Some notes, quotes and observations from Monday at Redskins Park:
Updating the injuries after the team’s five-day bye-week break…
RB Tim Hightower (left shoulder) insists he will play Sunday against Philadelphia.
FB Darrel Young (hamstring) “looked pretty good” in Monday’s practice, coach Mike Shanahan said.
WR Anthony Armstrong won’t test his ailing hamstring until Wednesday at the earliest.
The Redskins said all the right things Monday about the Philadelphia Eagles. It’d be silly for them to look past the Eagles, of course. Philly’s roster speaks for itself, no matter what its record is. (1-4, in case you took your bye week vacation to a place without electricity.)
But if the Redskins were tempted to look past the Eagles, memories of last November’s 59-28 nationally-televised “catastrophe,” as TE Fred Davis put it, would put a stop to that.
“When we think of the Eagles, we think of that game,” OLB Brian Orakpo said. “We know what type of team this is. Regardless of their record, we cannot go in there thinking that this is a regular 1-4 team.”
A couple other quotes indicate the Redskins are approaching this game with a healthy mindset:
CB Josh Wilson: “I don’t care what their record is. I’m going in prepared for the Dream Team.”
CB DeAngelo Hall: “You go out there and put an injured [animal] in a fight, they’re going to fight for their life. The ball hasn’t bounced their way too many times this season. There’s been tipped passes, protection breakdowns and things like that. They just haven’t made the plays they normally make. At some point we know that tide is going to turn. We just hope that doesn’t turn against us.”
Mike Shanahan’s take on why Philadelphia is 1-4:
“Anytime you’ve got a good football team and you lose some close games, it usually comes down to turnovers,” he said. “That’s what’s happened the last four games—they’ve lost the turnover battle.”
The Eagles have an NFL-worst minus-10 takeaway ratio. They have lost four in a row by an average of 6.25 points, and they averaged 3.5 turnovers in each of those games. A key for the Redskins, then, is to pressure QB Michael Vick into more mistakes.
“We knew Vick threw four picks [against Buffalo], so that’s huge right there,” Orakpo said. “So what we’re going to try to do is take advantage of the turnovers as well, try and get hands on the ball, hopefully get to him and try to create some forced fumbles.”
The Eagles’ woes give the Redskins a chance to bury their rival, and the preseason division favorite, on Sunday. Consider the Giants lost Sunday, too, and the Redskins are keenly aware of their position in the division race at this early stage.
Sunday’s game against Philadelphia “was going to be important anyway, but now I think it has really opened our eyes to the fact that this is real,” LG Kory Lichtensteiger said. “It’s a real possibility for us to make some noise this year. It starts with the Eagles this week.”
TE Fred Davis stayed in Ashburn during the bye week and caught passes from QB Rex Grossman at one point. Davis stuck around during the bye in 2009 to work on his blocking, and he noticeably improved after that.
Mike Shanahan and Al Davis sparred publicly for years, but Shanahan praised Davis’ devotion to the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders organization in remembering the late owner on Monday.
“I never met a guy that had more passion and worked harder than Al Davis,” Shanahan said of his former employer. “He was just relentless in his approach to the game. He had a great understanding of X’s and O’s and knowing personnel, and he worked extremely hard at it. I wasn’t with him long—a year and four games—but I learned a lot from him.”
Shanahan coached Davis’ Raiders for the 1988 season and four games into 1989 before he was fired. The aftermath was ugly. Shanahan claimed Davis owed him $250,000 remaining in his contract. Davis had not paid as recently as 2008, despite a ruling by an NFL arbiter that Shanahan was entitled to the money, according to a Denver Post report.
Shanahan said in 1997 that he’d forgive the debt if Davis donated the money and all interest to the Oakland Unified School District, the Denver Post reported. A Raiders spokesman that year insisted Shanahan perjured himself at the hearing.
Davis also believed that Denver circumvented the salary cap during Shanahan’s Super Bowl championship seasons in 1997 and 1998. In 2004, the Broncos were fined $950,000 by the league and lost a third-round draft pick for violations involving deferred payments to players during the late 1990s.
“Shanahan has an asterisk next to those two Super Bowls, because they were caught cheating,” Davis was quoted by the Associated Press as saying in 2008.
How about Shanahan’s barbs in the AP story about his reaction to Lane Kiffin being fired? Wow.
And this story from the 1998 New York Times, if true, is flat-out disturbing.