- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dallas week began at about 4:11 p.m. Sunday, as the chants echoed around FedEx Field.

“We want Dallas,” fans repeated as the Washington Redskins disposed of the Philadelphia Eagles 31-6. It was the biggest win of the season, at least by margin, and one that kept the season alive.

But players didn’t have much time to enjoy it, maybe 12 or 14 hours, before turning their attention to the Cowboys. That’s a product of the schedule and a trip to Dallas for a Thanksgiving Day rivalry game that will test the Redskins with a short turnaround.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a week like this where you have to turn around from Sunday to Thursday,” left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “You just don’t have a lot of time to get physical practices in.”

Practices Monday and Tuesday and a walk-through set for Wednesday.

That’s all the Redskins have separating them from another game that they have to win to keep playoff hopes alive.

From a planning standpoint, the coaching staff doesn’t scale back. It just goes into warp speed.

“The game plan is not going to be dumbed down just because you have a short week. Coaches have things they want to run,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “They’ve put a lot of time and effort into watching film, and as players, we have to take advantage of the little bit of time we do have to master the system that they’re putting in this week.”

And it’s not as simple as recognizing both sides have to deal with the same turnaround. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan pointed out that time usually spent studying goes into traveling to Dallas, a disadvantage for the 4-6 Redskins.

Left tackle Trent Williams said there’s no way to reduce the preparation for the Cowboys and just go out and play. Instead, having two games in five days is like pulling an all-nighter before an exam.

“It is a cram. We fit a normal game plan into a day-and-a-half preparation. So you definitely forget how valuable those days of practice are,” Williams said. “They get methodical and repeated throughout the year, and you feel like you’re getting tired of it. But a week like this kind of helps you see how much you take it for granted.”

Same goes for the physical exhaustion level. Kerrigan said there’s a physical toll because typically it takes until Thursday for players to fully recover from a Sunday game.

On the Cowboys’ side, where many players are used to this kind of turnaround because of the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving, the emphasis is on watching film.

“I think you’ve just got to immerse yourself in the tape and really just keep watching it over and over and over,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. “You’re going to be tired, you’re going to be, mentally, a little bit fatigued. But you feel very prepared then at least by Thursday if you constantly are watching tape and constantly putting in the time that it takes to get comfortable with what you’re going to see.”

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said there’s not even time to watch enough film before this game. That specifically doesn’t help the Cowboys as they try to figure out how to stop Griffin, who put up a perfect passer rating of 158.3 against the Eagles.

“You’d rather have more time than less,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “There’s no question about that, particularly when you’re facing [Griffin] and the scheme they’re using is a little bit different than you see every week. That is what it is, so we just have to prepare as best we can as quick as we can.”

Physically, players are taking extra measures to get ready. Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was getting an extra massage Tuesday and icing himself.

Defensive end Stephen Bowen, who spent five full seasons with the Cowboys, has his routine.

“Just resting. You can’t really go as hard as you really want to. You’ve got to make sure you are still fresh for the game,” Bowen said. “But do a lot of studying, watch a lot of film, I will get in the cold tub and ice my knees to do the different exercises to make sure my knee is still strong.”

Bodies are sore on both sides. The Cowboys needed overtime to beat the Cleveland Browns 23-20 on Sunday. But that’s a problem that will fade at game time.

“When you walk out there on Thursday, national TV on Thanksgiving,” Alexander said, “everything’s going to be flowing and you’re going to be ready to go.”

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