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Redskins Have a Point to Prove vs. Ravens


Baltimore. That's where all the trouble started last year.

The Redskins opened the 2009 preseason against the Ravens in Baltimore and suffered a 23-0 defeat. No points. None. Scoring proved impossible in that game and a problem ever after.

The new-look Redskins again meet the Ravens, this time at home on Saturday night. Scoring is now expected, especially after a 42-17 victory against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason opener.

This is no time to declare the Redskins an offensive machine. One preseason game isn't nearly enough proof, especially after going up against a team with a new coach and in transition to a 3-4 defense.

"We know Buffalo and Baltimore are two different teams. Baltimore is a team that this defense has been playing together for a little while and they're effective and obviously a team that people are watching," quarterback Donovan McNabb says. "So we have to make sure that we're ready to go, be prepared and go out and make plays that are there to make."

The Redskins rang up 352 yards against the Bills and dominated time of possession. Do not expect head coach Mike Shanahan to rest on that.

His take on the offense right now?

"Well, it's truly hard to say. This week is a great challenge for us," he says.

The Ravens play a hard and aggressive 3-4 scheme, with linebacker Ray Lewis, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Terrell Suggs only a few of their standouts. Their secondary has already been damaged by injuries but they still bring pressure from all angles.

In beating the Carolina Panthers 17-12, they did not allow an offensive touchdown.

Yes, a great challenge.

Let's look back again. A year ago, the Redskins scored only 58 points as they lost three of four preseason games. They topped 17 points once. They've already scored 42 and they're seeing the beauty of the scheme of Shanahan and Shanahan (Kyle, the offensive coordinator).

"There wasn't a lot of belief last year and it's sad to say there wasn't," fullback Mike Sellers says. "The players believe what Coach Shanahan is teaching and obviously it works."

Seeing and believing have become one for these players. The 42 points against Buffalo were the most for the Redskins in a preseason game since 1988.

"I know a lot of people will say it doesn't mean anything but it's amazing what it does for your confidence," center Casey Rabach says. "The points feel good."

There's still plenty for the Redskins to work on and to clean up. They fumbled four times against the Bills, though they lost none, and they allowed the Bills to average 8.1 yards per rush.

Even so, we continue to return to the offense, which accomplished so little a year ago and now can at least lay claim to competence and confidence.

"I think you are seeing a whole new different ball club than you are used to seeing in the previous seasons," McNabb says, though he sounds one cautionary note. "We don't want to get too overly excited."

Not now. Not yet.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at *** and follow him on **.*

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