The Washington Times - September 15, 2011, 08:27PM

Some notes, quotes and observations from Redskins Park:

LT Trent Williams felt good about his Week 1 performance against New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul despite the fact Pierre-Paul had two sacks and forced a fumble on one of them.

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“He’s a pretty good player. He didn’t wow me if that’s what you’re asking,” Williams said of the Giants’ second-string defensive end. “He was a great player. He came in and did his job.”

Pierre-Paul started in place of injured two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora and gave Williams trouble in the passing game and run blocking. Williams was pushed back too often. However, coaches publicly agreed with Williams’ positive review.

“He had a couple bad plays there in the second half, which obviously show up on TV, but overall I thought Trent did a better job,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s not where we want him to be because I think Trent can be as good as anyone. He still needs to get better, but I think he’s stepping in the right direction.”

The negative play that stood out most was Pierre-Paul’s sack-fumble in the fourth quarter. Williams interpreted it as a collective breakdown, not a personal one.

“As a O-line it stays with us,” he said. “It was a protection issue more than him beating me. Anybody can go in there and not get blocked and go tackle the quarterback. We kind of messed up protection, and we didn’t really touch him.

“It was just a misunderstanding between me and the guard [Kory Lichtensteiger]. I expected him to be there and he was there for someone else. You watch film, you get stuff like that worked out.”

Carolina QB was able to beat Arizona’s frequent blitzes last week in throwing for 422 yards. If the Redskins shore up their protection issues, QB Rex Grossman could have a big day. Grossman is also responsible for being sharp with his hot reads against the blitz and protecting the ball in a worst-case scenario, Shanahan said.

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I hope you had a chance to check out the story in Thursday’s paper about what TE Fred Davis’ Week 1 breakout means for the Redskins’ offense and the team’s tight end hierarchy.

Coach Mike Shanahan on Thursday would not say whether the condition of TE Chris Cooley’s knee is to the point where he’s available to play more snaps against Arizona. It’ll be fascinating to watch this unfold, though. Davis’ contract is up at the end of the season, and the Redskins will have to decide whether they want to keep Cooley and him together. For the record, Davis is 25 years old and Cooley just turned 29.

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Offensive line struggles weren’t the only reason for the Redskins’ 2.8-yard rushing average on Sunday, according to RB Tim Hightower. He assumed some blame, too, after averaging 2.9 yards on 25 attempts.

 “I missed a lot of cuts,” Hightower said. “I didn’t feel I was in sync at times. Sometimes I was too slow; sometimes I was too fast. A lot of those plays were blocked. I just have to get more out of them. You’re asking for that responsibility. You have to step up to the plate.”

Hightower couldn’t put his finger on why he was not in rhythm.

 “I played basketball back in the day – some days your jumpers not quite right,” he said. “That’s why you shoot so many times. That’s why you practice. There are times you may struggle a little bit, but you have to trust your work ethic.”

Hightower averaged 5.3 yards on 19 carries against 3-4 defenses (Pittsburgh and Baltimore) in the preseason. Just something to keep in mind entering Sunday’s game against another 3-4 opponent.

“It always helps when you’re going against the type of defense that you’re seeing on a daily basis,” coach Mike Shanahan said.

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A few of C Will Montgomery’s shotgun snaps have been a bit off target since preseason games began. None have resulted in fumbles, but the Redskins want to fix the problem before it costs them a turnover. They have been practicing it this week, as they do every week.

“We want him to be perfect,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I’m not freaking out about it or anything.”

Coach Mike Shanahan said he’s confident in QB Rex Grossman’s ability to adjust to any snap that isn’t perfect because he’s done it several times already, including on the touchdown he threw against Pittsburgh in the preseason. Grossman said he’s OK if errant snaps are soft. The hard ones that fly past him are a problem, and Montgomery hasn’t sent any of those back yet.

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Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett made clear that SS Reed Doughty wasn’t the only culprit on WR Hakeem Nicks’ 68-yard completion in the first quarter against New York.

“That’s not strictly one guy’s fault,” Haslett said. “We didn’t get a good rush that time. The quarterback stepped up in the pocket. The No. 1 thing we didn’t want Eli [Manning] to do was step up and throw the ball. We got too high as a defensive end, and the tackle got washed. The quarterback stepped up, started running and he chucked it. Was it good coverage on the back end? No. Obviously we had some guys with bad eyes, but the main problem started up front. That was a 5-second play to get it off.”

I get the sense from some Twitter feedback that Doughty isn’t fans’ favorite player right now. Coaches think highly of him, though. After all, he did have a game-high 10 tackles. He’s going to be in there until SS LaRon Landry returns.

“Reed played excellent in the run game and did good things,” Haslett said.

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SS LaRon Landry (hamstring), and LBs Brian Orakpo (right ankle) and Keyaron Fox (back) were limited in practice. I’d be shocked if Orakpo missed the game. He was injured in the first quarter on Sunday but returned and played the rest of the game. Landry appears to be the biggest uncertainty.

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Here’s Vonnie Holliday on playing against his former team, courtesy of the Arizona Republic. On the Redskins deciding to trade him, he said: “You never get past that.”

Holliday is an insightful veteran who was very helpful to us scribes. He is missed. I mean, anecdotes about how shaving his head helped him get women in college? Gold.

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The Redskins had the ninth-oldest Week 1 roster in the NFL, according to figures released by the league. They had the oldest Week 1 roster in each of the last two seasons, so it’s evidence of coach Mike Shanahan’s plan to get younger. Washington’s 53 players average 26.60 years; the NFL average is 26.39 years.

The 22 players that started for the Redskins in Sunday’s win over the Giants average 27.8 years.