The word earlier in the week suggested the Redskins’ starters would play at least a quarter of Thursday's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. Now, though, it will be no more than that – and possibly less.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters Wednesday that he’ll go by feel as to how much his starters will play. In last year’s preseason opener, the starting offense played in one drive, but it took 11 plays. A day earlier, Gruden had said he wanted the starters to anticipate playing at least a quarter. Other members of the organization echoed that sentiment.
“Obviously if we go three-and-out, we’ll bring them back for another series or two,” Gruden said. “But that’ll be a game-time decision for me.
“We’ll play it by ear. I told these guys, anticipate playing a quarter. It could be less. It won’t be more than a quarter unless we’re finishing a drive.”
The Redskins need to balance getting ready for the opener and taking care of some starters who don’t need the same amount of preseason reps, such as left tackle Trent Williams or nose tackle Terrance Knighton. However, the Redskins have a new offensive line coach, two new starters on the right side of the line and several new starters defensively. But Gruden sounded as if the offense needed more work.
"We have to get them back in the flow of playing football against a live pass rush," Gruden said. "Our whole offense needs to do that, come off the football. Our running backs need to work on their ball security and hitting the new running lanes and the plays that we have and get some good practice. We have got a new line coach and some new schemes going on both offensively and defensively and we need to work.”
But quarterback Robert Griffin III could use as much work as possible. Last summer he attempted only 20 passes in the preseason – 34 fewer than Kirk Cousins and 24 fewer than Colt McCoy. The offense then managed only six points in the season opener vs. Houston.
Though the Redskins have sounded upbeat about Griffin's progress, there are still concerns and areas that need more growth.
“We want to go out and get points and put good drives together and start getting in a rhythm,” Griffin said. “That’s all that matters.
“Whatever they call, we’ll execute it and make sure we’re on the little things, the fundamentals, so we can get back in the swing and feel the guys at game speed and get going. I’m not worried how many passes we throw. We just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”