WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Redskins’ injury situation is so bad that coach Jay Gruden would rather give players an extra day off than practice and possibly make it worse.
With another pivotal NFC East matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Redskins won’t practice again until Thursday because their injured players could use the rest. Just along the starting offensive line, tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, right guard Brandon Scherff and center Spencer Long are battling injuries that will at the very least limit their effectiveness if they’re even able to get on the field.
Williams continues to play with a severe right knee injury that will likely require surgery, Scherff sprained the MCL in his left knee and hurt his lower back, Long has knee and quadriceps tendinitis and Moses sprained both ankles. All of those injuries except Williams’ occurred in a 34-24 loss at the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, and backup offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe remains out after surgery to repair a core muscle injury.
Gruden said on a conference call Tuesday there’s a chance Scherff can play with a brace on Sunday against Dallas but knows the injuries up and down the roster will affect his team’s preparations for the Cowboys.
“I don’t have any linemen, so there will have to be some changes made,” Gruden said. “The majority of these guys will run through a brick wall for the Washington Redskins, that’s for sure, that’s why I love this group. But I also have to be smart and make sure I understand that this is a long year and I’ve got to make sure that these guys are healthy.”
Injury concerns also include linebacker Preston Smith’s groin, safety Stefan McClure’s hamstring and rookie cornerback Fabian Moreau’s hamstring, while cornerback Bashaud Breeland (knee), running back Rob Kelley (ankle) and linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) all played through some pain Monday night. Cornerback Josh Norman (rib), safety Deshazor Everett (hamstring) and backup offensive lineman Tyler Catalina (concussion) are expected to return to practice later in the week.
With so many injuries mounting, Gruden will focus on walkthroughs, meetings and some more 7-on-7 drills to allow players to get up to speed but not endure more physical pounding.
“We’ll get our work in,” Gruden said. “Right now it’s most important to let them know who we’re playing, obviously, let them know what they’re doing defensively, what our plan of attack is on both sides of the ball and then trying to get the reps the best way we can with the amount of bodies we have available.”
Operating behind a patchwork offensive line, quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked four times by the Eagles. That challenge isn’t getting any easier; Dallas ranks seventh in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt.
“It’s an expectation throughout the season that you’re going to be having to reach into your depth — maybe not as much as we have had to at tackle and some of the positions — but you do expect it to happen at some point,” Cousins said after the game. “I was proud of the way our offensive line continued to battle. Several of them came back out and kept playing and showed a lot of toughness and grit against a very good defensive line that was rotating in a lot of players and keeping guys very fresh and that certainly made it tough on our guys.”
While Gruden said an MRI exam gave Washington some good news on Scherff, he acknowledged there’s some concern about Williams playing through a significant injury. Williams is known for playing hurt, but there’s a line where it affects his play and could hurt one of the game’s best left tackles in the long term.
“That’s something that I have to rely on the trainers to make that call and Trent to make that call,” Gruden said. “First off, we have to do right by Trent. And then the big thing is finding out from a longevity standpoint, how much this could affect him if it does or not. That’s something we have to take into account and then make a good decision.”
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