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Redskins will play to win even with only a distant chance at playoffs

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Redskins will play to win even with only a distant chance at playoffs

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.

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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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden would like clarification on the new helmet rule

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden would like clarification on the new helmet rule

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 14, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Jets in their second preseason game. 

Talking points

The NFL officiating crew of Carl Cheffers visited the Redskins facility over the past couple of days to give their annual rules update seminar to the players, coaches, and media. The big topic was, of course, the new rule that prohibits players from leading with their helmets when contacting another player. 

Here is the exact wording of the rule, per the video that was shown to the players, coaches, and media. 

The officiating standards for the Use of Helmet rule are:

  • Lowering the head (not to include bracing for contact)
  • Initiating contact with the helmet to any part of an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area — lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul.
  • Making contact on an opponent (both offense and defense)

Prohibiting players from leading with their helmets in the interest of safety is an admirable goal. Jay Gruden said that he was in favor of it in theory, but he saw issues in the implementation.

"We are in constant dialogue, we have the video, we’ve seen multiple videos and we understand what they’re trying to do, and we respect that,” said Gruden. “We will try to play to the rules, but there still are some gray areas there that I’m concerned about as a coach that can cost you football games and can cost players suspensions and all that. So hopefully those gray areas don’t come up and bite you.”

Gruden was asked to drill down on the “gray areas”. 

"I just think they are the 'bang-bang' type plays,” he said. “You know, the receiver goes up for a pass and the defensive back has a low target and then at the last second the receiver ducks his head; I mean is it targeting or not?”

Gruden said that he hoped that the officials would keep their flags in their pockets if there was any doubt. I asked Cheffers what they would do if it wasn’t clear if a violation had been committed. His response did not answer my question, but it did shed some light on the process that is going on during the preseason.  

“Certainly in preseason we do things differently than we do in the regular season,” he said. “I think what’s going to happen is that we’re going to build a library of plays—stuff that we call, stuff that we don’t call—we’re going to build a library to make a decision when the regular season comes to exactly what they want us to call and exactly what they want us to stay away from. At that point, we’re doing exactly as they direct.”

So, in other words, the enforcement of the rule is a work in progress. I suppose that’s the only way to do it since the rule is fewer than 50 words and the owners voted on it without any real input from the competition committee or anyone else. Some trial and error is called for. 

The problem is, the trial and error won’t end when the season starts. And, last time I checked, a loss due to a mistaken application of the rule would be just as costly in September as it would be in December.

Bureau of statistics

The Redskins were penalized for 733 yards last year; only one team, the Panthers, was penalized fewer yards. 

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The agenda

Today: Jay Gruden news conference 9:30; Practice with Jets 9:45; players available to the media after practice.

Upcoming: Preseason Jets @ Redskins (Aug. 16) 2 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 18 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 26 days

In case you missed it

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

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The Redskins-Terrelle Pryor showdown you wanted to see isn't happening

The Redskins-Terrelle Pryor showdown you wanted to see isn't happening

RICHMOND — Sure, it would've only amounted to a few snaps in a meaningless matchup in August. Regardless, seeing Terrelle Pryor take on the Redskins defense in Thursday's New York-Washington preseason game would've at least added a little spice to the action.

Unfortunately, for Redskins fans (and a few defenders who were ready to give out an elbow or two if need be), Pryor won't be suiting up for the contest at FedEx Field.

"I'm not playing this week," Pryor told reporters after Monday's practice, the second joint session between the two squads.

"My biggest thing was, last year, every time I caught a ball and I got wrapped by my ankle, I re-tweaked it," he said, citing his health as the reason why he's going to miss the game. He also revealed that he broke his ankle back in May, which is why he underwent a procedure on it and missed all of OTAs.

The receiver has been on the field sparingly so far vs. the Burgundy and Gold. Combine that with the fact that he'll now be absent on Thursday, and you end up with a large letdown for what could've been some interesting drama between the wideout and his ex-teammates.

Luckily, the two sides had no trouble finding something else to get upset about. 

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