Mike Shanahan said that he could break from his usual tradition of playing his starters extensively in the team’s third preseason game this Saturday.

Mike Shanahan Mike Shanahan could play his starters less than he normally would in a third preseason game. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Typically, Shanahan plays his starters roughly a quarter in the preseason opener, and then for most of the first half in the second game. Then, the third preseason game normally serves as the dress rehearsal for the regular season opener, and Shanahan traditionally plays the starters into the third quarter of that contest.

But this year, the third preseason game falls just five days after the second. The Redskins had Tuesday off to rest up from Monday night’s matchup, and then have Wednesday and Thursday designated for practice. The team will have a walk-through Friday, and then play the Bills at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Shanahan said because of the short turnaround, he changed things up this year, playing his starters more extensively this past Monday. He said he still is contriving the plan for Saturday’s snap allotments.

“That’s why everybody played in the first half, or the majority of the team played in the first half last week, offensively and defensively,” Shanahan said. “A couple of guys didn’t. I think Pierre [Garcon] and Alfred [Morris] were the only guys that didn’t on offense, and we took out Kirk [Cousins]. Defensively, we played the first half, so we got a lot of work in the second game, and with the short week we won’t probably play as much as we normally do in the third game, but we haven’t talked about it yet.”

The Redskins close out the preseason Aug. 29 in Tampa Bay, and then have an 11-day layoff before the season opener because the team plays the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, Sept. 9.

Shanahan said that long break isn’t likely to make him break from his tradition of holding all of his starters out of the preseason finale.

“Anything is possible, but I’ll probably still go with my gut depending on how our football team is doing,” Shanahan said. “I normally don’t play anybody in the fourth game. I’ll probably will do the same this year. That could change if something drastically changes with our football team, but I usually do that for a reason.”

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What’s ahead:

Thursday’s practice is at 1 p.m. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett speaks afterward.

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