Russell: Cardinals the all-important tone-setter for Redskins

Chris Lingebach
September 06, 2018 - 1:20 pm
Jay_Gruden

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

This Redskins team, if they get off to a 2-0 start, may be different, Chris Russell concedes.

Hardly one to highlight the positives of the organization, Russell has spent all preseason harping on the importance of preseason reps to Redskins starters. To that end, Jay Gruden is 0-4 in season openers since taking over the Redskins in 2014, and showed little evidence of changing his preseason routine to buck the trend. New Redskins passer Alex Smith – appearing in only the second and third games – has thrown all of 14 passes for 81 yards.

Russell recently pointed to a DJ spinning tunes at Redskins practice as another indictment on "Club Jay."

The Redskins get their first real test Sunday at Arizona.

"This is the game," Russell told The Sports Junkies. "If they find a way to win this game, on the road in that environment. I've been to that place several times. It is loud as you know what, and especially when they're cranked up and into it. And against a good team and a good defense and all that.

"To me, that tells me that this Redskins team is different. That maybe I (overestimated) how important the preseason is, and how important this time is, and how Jay's got the right temperature, and that tells me something is different. So get off to the 2-0 start... it sets a mentality: 'Hey guys, we're a professional organization. We're doing things right. We took care of your bodies. We're fresh and we're going to prove everybody wrong.' And then it allows you to have a slipup at some point along the way."

Despite the return of Andrew Luck, Russell views the Redskins' Week 2 matchup against Indianapolis as virtually in the books, presenting Washington with a chance at its first 2-0 start under Gruden.

"You have to make the hay here and get off to the 2-0 start," he said.

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