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5 Takeaways: Sept. 28 Jay Gruden Presser


Here's five takeaways from Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's press conference with local media members on Sept. 28, 2015, at Redskins Park.

1. Backup guards Arie Kouandjio and Spencer Long could be counted on this week with injuries to guard Shawn Lauvao and tackle Morgan Moses.

Jay Gruden announced on Friday that Moses is dealing with several different injuries including a "mild" MCL sprain and an elbow hyperextension sprain. Lauvao, meanwhile, has a lateral sprain on his left need and has the chance to "miss a little bit of time."

Factor in the fact the Josh LeRibeus is dealing with a calf injury, and the Redskins' depth at offensive line, which has played well as a unit to date this season, is being tested early in the season.

Entering Sunday's second straight divisional game against the Eagles, the Redskins could rely on Long, a second-year player that's seen limited action in two seasons and Kouandjio, a rookie out of Alabama.

Both have been inactive through the first three games of the season.

"Since training camp, we've felt good about our offensive line depth and it's going to be tested throughout the season," Gruden said. "This week will be no different depending on Shawn, how he does. We have Arie Kouandjio ready to play left guard. We have Spencer Long ready to play left guard. So we have two viable candidates right there that have not dressed in a football game yet but are ready to go."

As for Kouandjio, Gruden said his development is "coming along good."

"We like him," Gruden said. "He's a big, strong, physical guy. Spencer both, they've done some good things. Lauvao has done an excellent job of holding his position and he's played well. So those guys have had to wait their turn, and now they're going to get a chance at it. I don't know which one it is yet but we'll wait and see. That's what practice is for, this week, but their development has been good."

2. The defense needs to find ways to create more pressure. In return, the possibility for more turnovers will arrive.

Outside of a wild fumble recovery from rookie linebacker Preston Smith in the season opener in which he scooped up the ball some 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, the Redskins have yet to record any other turnovers this season.

Through three games, the Redskins are just one of three times along with the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks to not record an interception.

While Gruden said a "little bit of everything" factors into their struggles at not generating game-changing plays, the unit as a whole needs to find ways to disrupt the opposing quarterback.

"We're not getting enough pressure when the quarterback is throwing the ball," he said. "If we're not going to get pressure, we have got to get some hands in the throwing lanes, tip some balls. We're playing hard on defense. We're stopping the run fairly well. They're doing a lot of good things but we've just got to figure out ways to get the ball out, get them into some third-and-long and then bring some pressure."

Another key to changing their minus-five turnover ratio will be better performances on first and second down so that third-and-longs are happening more frequently.

"The Giants did an excellent job of keeping the lead, staying in third-and-shorts where we didn't really have a lot of opportunities to rush," Gruden said. "With that being said, if they are going to throw quick game and get the ball out of their hands quick then we've got to tackle, we've got to strip the football, somehow somewhere. It happens every Sunday so we've got to do a better job of doing that. "

3. The coaches like what they've seen out of cornerback Bashaud Breeland, but the second-year player must have a short memory.

You win some and you lose some, and unfortunately for Breeland last Thursday night against the Giants, he lost on two contested balls that resulted in touchdowns for Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle.

Beckham Jr.'s touchdown came on a ball that was placed just outside of his extended arm while Randle's touchdown bounced into his hands.

Two frustrating plays, but the Redskins aren't losing any confidence in him.

"We know that he's a tough competitor and like all defensive backs in the National Football League, especially young ones, you've got to have a short memory," Gruden said. "You've got to remember why you got beat, but you've got to forget about it and move on to the next game. I know Bree is that type of guy, a tough-minded, physical guy and he's going to have a bounce-back performance."

Gruden said the Redskins need somebody to step up and make plays that'll swing momentum in their favor on gamedays.

Last season, Breeland often proved to be that guy.

"Whether it's special teams play, whether it's a defensive interception, whether it's a big play by a running back, or a big bomb, something where we can manufacture some momentum and get our guys going," Gruden said. "I don't think anybody quit, by any stretch. I just think we just couldn't muster any big plays, momentum-changing type plays and that's something great teams have the ability to do. You see it every Sunday, the teams that are winning right now, they're coming from behind. They're digging themselves out of a hole. We just haven't done that and didn't do that against the Giants."

4. Having the weekend off refreshed the 53-man roster, especially the veterans.

One of the benefits of playing on Thursday Night Football is that players have the weekend to rest their bodies.

Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 4 match up against the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

For the Redskins, their mini-break comes just before facing a Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles team that liked to keep the tempo high throughout games.

While Gruden admitted that the days off don't necessarily provide a mental edge, they do help will recovering from aliments.

"The big thing for us was to try to get some guys with lingering soreness healthy," Gruden said. "And some of our veteran guys who are playing – you know, the [Jason] Hatchers, the Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger – those guys get a couple extra days rest. It's hard on the veteran players playing on Thursday. It's hard. It's hard on their bodies, so it's good to get them a couple days rest and get them home with their families. They comeback rejuvenated and more healthy. So, that's a good thing, but not much of strategic advantage more so than it is a health advantage."

5. The Redskins must be ready for a quick-strike Eagles team that can put up points not only on offense, but defense and special teams as well.

Once again on Sunday against the New York Jets, the Eagles recorded a special teams touchdown, as Darren Sproles' 89-yard punt return touchdown put Philadelphia up 10-0 in a game that they would win 24-17.

"I know they play a great tempo," Gruden said. "They have good athletes all across the board on offense and on defense. They're playing very good tight coverage. The one thing about the Eagles last year that we really have to be aware of is they scored a ton of touchdowns on defense and special teams. They really do a great job of changing the momentum in those two phases based on sack-fumbles, interceptions for touchdowns, blocked punts for touchdowns, Darren Sproles returned a punt again yesterday for a touchdown. Those are issues that we have to deal with."

Different for the Eagles this season, of course, are the starting quarterback and running back rotation.

Sam Bradford has recovered from back-to-back season-ending injuries to start the first three games of the season for the Eagles, while Ryan Mathews broke out for 108 yards yesterday in the absence of Demarco Murray.

For now, though, the emphasis on game planning remains in-house.

"We're focusing on us right now in practice, trying to improve what we need to improve on for games – our personnel, our tempo, what we do," Gruden said. "Then come Wednesday, we'll have a plan ready for them when they get back."




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