Redskins struggle offensively in preseason loss to Rave…

BALTIMORE – What happened on the field Thursday night wasn’t ideal for the Washington Redskins, but it’s what didn’t happen that kept Jay Gruden awake on the late-night bus ride to Richmond.

The Redskins fumbled the football four times in the first half of a 23-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, recovering three of them and getting the fourth overturned on a video replay.

Those near-turnovers could have made an ugly preseason debut even uglier, and represent a step in the wrong direction for a team that benched its starting running back last year for coughing up the football too often.

Newly drafted running back Samaje Perine showed nerves in his preseason debut, though he steadied himself in the second half.

It was an inauspicious start after the team broadcast opened with Clinton Portis declaring this year’s running backs “probably the best group in the NFL.”

The lone offensive standout was receiver Ryan Grant, who backed up his stellar training camp with an impressive first-half catch from backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

Kirk Cousins was pressured heavily in his two drives, and completed one of his two attempted passes. Three drives in, the Redskins still didn’t have a yard of offense, and the starters were pulled from the game.

On the other sideline, U.Va. alum Taquan Mizzell received the bulk of the workload at running back for the Baltimore Ravens, and while he didn’t break off any big runs, he provided steady production that should get him more looks as the preseason continues.

The Redskins defense started with a pair of three-and-outs, though on the third possession a costly pass interference penalty from rookie Joshua Holsey was compounded when Stacy McGee lined up incorrectly on a missed field goal. The Ravens capitalized on those second chances to score the game’s first points, a touchdown run by Terrance West.

Washington’s standouts were almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball, a group that included nose tackle Phil Taylor, who is seeking to revive his stalled-out NFL career.

Both rookies from Alabama, Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson, had standout moments and appeared technically proficient from the first snap.

Newly signed linebacker Zach Brown, who didn’t get one of the game’s starting spots, was also a bright spot for the Redskins in an otherwise dreary opener.

Brown’s omission from the starting lineup, which has been the case in training camp as well, may not be worth reading too much into. The defense rotated players through all three units over the course of the evening, and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said nothing has been settled yet.

Other players will leave lamenting missed opportunities. Linebacker Lynden Trail missed a sack opportunity, while rookie receiver Robert Davis, who has had a strong camp, came up short on Thursday.

The Redskins are back in action Saturday at training camp, with one practice scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m.

​mphillips@timesdispatch.com    (804) 649-6546     

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