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5 Takeaways: Dec. 26 Jay Gruden Presser


Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.:

1. After being limited in Wednesday's practice with a sore throwing shoulder, quarterback Robert Griffin III was a full participant Friday, and is probable Sunday against the Cowboys.

Griffin III – who, according to Gruden, suffered a right shoulder sprain after taking a hit last Saturday against the Philadelphia – "looked good" throwing the ball at Friday's practice.

"The big thing is we wanted to make sure he didn't have a lot of pain when he threw and he didn't today so that's the big thing," Gruden said. "So I think everything is full systems go with him and we'll get a gauge for him tomorrow morning and see how he feels after throwing today and go from there, but we feel very confident he will be OK."

Gruden said Griffin III was able to throw a couple deep passes Friday, and "was able to get it out quick and throw some good velocity-type throws and made all the types of throws that we need."

"He was able to go through the whole period today and do the two-minute drill at the end, so he looked good," Gruden said.

2. Defensive end Jason Hatcher, meanwhile, is doubtful for Sunday's game with a knee injury.

Hatcher hasn't played since Washington's Week 14 matchup against the St. Louis Rams as he battles discomfort and inflammation in his right knee.

Hatcher didn't practice all week, but Gruden said because there was a small shot he could've played, the team decided against putting him on the Reserve/Injured list to officially end his season.

"We thought there was a chance, that's why," Gruden said. "It just hasn't progressed like we thought it would. It was the type of injury that didn't really need surgery, we didn't think. So we thought maybe the swelling or the soreness would be something he could play with but obviously it hasn't as of yet."

Hatcher, 32, signed with the Redskins this past offseason after putting together the best year of his career with the Cowboys, notching 11 sacks and earning his first-career trip to the Pro Bowl.

He's battled through some aches and pains throughout the 2014 season, however, and while his 5.5 sacks this year are the second most he's had in his career, Gruden said he could sense how "frustrating" this season has been for Hatcher.

"Early on, I think when we had everybody healthy I think he was doing a good job obviously, but I think overall for anybody to say that we were completely pleased with coaching performances or player performances would be a little over-exaggerated," he said.

If anything, though, Gruden said Hatcher has been as-advertised as a leader.

"I think Hatcher came in here, he's a great guy who works hard and I really appreciate what he brought to this team not only from the football player standpoint, but from a person standpoint," Gruden said. "So moving forward I'm glad he's on our team."

3. Gruden has been satisfied with the effort he's seen from his players this season.

"I have, I have," Gruden said. "You know, the injuries, they've hurt us a little bit as far as that regard as far as participation in practice obviously, but for the most part guys have come in here and they've practiced hard and they're paying attention in meetings and they're working hard."

Gruden said the players realize what "a great opportunity" they have being in the position they're in.

"Especially these young guys, man," he said. "They know what a great opportunity it is and then of course the veteran guys, they have a lot of pride and they know what this Cowboy rivalry means and they know what playing in front of our home crowd means so they are taking this very serious."

4. Speaking of the young guys, Gruden said he takes pride in seeing the "fringe" players take advantage of their opportunities.

"No question," he said. "I talk about opportunities and what a great opportunity it is for guys like this. I mean, seriously, they are going to come in here and play against the Dallas Cowboys at our home stadium and really try to put themselves on the NFL football map, and they've got a great opportunity to do that."

Check out the top images from Washington Redskins' practice on Dec. 26, 2014, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

A prime example of this came last Saturday, when both Jackson Jeffcoat and Trevardo Williams – each of whom have faced a bit of adversity early in their careers – earned their first-career sacks against the Eagles.

"Last week they both got a sack on one of the best tackles in the NFL and they're going to go against a guy that is equally as good, if not better in Tyron [Smith] over there," Gruden said of Sunday's game against the Cowboys. "So it'll be a great opportunity for them to really play and show what they are made of and then like I said, the evaluation process that we go through during offseason, they will be part of our conversation, which, you know, if they didn't get this opportunity they may not have been, so it's a great chance for them."

5. Gruden's message to his team in its final week of the 2014 season "is simple right now."

"We want to build off a great victory against Philadelphia, you know what I mean?" Gruden said. "We want to put two games back-to-back together, which we haven't done this year."

The first-year head coach said it's "very important" for the Redskins to finish the season strong "and finish it out the way we want to, not the way the Cowboys want."

"They have a lot to play for, obviously, after this week, but we don't," Gruden said of the Cowboys, who have clinched the NFC East title and are playing for playoff positioning on Sunday. "So it's very important for us to finish this game and play like we think we can play. Let these young guys play and let the veteran guys finish strong and show what we are all about."


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