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Adrian Peterson Impresses In Debut, Redskins Fall To Broncos 29-17 In Preseason ‘Dress Rehearsal’

The Redskins saw flashes of brilliance from their newest tailback, but still have kinks to work out as the regular season approaches.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In their penultimate preseason contest, the Redskins gave us our first glimpse of what they will look like when they take the field in week one in a little over two weeks against the Cardinals. The starting units struggled on both sides of the ball in a 29-17 loss to the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field on Thursday evening, but there was plenty worth noting and to be excited about from the contest.

The biggest story of the week was the debut of the future hall-of-fame tailback, Adrian Peterson in Burgundy and Gold, and he did not disappoint. The new number 26 got the start and went for 56 yards on 11 carries averaging 5.1 yards per carry over the course of four offensive series. The twelfth-year pro showed some signs befitting of his pedigree running behind his former Oklahoma Sooner teammate, Trent Williams.

Though he struggled early to break long runs, his performance improved the longer he was on the field. On several occasions he showed phenomenal ability to plant, cut, juke, make defenders miss, and accelerate into the open field. The highlight of the night came on the first drive of the second quarter on his final carry when he picked up fifteen yard carry on fourth and inches in their own territory to move the chains.

With the team store already selling Peterson’s jersey, it’s a likely sign that any concerns he won’t make the opening day roster have likely been allayed.

In Alex Smith’s second preseason game the new ‘Skins signal caller played four series with the starters, posting three completions on eight attempts for just 33 yards through the air. He was largely throttled by tight coverage from the Broncos starting secondary with two three-and-outs over their first three series, and showed signs he’s still looking to connect with his new receiver teammates. He targeted his veteran tight end Vernon Davis in a high volume in the first quarter, though through the first stanza he recorded just one completed pass.

The first-team unit played a little under a quarter and a half, picking up 95 yards and six first downs over four series but failed to find the end zone, settling for just one Dustin Hopkins field goal in the second quarter against the Broncos defensive starters.

Among the starting defensive unit struggled, surrendering seventeen points in the first half. They were led by Montae Nicholson’s four tackles. D.J. Swearinger tallied just one tackle but notably donned a face mask style reminiscent of the Sean Taylor.

The “river in front of a mountain” duo of Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen each tallied one solo tackle apiece. Payne in particular had a strong showing, and made his presence felt on the defensive interior.

Once again, the two specialists whose jobs are all but assured, Dustin Hopkins and Tress Way impressed, doing their jobs with a lunchpail-like precision.

Colt McCoy finished one quarter of play 5-of-10 through the air for 65 yards while Kevin Hogan finished up the fourth quarter once again, and picked up the Redskins’ first touchdown in over eight quarters on a 18-yard pitch and catch to Simmie Cobbs Jr. with 10:44 remaining, completing a perfect 4-for-4 drive on his first series and ended the night with a touchdown to Darvin Kidsy, capping off a 7/9 day for 88 yards and two touchdowns.

After the starters exited the contest, there were a number of noteworthy performances among the ranks of players still seeking to earn a week one roster spot.

Mason-Brennan nominee Trey Quinn had just one catch for two yards, and did not make his case to earn the starting returner role with just four yards on two return attempts. After a strong performance last week against the Jets, Troy Apke had an up and down second half, making a handful of nice tackles but at times looked vulnerable in pass coverage and in making plays in the open field. Martrell Speight continued to impress both on the second defensive unit in half number two and on special teams, as he continues to make his case to return to the Redskins for the fourth year.

The Redskins have struggled to avoid injuries this season-ending injuries to Robert Davis and Derrius Guice earlier this preseason. However, against the Broncos the only major injury scare came when Rob Kelley left the game with a stringer in the first quarter sustained on special teams, though he returned to the field in the second quarter. Colt McCoy also left the contest in the second half with an apparent hand injury, the severity of which was not disclosed.

With the loss, Washington falls to 1-2 in the preseason, though you certainly won’t get any argument from anyone here that that has any bearing on... anything. The Redskins will close out the preseason next Thursday evening on the road against the Ravens in a contest that will likely not feature any of the players who are a lock to make the roster. However, it will certainly have plenty of intrigue in terms of the regional inter-conference rivalry, the opportunity to see some familiar faces as an opponent, and to figure out which players will earn their spot on the opening day 53-man roster.