Full Pre-Season Game Report: Bills vs Skins

Marcus Mason (Getty Images/Drew Hallowell)

Here's John Keim's full game report including what went right, what went wrong, quotes and analysis. Why did Shawn Springs start at Free Safety? How did Shawn feel about his performance there? All this and much more is right here.

They wanted to see what would happen in certain situations. So how would Marcus Mason handle being a returner? Not so well. How would Shawn Springs look at safety? Not bad, but a little rusty. And what kind of tempo would the quarterbacks use? Better than the first game.

In the Redskins' 17-14 win over visiting Buffalo in the second preseason game, the Redskins got some necessary answers.

Mason wound up to be a star of the game, leading a nearly 10-minute drive late in the game to clinch the win. He finished with 16 carries for 80 yards, his second straight productive rushing night. That's the good. The bad is this: he fumbled the opening kickoff.

Considering that if he makes it, special teams will be his role, that was a bad sign.

"That's the reason I'm so hurt by it," he said.

Redskins coach Jim Zorn, though, likes what he sees from scrimmage, saying after the game that he might keep four running backs on the roster. Mason would be the fourth.

"He ran north and south," Zorn said. "They had a tough time tackling him."

One of the stars from the first preseason game struggled in the second. Colt Brennan looked every bit the sixth-round rookie that he is, completing just four of eight passes for 37 yards. However, it's clear he's already a fan favorite based on the ovation he received.

But the other quarterbacks, at least those ahead of him fared better. Starter Jason Campbell led a touchdown drive – capped by a Clinton Portis run -- and finished seven of 10 for 71 yards. Backup Todd Collins was eight of 11 for 77 yards, one touchdown – a 12-yard screen to Ladell Betts – and one interception. The miscue came when he threw behind receiver Billy McMullen.

Said Zorn, "I thought Jason was poised. I thought he tried to keep the tempo going. He backed off on [one throw] where I felt he should have driven the ball in. But other than that, I was very impressed."

Then there was Springs. He started at free safety because of an injury to starter LaRon Landry and the absence of backup Vernon Fox for personal reasons. Springs has played safety in the past, though in a disguised role, and has worked there a few times this summer. He has said numerous times that he could play this position fulltime in the future.

"I'm not as good as I would like to be," he said, "but if I practice I guess I could do it…You see guys like Rod Woodson and other [corners] who have done it; I'll be able to do it if that's the case."

What Went Right:

  • Receiver Billy McMullen had a strong game, though that might leave him as only20the No. 6 wideout and still off the roster. Nonetheless, McMullen finished with six catches for 55 yards. That's not a high sum, but he did his job.
     
  • Defensive end Jason Taylor induced two false start penalties in his two series of action. Taylor lined up at both end positions, starting off on the left side and then moving to the right side in the second series.
     
  • Reserve linebacker Alfred Fincher continues to shine this summer. Signed after camp started, Fincher is seemingly always around the ball, a good sign for a linebacker. He finished with five tackles, a fumble recovery and plays with energy and enthusiasm, sort of a poor man's Marcus Washington.
     
  • One week after a poor effort on third downs, the Redskins held the Bills to four of 12 conversions. The first defense allowed only one of three to be converted.

What Went Wrong:

  • The Redskins had to burn too many timeouts, stemming from confusion over play calls or from having the incorrect personnel in the game. Is that a rookie mistake by Zorn? Or simply a function of it being the preseason?
     
  • The Redskins tried to use the spread formation inside the 5-yard line on two occasions and failed to score on runs. A team built on power looked way too finesse. It wasn't until they ditched that look and used two tight ends that Clinton Portis reached the end zone.
     
  • The coverage units were dreadful, a function of using so many rookies.20Regardless, they must do a better job as Leodis McKelvin returned one punt for 45 yards and averaged 30 yards on two kick returns.
     
  • Defensive end Kevin Huntley had a nice pressure wiped out by a silly penalty. He led with his helmet when hitting quarterback Gibran Hamdan, the ex-Redskin, and drawing a 15-yard penalty. The ball moved to the Redskins' 33, but luckily for Washington it recovered a Bills fumble on the next play.

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