As the Redskins try to balance health and entering the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, Jay Gruden said for now the team is intending to play anyone healthy enough to go Sunday.
Until they're told otherwise, those Washington Redskins primary players healthy enough to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys are planning to suit up and take the field.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden confirmed those plans on Wednesday.
"That's the intent," Gruden said. "This injury report here going into tomorrow, we'll see how many of these guys will be out, but like I've said before, there are only seven guys we can keep inactive and this will have a major impact who will be inactive and who won't. We're preparing to play the Dallas Cowboys and try to win the football game with the healthy bodies that we have."
The Redskins are in a spot that they haven't been since 1999, as they locked up the NFC East title before Week 17.
In 2012, the Redskins hosted the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football in Week 17 with the winner taking the NFC East. Washington, of course, would take the division crown with a 28-18 victory.
This time around, they're in a position in which they must weigh health against momentum.
Ideally, the Redskins would like to enter next weekend's playoff action as healthy as possible, but they also want to ride their recent wave of success, too.
Washington is on a three-game winning streak, and if they win on Sunday, they'll secure a winning season with a 9-7 record.
"Like I've said, No. 1, it's the health of our football team with these injured guys who are legitimately injured and can't play," Gruden said. "And then, from there, we'll have to figure out the able bodies that we have — personnel groupings will be adjusted — and then throughout the course of the game, we'll make adjustments depending on the situation."
Quarterback Kirk Cousins could be among those who see just limited action Sunday vs. the Cowboys.
The quarterback has been hot as of late, throwing nine touchdowns to one interception with 300 yards in all three games during the win streak.
Cousins understands the team's desire to rest players before the playoffs, but if it were up to him he'll play as much as possible on Sunday.
"I feel good and I want to play," Cousins said. "And I feel as a young player that I want to continue to develop and get a rhythm. I'll always defer to the head coach with whatever he decides. I think it's a pretty fluid situation as we go."
One of the players who could be out for the game, or at the very least limited, is defensive back DeAngelo Hall, who is dealing with a calf strain.
Hall said that "if I'm able to go out there and play then I want to play."
"I obviously haven't taken too many snaps at safety," Hall said. "I haven't been starting since day one at safety, so if I can get out there and get more reps, I'll gladly take those reps. But at the same time, I do understand that this is a dangerous sport and a vicious sport. Any given play you could lose somebody that could flip your season upside down. I don't know what we'll do as a team. I haven't talked to any coaches and they haven't reached out to talk with me or met with any players yet about it. But we have got all the confidence and faith in the world that they'll make the right decision for us. If it's to play guys a quarter or a half or to play guys the whole game and go out there and try to win, then that's what we'll do."
For veteran running back Pierre Thomas, who was on two division-winning teams during his time with the New Orleans Saints, he keeps reminding his teammates, especially those who have not been in this situation before, not to overlook Sunday's game.
"You want that momentum. You want these guys to keep believing in themselves," Thomas said. "You don't want them to say this is a regular game, because if you say that, it might linger on into the next week. That's what you don't want. You want to have that positivity. You want to go in this game, serious game, this is on the line, This is the end of the season. How do you want to end your season? You want to end your season with a loss? Ok, you're going to remember that for the rest of your life. You're going to remember that at the end of 2015, your last game you took an L. Knowing "Who cares, you've got the playoffs." No, it still matters. You want to finish out strong because it's going to give you that extra push going into the next week."