Redskins prep for bad weather, focus on run game

While longer cleats provide more traction in muddy conditions, they can also lead to injuries, Chris Thompson said. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

ASHBURN, Va. -- The sloppy weather could lead to happy offensive linemen, who know it could lead to many more run blocks than usual. Of course, the Washington Redskins would be happy if the bad weather skipped them all together.

Still, the threat of Hurricane Joaquin looms over Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said the team is planning on playing the game at its regularly scheduled time of 1 p.m. ET. That could change if the hurricane appears likely to hit Washington.

Regardless, heavy rains are forecast for Friday and Saturday, which could lead to poor field conditions whether or not the hurricane hits or not.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Redskins tackle Morgan Moses said. “I haven’t played in a sloppy rain game since probably Little League.”

And heavy rain feeds into what the Redskins want to be: a run-dominant offense.

“If it is what they say it is then there won’t be many balls in the air, that’s for sure,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “That is what we want to be. We want to be a physical football team.”

Here’s how they’re preparing:

Practicing outdoors. The Redskins typically practice in the bubble at their facility during bad weather, but they opted to hold Thursday’s workout outdoors. Gruden wanted the players to at least get a little taste of the wet weather, especially the quarterbacks.

“I want to see the quarterbacks throw a wet ball, just see how we handled it in general,” Gruden said. “It could be a lot worse out there on Sunday. It may not rain at all, we don’t know yet. I thought it was beneficial to all our guys. It was good to see our quarterbacks throw it and our receivers catch it in the rain.”

They'll likely practice indoors Friday.

Longer cleats? Even if it doesn’t rain Sunday, the field could be drenched from heavy rains Friday and Saturday. FedEx Field does not have a reputation for draining well, so rains that hit before the game could be a factor. And that leaves players with a decision: Do they opt for longer cleats? It depends.

“If we can help it, they don’t want us to wear it,” Redskins running back Chris Thompson said. “It could be a safety hazard with the long spikes. It helps you to plant, but then it can get stuck.”

One fear is that if a lineman has long cleats -- some are an inch long, while the standard cleat is about half that size -- then they might get stuck in a pile, leading to getting hit and hurting a knee.

But tackle Trent Williams said no one has discouraged the use of long cleats to him. He’s used them in the past.

“I’m not a big fan of them, but if the situation calls for it, of course,” Williams said. “I don’t know if it helps, but it makes you feel like your cleats have a little better grip. The difference is when you have some molded cleats on that surface and you get to slipping around you notice, ‘All right, I need to change.’ You put those on and it gives you better traction.”

Focusing on ball security. Running back Matt Jones fumbled twice in the past two games so this would be a focal point even in dry weather. Jones worked on securing the ball better when he dove – one of his fumbles occurred when he dove toward the end zone and had the ball poked free.

“They just have to be extra cautious with the ball. He runs so hard sometimes he puts the ball in harm’s way,” Gruden said. “We don’t want him to run any softer or more passive, but he’s got to understand ball security against this team and a weather game like this is going to be very, very important.”