- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2015

LANDOVER — It was going to take more than a bad play to ruin Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland’s night.

Even after Jacksonville Jaguars running back Corey Grant easily slipped past him for a 40-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter of the Redskins’ 17-16 loss in the preseason finale at FedEx Field on Thursday night, Breeland’s spirits were high after finally seeing his first game action of the preseason.

A whopping 28 Redskins players were scratched before the final dress rehearsal — mostly all of them starters — but Breeland, who missed all three prior games after spraining his right MCL in practice and is also suspended for Week 1, desperately needed to knock off the rust.

Starters DeAngelo Hall and Trent Murphy joined Breeland in the game as well, trying to make the most out of a final opportunity to get reps before the season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

“I was really excited. I wanted to come out, I didn’t want to come back week two and just get out there, I wanted to come out tonight and get the rust out,” Breeland said.

“I had a good bit of downs tonight, lesson learned, getting back to the speed of the game. On the double move, I took my eyes off the receiver a little bit and jumped the route.”

While Breeland played deep into the fourth quarter, Hall and Murphy only played in the first half.

With the exception of guys such as Breeland, Hall and Murphy, Thursday’s game was a final audition for players on the bubble of making the initial 53-man roster — which has to be finalized Saturday at 4 p.m.

Second-year linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat, who bounced between the practice squad and active roster last year, continued his strong preseason showing, tallying another sack on Thursday night. That gives him four — one in every game — and solidified his value to a linebacker core that was set back by the loss of Junior Galette.

“I think he’s done well. He’s made his mark,” coach Jay Gruden said. “At the absence of Junior Galette, it’s opened a spot for another pass rusher, outside linebacker type. He’s got an excellent chance.”

Undrafted linebacker Houston Bates assisted on two tackles and deflected a pass in Thursday’s loss, but he knows that’s not where he can make his mark on the roster.

“Special teams. I’m a 6-foot-1 white dude. I think I can play outside linebacker, but special teams is my go-to,” Bates said. “I have no problem playing in all four phases of special teams on any given Sunday. I don’t care if I get a snap of defense.”

As cuts approach this weekend, players on the cusp know there’s not much more they can do, other than wait, this time hopefully for the phone not to ring.

“Yeah, this is the opposite of the draft. Not getting a phone call at the draft sucked, but hopefully, this is going to be a good thing,” Bates said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

• Anthony Gulizia can be reached at agulizia@washingtontimes.com.

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