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Skins' Final Fight for Roster Spots vs. Cards



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    GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 02: Runningback Willie Parker #29 of the Washington Redskins rushes the football against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the preseason NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 2, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    You know it's the final Redskins preseason game when none of the starters ... well, start.

    That was the case Thursday night against the Cardinals. The Redskins' on-field squad included second-teamers, third-teamers, fourth-teamers and perhaps a water boy or two.

    The game ended with a 20-10 Cardinals win. But the score really didn't matter.

    What mattered? To those players who have roster spots locked up, they just wanted to make some impressive plays and get out of Arizona without an injury.

    Easier said than done.

    Linebacker Robert Henson was having a tremendous game, running from sideline to sideline to make tackles -- and then he got hurt. Henson sprained his right knee and had to be helped off the field. There was no immediate word on how long he could be out.

    What else mattered in the game? To those players on the roster bubble, it was one final chance to make an impression on the coaching staff.

    There was plenty on the line for a number of guys trying to avoid getting cut by Saturday's deadline.

    With John Beck signing a contract extension this week, that meant Richard Bartel was the odd man out in the QB battle. The Skins gave him the chance to start Thursday night's game to showcase his talents for another team (or perhaps the practice squad), and he delivered, going 12 for 14 for 125 yards and a touchdown despite not having much protection in front of him.

    Willie Parker, who seems to be on the outside looking in at a roster spot, had his best outing yet in the preseason, bursting to the right side in the first quarter for a 14-yard scamper. He finished with seven rushes for 35 yards and three catches for 10 yards in the first half. An early fumble (which he recovered) in the second half didn't help. Will his good runs be enough for him to make the squad?

    Probably not, as Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams seem to be on the coaching staff's good side.

    Devin Thomas pulled down four passes for 34 yards and returned the second half kickoff 29 yards -- probably enough to keep the Turk off his back. But he also stopped running a route in the fourth quarter that led to a John Beck interception.

    Terrence Austin, on the other hand, caught a 21-yard pass for a touchdown from Bartel in the fourth quarter -- another sign that he's got a spot locked up.

    Brandon Banks helped his chances early on by returning a kickoff 40 yards with some good cuts through a mass of bodies.

    But the good times didn't last long, as he backpedaled on a punt and fumbled it later in the first half. He eventually recovered the loose ball, but that wasn't what the coaching staff wanted to see from a guy needed to instill confidence in his ability to hold onto the ball. He also dropped a catchable ball and fumbled with no one around him after making a catch at wide receiver in the third quarter. Not good.

    And one final note: even though the starters had the night off, $100 million man Albert Haynesworth was still seen in the game with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Yet more punishment for a disgruntled player who missed most of training camp...