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Matt Schaub shines in return to Atlanta Falcons, beat Redskins 23-17 in preseason opener
Backup quarterback threw for 179 yards
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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Aldrick Robinson (19) makes a catch against Washington Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar (47) during the first half of Thursday's preseason game in Atlanta. - photo by John Bazemore | Associated Press

Making a successful return to his first NFL home, Matt Schaub passed for 179 yards, leading three scoring drives, and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Washington Redskins 23-17 on Thursday night.

Schaub began his career with the Falcons as Michael Vick’s backup from 2004-06. He played seven seasons as Houston’s starter and the past two years with Baltimore and Oakland. Schaub, 35, played most of the first half and solidified his status as Matt Ryan’s top backup.

After Ryan was 0 for 4 and could not manage a first down on two possessions, Schaub moved the offense by finding Aldrick Robinson for long passes of 47 and 68 yards. Schaub completed 10 of 15 passes for 179 yards, giving Atlanta a 13-3 halftime lead.

Falcons rookie J.D. McKissic returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown to open the second half.

Redskins starter Kirk Cousins completed each of his five passes for 39 yards on his only possession. Colt McCoy played the remainder of the first half, completing 7 of 11 passes for 53 yards. McCoy led Washington to its only scoring drive of the half, a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.

Atlanta led 23-3 before Washington third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld led two touchdown drives.

ROOKIE WATCH
Redskins: RB Keith Marshall, a seventh-round pick from Georgia, had two catches for 10 yards, but lost 2 yards on three carries. Undrafted rookie Robert Kelley from Tulane possibly gained ground in the competition for a backup spot. Kelley led Washington with seven carries for 40 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter.

Falcons: McKissic could use special teams to help him earn a roster spot at receiver. He had a 14-yard punt return in the fourth quarter after his big kickoff return. … LBs Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell had a deflection and big stop, respectively, on the same second-quarter possession. … RB Brandon Wilds had nine carries for 25 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run.

INJURY UPDATE
Redskins: Among players held out were TE Jordan Reed (thumb), WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring), WR Reggie Diggs (knee), and LT Trent Williams (sore knee).

Falcons: S Kemal Ishmael left with a shoulder injury. There was no immediate update on the severity of the injury. … Rookie S Keanu Neal (trunk), TE Levine Toilolo (hand) and RB Terron Ward (ankle) were held out.

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