NFL Week 1 Preseason Lessons: Washington Redskins

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The Skins didn't look bad against the defending AFC champion Steelers. They played hard, escaped without injuries and didn't make any egregious errors. I believe that the 2011 DC Skins will be the story of a C-list team rising to the B-list, like when Carrot Top became cool again (with hip irony) for seven minutes.

The offensive line and the entire defense must continue to improve on their good work so far. It appears that both units are beginning to grasp the schemes in their second year. John Beck is still the hand-picked starter at QB, despite not playing against the Steelers. Gross Rexman played under control and didn't turn the ball over, but Coach Shanahan has coveted Beck for years. Perhaps he sees what no one else can.

Tim Hightower will be your starting running back. He runs with high knees and explodes through contact. Also proficient on 3rd down, he's a very good blocker and receiver.

The catch? Fumbles, many of them game-changers. Ten fumbles in three years isn't terrible and is ameliorated by his 23 career TDs.

Hightower's rate of 1 fumble every 44 attempts looks lame versus Arian Foster's 1 in 109 attempts, but fits right in with Washington's 2011 average of 1 fumble every 50 rush attempts. It is worrisome that he has been fumbling in practice.

Lil' Brandon Banks, who returned kicks with electricity last year, is considered a longshot to make the team because of his size (5'7, 155 lbs). He would have had another 3 or 4 TDs last year if it weren't for holding calls.

Banks was stabbed in the abdomen last winter. The Skins drafted a bigger replacement, who is a better WR prospect. But in the first preseason game, the rookie muffed two kicks while Banks returned a punt for 19 yards and took a kick for 58 yards.

Here's hoping Brandon Banks makes the team. He's my secret favorite player.