ASHBURN, VA - AUGUST 03: Running back Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins carries the ball during practice at training camp August 3, 2009 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Maybe it's because the Washington Redskins had nowhere to go but up after the first game. Or maybe it's because there are intangibles a coach can notice on the sideline that won't show up in a play-by-play account or on the scoreboard.
Whatever the reasons, coach Jim Zorn and his players sounded upbeat after Saturday night's 17-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, even though their two touchdowns came in the second half off the arm of fourth-string quarterback Chase Daniel.
``A week ago it felt like we were just running plays; it was like a practice,'' Zorn said of the 23-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
This week? ``Our guys were much more intent on improving,'' Zorn said.
``They showed much more enthusiasm.''
Still, the first-team offense has yet to score a touchdown in preseason. The starters drove to the 2-yard line to start the game, but only after a fake punt kept the drive alive. The Redskins had to settle for a field goal, and Zorn was asked how it important it will be for his top unit to find the end zone in Friday's game against the New England Patriots.
``It matters,'' Zorn said. ``It mattered this week. To be there on the 2-yard line was a great approach. But we need to finish. You just look back at it and say 'if only.”
At his news conference on Sunday, Zorn analyzed most of the throws in a 1-for-7 performance by starter Jason Campbell. A couple of the incompletions were a little off target, a couple were the result of miscommunication, and a couple were good decisions to throw the ball away.
``We're on our way,'' Zorn said. ``I think we improved ourselves overall. But we have to work on finishing the play. Hopefully we'll be able to put some sustained drives together.''
Campbell noted that he was asked to throw deep downfield more often than usual.
``I understand that your chances of having a high percentage are low when you're having a chance to take those long shots, but to me it's what we have to do,'' Campbell said. ``I can't be worrying about my stats because we're trying to do something to help us out during the year.''
The starters will play the first half _ and possibly beyond -- against the Patriots, giving Campbell a true chance to stretch his game for the first time this preseason.
``You're going to see everything,'' Campbell said. ``It's an opportunity for us to go out and get into a rhythm.''