Jay Gruden fixated on staying healthy

Brian Tinsman
August 26, 2018 - 10:05 pm
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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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If it wasn't before, player health has become an obsession for Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden--and can you blame him?

According to Pro Football Reference, the Redskins juggled 55 player injuries last season, including 25 that ended on injured reserve. By early December, the team had already dedicated more than $25 million in salary cap space to players on injured reserve.

That's no way for a team to win games. So, he changed that strategy again this preseason, keeping injury risks like Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed under wraps until Week 1. Other players like Trent Williams and Morgan Moses got very limited snaps in an effort to protect them while still preparing them.

But even that strategy has its limitations.

Rookie running back Derrius Guice was supposed to be the Redskins' answer at running back. Instead, he will spend the season recovering from a torn ACL.

Arie Kouandjio, Robert Davis and Manasseh Garner are also on injured reserve, while Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall nurse injuries that could affect their ability to make the team.

So forgive Gruden if he doesn't care about preseason snaps for Alex Smith or the starting offense. He just wants to get to Week 1 healthy.

"I think you could make an argument either way. On talk radio, I could argue one side or argue the other," he said of playing time. "It's just a matter of what I feel is best for this football team and I feel like the most important thing for us right now is getting to Arizona healthy."

Every team deals with injuries. Last year, the team did not scapegoat the training staff or strength and conditioning staff, but patience at Redskins Park is no doubt wearing thin on player injuries.

"Every time you take a snap in a pro football game, there's certain risks involved," Gruden acknowledged. "I feel like the starters, especially on the offensive line--I know who the starters are. 

"They're going to get a lot of work out here at practice. We are evaluating them every day. We are getting good work in. For me to get Morgan, Trent, Brandon (Scherff), Chase (Roullier) and Shawn (Lauvao) to the regular season is very, very important, and of course the quarterbacks.

"Teams are doing it different. Some teams aren't even playing their starters at all, so different strokes for different folks."

 

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