- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2017

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, Redskins coach Jay Gruden didn’t overly touch on the circumstances — the injuries, the need for a win to remain in the NFC playoff race — they were facing to inspire his team.

Instead, he just reminded them of their talent. 

“My job is to instill confidence in these guys and make sure they understand that we can go out and compete against anybody — whoever is playing on our football team,” Gruden said. “We’ve got enough good good quality players on our team. We can still compete.”

The Redskins came away with a 17-14 win in Seattle, a season-defining moment to date. It was a win few, if any, expected them to pull off. And while the win might not save the season, the Redskins are now in the middle of a bunched up NFC instead of trending downwards.

Gruden, though, still realizes the gravity of the Redskins’ situation as they shift gears to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at home. Like the Seahawks, the Vikings (6-2) are known for a boisterous defense and lead their division.

“We’re still in a tough spot at 4-4,” Gruden said. “So we still have a long way to go but we have a whole second half of the season still to play and we’re in a position where we can at least control what we can control and get ourselves back in the race.”

Gruden said getting a victory in Seattle can build confidence. In some ways, they already knew they could perform at high levels against quality teams, given how competitive they were in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

But it’s entirely different to actually get a win.

“If we can play under these conditions, we can go anywhere,” Redskins tight end Vernon Davis said. “We can play home. We can play away. We just have to be posited, we have to be disciplined. If you’re not disciplined, you miss your chances.”

For once, the Redskins finished a game without any major injuries. Davis has a hand contusion, but is considered day-to-day. Wideout Brian Quick, who had a crucial 31-yard catch on the Redskins’ final drive, is in concussion protocol.

The only player likely to miss time going forward is defensive lineman Arthur Jones, who separated his shoulder. Jones being injured will hurt the Redskins’ defensive line depth, but that can be replaced easier than, say, four starting offensive linemen.

As for Washington’s other injuries, Gruden told reporters Monday that his offensive linemen are making progress. Left guard Shawn Lauvao (stinger) has increased his range of month, and now just needs to get his strength back. Spencer Long, who has missed the last two weeks with quad tendonitis, will participate in individual drills this week. Right guard Brandon Scherff will increase his workload, too.

Even tackle Ty Nsekhe, who has been out since having core muscle surgery on Sept. 28, will start individuals. Gruden said Trent Williams is “day-to-day,” though playing comes down to the left tackle’s pain tolerance.

“It would be great to get at least one back, maybe two, maybe three would be outstanding,” Gruden said.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked six times Sunday. The run game also turned out to be a non-factor for the fourth straight week, rushing for 51 yards. Both of those areas can be attributed to a lack of chemistry on the offensive line.

But Cousins remained resilient and helped lead the Redskins when it mattered. There’s also hope that Cousins’ connection with wide receiver Josh Doctson can make more strides as the season progresses.

Cousins could also be getting his other weapons back soon. Gruden said Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Jordan Reed (hamstring) are both improving and are day-to-day.

If they are healthy, the Redskins’ future looks much brighter than did it a week ago. Gruden acknowledged being 3-5 with a “long flight home” would have made the rest of the season “a lot tougher.”

“We get our bullets back on the offensive line, get our bullets back everywhere, we’re going to be a dominant team,” safety D.J. Swearinger said. “That’s the confidence we have that we’re going to keep it rolling.”

“It was important for us to keep pace,” Gruden said. 

Todd Dybas contributed to this report.

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