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Instant analysis from Redskins' dominant win over Cardinals

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Instant analysis from Redskins' dominant win over Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Here is my instant analysis of the Redskins' dominant 24-6 season-opening win over the Cardinals. 

- The Redskins' opening drive of the season got off to a good start with two good Adrian Peterson runs, a completion to Jordan Reed that had an unnecessary roughness foul tacked on and a Chris Thompson catch to convert a third and four. But a false start derailed the momentum and an intentional grounding pushed the Redskins out of field goal range. Peterson had three carries for 12 yards on the drive.

- The Redskins' first TD was the Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson show. Thompson ran twice for 27 yards and Peterson looked strong with 24 yards on four carries. Thompson finished it off with a 13-yard touchdown reception. In all, it was a clean, crisp 80-yard drive that took 11 plays. The Redskins will take as many of those as they can get. 

- A third-down conversion and a fourth-down QB sneak got the Redskins rolling in the second quarter. Passes to Jordan Reed and Jamison moved Washington to a first and goal at the four. Three Peterson runs got them into the end zone to cap a 15-play, 76-yard drive that consumed just over nine minutes. 

- Meanwhile, the Redskins defense was smothering the Cards on offense. After David Johnson got 24 yards rushing on Arizona's first possession, he did almost nothing the rest of the half. Sam Bradford was three for seven, passing for 11 yards. In general, the Redskins had an answer for everything the Cardinals tried. In the half, the Cardinals got two first downs on their first four plays and none after that. 

- Halftime team stats: First downs-Redskins 22, Cardinals 2; Third downs Redskins 5-7 (71%), Cardinals 0-3 (you can do the math there); Time of possession: Redskins 22:57, Cardinals 7:03. There are more, but you get the idea here. 

- Three five-yard defensive penalties--two for holding, one for hands to the face--got the Redskins offense going in the third quarter. So did runs of 17 by Peterson and 14 by Thompson. But then the flags started flying against the Redskins and a pair of holding calls stalled the drive. The good upside of the drive was that it did flip field position and burned off nearly seven minutes of the third drive. 

-Alex Smith played exactly the way that Jay Gruden and the rest of the organization hoped he would when they traded for him. His decision-making was solid, and he used his mobility to get out of trouble and make plays downfield. He threw a lot of good passes but two in particular stood out. In the second quarter, the quarterback was flushed out of the pocket to his left, kept his eyes downfield, and found Jordan Reed for 22 yards and a first down in the red zone. In the fourth, he converted a third and 11 with a laser to Jamison Crowder. Smith did throw a few passes off target, but he was as solid as a rock for the most part.

- The Redskins gave up a touchdown with 5:47 left and the NFL's longest active streak of not shutting out an opponent lives. It dates back to October of 1991. 

-Peterson was impressive in his debut with the Redskins. He ran with authority and despite having missed all of training camp and having very limited time working with the offensive line, he knew when to cut and where to run. That's instinctive running and he hasn't lost that at age 33. 

-Only a couple of late drives after the outcome had been determined let the Cardinals get to over 200 yards of offense. It was a dominant day for the Redskins' defense. They had two sacks, two takeaways, and held the Cardinals to one of seven on third down. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS  and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler. 

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Despite some tears, youth football helped Chris Thompson discover his love for the game

Despite some tears, youth football helped Chris Thompson discover his love for the game

Maybe Chris Thompson was always destined to end up with the Redskins.

When the running first partook in the game of football growing up, the team he played for ended up being the same one he'd enter the NFL with.

“My little league team just so happened to be the Redskins," Thompson told NBC Sports Washington.

From a Pop Warner to the pros, he still carries the memories of his youth football days as they played a major part in molding him into the player he is today. Yet, it wasn't all positives.

For someone as talented an explosive as Thompson, one would probably expect him to have a great amount of success from the start of his football days. But, his first season was quite the opposite.

“My first year, we lost every single game," he said. "So I went home crying every single day. After every single game, because I hated to lose.”

We've all been there. Losing a game as a kid, no matter what the circumstance is, can be heartbreaking. I would be lying if I said I never had a meltdown or two on the little league field when I couldn't find the strike zone.

