Thursday game poses physical challenge

ASHBURN, Va. -- The pain usually subsides by the middle of the week, but the memories of the previous game linger. Sometimes for a defensive lineman it can last until late in the week. For a receiver, it might be gone by Thursday.

So when the Washington Redskins play at the Minnesota Vikings, they won’t be feeling quite normal. The good news for the Redskins is that they’re healthy: Nobody missed practice Tuesday. The Vikings, however, are more banged up.

That’s one reason why Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is not a big fan of Thursday games. He was asked if he thought playing on Thursday ran counter to the NFL’s push for a safer game.

“Yes,” Shanahan said. “I don’t want to get into it, obviously. Do I agree with you? Yes. Yes I do. But you know they didn’t call me up when they scheduled these games.”

Nor did they ask the players. But not all of them.

“Your body feels fresher on Thursday, for me,” Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. “Then you break it down again and Saturday you try to recover. So I think you should get everybody’s best coming out of Thursday. That’s when most bodies heal up during the week. For the older guys it’s like Thursday, but some of the younger guys they probably feel ready right now.”

But not all the veterans feel the same, especially those along the line.

“It’s different for a receiver, or the O-line or D-line,” Redskins end Stephen Bowen said. “Friday for me, I start to feel really good.”

Bowen has a different definition of “good.” Especially now that he’ll be playing with a torn ligament in his knee the past two games.

“You’re still going to be sore, but by Saturday you’ll be good, usually,” he said.

The Redskins have practiced lighter this week because of the Thursday game. The focus in practice Tuesday was more mental than physical, as it will be during a short practice Wednesday (before flying to Minneapolis). Players have to be extra focused on their treatment if they have an injury. Linebacker London Fletcher, for example, had his knee drained. He did not want to discuss his health or status (he did practice), but that’s not something that leads to instant relief, either.

Even without those issues, playing four days after your last game isn’t easy, though the reward is a weekend off and more time to recover for the next game.

“It’s a tough thing,” Fletcher said. “It’s Tuesday and our body doesn’t know we’re playing on Thursday. From a physical standpoint you’ve still got the soreness from Sunday’s game. Wednesday you’re still sore, Thursday you feel a little better. It’s amazing what happens come game day. You get your mind in the right place and usually your body’s able to follow. Come Thursday night everyone will be ready to play.”