Jason Hatcher has played more snaps than any other Redskins defensive lineman this year. It appears that the Redskins are going to bring him into the garage for regular maintenance to make sure that he can continue to play a big role.
The 10th-year veteran has been on the field for 66 percent of the defensive snaps. His 297 plays are 59 more than the second-busiest D-lineman, Chris Baker.
At age 33, however, Hatcher has a lot of miles on his body and his knees are of particular concern. Last year he had a procedure done on his knee in the summer, forcing him to sit out minicamp. Hatcher was good to go at the start of the season but he had knee issues at the end of the year. He took fewer and fewer snaps in mid November and early December and finally he was shut down, spending the last three games of the season on the inactive list.
The Redskins have decided to be proactive this year in hopes that Hatcher will be able to play if the team has meaningful games in December. Prior to the Tampa Bay game on Oct. 25, Hatcher did not practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday.
It appears that Hatcher is going to be on the same practice schedule this week. He sat out on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. Jay Gruden said that practice is important but for a player like Hatcher, so is rest.
“I think everybody needs to do the reps but, you know, there are veteran players that are an exception. Jason is one of them,” said Gruden. “He’s played a lot of football. He’s a big man. He’s got a little soreness when he plays a hard game on Sunday, so he needs a couple more days to recover and some veterans are like that. I think the majority of our guys are doing the best they can to get on the practice field but Hatcher and a couple other veterans might need an extra day.”
Although Hatcher doesn’t have the sack numbers that the team expected out of him when he signed a four-year, $27.5 million contract with $10.5 million guaranteed in 2014, he is still playing well. He has just one sack but he has 20 quarterback hurries and five QB hits, leading the team in both categories.
It will be interesting to see how he fares this year with less practice and more rest. The quality and quantity of his game reps will go a long way towards determining whether or not he is around for the third and fourth years of his contract. Hatcher’s salary jumps from $3 million this year to $6.5 million in 2016 and $7.5 million the next year. He will need to be on the field and producing sacks to have a chance at seeing any of that money.