Short week heading into Bears game adds to Redskins' urgency
As much as a short week might throw off preparation for Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley, he knows it's nothing compared to what the Washington Redskins are dealing with before their matchup.
The Redskins visit the Bears on Saturday afternoon coming off a lackluster loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday night, a quick turnaround that presents plenty of challenges for a banged-up team trying to keep its playoff hopes alive. Washington now needs help to make the postseason and could be without tight end Jordan Reed and others in Chicago.
Injuries to linebackers Will Compton and Su'a Cravens, Reed's sprained left shoulder and the general health of the team is coach Jay Gruden's biggest worry.
''The biggest challenge is getting your team healthy,'' Gruden said. ''The mental part of it I'm not too concerned about it. The physical part of it is what concerns me. These big guys, they take a beating on a Sunday or Monday Night Football game and you need your rest, you need to recover. ... It's hard on these guys, especially late in the year.''
The Redskins lost on Thanksgiving in Dallas after playing at home on a Sunday night, and that was a more compressed schedule than this week. But the Panthers game brought another set of injuries, including a sprained left elbow for linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, a concussion for cornerback Quinton Dunbar and a season-ending ACL tear for special teams contributor Houston Bates.
Reed was favoring his shoulder in the 26-15 loss before being ejected for throwing a punch. Gruden said the hope is for Reed to play against the Bears, even if the Redskins' top offensive target is limited.
''He's such a factor in the passing game that even if he's banged up a little bit I think there's some things that he can do in the passing game that can help us,'' Gruden said on a conference call Tuesday. ''If he reinjured it and it's holding him back quite a bit, then there could be thought to that. But right now the plan is to dress him and use him the best way we can.''
The Redskins will adjust their schedule to compensate for the lost recovery time, prioritizing film study and walkthroughs over practice time. Even though the running game sputtered and Kirk Cousins committed two turnovers, there's more concern about mentally and physically resetting than dissecting what went wrong against Carolina.
''Short weeks are always tough,'' left tackle Trent Williams said. ''It's already a physical game. It takes 72, 48 hours to recover from one game. It's no point in complaining. It's not going to stop. The game's on the schedule. We got to go play it.''
In addition to having to beat the Bears and then the New York Giants in Week 17, the Redskins need the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to lose to have a shot at the playoffs. Gruden said he's aware of the playoff scenarios but will try to keep his players' focus on Chicago.
That should not be problem after the disappointing loss to the Panthers.
''Everybody's got to take their game up to another level,'' wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. ''We don't want to be sitting at home in January. I'm sure everybody in here will bust their tails to get out there and do whatever it is we need to do to win a football game, and play together and not shoot ourselves in the foot by mistakes and turnovers and not converting on third downs - whatever the case may be. We'll figure it out, hopefully.''
NOTE: The team put Bates on injured reserve and claimed linebacker Zach Vigil off waivers from the Miami Dolphins.
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