Most rookies need to impress during the preseason, some to earn playing time, others to make the team. In Friday night’s win over Buffalo, the Redskins rookies entered a little wet behind the ears, but emerged as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Here is a look at how our rookies fared.
Trent "Silverback" Williams - Williams certainly lived up to the hype against the Bills, but lets try to remember, it was just the Bills. Either way, he was facing NFL caliber talent, and did more than just hold his own; he dominated. He looked like a man-child on the field, excelling in both the run and passing game. He showed excellent mobility and footwork for a man 6’5" 315 pounds. He did not allow a defender near his quarterback, which is saying something when your up against the speed of an Aaron Maybin. I was also impressed with his ability to pull around the end on the lead run, or as some like to call it, "student body left". He also showed excellent mobility getting to the second level on the linebackers. Overall I would grade his performance as an A.
Perry Riley - The linebacker from LSU was the most impressive rookie on the field for the Redskins. He was all over the field, both as a middle linebacker and on special teams. He showed excellent speed and flow to the football on run plays, and was even more impressive in the passing game, showing the staff he definitely has the ability to play in space. I watched him a few times take a step up on play-action, and figured he would never recover to get downfield to cover the seam, but he proved me wrong every time. Not only was he able to recover quickly, but he was also in position to defend the middle of the field. We just may have gotten a steal when we drafted Riley.
Brandon Banks - The undrafted rookie showed the explosion that we have been lacking in the return game since as far back as I can remember. I can’t say we have ever had a player with this type of speed on our football team (maybe Darrell Green). He looked excellent on punt returns. His 77 yard touchdown made others around him look like they were running in quicksand. I am interested to see what he can do on kickoff returns if given the opportunity. I hope Banks sticks around, because that kind of speed and quickness in the return game can be a huge boost to the Redskins.
Terrence Austin - Austin showed good ability in both the return game, and as a wide receiver. He was close to breaking a few punt returns. He also showed surprising toughness going over the middle of the field as a receiver. His big play ability, and toughness should help him earn a spot on the 53 man roster. I am interested to see him play a little more in the slot over the next couple preseason games. If he can distinguish himself as a legitimate receiving threat, we may have found a diamond in the rough with our 7th round draft choice.
Overall, I was impressed with how our young guys played on Friday night. I am interested to see Morris, Cook and Capers throughout the rest of the preseason. If our young guys can not only provide quality depth, but contribute in all facets of the game, we have an exciting young nucleus to build for our future.