October 08, 2014

After the Washington Redskins lost their third straight their last time out, reports surfaced that the locker room was surprisingly upbeat.

Taking over a team that went 3-13 last season, coach Jay Gruden expected more losses in the future. He likely did not expect his team to embrace defeat so cheerfully.

''I'm hoping that nobody was jovial after a loss,'' Gruden said. ''For me, I haven't smiled since two days ago, I think.''

If past history is any indication, Gruden could be smiling again Sunday when Washington visits the Arizona Cardinals, losers of eight straight in the series.

Offensive captain Trent Williams and receiver Pierre Garcon were among players that were part of a light atmosphere in the locker room just after the Redskins fell 27-17 to Seattle on Sunday, with some players shouting jokes to each other and laughing.

Gruden didn't witness the scene but found out about it Tuesday, and said he had discussed it with veteran safety Ryan Clark and will ''have to think long and hard how to approach'' the matter.

''Hopefully it was taken out of context or what have you, but I have no idea what it was like,'' Gruden said. ''If it was upbeat, it shouldn't be, and that is disappointing that it was because they played their hearts out. They played hard, I thought. We lost the game. No reason to be upbeat, though, whatsoever.''

Washington (1-4) played better after being blown out 45-14 at home by the New York Giants in their previous game Sept. 25, but the Redskins were done in by their inability to contain quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks star passed for two touchdowns and ran for a career-high 122 yards and another score.

Kirk Cousins threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but Washington rushed for just 32 yards.

''You can't build on a loss. It's still an `L,''' Clark said after Washington fell to 1-4, last in the NFC East. ''But what we've got to do is find the things we did well, continue to do those - and the things that made us lose this game, do those better.''

They may need to do them quickly if they want to knock off the first-place Cardinals (3-1), though Arizona got a reality check in a 41-20 defeat to Denver last week.

The Cardinals are allowing 302.5 passing yards per game - second worst in the league - after Peyton Manning threw for 479 yards, four TDs and two INTs.

Arizona lost two defensive starters against the Broncos, with end Calais Campbell getting hurt on a chop block by Broncos tight end Julius Thomas and outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy suffering a knee injury. Shaughnessy was placed on the injured reserve designated to return list and can play again Dec. 7.

Campbell, injured in what coach Bruce Arians called ''the dirtiest play'' he's seen in his 37 years in the NFL, has no structural damage and is out one to three weeks with an MCL strain.

Arizona is off to the fast start despite the absence of quarterback Carson Palmer, who has missed the last three games with a "dead" nerve in his throwing shoulder. Drew Stanton posted a 75.4 rating and 48.9 completion percentage with two touchdowns, no interceptions and 176.0 passing yards per game filling in for Palmer, but he suffered a concussion late Sunday.

Arians says Palmer was able to throw at about 80 percent of his usual velocity Friday and after practice returned to Denver for more treatment on his shoulder. Stanton headed to a final concussion test after practice and could be cleared to play.

If Stanton or Palmer can't play, the starting duties will fall to rookie Logan Thomas.

Arians said all three candidates participated in practice Friday and, in his words, ''Honest to God'' he hasn't decided which one of them will start.

The uncertain quarterback situation has hampered the production of receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The two players will be looking for their first touchdowns of the season against a Redskins team that has allowed 225.4 passing yards per game - 10th best in the NFL.

Washington hopes to get struggling running back Alfred Morris going against the weakened Cardinals defense. Morris' rushing yardage totals have steadily declined since Week 1 and he does not have a 100-yard game this season. He managed 29 on 13 carries last week.

DeSean Jackson, on the other hand, continues to shine as a deep threat, hauling in five receptions for 157 yards and one touchdown last week. The 60-yard TD was Jackson's second score this season of at least that long.

"He's in a category all his own," Cousins said.

"It's a matter of finding ways to get him the football because when the ball's in his hands and you give him a chance, good things seem to always happen."

Jackson will likely match up with Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson again. Jackson faced him and Arizona in each of the past two seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and was held to six total receptions, 79 yards and no touchdowns.

The Cardinals' last win in the series came in 2000.

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