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Is Sundberg ready to return?

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Is Sundberg ready to return?

Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg had the cast removed from his left arm last week, and if all goes well in the coming days, he could be back on the practice field as soon as Wednesday. 

“If I’m ready, I’ll get out there on Wednesday and see how it goes,” he said. It’s been “awful. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without snapping.”

Sundberg broke his left arm in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve under the new “designated to return” exception. On Monday, he’ll have a follow up examination and could receive clearance to begin practicing.

With the Redskins’ bye week coming in Week 10, the soonest Sundberg would be allowed to return to game action would be the following week against the Eagles.

“Because I’ve been doing it so long, it’s like riding a bike,” Sundberg said when asked how long it will take to regain his form. “I’ve created so much muscle memory over the years that I know what I’m doing, so it shouldn’t take much time to get back. I’m going to snap as much as I can, see how it feels, see how the bone reacts.”

He added: “It’s going to hurt a little bit, but it’s something I have to fight through.”

Sundberg has remained around the team on a daily basis despite the injury. He’s even participated in film sessions, where he’s studied alongside Justin Snow, the veteran who was signed as his replacement. Because special teams personnel understand better than most that turnover is part of the job, Sundberg said their relationship has not been awkward.

“I think [Snow] understood coming in – especially when they put me on that list – that there was a possibility of me coming back,” he said. “It’s just something that we’ll have to deal with.”

As difficult as the situation has been, Sundberg has managed to keep a sense of humor about it. When the injury happened, he was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter and lauded around the league for delivering nine snaps in New Orleans with a broken arm.

So, naturally, he was asked if had signed a movie deal yet.

“Yeah,” Sundberg cracked. “Brad Pitt is playing me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we look a lot alike.”

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Zach Brown 'surprised' by 1st half benching, calls run fits 'Day 1' knowledge

Zach Brown 'surprised' by 1st half benching, calls run fits 'Day 1' knowledge

When the Redskins sent their defense out to the field to start the game against the Giants on Sunday, Zach Brown did not take his usual spot at linebacker. Rookie Shan Dion Hamilton did instead. 

"I was surprised but the coaches made a decision I guess," Brown said after the game. 

Brown missed practice time last week with an illness, and Washington head coach Jay Gruden said after the game that's why Hamilton got the start. Brown clearly did not like the decision and posted a message on his Instagram voicing his frustration before the game. 

The results were bad too, as the Giants ran for more than 150 yards in the first half. That type of yardage did not completely hinge on Brown not being on the field, obviously, but it was a noticeable difference in team speed. Hamilton did notch seven tackles before going down with a shoulder injury. 

Of the run struggles, Gruden said that a number of players suffered "missed fits." That means a player wasn't in the right spot for the defensive scheme, and one player missing a fit can impact the whole defense. 

"It's stuff you work on in practice, but at the same time, it's certain things you should know," Brown said. "You should know how to fit, it probably was a Day 1 play that we ran. At the same time, you got to execute the call."

The Redskins offense never produced at a high level this season, even when Alex Smith was healthy. In turn, it's not that weird for the offense to continue to struggle as their quarterbacks and offensive linemen suffer one injury after another.

Defensively, however, things are weird. 

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's unit looked like one of the best defenses in the NFL during the first half of the season. Then, things fell apart. It hasn't been a byproduct of injury either. 

There aren't any answers on the demise of the Redskins defense. Coaches and players can't understand why simple mistakes keep happening, and Brown's comments explain it well. Guys are missing Day 1 techniques, and the execution just isn't there. There seems to be much more under the surface, but so far, that information is staying there. 

What happens next? Brown said the team has to look at Jacksonville next week. 

"You just got to move on from this game. We got beat, and we got beat bad. We just got to move on to the next game," he said. "We just got to make sure we're on point."

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Jay Gruden's job is on the hot seat, and he knows it

Jay Gruden's job is on the hot seat, and he knows it

The Redskins lost their fourth straight game on Sunday, this time in embarrassing fashion. Washington head coach Jay Gruden can feel the pressure mounting. 

"My job is in jeopardy every week," Gruden said after the 40-16 defeat. 

Forgive the head coach a bit of hyperbole, but not much. NFL coaches age in dog years. Every game is a referendum on their ability, and that takes a toll.

For Gruden, it hasn't been an easy season. What started well has since fallen apart, and things swung dramatically when Alex Smith broke his leg last month. His team took an even bigger hit when Colt McCoy also broke his leg last week

Not everything swung on the health of the quarterbacks though.

The Redskins defense started the season strong but has been bad for the last six weeks. Penalties are also a tremendous problem for the Burgundy and Gold. 

"For the most part, I don’t have an explanation right now as far as what the breakdowns were, who they were and why they were," he said.

It doesn't seem fair to blame everything on Gruden, but that's also the nature of the NFL. 

In some ways, it seems Gruden's modest success in Washington might also be his downfall. Jay Gruden's teams won at least seven games the last three years. No Redskins coach in the last 20 years can say the same thing. Gruden was the first, and only, coach to get a contract extension under owner Daniel Snyder. That shows some level of continued competency. Gruden has maneuvered with a stable roster capable of sustained mediocrity, largely without drama.

But there also hasn't been any real success.

The team won the NFC East in 2015, but got quickly dispatched in the playoffs. Gruden's squad lost a win-and-in Week 17 game to the Giants in 2016 to miss the playoffs. In 2017, injuries buried the Redskins' chance at playoff success. In 2018, a new rash of injuries did the same thing. 

The ugly losses don't help. There have been embarrassing defeats that lead some in the 'Skins fanbase to scream for coaching changes. The first half of the Giants game might be a new low point for a franchise that all too often is forced to wonder about new low points. 

Gruden knows the current situation. He understands it. 

He was clearly upset after the Giants game, frustrated by the injuries and his defense's play. Next week in Jacksonville, the team will start their fourth quarterback of the season. That's almost unprecedented in the NFL. 

"What did work? There was nothing that worked so nothing worked. Everything did not work," the coach said.

The nature of the NFL beast means the spotlight lands on the head coach, for better or worse. Gruden, now in his fifth season, knows that, and knows what that means after an awful loss. 

"It’s tough to deal with. It really is. It’s unfortunate. Our guys continue to compete. That product we put on the field today was not a reflection of the guys work during the week and at practice. However, it did look bad. It’s a reflection of all of us."

While the reflection might be of the whole team, Gruden is in the center. 

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