The Redskins face yet another adverse situation heading into Thursday’s game against the Giants, having added another four names — Shawn Lauvao, Terrelle Pryor, Spencer Long and Chris Thompson — this week to their growing list of players on Injured Reserve.
To make matters worse, it’s Washington’s turn to play on short rest, hosting the Giants four days after losing 34-31 to the Saints on Sunday.
The 4-6 Redskins have struggled to field a competitive unit all season, with 15 players currently on IR. Thus far, the low-water mark of an injury plagued 2017 season has been Week 8, when the Redskins had to face Dallas sans three starting offensive linemen in a 33-19 losing effort. Kirk Cousins met one of his backup linemen, last-minute signing Orlando Franklin, in the locker room on game day that week.
The creativity required to field a team this week could rival that effort.
Losing Thompson for the season in New Orleans means the Redskins must add another running back. Fortunately, they signed Byron Marshall off Philadelphia’s practice squad last week. But that still only leaves Washington with two running backs: Marshall and rookie Samaje Perine.
Asked Monday about needing to replace Thompson on the roster, Jay Gruden said, “Yes. We will do that. Obviously we have Marshall in here right now, so we have two for sure. We have a practice squad we can bring up, but we’ll have to wait and see where the spots may be and we have to have other positions of need also.”
That “practice squad” they’re bringing up? LeShun Daniels, an undrafted rookie signed by the Patriots in May, who was signed to the Redskins practice squad six days ago. On Tuesday, the Redskins reportedly signed Daniels to the active roster.
“The problem that we’ve had here as of late is, with all the offensive linemen injuries, we’ve been heavy offensive linemen on our roster and practice squad, so we’ve been light everywhere else, so that when other positions get hit, we’re trying to draw from places we don’t have right now,” Gruden said Monday. “So we’ll try to make due.”
There’s another problem: Chase Roullier, Long’s backup at center, is also out with a broken hand, an injury he suffered in the first quarter of Sunday’s game. Roullier underwent surgery Monday, so he will definitely not be available against the Giants.
Which means the Redskins must turn to their backup-backup center, Tony Bergstrom. The backup to the backup-backup center, as of Monday, did not currently exist on their roster.
Their answer comes in the form of Demetrius Rhaney, a four-year NFL veteran who’s spent time on Jacksonville’s practice squad in 2017.
Back to their predicament at running back. This would have been an ideal point in the season to unleash Mack Brown, someone they’ve carefully groomed on their practice squad for three seasons, but they lost him to the Vikings on waivers last month. Bummer.
“Is Marshall capable of handling that third-down role, do you feel,” John Keim asked Gruden Monday.
“We shall find out, John, now won’t we?” Gruden snipped. “But he’s a bright kid. He’s bright-eyed and willing to learn, and I think he’s not going to have much of a choice. He’s going to have to.”
“Is it realistic to think that you can suit up three running backs when you only have two available right now,” another reporter asked.
“Yeah. I think we’ll probably get one of them up,” Gruden said. “You know, I would think with Chris going on IR, I think we’ll get our third one up, ready to roll. It’s the only option we have. We have to go on three.”
And how do you prep a rookie running back just signed to the roster for an NFL game on Thursday?
“Well, you just gotta teach ’em,” Gruden said. “Randy Jordan’s the greatest running back teacher of all time, man. He’s gonna have to just get his chalkboard out, get his little markers out and his eraser and teach ’em. He will. Done it before.”