Norman began shadowing No. 1 receivers a few times last year, displaying he’s more than a right cornerback buoyed by the surrounding system. Proving he can travel with No. 1 wideouts made the difference in Norman’s mind.
“Last year was the year I could stand on my own and say, ‘OK, I can play whatever you want me to play, coach, put me in,” Norman said. “I can go in nickel. I can come off the edge. I can have a sack or a big play, smack a running back in the backfield. Whatever you need me to do. I can be the hammer. I can be the force. I did that on the outside as well.”
Coach Jay Gruden took a more conventional dress-rehearsal approach to the third preseason game for the Redskins (2-1) and got the kind of performances he’d like to see from top players such as tight end Jordan Reed, receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, left tackle Trent Williams and cornerback Josh Norman.
Reed, Garcon and receiver Ryan Grant each caught a touchdown pass from Cousins, and Norman looked sharp on defense along with second-year linebacker Preston Smith and lineman Ziggy Hood.
Jones’ injury could spell trouble for the Redskins (1-1), who have very little experience behind him at running back after letting Alfred Morris leave for Dallas in free agency. Third-down back Chris Thompson, rookies Robert Kelley and Keith Marshall and second-year player Mack Brown split the bulk of the carries after Jones left.
With Jackson and Pierre Garcon getting the night off, Ross made the most of his opportunity, catching two touchdown passes from backup quarterback Colt McCoy, who was 13 of 16 for 159 yards. Ross had three catches for 58 yards.
Cousins looked like he was going to make up for a lost fumble in the third quarter when he put Washington ahead. He faked a handoff to Chris Thompson, tucked the ball away and ran to the right around the outside to score against a defense that didn’t expect him to be carrying the ball in a critical situation. Cousins finished 30 of 39 for 301 yards with a TD and a fumble.
Detroit’s Zach Zenner scored on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter against a defense that hadn’t given up a TD in nine quarters, giving Detroit a 10-3 lead.
Washington appeared to have the game won with 2:13 left in overtime, but Dustin Hopkins sliced his 34-yard field goal attempt wide left.
The Redskins got the ball back with 1:11 remaining when Dalton fumbled at the Bengals 47 on a quarterback sneak. Cousins couldn’t connect downfield and cheap jerseys and tossed his final desperate pass tamely into the sideline to preserve the draw.
Jones eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time this season, and Cousins finished 21 of 27 for 183 yards and also had an interception.
Browns running back Isaiah Crowell ran for 112 yards and a touchdown, and Cody Kessler was 27 of 38 for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But turnovers on three consecutive second-half possessions cost Cleveland a chance at its first victory of the season.
Despite elite production over the middle of the field, the belief around the Redskins’ coaching staff is that Crowder can also be explosive on the outside due to the fact that he has no problem overcoming his small stature.
“He just continues to prove every day why we like him so much,” Gruden said. “He’s great on option routes, he can run vertical stems. He can run just about anything you ask him to run. … He gets himself open because he’s got a great feel. He’s got quickness in and out of his breaks. He plays a lot longer than his size. He has got really long arms. He goes up and gets balls.