- The Washington Times - Monday, December 5, 2016

In the next room, the ringing words of Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden could be heard through the wall following Sunday’s loss in Arizona.

Gruden didn’t know at the time that reporters had been herded next door. So, Monday, he explained that his words were not delivered with fury, but more so with the intent to inspire his 6-5-1 team that was kicked out of the playoff picture after a discombobulated loss Sunday.

“I wouldn’t call it anger,” Gruden said on a conference call Monday. “I would call it — just urgency more so than anger. Just try to get them going a little bit more. I don’t think I was that much different after a loss. I didn’t know [the media] were right in the next room over. I don’t think … It just happened after the game. Just want to make sure we clean up some things and fix some things. We’re not out of the woods yet. We still have a long ways to go. We have to take it one game at a time and take these next days of preparation for the Philadelphia Eagles very, very serious.”

Gruden will receive a large reinforcement this week. All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams is eligible to return from his four-game suspension that came from repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. A bumpy day for left guard Shawn Lauvao on Sunday in Arizona has prompted calls for Williams to move to guard, where he played as an emergency fill-in earlier this season, and keep Ty Nsekhe at left tackle. Nsekhe was a more-than-competent replacement for Williams during the captain’s absence. However, Gruden made it sound like that is not happening.

“The plan moving ahead with [Williams] is he’s our starting tackle and he’s the best in the business, so we’re excited to get him back,” Gruden said.

Williams returns to practice with a team that is on the outside of the playoffs in a fist-tight NFC postseason race. The Redskins travel to Philadelphia this weekend to take on a team that currently stands as the 12th seed in the race for a top-six playoff position. Despite being so far away via seeding, the Eagles are only two games behind Washington.

The good news for Washington is the remaining schedule. The coming three-game stretch is all against teams .500 or below. In two cases, well below. The Carolina Panthers are 4-8. The Chicago Bears are 3-9. Both are stationed at the bottom of their divisions.

Washington may also be in for a break the final game of the season when the New York Giants come to FedEx Field. The 8-4 Giants could have their playoff position established by then, rendering the game moot from their point of view.

That’s still four weeks away with multiple pieces to move in the interim. Washington’s loss on Sunday dropped its chance to make the postseason down to just 39 percent, according to the Web site fivethirtyeight.com.

Injured Long, Blackmon, Reed day-to-day

Gruden said center Spencer Long and safety Will Blackmon are both in the league’s concussion protocol. If Long cannot play Sunday, Washington will have to find a solution at backup center. John Sullivan, who replaced Long on Sunday against the Cardinals, would likely become the team’s starter. Ronald Patrick is an option to be called up from the practice squad. Lauvao is the team’s backup center, Gruden said. However, he would like to keep Lauvao at guard. The search for another center could force the Redskins to consider activating Kory Lichtensteiger, who was the team’s starting center before a calf injury forced him onto the reserve/injured list Sept. 27.

Jordan Reed did not play against Arizona because of a separated AC joint in his left shoulder. Gruden said Reed is day-to-day, which is also how he labeled the valuable tight end last week when Reed did not practice and, subsequently, did not play. The key issue for Reed is range of motion with his shoulder. A week ago, Reed labeled it at 30 percent.

The Redskins also waived cornerback Dashaun Phillips on Monday. It was the second time this season they have waived Phillips, who was the team’s starting nickel back early in the season.


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