Injuries and a rookie quarterback other than Robert Griffin III were the story in the Washington Redskins loss to the Chicago Bears Saturday night.
The hot-handed Kirk Cousins briefly erased a 20-point deficit, orchestrating an impressive second half comeback only to have it thwarted by a 57-yard Robbie Gould field goal with 31 seconds remaining which gave the Bears a 33-31 victory.
On the injury front, Brian Orakpo hurt his left shoulder while trying to make a one-armed tackle on Devin Hester in the first quarter. The linebacker writhed in pain after being spun around on the play.
The 26-year-old Orakpo underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle sustained in last year’s season finale.
Shortly thereafter, safety Brandon Meriweather injured his left knee while Chicago’s Michael Bush scampered in for his second touchdown of the night. The safety signed with the Redskins this offseason after playing for the Bears in 2011.
Neither player returned to the game.
Lorenzo Alexander, who started in place of London Fletcher at inside linebacker, told the Redskins Radio Network that he believed Orakpo’s injury wasn’t serious and was related to scar tissue.
Orakpo is scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday.
As for Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner finished the night 5-of-8 passing for 49 yards. He added 17 yards on the ground courtesy of three scrambling attempts.
The man with Superman socks proved to be human after all.
He spent much of the night under pressure, was sacked three times and lost a fumble which gave the Bears a 1st and goal at the 8-yard-line. Chicago converted the turnover into a touchdown two plays later.
Cousins, Griffin’s fellow rookie, surprisingly served as Washington’s second quarterback ahead of Rex Grossman. The fourth-round pick out of Michigan State made the most of his opportunity and easily turned out the best quarterbacking performance of the game.
Cousins led Washington on consecutive scoring drives in the second half en route to a 18-of-23, 264-yard, 3-touchdown performance.
Cousins will not overtake Griffin as the team’s starter. However, he did stake a claim to be the Baylor product’s backup.
Rex Grossman did not play against his former team.
Another rookie, Alfred Morris, found himself in the spotlight Saturday as he started ahead of Evan Royster in the backfield.
The Florida Atlantic product ripped a 21-yard run on his first carry of the night and finished the night with 34 yards on 10 carries.
Brandon Banks didn’t make much of an impact on offense, but made the decision to cut him a very difficult one for the coaching staff.
Mike Shanahan said the undersized third-year player would need to make the team as a wide receiver. However, a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown served as a reminder of how dangerous Banks can be on special teams.
Aldrick Robinson, one of Banks’ chief competitors for a roster spot, compounded the coaches’ difficult decision with a big night of his own. The 23-year-old caught 6 passes for 104 yards, highlighted by a 15-yard dig that turned into a 49-yard touchdown after he found an extra gear.
Robinson was a primary target for the hot-handed Cousins in the second half and finished the night as the Redskins’ leading receiver.
Washington will open their home preseason schedule next Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts and first overall draft choice Andrew Luck.
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