The Redskins practiced today with no pads and no helmets, just like they did on Tuesday. Having only three days between games makes for a very different week when it comes to preparation.
Playing in an NFL game has been compared to getting in a car wreck every week. The players’ bodies take punishment that would have most of us unable to crawl out of bed for a week. But the professional players get into a recovery rhythm during the season that a Thursday game will disrupt.
“It's a bit of a tough thing for you,” said veteran linebacker London Fletcher. “You look at Tuesday, and our body doesn't know we're going to be playing on Thursday, so from a physical standpoint you've still got the soreness Sunday's game. On Wendesday, you're still sore. On Thursday you're feeling a little bit better.”
This week, of course, they have to step out there on Thursday and do it all over again. But Fletcher said that mind over matter—or at least over strains, bumps, and bruises—will kick in.
“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.”
DeAngelo Hall takes a “whatever means necessary” approach to speed healing. “Massages, cold tub, anything you can do,” he said.
It helps when you avoid anything approaching a major injury in the preceding game. “Short turnaround but the good part of it, I know a lot of us in the secondary really didn't come out of it took banged up, there wasn't any injuries, tweaked ankles, hamstrings, anything like that, so we're feeling good about it,” said Hall.
What he said about the secondary applies to the whole team. On its final injury report the team listed five players as probable and just one, reserve running back Chris Thompson, as questionable.
Meanwhile, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier lamented the length of his injury list. “In our case -- if we had a couple extra days, there are some guys who probably would be able to play on Sunday, but because we’re playing on Thursday, they’re not going to be able to make the game,” he said.
Whether your players are healthy or nicked up, it is best not to add any more wear and tear during the week and that’s why Mike Shanahan stayed away from having the players wear pads or even helmets this week. “A lot of it right now is mental preparation – watching a lot of film . . . It’s not really physical coming off that game we just had, especially going into overtime, but you take all those factors into consideration in a short week.”
Since there isn’t much physical preparation and there isn’t much time in the week, the ability to insert new elements into the game plan is limited. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said it was a “fine line” between making necessary changes without giving the players more than they handle.
“You’ve got to put some stuff in, you just can’t go out there and just run everything that they’ve seen before, 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,” said the Redskins offensive coordinator. “They’re not going to get another full-speed rep of it, you’re probably going to give them a rep vs. one look and not two looks like you usually get, so a lot is on the players.”
The Thursday games are a tough grind. The upside of it is that the players will get what many of them called a “mini bye” after the game. They will be off Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before returning to a normal schedule on Monday.