Veteran defensive end Jason Hatcher returned to practice Thursday, but his health is becoming a concern for the Redskins.
Hatcher was listed as limited in his participation on the injury report. He did not participate at all on Wednesday for the second straight week.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Coach Jay Gruden said, asked if Hatcher’s knee is affecting his explosiveness. “I think he’s been sore. A little bit of it is wear and tear. He’s played a lot of football in his day, and we try to rest him on certain days of week to make sure he’s fresh on game day.”
“But,” Gruden added, “it’s just becoming a little bit of a nagging-type deal for him and we’ve rested pretty him well yesterday and today. Hopefully he’ll feel a lot better come game day.”
Hatcher, 33, has not recorded a sack since the season opener. His 17 quarterback pressures, though, are the second most among all 3-4 defensive ends, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Asked if Hatcher’s current injury could be connected to the knee problems he experienced last season, Gruden acknowledged that it's possible. Gruden did not specify which knee is currently bothering Hatcher, though he's been wearing a brace on his right knee.
Hatcher missed the final three games last season due to a nagging knee injury and was listed as questionable the two games before that.
“It’s something that he’s played a lot of football in his day,” Gruden said of the 6 foot 6, 299-pound 10th-year pro. “He’s a big man, and when you’re that big, carrying that much weight on your joints, sometimes they get a little sore and stiff this time of year.”
Gruden said the key for Hatcher will be listening to his body and taking time off when it’s necessary.
“It’s just something we have to monitor, keep him fresh and get him in the rehab room,” the coach said. “We had back-to-back games on that turf too, which didn’t help. I think he’s going to be fine. It’s just a matter of taking care of him.”