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Washington Redskins dominate Bills, but Crawford out for season

Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman looks for a receiver in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Landover, Md.

Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman looks for a receiver in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Landover, Md.

LANDOVER, Md. Entering training camp, there were too many players competing for not enough spots in the Redskins’ secondary.

That dilemma has been reversed after three preseason games.

Washington dominated the Bills 30-7 on Saturday, advancing to 3-0 in preseason, but lost second-year cornerback Richard Crawford to a season-ending knee injury.

Add the loss of safety Phillip Thomas two weeks ago and the two positions have turned into question marks with the regular season looming.

“He’s like a little brother to us, and we’re going to miss him,” cornerback E.J. Biggers said of Crawford.

Linebacker London Fletcher added that losing Crawford, who tore his LCL, stung because of the improvements he had made from his first year to the second year.

The injury means that cornerback Chase Minnifield (U.Va.) slides off the roster bubble. Not only is he in, but the Redskins may have to rely on the reinstatement of suspended safety Tanard Jackson at the end of the month.

Crawford was hurt on a punt return, a job that will now fall to rookie running back Chris Thompson, who did not return punts in college.

Crawford’s injury overshadowed a dominant performance by the Redskins in a battle of third-string quarterbacks.

Rex Grossman and Pat White guided the winning team, while the Bills finished the game with just one healthy quarterback, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel.

Washington’s first-team offense played two series, running 18 plays that combined for 140 yards and 10 points.

The highlight was Grossman’s touchdown strike to Pierre Garcon, a play where the offensive line blocked outward to create a hole for Alfred Morris, but Grossman made a quick-strike pass as the defense sold out for the run.

“He’s running the route anyway, to give us the option to throw, so you can wait until the last second to make the decision,” Grossman said. “We’d run it twice before, and got the look on that one.”

For the Redskins’ defense, the game had been sold as a preview of the Eagles’ up-tempo offense as the Bills are installing similar no-huddle schemes.

The Redskins won the time-of-possession battle handily, though that could be attributed to an early hit that knocked Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb out of the game and necessitated the marathon performance from Tuel.

The day’s standout for Buffalo was running back C.J. Spiller, who bowled in for a touchdown on the team’s second drive. The no-huddle attack helped him as the Bills spotted a defensive mismatch on a run, and quickly called a play to take advantage.

One area the Bills had no answers was third-and-long situations. The Redskins debuted a new formation with five pass-rushing linebackers and no defensive back, generating pressure from Brandon Jenkins, Perry Riley, Darryl Tapp, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

“Coach Haslett is a mastermind, man, and he’s putting a lot of things together,” Tapp said. “All the players have bought in and are ready to make plays.”

Tapp stayed on longer than the others, and the Virginia Tech graduate turned in a second straight dominant performance, likely securing his roster spot.

The rest of the defense also played with aggression. Twice the Redskins ripped the ball from a Bill’s hands to force a fumble.

The game was sealed when running back Keiland Williams scampered in for a touchdown on a fourth-and-1 with 11 minutes remaining in the contest.

The Redskins will chase their first undefeated preseason since 1985 on Thursday night in Tampa.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

@michaelpRTD