Rob Bironas (back), LB Colin McCarthy (hamstring) and OT David Stewart (knee) were also held out. ... The Titans' next game is at Cincinnati on Aug. 17.

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