WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of the Redskins’ seventh loss of the season, some fans and pundits speculated that players like Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, who have nursed injuries all year, would be immediately placed on injured reserve.
Not so, says head coach Jay Gruden, who insisted that the team will stay the course with its injured starters unless the injury is such that the player cannot contribute again this season.
Basically, even though the team is almost completely eliminated from the playoffs, it will still field the best roster possible each week.
“No, we don’t have any plans to shut anybody down unless it is a season-ending injury, and that’s something the trainers will get back with us about,” Gruden told the media on Monday. “Morgan is fighting to get back in the lineup. I know that. I know Trent is going to try like heck to get back in the lineup. Jordan [Reed] is trying like heck to get back. Terrell McClain is trying.
“They’re all trying to get back in the lineup.”
In some ways, this is the noble thing to do in sports. The team is not yet eliminated from the playoffs, and while they would need a lot of help from other teams, stranger things have happened. They can’t get into the postseason if they don’t win and they aren’t likely to win without this cast of starters.
It also makes sense when you consider the value of the positions as they relate to Kirk Cousins and the future.
Cousins is having an impressive statistical year, despite his lack of a go-to tight end for much of the season, and 22 different offensive line combinations through the season. That’s almost unheard of and is a testament to the team’s depth along the offensive line.
If the team calls it a year for Williams and Morgan, there’s a greater likelihood that Cousins could take a beating from opposing defenses down the stretch of the season.
After all, the Redskins have 15 players on injured reserve, including four offensive linemen. Five of the team’s “healthy” O-linemen appeared on the team’s Week 13 injury report, a familiar situation this season.
Williams and Morgan, along with reserve tackle Ty Nsekhe, are responsible for keeping Cousins upright. The decision on whether he is the team’s long-term choice at quarterback is irrelevant if Cousins ends up in the emergency room.
The same goes for Reed, who is on track for the lowest statistical output of his career. He would benefit from the repetitions heading into 2018, and it would be nice to reward the team’s long-term investment in him.
Gruden gauged his prospects of returning this season as “there’s always hope.”
Right. Maybe next year.
McClain has played a key role for the Redskins this season, appearing in 10 games while starting two. When he signed this offseason, he was expected to make a push for a starting role, but the team has still relied on his depth in the face of injuries.
No matter how the team finishes the season, injuries will be a hallmark of the 2017 squad. Perhaps the silver lining is that Gruden does not want absence due to the injury to hurt the future in the fourth quarter of the season.