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Redskins-Rams Preview
National Football League

Redskins-Rams Preview

Published Sep. 14, 2012 8:51 p.m. ET

Robert Griffin III's spectacular debut has given a dose of early enthusiasm to the Washington Redskins, but coach Mike Shanahan knows they need to do much more to turn around the franchise.

Griffin will try to lead the Redskins to another win in Sunday's road game against the St. Louis Rams, who are seeking to rebound from a bitter season-opening defeat.

The No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft and reigning Heisman Trophy winner became the first rookie quarterback to be named an NFL player of the week after his debut game. He received the NFC's weekly honor among offensive players after leading Washington to a 40-32 win in New Orleans last Sunday.

Griffin also was the first player with at least 300 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in his first game, and the first to throw for at least 300 while winning his debut. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards with an 88-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon, who is questionable this week with a sore foot.


Griffin also rushed for 42 yards and was aided by a pair of fellow rookies - sixth-round pick Alfred Morris ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns while Aldrick Robinson snagged a TD pass.

"A lot of excitement, a lot of optimism," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. "You get a quarterback, a young guy comes in with that type of energy and that type of upside and ability, it pretty much puts a smile on your face. You feel like that guy can make a play to change the game at any time."

The next step for the Redskins (1-0) is building on their eighth season-opening victory in 11 years. They've finished with winning records only twice over that stretch.

They won their first two games last season before dropping 11 of 14. Since its most recent playoff appearance in 2007, Washington has finished last in the NFC East in four consecutive seasons and has a 15-33 record over the past three.

"It's one game. We've got 15 left," Shanahan said. "I think our team is mature enough to understand that it was a nice win but it's one win."

The Rams have started 0-2 or worse in each of their five consecutive losing seasons and dropped their first six in 2011 en route to a 2-14 finish.

St. Louis (0-1) is coming off a 27-23 defeat at Detroit after giving up the go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds left. The Lions benefited from an incorrect clock stoppage with 2:38 remaining.

Coach Jeff Fisher, though, saw plenty of other reasons the Rams failed to win his debut with the team.

"There's a lot of areas on the tape and film where we're a play away," Fisher said. "You make a play here, you make a play there, you have a chance to win the ballgame."

Fisher's squad struggled offensively, finishing with an NFC-low 14 first downs and 251 total yards. Sam Bradford was sacked three times and Stephen Jackson was limited to 53 yards on 21 carries behind a banged-up offensive line.

Center Scott Wells is likely out until at least Week 9 after breaking a bone in his left foot, and tackle Rodger Saffold appears unlikely to play because of a neck injury.

Wells, a Pro Bowler with Green Bay last year, was one of three new starters on the line along with tackle Barry Richardson and guard Rokevious Watkins.

Safford, who missed seven games last season with a pectoral injury, was carted off the field last Sunday. He was released from the hospital that night and returned to the team Wednesday, though he seemed to have trouble moving his head and said he wasn't sure when he'd play again.

"It appears at this point it's just a significant strain," Fisher said. "So he's very lucky. So that's good news on our behalf."

The Rams are hosting Washington for the third straight year following a 17-10 loss last Oct. 2 as Jackson was held to 45 yards on 17 attempts. He caught a TD pass from Bradford with 5:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, after which the Rams got two chances to tie the game, but the Redskins' three sacks of Bradford helped thwart those drives.


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