While going through a season with no wins is probably enough to deter a lot of young kids from a sport, Thompson wasn't ready to give up. He came back for another season, and things quickly turned around.

“The next year, we went undefeated," Thompson said. “I literally got tackled one time the whole season.”

A 180-degree change in the following year, Thompson and his teammates enjoyed a lot more success and fun. The running back said the one tackle came in the championship game, and that he racked up plenty of touchdowns during that campaign.

As a young kid, being able to rebound from a low moment and come out on top is something that Thompson has carried with him throughout his entire career. Battling back from injuries and doubts, he's always been someone who wants to do better every time he steps on the field.

“So it was just kind of, as a young kid, added motivation for me," Thompson said about his youth football experiences.

Though that first season may have not been the most enjoyable experience for a young Thompson, he's forever grateful for his early playing days. Even now being at the highest level of football, he understands the impact it had.

“It’s fun man. I feel like you really start to, you build friendships through sports big time. It’s just those moments back then, even through high school, you won't forget cause it’s just fun," Thompson said. "You’re just having fun, being able to play the game you love and nothing else really matters.”

“I feel like that’s when you really start to love the game of football."

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As injury questions mount for Colt McCoy, what's the impact on Dwayne Haskins?

As injury questions mount for Colt McCoy, what's the impact on Dwayne Haskins?

Colt McCoy deserves better. He's one of the hardest working and nicest players in the NFL. He holds innate leadership traits. His coaches appreciate him and his teammates respect him.

Despite all of that, it seems that for the Redskins 2019 season, McCoy's chances at winning the starting quarterback job are over.

"It's not good for Colt obviously but like I said, what's most important for Colt is to get that [leg] to where he can fire off of it, push off of it. It's his right leg, so he's not getting enough fire off of it push off of it and until he feels like he's 100 percent doing that, I'm not going to put him back there," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Sunday. 

The news about McCoy comes after he missed practice on Sunday and missed Washington's second straight preseason game last Thursday. The veteran quarterback still hasn't gotten past the broken tibia suffered last December, and that included multiple surgeries to try and fix the problem. Now, nearly 10 months later, the problem still isn't fixed. 

"Oh man, it might not be the end of camp, it might be two or three weeks into the season. We don't know yet," Gruden said of McCoy's return. "There's no timetable for him until he feels like he's 100 percent to push off that leg. Until that time comes, he's going to be rehabbing."

As tough as the news is for McCoy, it potentially means something very different for rookie Dwayne Haskins. 

With McCoy in the fold, most informed observers thought he would win the starting job Week 1 in Philadelphia. Now that doesn't seem very likely. Does that mean the rookie could get the gig?

Case Keenum would say no. He's also a veteran passer, and he's started both preseason games with McCoy out. Keenum hasn't been great, but he's been fine, and odds are he starts ahead of Haskins. 

That said, the door for Haskins to emerge as the starter is undoubtedly more open than it was before the latest McCoy news. On the most simple level, two weeks ago Haskins had to beat out Keenum and McCoy to get the start. Now it seems like the Ohio State star just needs to beat out Keenum. 

Haskins still seems like a long shot to start Week 1 in Philadelphia, and that seems like a smart, prudent approach for the Redskins. Maximizing Haskins' immense potential is about years, not weeks, and Washington would not be served by rushing the rookie on the field. 

That said, Haskins might get more chances with the starting group this Thursday in Atlanta. Gruden explained that Haskins already got some time with some starters on the offensive line, and that could increase. 

It's also undeniable that Haskins presents the highest upside of the quarterback group. He was the 15tth overall pick for a reason. He has the biggest arm on the team and showed his big-play ability last week against the Bengals. 

On Sunday Colt McCoy said his return would be "sooner rather than later." He also explained that he visited renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson during training camp. His injury is from last December, and it's still not right. McCoy could be back tomorrow, or he could be back in October. Nobody knows, including the player or the coach. 

The uncertainty around McCoy doesn't guarantee Haskins will take the field any sooner this fall. But it does make the scenario easier to see. 

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