RICHMOND — The expectations have been set behind closed doors. After so many disappointing seasons and failed playoff runs, the Washington Redskins believe they’re on the precipice of something special. With a revamped roster featuring new offensive leader Alex Smith and an infusion of young, athletic talent, Jay Gruden’s players insist they won’t settle for anything less than something big.
“It’s win now,” veteran linebacker Mason Foster said, describing the team’s mind-set after Monday’s morning practice. “I think everybody feels that way.”
It may only be early August, but players repeatedly say in camp that there is a palpable difference in this 2018 team. A current of confidence permeates each position group, and veterans such as Foster have said they can see a distinction in the team’s mental makeup and its collective focus. The mood in the meeting rooms is palpable. And everyone is on the same page.
“We were on the cusp of it last year and got derailed by injuries, but it’s win now,” said Foster, who was placed on injured reserve in October due to a torn labrum. “We know what we have to do. We know what we’re capable of and we have to keep it going, take care of our bodies, keep studying, get guys ready to play no matter.”
Last week, right tackle Morgan Moses said that even though he hadn’t been able to practice during organized team activities, “you can just tell by the three days, four days we’ve been on the field, how much the playbook has grown” with Smith under center. Earlier this week, defensive end Jonathan Allen acknowledged the intense competition on the defensive line, adding: “We’re all working toward one goal and that’s just making the football team and making this team as best as we possibly can to win the Super Bowl.”
The Redskins, who finished 7-9 last year, have made the playoffs only once in Gruden’s four previous seasons. Even so, this is a new year and this is a new team, they say.
“You can feel it,” Foster said, adding that he returned on a two-year deal this offseason because of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and his confidence in the foundation of the Redskins’ roster. “Guys want to play, guys know what we can do. We have a great offense, we made moves. And now it’s on us to go out there and execute. So guys are focused and get locked in on everything we have to do. Shout out to the coaches for just keeping us in that mode since April until now.”
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