- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | Unlike every other NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars treated Thursday night’s preseason finale as their final run-through by playing their starters deep into the second quarter.

It showed.

The Washington Redskins, six days after their final paces against New England, rested seven starters and pulled their starting offensive and defensive units after only one possession apiece.

It showed.

The Redskins escaped any injuries, and the coaches gained valuable insight into how the young players competed against established veterans during their 24-17 loss to cap the preseason with a 1-3 record.

The Redskins trailed 21-0 midway through the second quarter and didn’t make progress until the matchup was reserves vs. reserves.

“If you’re going to be a pro player, that’s the battle you want to be a part of,” coach Jim Zorn said. “You’re going to have to play against starters, and that’s a good opportunity for our guys to place them in that position and see how they respond.”

With the preseason complete, the Redskins have to cut down from 75 players to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday. They open the season Sept. 13 at the New York Giants.

“It’s never going to be easy, but there were a couple of guys who struggled and we’ll see why they struggled on video,” Zorn said. “Some of the performances were good individually.”

None of the few position battles remaining came close to being settled.

Quarterback Chase Daniel took over for Campbell late in the first quarter but struggled against the Jaguars’ starters. Daniel was 8-for-16 for 85 yards and a touchdown, with most of his work coming against the Jaguars’ reserves. Colt Brennan entered late in the third quarter and was 10-for-14 for 83 yards before leaving with a hamstring injury.

“I’ve got to really look at the video to make heads and tails of the end result,” Zorn said. “I’ve got to see it all to focus in and make the right evaluation.”

At kicker, Shaun Suisham booted a 48-yard field goal for the Redskins’ first points, and Dave Rayner kicked two extra points.

Anthony Alridge, a contender for a possible No. 4 tailback spot, committed a huge special teams blunder, losing a kickoff return that was brought back for a touchdown. Marcus Mason rushed three times for 1 yard, and Dominique Dorsey scored a 3-yard touchdown. The Redskins could decide to go with the usual three tailbacks; Alridge knows the decision is out of his hands.

“[The fumble] was like one of those plays that happened so fast,” he said. “I felt like I was down and when my elbow hit, that’s when the ball came out. I shouldn’t have put the ball down in that situation. It was a mistake by me.”

Jacksonville started the preseason with a stretch of three games in 11 days, and coach Jack Del Rio treated last week’s game against Philadelphia as a chance to evaluate his bubble players. That meant taking the rare step of making the final tuneup serious.

The Jaguars didn’t waste any time asserting themselves. In their only possession, the Redskins’ starters allowed a 12-play, 70-yard drive that included a 24-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis to open the game and two third-down conversions. The Redskins held on third down, however, forcing Josh Scobee’s 24-yard field goal to cap a drive that consumed nearly half the first quarter.

“I wish we would have been a little sturdier on defense,” Zorn said.

Jacksonville quickly extended its lead to 10-0. Alridge left the end zone despite catching the kick 6 yards deep, then fumbled. Tiquan Underwood scooped up the ball at the 3-yard line and dived for a touchdown.

The Redskins’ offense, minus three starters, enjoyed a productive drive. Campbell was 4-for-6 for 33 yards. To wrap up his night, he threw a perfect pass down the middle, but Antwaan Randle El dropped the would-be 39-yard touchdown.

“[Campbell] was excellent; he made big plays,” Zorn said. “He made a great throw to Antwaan Randle El that we couldn’t connect on. We saw what we wanted to see tonight.”

David Garrard departed after completing 10 of 13 passes for 95 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars led 21-0 at halftime after Mike Sims-Walker’s 10-yard TD catch - he ran through or around four Redskins defenders.

Jacksonville’s first-team defense harassed Daniel. The Jaguars made quick work of right tackle Mike Williams, who was playing for the first time in three weeks. On one play, linebacker Quentin Groves blew by Williams and forced a fumble by Daniel that was recovered by Derek Landri. The turnover set up Sims-Walker’s score.

“It was a little different [for Daniel] - he got a chance to go against the starters, and a lot of times he didn’t have much of an opportunity and they were in his lap,” Campbell said.

When backups started playing backups in the third quarter, things evened out. Justin Tryon’s interception set up Suisham’s field goal, and Brennan led an 87-yard drive that was capped by Dorsey’s touchdown run. After Brennan’s injury, Daniel returned and was 5-for-7 for 66 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown pass to Marko Mitchell.

Finishing on a high note, Daniel must wait until Saturday to see if his performance was good enough to make the roster.

“It was good to go in there and move down the field,” he said. “I was expecting to be done for the day, but it was a great feeling.”

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