After initially saying starters would sit out the final preseason game, Coach Jay Gruden left the door ajar for some members of the struggling first-team offense to play Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Washington’s top players on offense – especially quarterback Robert Griffin III – performed woefully in Saturday’s 23-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Citing the risk of injury with the regular season beginning in less than two weeks, Gruden essentially said it wouldn’t make sense to play starters in Thursday’s road game. But the offense definitely could use more work before Washington travels to face the Houston Texans on Sept. 7.
“The big thing is, we want to come out of this preseason feeling good about ourselves going to Houston,” Gruden said. “And feeling good about yourself doesn’t always mean you’re leading the league in offense or leading the league in defense.
“Feeling good means you’ve prepared yourselves. … If we don’t play the starters, it’s only because I want them to be 100 percent healthy going into Houston.”
Against the Ravens, Griffin had an awful 27.1 passer rating. In 10 possessions spanning three preseason games, Griffin failed to guide the first-team offense into the end zone.
“It would be beneficial in some ways, but I don’t think it’s mandatory that he plays” against Tampa Bay, Gruden said of Griffin. “I don’t think it will make or break his season, whether or not he plays a quarter or a drive in the fourth preseason game at Tampa.
“The important thing is that we move forward as an offense and correct our mistakes as an offense. … There were a lot of them — not just by him, by everybody.”
Even if some offensive starters play Thursday, the first-team defense likely will get the night off after its strong preseason performance. For the offense, a solid showing in practice Tuesday could result in the first-stringers getting a break.
“There’s probably a 10-percent chance” starters on offense will play, Gruden said. “I’m leaning toward, ‘No.’ ”
More from The Post: