- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2016

The Redskins vs. the Bengals is already something of an NFL unicorn — the two franchises have only faced each other nine times in the regular season , after all.

This Sunday’s matchup, however, is especially rare, with both teams traveling to London to play American football in the world’s most famous soccer stadium.

Redskins-Bengals, Round 10, will take place in Wembley Stadium, where an injury-depleted Washington squad will try to get back on track after a gut-wrenching last-minute loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday.

The Redskins leave for the United Kingdom on Thursday, a move that will give them less time to acclimate to the time change. Other NFL teams have opted recently to leave as much as a week in advance of European matchups.

“We wanted to get a couple good days of practice here first and get our guys honed in on the Bengals before we left without the travel, without the time change,” coach Jay Gruden said during a press conference at Redskins headquarters Monday in Ashburn, Va.

“I think the most important days of the week are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for your preparation, so if we could knock those out here, fly out there Thursday night, get there Friday morning, have a walkthrough, practice, [have] a little bit of meeting time, get them rest, Saturday have another walkthrough in the stadium, get them some rest and play Sundayn … I thought that was the best way to go.”

Leaving later in the week gives the team more time to evaluate cornerback Josh Norman, who’s entering the NFL’s concussion protocol. The 28-year-old has to be cleared by Thursday in order to play on Sunday.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Gruden said on Norman’s status. “I think he’ll have to see the doctor again [Tuesday] and take the necessary steps and hopefully Thursday will be the last time he sees him and we’ll have to get an answer before we obviously leave Thursday night.”

The Redskins will also have to focus on adjusting their internal body clocks to British time. London is five hours ahead of Washington’s standard Eastern Time Zone. Sunday’s game is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. EST.

“We’ll have our people … no, I don’t have a sleep doctor, I’ll have to hire one,” Gruden said of the situation. “I think the guys will understand that they have got to get some rest this week, early in the week, get to bed a little bit earlier, but I think we’ll have time to adjust.”

Despite the complications — the time zones, the travel, the hoopla of playing in London — Gruden said he’s excited about facing the team where he once served as the offensive coordinator.

“I can’t wait. Really, it sounds funny, it’s such a big game for us really,” Gruden said with a smile.

“I really don’t care where we play them. I just can’t wait to play the game. We’ve got to get this taste out of our mouths and get ready to strap it up and play against a team that’s been in the playoffs five years in a row that I know extremely well,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to play against them, no matter where it is, when it is. We look forward to the challenge.”

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