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How Jay Gruden may handle starter dilemma vs. Dallas

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How Jay Gruden may handle starter dilemma vs. Dallas

PHILADELPHIA—For the first time since 1999, the Redskins will play a game that has no meaning just prior to playing a game that will mean everything.

By beating the Eagles last night the Redskins clinched the NFC East title. They will host a playoff game at FedEx Field on the weekend of January 9-10. Washington will be the No. 4 seed no matter what happens next week in Dallas. So the question becomes, how hard should the Redskins try to beat the Cowboys?

It is something that Jay Gruden will have to ponder over the course of the week. “It’s a great question,” he said when asked about how he intends to handle it. “I think we’re going to have to look at the health of the team number one. Number two, it’s still the Dallas Cowboys. It’s something that we want to end our season on a positive note and keep the momentum rolling.”

Like most NFL teams the Redskins are operating with some banged-up players. Safety and defensive captain Dashon Goldson played all 81 snaps against the Eagles with a cracked rib. Three other players—C Josh LeRibeus (ankle), RT Morgan Moses (ankle), and WR Ryan Grant (abdomen) played the game after being listed as questionable on the injury report.

Then there are players who aren’t on the injury report but are still playing with pain such as left tackle Trent Williams, who has accumulated an assortment of bumps, bruises, and strains over the course of the season.

There is a third category of players that Gruden has to figure out what to do with. For example, Jordan Reed is relatively healthy but he has a history of being prone to injuries. Should he be allowed to play or be protected?

If Gruden acts like most coaches in this situation do he will not reveal any firm plans this week. He and the coaches will make their plans and won’t tell the media, the fans, or even the players what they intend to do. You can’t have a front line player go through the week thinking that he won’t play on Sunday and then all of a sudden you have to insert him into the lineup if the backup gets injured.

Whatever the specifics of how he handles it are, Gruden did make clear the priorities that will guide him in making his Week 17 strategy. Beating the Cowboys is secondary.

“We have to make sure, number one we check the health of our football team and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

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Jonathan Allen is experimenting with a new helmet and may wear it in 2019, which would be awesome

Jonathan Allen is experimenting with a new helmet and may wear it in 2019, which would be awesome

One thing stood out on an otherwise quiet August Monday at Redskins Park, and that was Jonathan Allen. More specifically, what Jonathan Allen was wearing on his head.

In fact, if you focused solely on the defensive lineman, you might've gotten confused over what decade you were in.

Usually, Allen suits up in a fairly standard helmet and facemask combo. But on Monday, No. 93 experimented with both a dark visor and a totally different facemask that featured a single, vertical bar down the middle of it, the kind of thing you saw on legends like Deacon Jones or Bruce Smith.

To put it simply, he looked awesome. Soooo awesome:

While walking out of the locker room following practice, Allen explained that he was recently watching NFL Network and felt inspired to try it out after seeing throwback footage on his TV. When asked if he plans on actually bringing it on the field with him for regular season action, he answered: "I'm planning on it."

As you — and the Raiders, especially — are aware of by now, the NFL has specific regulations regarding helmets and facemasks, but Allen seemed to believe he'll have no problem rocking his vintage setup.

Daron Payne, on the other hand, does have a problem with it.

"It's terrible," Payne said, while also shaking his head like a slightly disappointed parent. "It's terrible."

Payne is a smart and reasonable guy most of the time, but here, he's wrong. That look is the exact opposite of terrible. It's sick and it needs to be shared for every one of Washington's 16 games in 2019.

In fact, Allen should probably receive a Pro Bowl nomination strictly for even thinking about making that his new helmet. Bringing back the single bar would be truly epic.

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Jay Gruden on Trent Williams' holdout: 'No updates whatsoever'

Jay Gruden on Trent Williams' holdout: 'No updates whatsoever'

The Redskins are now less than three weeks away from taking the field in Philadelphia to kick off their regular season on Sept. 8, and Washington's cornerstone left tackle has still yet to report to the team.

As the Burgundy and Gold gear up for their third preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, left tackle Trent Williams continues to hold out.

After the Redskins practice on Monday concluded, head coach Jay Gruden was asked if he had any updates on the situation. He immediately shot that down.

"There are no updates whatsoever," he said.

The third preseason game is usually the 'dress rehearsal' for the regular season, with the starters playing close to a half before the reserves enter. But No. 71 still remains absent from Redskins Park and has given the team zero indication whether he plans on returning or not.

For now, Washington must roll with the players they have present. 

"We're preparing with the guys we have right now," Gruden said. "That's all we can do. We're getting Geron [Christianson] ready. We're getting [Donald] Penn ready. So we'll go that route."

Throughout his holdout, Williams has chosen to remain silent. He has not spoken publicly once since the start, and the actual reasons he has still yet to show up still remain in the rumor phase. He has reportedly made it clear he doesn't plan to return, and other teams have reached out about a potential trade.

Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, one of Williams' longtime close friends, doesn't even know what Williams plans to do.

"I shot my shot. I know how Trent is, so I just left it alone," Peterson told reporters last week. "After we talked that first time about it, I wasn't going to be the guy that was going to pester him or anything like that... I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't come back, and if he did, I wouldn't be surprised. That's honestly where I sit."

When asked on Monday if he had communicated with Williams during his absence, Gruden refused to give reporters a clear answer.

"Talked? Maybe," Gruden said on his communication with the Redskins' Silverback. "Texted, talked, maybe. It is what it is right now. He's not here, so we're going to talk about the people we have."

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