RGIII continues growth; Rookie taking Redskins' lead RB role?

David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Unless there's a rematch next summer or a mind-boggling Super Bowl showdown, the second edition of Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III won't come until Washington's scheduled regular-season visit to Indianapolis in 2014. And although No. 1 overall pick Luck of the Colts was more prolific, No. 2 overall selection Griffin was smiling after the Redskins' 30-17 preseason victory on Aug. 25.
Griffin, who completed 11 of 14 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown for a 93.8 passer rating, and Luck (14 of 23 for 151 yards and a touchdown for a 94.7 rating) played the first half and one series in the third quarter.
"Robert did a good job," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who won't play Griffin or the other starters in Wednesday's preseason finale against Tampa Bay. "He keeps on getting better and better, more comfortable with the system."
Griffin finished preseason with a 114.1 rating on 20 of 28 passing for 193 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
As for his competition with Luck, Griffin said, "They blew this up as a head-to-head (showdown). It does come with the territory. It's going to be there our entire careers."
Indeed it will and for now, it's RGIII 1-0.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: The yo-yo battle for jobs beyond top receiver Pierre Garcon continued against Indianapolis. Josh Morgan helped himself in his competition with Leonard Hankerson to start outside by leaping to snag a 15-yard pass that jump-started Washington's first touchdown drive and added an 11-yard reception. Hankerson managed just a 3-yard catch. Santana Moss solidified his slot role with a 4-yard touchdown grab. Dezmon Briscoe made a statement with a 37-yard catch and a 12-yard touchdown, his second score in two games. Terrence Austin flashed with two catches for 31 yards. Neither Aldrick Robinson, the star last week, nor Brandon Banks, who was targeted nine times in the preseason opener, saw a ball.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rookie running back Alfred Morris began training camp just wanting to make the team. But with Tim Hightower just having played for the first time since a torn ACL 10 months ago and Roy Helu and Evan Royster banged-up, the sixth-round selection from Florida Atlantic has made a strong case to be the starter when Washington opens the season at New Orleans on Sept. 9.
After gaining 88 yards on 25 carries in the first two preseason games, Morris exploded for 197 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against Indianapolis.
"I came in saying (to myself), 'I'm making it hard on the coaches not keep me and I think I definitely helped myself today," Morris said. "I know what I'm capable of. I came from a small school, but I know my work ethic, my willingness to be great. I knew within myself I could definitely be a starter one day."

ROOKIE REPORT: Quarterback Robert Griffin III (first round): See Lede. ... Offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus (third): was the left guard on unit that produced two scoring drives in second half of 30-17 victory over Colts. ... Quarterback Kirk Cousins (fourth): After monster game at Chicago, was 0-for-1 against Indianapolis. ... Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson (fourth): Tied for the team lead with six tackles (three solos). ... Offensive lineman Adam Gettis (fifth): Returned to backup right guard role with Chris Chester's return to health. ... Running back Alfred Morris (sixth): See "Player of the Week." ... Offensive lineman Tom Compton (sixth): Second-team left tackle for third straight game. ... Cornerback Richard Crawford (seventh): Had two tackles in quietest preseason appearance. ... Safety Jordan Bernstine (seventh): Lone tackle was monster hit on Colts wide receiver Griff Whalen.

The last time that Tim Hightower had carried the football against an opponent, his left knee gave way. So when Hightower got the call with 2:30 remaining in the first half against Indianapolis, it was a big moment.
It became even sweeter when Hightower, who tore his left ACL last Oct. 23 at Carolina, ran outside and cut back inside for an 18-yard scamper on third-and-2 at the Colts' 5-yard line to set up Robert Griffin III's touchdown toss to Santana Moss.
"It was special, man," Hightower said, grinning although he managed just 11 yards on five subsequent touches which included a catch. "I think I hugged my coach and the trainers about 18 times. It's really been a long road. I'm in the ballgame. I'm not on the sideline and that's all you can ask for."
Hightower was the starter when he was injured, but he, successor Roy Helu and Helu's successor, Evan Royster, have combined for just 18 carries this preseason, fewer than half as many as rookie Alfred Morris has on his own, so who'll get the nod on Sept. 9 at New Orleans remains very much in doubt.
-- Rex Grossman hasn't been popular in Washington since he was benched last Oct. 16 at Philadelphia en route to a season in which he lost 25 turnovers. The quarterback's 2-for-10 accuracy in the preseason opener at Buffalo didn't help and coach Mike Shanahan didn't play the former Bears starter last week at Chicago while rookie third-stringer Kirk Cousins was spectacular with three touchdown passes. So Grossman was booed when he relieved Griffin against the Colts midway through the third quarter.
Grossman responded like the 32-year-old veteran he is, completing all eight of his passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. His 13-yard scoring strike to Josh Morgan proved to be the game-winner.
"I don't care if it's practice," Grossman said. "You want to play well. It felt good to have a good day."
-- After playing at tiny Northwood College and then spending two years in the CFL, Chris Wilson made the Redskins as a defensive end in 2007. He moved on to Philadelphia last summer but was cut and spent the season out of the NFL. Now 30, Wilson is back in Washington and trying to win a job as a backup to outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
Wilson has moved temporarily up the depth chart since Orakpo injured a shoulder in the first half at Chicago on Aug. 18, a strain that will sideline him until the opener. Rob Jackson played well in Orakpo's place against Indianapolis, but Wilson had a team-high three hurries and one of Washington's four sacks, this one for a safety.
"I'm just trying to be relentless and I finally got home and it was in the end zone," said Wilson, who's competing with 2008 draft pick Jackson and 2011 seventh-rounder Markus White for two jobs. "I hope I made a statement. I'm excited to be a Redskin again. It was awesome being back at FedEx Field. I ran out there with the (Redskins) flag crew."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Alfred has taken advantage of his reps. He had a heck of a game. We're going to see who's healthy. He may be the lonely soldier at the end ... with the way things have been going." -- Coach Mike Shanahan on sixth-rounder Alfred Morris' bid to be the starting running back ahead of veterans Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and Evan Royster, none of whom are 100 percent two weeks before the opener.

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