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Jay Gruden says Redskins will examine team's injury prevention program

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Jay Gruden says Redskins will examine team's injury prevention program

The numbers are staggering.

The Redskins finished the season with 20 players on injured reserve. There were a few more who spent some time on IR who were waived. Starters and key reserves missed a combined 145 games.

The injuries that caused missed games hit from head (concussions suffered by S Montae Nicholson, TE Niles Paul, and others) to toe (DL Terrell McClain) and just about everywhere in between.

Were all of the injuries just simply bad luck? Certainly, some of them were. But could many of them have been prevented? Safety D.J. Swearinger, who came to the team in March after playing for three different teams in four years in the league, thinks so.

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 SUPERLATIVES

“I’ve been on a team where a lot of guys got injured but I’ve never been on one with this many injured because we’re not in shape or not doing the things we need to do to stay on the field,” said Swearinger. “Some injuries are freak injuries, you can’t control them. Pulls and strains and things like that you can sort of control those things with hydration, getting your treatment when you don’t need it, little things like that can definitely control those smaller injuries.”

Swearinger has some credibility when it comes to being able to stay on the field. He was on the injury report just once this year. In his previous four seasons in the league, he missed just two games with a toe injury.

Ryan Kerrigan also is someone to whom everyone should listen on the subject of injury prevention. He has started every game since the Redskins drafted him in 2011, a streak of 112 regular-season games.

The Redskins’ 2017 sack leader said that he tries to incorporate something different into his offseason regime every year, whether it’s something like improving his flexibility or taking a food allergy test to see what he needed to change in his diet. This offseason he plans to follow up on a tip he got from 13-year veteran tight end Vernon Davis, who has missed just five games since becoming the starter in San Francisco in 2007.

“He said he takes care of himself the same way in the offseason as he does in the season,” Kerrigan said of his conversation with Davis. “That was something that really kind of struck me, kind of stuck with me. You start to think, during the season you do all of this stuff to take care of your body and maintain. Out of season you lift and you run but you might not do as much of the chiropractic work and cold tub and stuff like that. I think that’s key not only for guys like myself with eight years in the league but also young guys can develop those habits.”

RELATED: SWEARINGER CRITICAL OF TEAMMATES' INJURY ISSUES

Jay Gruden said that the organization will take a look at all aspects of injury prevention and treatment to see if they can improve their chances of keeping players on the field.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s something we have to take a close look at, whether it’s recovery after games, whether it’s how to prevent injuries, how we practice, what have you,” said Gruden during his year-end press conference on Tuesday.

Gruden went on to say that many of the injuries the team suffered were just football injuries that really can’t be avoided. But he said that he will not write it the mountain of injuries off to bad luck.

“How many of them are actually preventable?” he asked rhetorically? “That’s what we have to look at.”

Gruden said that he didn’t anticipate any changes being made to the training staff. They will look at everything they can do to keep the players on the field.

“What we can do though is do a better job maybe of the postgame recovery or give them some more options as far as maybe, I don’t know, yoga, Pilates, I don’t know what it is,” he said. “Could be something. We’ll look into everything we can.”

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Through Week 3, some teams are known and others are still mysteries

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Through Week 3, some teams are known and others are still mysteries

The sample size for the 2018 NFL season is still small, but three weeks is enough to start figuring out who's legitimate, who's legitimately bad and who's legitimately confusing.

The first group houses teams like the Rams and the Chiefs, even though the Chiefs defense apparently wants to watch Pat Mahomes just as much as the rest of us and therefore allows people to score on them repeatedly.

The second group, meanwhile, consists of dreadful groups like the Cardinals, Raiders and the Bills, even after Buffalo somehow took down the Vikings and Vegas all in one afternoon.

The last group, though, is the largest, because so many squads have flashed and crashed already through just three contests. 

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS

The Redskins, for example — are they a sneaky NFC contender or an up-and-down bunch destined for another mediocre record? 

Then there's the Chargers. The other Los Angeles franchise is without their scariest defender and has lost to two of the sport's elites. So is their 1-2 mark going to improve like you'd expect as they get healthier and face easier opponents?

This week's power rankings do their best to slot the powers at the top, the weaklings at the bottom and then deal with the in-betweeners. That's why you'll encounter some 2-1 outfits in the 20s and some 1-2 or 1-1-1 organizations around the top 10. 

Enough of the writing, however. Let's get to the list.

Click below for a fresh batch of NBCSportsWashington.com's power rankings.

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS

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Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are changing the Redskins defense

Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are changing the Redskins defense

The Redskins spent time, money and draft capital to improve their defensive front. Through three games of the 2018 season, those moves are paying off. 

Construction of a rebuilt defensive line truly began at the 2017 NFL Draft when Jonathan Allen slipped all the way to Washington with the 17th pick. He showed plenty of promise last season, but an injury cut his season short after five games. The Redskins barely recovered from his absence and the team's rush defense limped to finish last in the NFL. 

Washington continued to invest in the defensive front in 2018, drafting Daron Payne in the first round and Tim Settle in the fifth. The 'Skins also re-signed tackling machine linebacker Zach Brown during free agency. 

Add it all up, and the Redskins currently rank in the top 5 of the NFL in nearly every meaningful defensive category. Giving up fewer than 15 points-per-game, Washington is tied for second in the NFL with the vaunted Jacksonville defense. Prefer the yardage allowed metric to measure team defense? Washington (278 per-game) only ranks behind the Ravens (273 per-game). 

Any good defense has strong players lining up from the front to the back, but it always starts up front.

In Washington, that means Payne and Allen at the top of the list. 

"Those two guys are special guys and they need to be on the field," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday, after Payne and Allen combined for three sacks of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers.

"We have some other guys that can play without a doubt, but those two guys are first-rounders and very talented, so the more they play, the better they get."

Add in Matt Ioannidis, who has three sacks in three games, and the Redskins have a stout, young defensive line. Almost more importantly, all three players are on rookie, team-friendly contracts. In fact, Pro Football Focus has Ioannidis ranked as the highest graded of the Redskins defensive linemen, probably because of crazy plays like this.

Washington will continue to push Payne and Allen into more situations and more snaps. In the Packers game, both of the former University of Alabama defensive tackles played more than they ever had before. 

"The first couple games we had a rotation going and trying to get their feet wet together, especially Daron, but I think he showed that he can handle the reps and we want to get him out there. We didn’t draft him in the first round to sit by me," Gruden said. "I was impressed with the way that he and Jonathan played, not only at the start of the game, but at the end of the game. They were flying to the football. They were making plays downfield, in the pocket, in the running game. Those two guys together, the vision that we had when we drafted them, getting Jonathan and Daron together came to fruition."

This week the Redskins get to rest and nurse some wounds, particularly along the offensive line. After their bye, however, both sides of the football will be tested. 

First comes a Monday night game in New Orleans with the explosive Saints offense. That will be the biggest test yet for the young D-line. The following week will bring a different, more physical test for Allen and company: Cam Newton and the Panthers.

Redskins fans should be excited about the young defensive front. The play has been very encouraging, and that's without much statistical production yet from outside pass rushing stalwarts Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. 

If the defensive numbers look the same after games against Drew Brees and Newton, then the conversation is no longer about potential. It's about results. 

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