Redskins Coach Jay Gruden says his team’s ridiculous rash of injuries is “frustrating” for everyone involved, but he also knows he won’t be receiving a sympathy card from the Jets.
When the Redskins travel to the Meadowlands for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, they’ll be without five starters and could be without a few more key players. Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, center Kory Lichtensteiger, cornerbacks Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall and tight end Jordan Reed have all been ruled out. Meantime, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, running back Matt Jones and defensive end Stephen Paea are all questionable.
Those definitely out on Sunday—Williams, Lichtensteiger, Culliver, Hall and Reed—count almost $25 million against this season's $143 million salary cap. That percentage could grow significantly if Jackson ($9.25 million), Paea ($4.25) and Roberts ($3.75) are unable to suit up.
In other words, it’s not just the number of injuries. It’s who is injured.
“I can’t imagine having any more,” Gruden said Friday. “It’s tough to deal with. It is frustrating, but it’s pro football and these things happen at certain times. It’s unfortunate they’re all happening in bulk.”
The effect is magnified by the players lost to injury prior to this week. Already on season-ending injured reserve are linebackers Junior Galette, Adam Hayward and Martrell Spaight, safety Duke Ihenacho, left guard Shawn Lauvao and tight ends Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen. That’s three starters and two special teams captains.
The unit that’s been hit the hardest is the offensive line, which on Sunday will feature only two players from the five who started in Week 1. In fact, second year right tackle Morgan Moses (6 career starts) is now the unit’s most experienced player.
Gruden described many of the injuries as fluky in nature, adding that he doesn’t believe there is a common thread, such as overtraining. He also said he believes the ailing players are doing everything possible to get back on the field.
“These guys all want to play,” Gruden said. “They’re all very competitive players, I know that. Nobody’s quitting on anybody. They’re all as disappointed as we are.”
He added: “They’re fluke injuries too. [It’s] not like we’re training them too hard. We’ve got a concussion. We’ve got a neck thing. We’ve got a hand. We’ve got a shoulder. We’ve got a calf. We’ve got a quad. We’ve got just a little bit of everything. These guys are working hard, playing hard and want to play. But unfortunately these guys can’t go and the ones that can go are going to have to play, play a lot and play well.”