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LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — In their first real chance to play together this preseason, Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins' offensive starters showed plenty of rust and then progress in a 21-16 victory against the Buffalo Bills on Friday night.
With the Bills (1-2) resting almost their entire starting defense, Cousins overcame a rough start to finish 12 of 23 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Despite coming mostly against Buffalo's second- and third-stringers, it was an important recovery for Cousins, who had thrown only five passes in the preseason and was rested last week.
"We're going to have slow moments or slow quarters at times, and the key is going to be to find a way to circle the wagons and regroup," said Cousins, who started 3 of 9. "The body of work overall was pretty productive, but there were moments where it wasn't as good as it needs to be, and we know that."
Undrafted rookie running back Robert Kelley was the brightest spot for Washington (2-1), especially given the previous injuries to Matt Jones and Chris Thompson, and that seventh-round pick Keith Marshall sprained his left elbow on his only carry of the game.
"I definitely got some work in today, and I think it helped me out," said Kelley, who ran for 51 yards on 12 carries. "Every time I get up there I try to put myself in a better situation to make the team, take advantage of the opportunity."
Bills starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor played only two series, by coach Rex Ryan's design, going 2 of 5 for 11 yards before being replaced by E.J. Manuel, who was 21 of 39 for 221 yards and an interception.
Ryan also opted to rest running back LeSean McCoy and several key defenders, including defensive tackle Kyle Williams, linebacker Jerry Hughes and cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore.
"I feel pretty good about the guys that I sat, obviously, and I don't think we can afford to get them hurt," Ryan said. "It's as simple as that, and I don't care about the criticism."
Redskins 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 tight end Jordan Reed, receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, left tackle Trent Williams, and cornerback Josh Norman.
Bills: RB Jonathan Williams ran for 42 yards on 11 carries, including a 37-yard touchdown before leaving with a rib injury. ... CB Kevon Seymour, a sixth-round pick, continued his impressive preseason with four tackles.
Redskins: LB Su'a Cravens was used on several key third downs with the first-team defense. ... CB Kendall Fuller broke up a pass and intercepted another in the end zone in the final minute.
Bills: K Dan Carpenter was 3 of 3 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 28, 52 and 52 yards. ... WR Dez Lewis didn't help himself with a drop, while Walter Powell had five catches for 55 yards. ... TE Nick O'Leary lost a fumble and quite possibly his grip on a roster spot.
Redskins: Mack Brown ran for 43 yards on 11 carries in the second half. ... LG Spencer Long returned after spraining his right ankle, while Shawn Lauvao, had a false-start penalty in the red zone. ... C Kory Lichtensteiger committed three holding penalties two days after Washington acquired C Bryan Stork from the New England Patriots. ... DL Ziggy Hood had a sack and thrived in a bigger role with DE Chris Baker getting the night off.
Bills: TE Chris Gragg and DB Jonathan Downing suffered season-ending torn ACLs. ... QB Cardale Jones (shoulder), LT Cordy Glenn (ankle), WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion) and S Aaron Williams (concussion) didn't dress.
Redskins: LB Ryan Kerrigan had a groin strain on the first series, and Gruden said he'll have an MRI on Saturday, along with Marshall. ... RT Morgan Moses (sprained left ankle) is considered day to day.
Ryan on the Bills' 13 penalties for 104 yards: "Way too many penalties obviously. I think both teams had a million penalties."
Gruden on the Redskins' 10 penalties for 87 yards: "We have to get those cleaned up. It's hard enough to go down the field first-and-10, second-and-10, but when you have first-and-20 and second-and-25, that's darn near impossible in the NFL."
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