- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A day after the Washington Redskins were embarrassed by the New York Giants on national television, players dragged themselves into Redskins Park, received medical treatment and reviewed film, and were given simple marching orders from coach Jay Gruden.

Escape for a few days, he told them, get your minds and your bodies right, and return on Tuesday ready to work to get better.

“You get to go home and kind of be around what’s really important,” tight end Logan Paulsen said after spending three days with his wife and infant son. “[It] kind of puts the loss in perspective a little bit. At the time, it feels like the world is ending.”

The Redskins have won just one of their first four games, putting them in familiar position at the quarter pole — one of nine teams with a losing record, postseason chances already fleeting given the hole they’ve stumbled into.

Thursday’s game, a 45-14 thumping, crushed any of the uplifting emotion provided just four days earlier in a narrow road loss to the defending NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles.

A physical toll was paid as well. The team listed 17 players on its weekly injury report — approximately one in three players on the active roster — and having a Thursday night game did no favors. Three other players left the game against the Giants with injuries of their own, but were offered respite by having a long weekend to recover given the upcoming Monday night home game against Seattle.


SEE ALSO: Barry Cofield eager to return, help Redskins defense


“It was like a mini bye week,” said tight end Niles Paul, who left the game after sustaining a concussion in the second quarter. “It was good. It was much needed. I can tell you that.”

When players reconvened Tuesday, Gruden and the coaching staff expected them to be ready for a hard week of practice. The schedule distributed to each player not only listed the time for the day’s 90-minute practice, but typed next to it, were the words “PADS — Competitive,” noting not only the dress but also the tempo and mindset expected for the session.

And, when it wound down, players were called together in the middle of one of the three outdoor practice fields, with Gruden reminding players that three quarters of the season remain and the team can turn it around.

“I think we still have the talent in this building that we can do some great things this year,” said Gruden. “We’ve just got to do things better and more efficiently.”

Only six of the 20 injured players did not participate in individual drills on Tuesday, with two who had been out for an extended period of time — tight end Jordan Reed and inside linebacker Akeem Jordan — among those returning to practice.

Reed strained his left hamstring in the season-opening loss at Houston and has played only seven snaps this season. Jordan has played zero, having strained the MCL in his left knee in the preseason finale at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28.

Because it was a Tuesday, the Redskins did not have to issue a league-mandated injury report, and Gruden said many of the injured players will still be evaluated each day on their potential availability for the game against the Seahawks.

While the scheduling of that game won’t offer Washington any distinct advantage against Seattle — the defending Super Bowl champions had their bye week on Sunday — outside linebacker Brian Orakpo theorized it can offer the Redskins a measure of atonement.

“It’s the perfect scenario,” Orakpo said. “We drop one on Thursday night, and we get them on Monday night the next time, so I can’t ask for a better time for redemption, for us to showcase our talents.”

The timing of the break, however truncated, also helped. After such humiliating losses, players often express a desire to get back on the field and play another game as soon as possible to forget about that disappointment.

Afforded the opportunity to flush those emotions from their systems in a different way, left tackle Trent Williams believes introspection and reinvention can help the Redskins succeed moving forward.

“We’ve got to find a way to build some confidence going into Monday,” Williams said. “It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out we’ve got to step it up.”


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