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Winners Motivated By Short Week Challenge


During a normal work week for the Washington Redskins, Thursday would be the second full day of intensive practice sessions, rigorous weight training and film study with coaches.

Today, more than 1,000 miles from the practice fields at Redskins Park, is the team's locale, in Minnesota as they get ready to take on the Vikings.

Fairly new to the NFL schedule, Thursday Night Football is yet another national stage that all forces teams to alter the normal work week to accomodate.

While his team is coming off an emotional high after an overtime victory vs. the San Dieg Chargers, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said the short week required split focus on two different opponents at once.

"You put a film together for tomorrow's [last Saturday] meeting and you get ready for your meeting for tomorrow from today's [last Friday's] practice," Shanahan said at his press conference last Friday before the Chargers game. "So you don't have a lot of time before the game.

"You may wake up early Sunday if it's an early game and study a couple hours – two or three hours – just to get a little jump on things because you already got your game plan together; same thing on defense.

"When you have a Thursday game, it's a little tougher because you've got a day and a half-plus preparation time."

Last season, the Washington Redskins faced the tallest of tasks to conquor: facing two NFC East opponents within a four-day span.

The short breather was intensified by the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys were each ahead of them in the standings.

Never letting off the gas pedal, the Redskins walloped the Eagles 31-6 behind quarterback Robert Griffin III's perfect 158.3 passer rating.

Being only the second rookie in NFL history to record a perfect passer rating, it was expected that he'd experience a hiccup carrying the torch against the Redskins biggest foe in their own home on national television.

Instead, he led the Redskins to their biggest single quarter output since Super Bowl XXII, tossing three touchdown passes in a 28-point second quarter that propelled them to a 38-31 victory.

Now playing in his second career Thursday night game against a Minnesota Vikings team he torched for a career-high 138 rushing yards last season, Griffin III said he's been doing everything possible to prepare, both physically and mentally.

"I think the physical part is just your body recovering," Griffin III explained on Tuesday. "So you've got to get all the bumps and bruises out, the aches – whether it's through cold tubbing, foam rolling or stretching, getting some extra sleep, which is hard to do in a short week. I think that's the physical part.

"Then mentally it's just taking what you usually get in five days and compressing it into two and getting ready for that game."

Last week, the offense unveiled several wrinkles in an already versatile system, running triple-option on multiple occasions that utilized the assets of both wide receiver Santana Moss and tight end Jordan Reed.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said the limited number of practice repetitions this week makes it difficult to add to the playbook or provide modifications.

Instead, the player must mentally prepare themselves through visual study.

"You can't just go out there and run everything that they've seen before," Shanahan said. "But you've got to count on your players a lot because you teach them the play, you walk through the play, but they've got to be locked in.

"They're not going to get another full-speed rep of it and give them a rep versus one look not two looks like you usually get and you try to make it easier on them and not go crazy.

 "There's not enough time to do it with the gameplan, but you really have to count on those guys that they're in their books and reviewing it and mentally putting themselves in those positions."

Hoping to extend their Thursday winning-streak but more importantly claw their way back up the NFC East ranks, defensive captain London Fletcher said that regardless of playing the second game in only five days, the Redskins will be ready.

The emotion of gameday trumps any worries during a short layoff. 

"It's amazing what happens come game day, you get your mind in the right place you need to be in," he said. "Usually the body is able to follow. Come Thursday night, everybody will be ready to play."




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