On Monday, the Redskins got on the practice field for the first time since losing to the Cowboys on Thursday night. It appeared to be business as usual, with the players stretching and then going through drills. Some injured players were watching and not participating.
But it was not a normal situation. For the first time in three years, the Redskins are facing the prospect of playing games that have no relevance regarding the playoffs. Their chances going into Dallas already were slim and none and Slim left town at some point during the course of their 38-14 loss in AT&T Stadium.
In the interest of accuracy, they aren’t mathematically eliminated but the math is tough for them. According to the website Fivethirtyeight.com, the Redskins have less than a one percent chance of playing in January. And their fate really isn’t in their own hands. If they win their next three games, their chances increase to a full one percent. They are currently in the 11th seed slot and they would need an unrealistic amount of help to get in even if they win out.
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In 2015, they won the NFC East. Last year they were in contention until the final game. Only 12 players currently on the roster were around in 2014 when the team was playing out the string in December.
But they are still out there practicing and they will show up in Los Angeles on Sunday to try to beat the Chargers.
“We just go out there and compete,” said cornerback Kendall Fuller. “Every week we’re trying to win a game, go out there and do the best we can. No matter how we’re standing toward the end of the year, that competitive mindset you’ve got to have week in and week out.”
If Fuller, who is in his second season, needs any inspiration he just looks at some of the veterans practicing the same way they did in Week 1.
“These older guys we have here in the locker room, coming out of the locker room every day with a lot of energy having done it for as long as they have,” he said. “To see that from them, it’s just going to challenge us to do the same.”
Tight end Vernon Davis, who has experienced both Super Bowls and playing out the string in his 12 seasons in the NFL, believes that finishing with a winning record would be its own reward.
“If we win out the rest of the season, everything takes care of itself,” he said. “Who knows, but we can look back and say we had a winning season. We won together, we stayed together, we kept fighting through adversity and we stayed together. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
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Jay Gruden plans to give the team an opportunity to stay together. He said that there are no plans to shut down some of the team’s injured players unless the medical staff says it’s necessary.
“We obviously don’t want to hurt anybody’s future – if it’s a chance to injure themselves long term,” said Gruden. “But, you know, if it’s just a nagging ankle sprain or something like that where they just can play through it, then they’ll play through it. We’ve got to dress 46 guys out there and we’ll dress the healthiest guys we can.”
One of the players who many believe should be at the top of the list to be shut down is left tackle Trent Williams. He suffered a knee injury in Week 4 and he has missed three of the last eight games since then. The injury will require offseason surgery with a rehab period of six months, perhaps longer. But at the moment, he has no intention of sitting out the last four games.
“I fought through it this long, hopefully I can get another four games out of it,” he said in the locker room after the loss to the Cowboys.