- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 28, 2021

LANDOVER — All week, Washington coach Ron Rivera remained tight-lipped when repeatedly asked how many minutes his starters would play in Saturday’s preseason finale. Then when it came time for his players to take the field, the answer was finally revealed: None. 

Washington sat quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, defensive end Chase Young and the rest of the team’s other first-stringers in Saturday’s 37-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field. Washington had more than 25 players inactive, giving Rivera a chance to evaluate the backups fighting for the remaining roster spots. 

The team must cut down from 80 to 53 players on Tuesday.

The Ravens, meanwhile, made history with their 20th straight preseason victory, surpassing the 1959-62 Green Bay Packers for most consecutive exhibition wins. 

Here are some observations from a largely forgettable game: 

Production matters:

Rivera has said when it comes to the last few receiver spots, production would matter. With one last chance to impress, Antonio Gandy-Golden and Dax Milne — Saturday’s starters, fighting for a roster spot — each had their moments.

Gandy-Golden, 6-foot-4, did a nice job of using his frame to box out defenders and match contested catches. He finished with four catches and 39 yards — a second straight outing in which the 2020 fourth-rounder was productive. 

Milne, though, was dependable. The seventh-rounder’s most impressive catch came down the sideline when quarterback Kyle Allen found Milne for a 26-yard gain. That, by the way, was Washington’s longest reception of the night — in what was a dreadful performance. 

Allen threw for only 100 yards and completed just 45.5% of his passes (10 of 22). Fourth-stringer Steven Montez wasn’t much better, going 5 of 10 for 28 yards.

Punt returner still unsolved:

Entering the contest, who would be Washington’s punt returner was perhaps the team’s biggest unanswered question. After four quarters, there was no clear answer. 

The problem? Washington’s defense didn’t create opportunities for the coaching staff to fully evaluate the return situation. Washington let up 37 points in three quarters before Baltimore punted for the first time in the evening. Baltimore, in general, punted just twice — with no return each time. 

For what it’s worth, Milne lined up for the return ahead of DeAndre Carter, who had opened the preseason and spent much of training camp as the Burgundy and Gold’s returner. 

On the first punt, the ball bounced out of bounds at the 14-yard line. On the second, Milne signaled for the fair catch to field it at the 29-yard line. 

Injury bug:

Rivera didn’t risk playing his usual starters in large part to avoid injury. The coach talked earlier in the week about the importance of getting out of the preseason healthy. 

Still, some players had to play — and for Washington, that resulted in an unfortunate injury to cornerback Torry McTyer.

Deemed a “pleasant surprise” by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio during camp, McTyer was ruled out Saturday shortly after he was placed in the concussion protocol. McTyer, a journeyman whose ball skills impressed coaches, came down hard in the first quarter following a collision with safety Jeremy Reaves. McTyer initially started to jog off before he sat down at midfield and signaled for the trainers to come over.

How McTyer’s injury affects Washington’s cornerback depth remains to be seen. Before the injury, he was in the mix for a roster spot and was a feel-good story following stints with the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals. In recent days, he was lining up with the team’s normal starters with cornerback William Jackson III (thigh) injured. 

The Ravens, however, potentially had it worse. Unlike Washington, the Ravens actually played their starters and saw first-string running back J.K. Dobbins go down with a knee injury. Dobbins was later carted off from the sideline back to the locker room and was ruled out. 

Quick hitters:

  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins’ struggles are still worth monitoring. He missed a 55-yarder in the first half in a kick that was very low and possibly blocked. While anything above 50 yards is normally outside Hopkins’ range, it was his third miss of the preseason. Hopkins, though, accounted for Washington’s lone score, driving home a 48-yarder later in the half. 

  • Running back Jaret Patterson had a quiet night after two standout games. He dealt with drops in the passing game, hauling in only three passes on six targets with two drops. 

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