- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brian Orakpo, your thoughts?

“It [stinks] for players.”

“It,” is playing an NFL game Thursday night. Three days after participating in the Sunday afternoon battering that takes place each week, once a year each team has to go back at it Thursday night.

That’s the case for Orakpo and the Washington Redskins this week when they host the New York Giants in a desperation match between the 1-2 teams Thursday.

Starting in 2006, the NFL played eight games on Thursday or Saturday nights. In 2008, the league pushed into Thursday night games, retaining one of its Saturday night games.

Two large shifts occur during the short preparation week when a team plays Thursday night: practice is greatly scaled down and preparation is crunched.

SEE ALSO: Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants: 5 Questions

The Redskins reduced Monday and Tuesday sessions to walkthroughs as opposed to full practices. There was no hitting. The players’ weight-lifting routine was also scaled back.

Getting their bodies prepared to play again in such a short time is the issue, particularly for a team that put 17 players on the injury report to start the week.

Among them were center Kory Lichtensteiger, who was listed with groin, hip and rib injuries. Orakpo tore a ligament in his finger. He’ll play Thursday with a hard cast on his hand. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson played last Sunday after spraining the AC joint in his left shoulder. Early in that game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jackson could be seen grabbing toward the shoulder and wincing. He’s questionable to play Thursday.

From tight ends to tackles, the Redskins would be dealing with a large injury total in a regular week. The truncated gap between games this week is an even larger issue with the team’s health so poor.

“Obviously this is a week that I would rather not have a Thursday night game,” coach Jay Gruden said. “Probably any week would be a week I would rather not have a Thursday night game. It is what it is. Every team has got to do it one time and we are no different. So we are just going to have to buckle up, bite down on our mouthpieces and just go out and play. Everybody is going to have excuses after the game. We are not going to use the Thursday night as an excuse if it doesn’t go well.”

Player preparation for this week began six months ago. Fullback Darrel Young said these weeks and scenarios are why players workout in the offseason.

The coaching staff’s pregame work began in training camp. They came together to scout and scheme for the Giants, knowing they would not have much time during the actual week to do so.

“It’s tough, you know, but nobody said it would be easy,” Gruden said. “We knew this was on our schedule for a long time, you’ve got to prepare for it.”

There are two wrinkles this week that the staff could not have prepared for in the preseason. The Redskins will work in rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland in place of injured DeAngelo Hall. They also are still trying to fix the strong safety spot.

Hall is out for the season after rupturing an Achilles tendon Sunday at Philadelphia. Breeland, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson, will step in for him opposite second-year cornerback David Amerson.

“I think the kid brings something to the table,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said of Breeland. “Got a little mean streak to him.”

Strong safety Brandon Meriweather missed the first two weeks of the season after being suspended for an illegal hit in the preseason. Meriweather has been flagged six times in his career for illegal hits.

During his return last week in Philadelphia, he struggled. He missed a tackle on Chris Polk’s 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He was also burned for another touchdown while in coverage. This after the Redskins endured two weeks of ineffective Baccari Rambo before cutting him.

Meriweather’s suspension meant he could not be at Redskins Park for two weeks. He’s trying to catch up in the short week.

One beneficial thing for the Redskins, particularly Haslett, is the opponent. Though the Giants are running a new offense, it’s one Haslett knows well. He gave New York offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo his first pro job. Haslett hired McAdoo to be an offensive assistant/quality control coach with the New Orleans Saints in 2004.

Though, even that doesn’t help change Haslett’s perspective on the Thursday night games.

“I don’t like night games, period,” Haslett said. “It’s after my bedtime.”

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