Rodgers masterful in Packers’ preseason win over Washington
LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Washington Redskins’ first-team offense played the full first half Saturday night and did not look ready for prime time. Not at all.
“We stuttered and sputtered,” coach Jay Gruden said, “and missed a few throws and had a couple runs rejected.”
The Redskins didn’t collect a first down until the opening quarter’s final play and Cousins only produced a TD while facing defensive reserves on drive No. 6, while Aaron Rodgers made a surprise start for Green Bay and looked to be in midseason form in the Packers’ 21-17 exhibition victory.
“We all believe,” Cousins acknowledged, “we still have a lot of work to do.”
Washington’s initial three drives resulted in an embarrassing total of 13 yards. Cousins was 2 for 6 for 9 yards in that span; running back Rob Kelley gained 4 yards on three carries behind a starting offensive line providing little push.
“We’re a work in progress, no question about it,” said Gruden, who is back to calling plays this season after offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become coach of the St. Louis Rams.
Asked about his offensive line and running game, Gruden offered this tepid assessment: “For the most part, I’m not concerned, really.”
Washington’s fourth possession stalled when Kelley was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1. After the fifth, Cousins had steered Washington to only three first downs — one via a defensive penalty — while completing 8 of 15 passes for 67 yards against a Packers secondary missing two of its top three cornerbacks. Cousins, who will earn about $24 million this season under a franchise tag, ended up 14 for 23 for 144 yards, including a 4-yard, fourth-and-goal touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder with 13 seconds left before halftime to make things seem better than they actually were.
Cousins said his “internal clock” was off. Gruden described his QB as “a little antsy.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, went 6 of 8 for 37 yards and a TD pass to new tight end Martellus Bennett — plus one of his trademark quick snaps to draw a penalty — on his lone drive.
“It’s good to get out there,” Rodgers said. “I’ll probably play a little more next week.”
The expectation was that Rodgers would sit out the second preseason game, just as he did a year ago. But he led the Packers 75 yards on 15 plays.
Rodgers also completed passes to Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. On his third play, Rodgers hiked the ball as Redskins defensive lineman Stacy McGee was still trotting to the sideline, catching the hosts with 12 men on the field. The game officials didn’t notice, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy challenged, and a penalty was called after a review.
“They know better. We got them a couple of years ago, too, in the playoffs,” Rodgers said about the Redskins. “There were some angry looks from that sideline.”
Green Bay: RB Aaron Jones , taken in the fifth round from UTEP, caught a 5-yard TD pass from backup QB Todd Hundley in the second quarter. . . . QB Taysom Hill, undrafted out of BYU, led a seven-play, 65-yard TD drive in the fourth quarter that included his 23-yard scoring scamper for the winning points. He’s competing with Joe Callahan for the third QB spot.
Washington: RB Samaje Perine, a fourth-rounder from Oklahoma, ran for 45 yards on eight carries. He also caught a 29-yard pass from backup QB Colt McCoy, part of a much stronger performance for Perine than a week ago, when he fumbled. “A major step up,” Gruden said.
Redskins WR Josh Doctson entered late in the second quarter and had a 12-yard catch. He missed the exhibition opener because of a hamstring injury. The 2016 first-round draft pick sat out all but two games as a rookie because of injuries.
Packers: Trevor Davis bobbled the game’s first punt, losing the ball when he was hit by Redskins rookie CB Fabian Moreau. The fumble set up a 34-yard FG by Washington’s Dustin Hopkins. . . . Whitehead was called for defensive holding on one drive, then beaten for TE Vernon Davis’ 43-yard gain on another. He played in only two games last season as a rookie and the inexperience showed Saturday.
Redskins: LB Chris Carter was whistled for illegal use of hands on Green Bay’s first drive, then for offsides in the second quarter. He was credited with a half-sack in the third quarter.
Green Bay: DE Dean Lowry (left knee), LB Jordan Tripp (concussion), S Jermaine Whitehead (S), LB Derrick Mathews (being evaluated for a concussion).
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