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Jay Gruden doesn't want injuries to be an excuse, but they’ve been an issue for the offense

Jay Gruden doesn't want injuries to be an excuse, but they’ve been an issue for the offense

During the Redskins 0-4 starts, there have been plenty of problems that could have been avoided. Penalties, blown coverages and more have led to a dreadful start to the campaign.

But, one thing that is hard to avoid are injuries. In recent years, the injury bug is something that has decimated the Redskins at times, and 2019 is no different. On Sunday against the Giants, Washington was without many its starters on offense. Big names like Derrius Guice, Terry McLaurin, Jordan Reed, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier were all sidelined for Week 4.

That's a lot of important pieces on offense, none of them able to contribute.

Gruden won't use the injuries as the scapegoat for the Redskins start, as plenty of other teams have dealt with their own and he understands there are improvements that need to be made no matter who is out on the field. But, the head coach does admit that the absences of some key players is making what they can do on offense more challenging.

"Offensively, we got to get some of our guys back. That would help," Gruden said. "I don't know what people expect when you're missing the talent and some of the payroll that we're missing on offense. These are hired guns watching the game on television eating popcorn, unfortunately."

It's hard to understate how important the current group of players dealing with ailments are to the offense. While some will look to Trent Williams' absence being a big contributor (and it is), Gruden pointed out that he's liked what he's seen from Donald Penn so far. 

He wants Williams back, but there are other names he wants to see in pads as well.

"Before I want to cry about Trent Williams, I want to commend Donald Penn for what he's done. He's done a great job and that's not the reason why we're struggling," Gruden said. "The offensive firepower that Jordan Reed gives us is part of the reason. Missing Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier in the game. Terry McLaurin, who we know what kind of speed and threat he's been for us for the first three weeks has a little bit of an impact. I think Derrius Guice has had an impact, you know what I mean? Obviously Alex Smith, he was our quarterback that we brought in here."

Injuries have clearly taken their toll on Washington once again, and it's not out of line to think things may be going slightly better with a fully healthy roster. Yet, that's something that can't always be controlled. No one knows better than the Redskins that injuries are bound to happen. 

With no time to play the 'what if?' game, Gruden understands that his team has to be better no matter who takes the field.

"There's a lot of good players out there, but we still have enough talent to do a heck of a lot better than we've done the first four weeks," Gruden said.

"The guys who are asked to step up in their place, we got to get more out of them, for sure. I'm not using that as an excuse. We got to play better."

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Report: President Trump told pro sports commissioners he believes NFL season should start on time

Report: President Trump told pro sports commissioners he believes NFL season should start on time

During a conference call with 13 professional sports commissioners Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he believes the 2020 NFL season should start as scheduled in September despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Trump also reportedly remarked that he would like to allow fans back into stadiums and arenas by August or September.

The president used the call as an opportunity to commend the commissioners for their response to the pandemic. On March 11, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to suspend play in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The NHL, which was less than a month out from the start of the playoffs, followed suit—as eventually did the MLS, ATP, WTA, PGA Tour, NASCAR and MLB spring training.

With the NFL still in the midst of its offseason, there remains hope that the 2020 season will begin on time. So far, the league has canceled its annual league meaning and delayed OTAs. The draft will be held as expected while teams make their selections remotely rather than in Las Vegas as originally planned. While many free-agent deals have yet to be finalized due to the inability for teams to conduct physicals, the NFL has yet to be affected as much as other major sports.

The season is set to begin Thursday, Sept. 10 with opening Sunday coming Sept. 13.

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President Trump meets with league commissioners, commends their response to the coronavirus

President Trump meets with league commissioners, commends their response to the coronavirus

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke with commissioners of the country's sports leagues on Saturday and told them he recognizes "the good work being done by many teams and players" to care for their communities and fans dealing with the new coronavirus.

After the conference call that included the president, two of his advisers and 13 sports commissioners ended, ESPN reported that Trump "believes the NFL season should start on time in September."

The virus has decimated the sports world with the NBA and NHL suspending their seasons indefinitely and MLB postponing the start of its season.

The NCAA basketball tournament was also canceled, as were college spring sports such as baseball and softball, lacrosse and track and field. No representatives of the NCAA were reported to be in the call.

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The White House says the commissioners thanked Trump for his "national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry." He called on them to continue efforts to support their fellow Americans during the current challenge.

A wide range of sports league officials participated in the call, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

NBC Sports Washington's Matt Weyrich contributed to this report.

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