- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2018

ASHBURN — Three-hundred and nine.

That’s how many games the Redskins missed due to injury last season — sixth-most in the NFL. When you account for the impact of those missing players, Washington was actually the league’s most-injured team, according to the statistics website Football Outsiders.

After an injury-filled season, the Redskins studied themselves to evaluate how they could avoid a similar situation in the future.

Part of the conclusion? Earlier practice times.

When the Redskins begin training camp in July, the team will practice in the morning and will conduct their walkthrough in the afternoon. Coach Jay Gruden in the past did the opposite.

“I want to give them a full day to recover,” Gruden said. “I kind of have been doing a little research here and I think we practice in the morning, we are off the field around noon and they get a nice lunch. … So, I think to give that full time for recovery, so they can drink a lot of fluids and take care of their bodies is important.”

Nine of the Redskins’ 15 practice sessions in Richmond will take place at 9:45 a.m. Last year, Washington typically began practice around 3 p.m.

Washington’s walkthrough, which consists of running plays without actual contact, will take place at 4:40 p.m. as opposed to 10:30 a.m.

On the days the Redskins don’t practice in the morning, the ream will take the field at 1:35 or 3 p.m. — with three of those sessions coming in a joint-practice with the New York Jets (Aug. 12-14).

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder, accustomed to earlier start times when he was in college at Duke, said he is a fan of the switch.

“For me, personally, that’s when I have the most energy — in the morning,” Crowder said. “I wake up, get a good breakfast, go out and practice. … You have the whole rest of the day to recover. You can watch film, relax a little bit.”

The Redskins, meanwhile, still aren’t completely healthy from last season. The team’s starting tackles, Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, are recovering from surgery.

Tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson — two crucial pieces on offense — are rehabbing, as well.

But Gruden said the injured players are making good progress — with the expectation they will be ready for training camp. Williams, who had an operation to repair torn cartilage in his knee, told reporters he already feels “very close.”

“I got the go-ahead to kind of do whatever I can without obviously being too aggressive on it,” Williams said. “I’m extremely blessed. I’ll be ready before camp.”

The Redskins are now on a six-week break after their mandatory minicamp concluded Wednesday. Gruden said his team is in shape and “mentally sharp.”

Now, Gruden said, it’s a matter of “progress, progress, progress.”

“What we don’t want to have happen is these guys to go to the beach and drink a bunch of iced teas, whatever they do, and Cokes, and eat popcorn, and doughnuts and gain 20 pounds,” Gruden said. “Then we have to start all over, strip them back down and start all over. … We’re not going to really have time for you to get in shape.

“You better come in shape and compete for your job and compete to make this roster. Otherwise, we have a lot of guys here that can play, and I think they see that.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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