Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said today's cutdown from 75 to 53 players is the "toughest part" of a coach's job in the NFL.
When it's all said and done, by 4 p.m. today, the Washington Redskins will have their final 53-man roster ready to go for the 2015 season.
But if you think there aren't emotions involved for the Redskins' coaching staff, which has had just a couple days to cut down its roster from 75 players to 53, then you're wrong.
In fact, second-year head coach Jay Gruden said telling players that they haven't made the team — many of whom have spent months, and in some cases, years, working as hard as they can to show they're worthy of a spot — is "the toughest part" of his job.
"You're talking about cutting people this time of year, guys have been with us through OTAs and training camp and really done nothing wrong," Gruden told reporters this week. "They've done everything right to make themselves a part of this Washington Redskins football team."
Among the toughest decisions for Gruden and his staff today are the wide receiver, outside linebacker and middle linebacker positions. So while Gruden describes the process as "heartbreaking," there is usually a silver lining for the players who performed well but didn't quite make the final roster.
"I think the good thing is I think we're going to get them enough work on tape where we're going to get them an opportunity somewhere else possibly or others, there's a chance, a lot of these guys can come back," Gruden said. "Last year, we went through a ton of injuries and we ended up brining certain guys back. So it's not the end of the line for them but it's just sad to tell them we have to let them go."
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 4 preseason matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
The Redskins went through most of their offseason workout program, OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the first half of the preseason with a 90-man roster. Gruden said he was pleased with the effort put forth by each player, and made sure they knew how important each rep could be to their careers — whether it was on the practice field, in the weight room or in the form of time spent on their own studying the playbook and watching film.
"We challenge them every day," Gruden said. "That's why were so competitive out here every day. Guys are working so hard because they know they're fighting. Every rep is important."
But, despite these known challenges — and the fact he's been a coach in the NFL now for 12-plus seasons — Gruden said the cutdown process is "never easy and it never changes."
"It's a miserable day, miserable time of year for everybody involved," he said. "The assistant coaches become close to these guys. The players, they become closely knit. You cut some people that are really good in the locker room, really good leaders. It's unfortunate but everybody has to go through it."