Redskins

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis is tackled by a gang of New York Giants during the second half of their NFL season opener on Sunday. The Redskins lost, 23-17.

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins season-opening loss was awfully familiar. Another bad opener in the Meadowlands. A so-so game from Jason Campbell. Mixed results from the big defensive acquisition. Wasted timeouts. Curious play-calling. Not much from the young receivers.

There was even another dropped interception from Carlos Rogers, who says he lost this one in the sun.

The start of Jim Zorn’s second season was as disappointing, if not more so, than the start of his first. For the Redskins, the best thing to draw from Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the New York Giants is that they recovered well after receiving a similar thumping in 2008.

“They beat us last year, and we came back and at the halfway point we were 6-2,” Rogers said Monday. “Hopefully we can go on that same streak.”

That’s not out of the question, given the schedule. Mediocrity might be enough against the next five opponents — St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Kansas City — although it’s worth noting that the Redskins actually lost at home to the Rams (0-4 at the time) last year. A similar result at home this week would put Zorn and Campbell on the accelerated path toward lame-duck status.

Campbell (19 for 26, 211 yards) didn’t get into a rhythm against the Giants until the final drive of the game, when the Redskins scored their only offensive touchdown to make the final score close. Zorn he was happy with Campbell’s overall comfort level — minus the quarterback’s two major errors: an interception thrown while across the line of scrimmage, and a strip-and-runback by Osi Umenyiora that could have been avoided had Campbell stepped forward and thrown the ball away.

“The instincts are to take a look and make a decision, and he didn’t make a decision on that play,” Zorn said. “Just think about the irony of them fumbling the snap in their first series and gaining 5 yards, and us getting the ball batted and they getting a touchdown.”

The defense, said Zorn, gave up “too much cushion in the secondary,” allowing the Giants to convert third downs and dominate time of possession. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall confessed to having a subpar outing, and Rogers — who couldn’t get a grip on one that could have changed the game’s tone on the Giants’ first possession.

“I thought I had a shot at it, but I was facing that sun and that glare,” Rogers said.

Much of the focus, though, was on the Redskins debut of $100 million defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth clogged the middle, finished with four tackles and had the wind knocked out of him while stopping Brandon Jacobs for no gain on fourth-and-1 early in the second quarter.

But he also left the game often to take breaks on the sideline. Certainly it’s the norm for defensive linemen to rotate in and out, but the Redskins are going to have find the right balance. It seemed odd that Zorn decided to activate a fifth receiver over an extra defensive lineman who could have helped make up for Haynesworth’s downtime.

“The one thing I noticed is when he is in there, he is going as hard as he can, he really is,” Zorn said. “I wish he’d play 100 percent of the time at 100 percent speed, but he weighs 340, he is a load, and I think moving that much mass can kind of take it out of you.”

Zorn then started to say that Haynesworth “will get in better shape,” but the coach then changed gears.

“We’ll figure that out a little bit as we go along,” Zorn said. “But I wasn’t displeased with the type of play he had on the field and the amount.”

There are other tweaks to make. Campbell burned two timeouts in the third quarter, hampering the comeback attempt in the fourth. Santana Moss and LaRon Landry both lost their cool, indications of a team trying to straddle the line between aggressiveness and discipline.

“You don’t want to hurt your team,” Rogers said. “But you don’t want to show no team that you’re a punk and you’re going to just lay down to anything they’re going to do.”

This is supposed to be the coming-out year for second-year players Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis, but they combined for one catch for 6 yards. Ironically, Antwaan Randle El, demoted to No. 3 receiver in favor of Kelly, took advantage of space across the middle to get more yards receiving (98) than he had in any game as a starter last year.

“I wanted to be the starter, but of course it didn’t happen and then I just transferred my focus,” Randle El. “I didn’t stress about it.”



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