Gruden seeks to move on, get Redskins prepared for Cardinals
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By STEPHEN WHYNO
Jay Gruden believes he and his staff need to do a better job of preparing Washington players to compete and the coach plans to address concerns some of Redskins expressed this week.
Gruden is once again on the defensive about his team's pre-game preparations with Washington coming off consecutive blowout losses that dropped the Redskins to 5-8 and destroyed even their faintest playoff hopes.
Safety D.J. Swearinger has twice this season said practices were too lackadaisical and that players weren't prepared, most recently after a 30-13 loss Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Gruden plans to speak with Swearinger about those comments Tuesday and make some adjustments before facing the Arizona Cardinals.
"From a coaching standpoint, we've got to do a better job of getting these guys ready early in games and make sure they're better prepared where they can have a plan and play fast and hard," Gruden said on a conference call Monday. "I don't think we're lacking preparation. I just think, for whatever reason, we're not taking our preparation to the game-day field. And that's something we have to do."
Swearinger said he wasn't surprised by the loss at L.A. because when "you don't prepare well, you're going to fail." Swearinger and Gruden agreed it's on the coaching staff and players to make strides in that direction with three games left.
Gruden said injuries and a revolving roster have presented a challenge for Washington, which has had 13 players on injured reserve during the regular season, including its top two running backs, two inside linebackers and two starting offensive linemen.
"We're going to have to fight through it and make sure we get the guys that are ready to play ready to play the positions they're going to play," Gruden said. "I think that the tough thing is we're practicing with guys all over the place and on game day, they're playing something different."
The injury situation isn't getting any better with the possibility of shutting down left tackle Trent Williams (knee) and tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring). Linebacker Chris Carter is set for surgery on his broken right fibula, starting inside linebacker Zach Brown will have an MRI on his right foot, running back Byron Marshall has a hamstring injury and receiver Ryan Grant an ankle injury.
Shifting players around at various position groups has made practice more difficult, especially during weeks when roughly a dozen weren't able to fully participate.
"You don't have a lot of bodies where you can go, `Hey, let's do 12 reps of first down, second down in each group,'" Gruden said. "I feel like from a mental standpoint these guys should be ready to go and just from a physical standpoint - for whatever reason - we've missed some opportunities on offense and failed to make some plays on defense.
"Is it mental? Is it physical? Whatever it is, we just have to continue to stay together and continue to prepare."
Gruden said the 6-7 Cardinals are the focus now, not the Denver Broncos or New York Giants who are waiting in Weeks 16 and 17. Without playoffs left to play for, it's up to Gruden to figure out what will motivate his players the rest of the way, which he thinks is winning.
"That's the only thing that matters is winning and winning the next game, so that's what we're going to focus on," he said.
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Updated December 11, 2017