Jay Gruden does a few things differently from the rest of his NFL head coaching colleagues. However, he will go the traditional route on Thursday and keep his starters out of the Redskins’ fourth preseason contest at Tampa Bay.
After Robert Griffin III and company failed to score a touchdown against the Ravens on Saturday night, giving the offensive starters no TD’s and two field goals in 10 preseason possessions, Gruden was asked if he might run Griffin and company out there for a few series against the Bucs.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “Like I said, we’ve been together for a long time. From organized team activities and training camp, we’ve seen enough out of them that we feel good about who are starters are. The main thing is you don’t want force another drive or two down their throat and then lose a key player.”
The Redskins have been very fortunate in the injury department during training camp and the three preseason games. They have not suffered any injuries to the starters and only Morgan Moses’ MCL sprain and Darryl Sharpton’s high ankle sprain have the potential to keep a player sidelined for the September 7 season opener.
The Washington defense does not appear to need any more work, at least judging from preseason stats. They have been on the field for 11 opponents’ drives and they didn’t give up a touchdown until the Ravens got into the end zone just before halftime on Saturday.
Playing starters in a preseason finale is unusual but not unheard of. The Panthers were planning on playing Cam Newton and their first-team offense in their last preseason game until it was revealed that Newton had suffered a hairline fracture of one of his ribs.
Even if Gruden was inclined to play the starting offense the schedule would make him reconsider. The Bucs game on Thursday will be the Redskins’ third game in 11 days. The wiser course of action might be for the offense to get some good work in practice and hope it pays dividends when they take on the Texans a week from Sunday.
“They have game reps,” said Gruden. “We see them every day. We see them in practice and we feel good about where they re. Obviously we’re frustrated with the production we had today, but we’ll move on and get ready for the regular season like everyone else.