“I have to see some things for me to make the decision,” Gruden said. “Hopefully after tomorrow’s practice I’ll have a good indication of who I want to play. In my mind, I have a pretty good plan, contrary to belief.”
Colt McCoy and rookie Dwayne Haskins were both full participants in Wednesday’s practice, but Case Keenum was sidelined in a walking boot. Keenum, who sprained his foot in a Week 3 loss to Chicago, started and struggled mightily against the New York Giants last week before being replaced by Haskins, who also had a rough outing in his regular season debut. McCoy returned to practice last week after being sidelined with complications from last year’s broken leg, and he is now in the mix to start against the Patriots.
Gruden wouldn’t detail how the reps were split between the two quarterbacks during Wednesday’s practice, which he described as more of a seven-on-seven setup with a lot of walk-throughs. He also declined to explain how the reps would be split Thursday.
The indecision, and questions surrounding it, seemed to be having an effect not only on Gruden but the quarterbacks as well.
Keenum bristled at a question about his rehab process. He said his foot continues to be sore but didn’t want to characterize the current state of the injury as a “setback.”
“There’s a lot more for y’all to talk about,” Keenum brusquely said in response to a question about the team’s quarterback uncertainty. “I don’t pay attention to any of it. No offense to any of you guys. . . . Not winning is tough. It makes everything not as fun. Food doesn’t taste as good. Music doesn’t sound as good. I could go down the list. . . . Winning cures a lot. We win this game this week and I think there will be a different vibe in this locker room, for sure.”
Haskins took a moment to collect his thoughts before answering a question about his development, which took a surprising turn when he was inserted into last week’s game. It had been thought that Haskins, the No. 15 pick in April’s draft, wouldn’t play until he was ready to lead an NFL offense, but once he did, he would be the starter moving forward. Unless Gruden taps him over Keenum and McCoy against the Patriots, that no longer appears to be the case.
“I don’t know how to feel about that,” Haskins said when asked if he was glad to have played Sunday. “Take losses and you try to make them a lesson. Make sure I’m back stronger next time. . . . You’ve just got to make sure whenever you get an opportunity, that you make the most of it. I tried to make the most of the opportunity and didn’t come out with the win. That is what it is. . . . This is my first year in the NFL. I’ll have plenty more to go. This is just one stepping stone.”
Gruden’s snark reappeared when he explained that Haskins’s development shouldn’t be hurt by the player getting put into games and not performing well, or by sitting out a year.
“You can argue both sides of the coin right here,” Gruden said. “No matter what we do with him, we're going to be wrong, so it doesn't really matter.”
The Redskins’ offense, which ranks 28th in the league in total yards per game, has more issues than just who lines up under center. Keenum, tight end Vernon Davis (concussion), tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) and guard Brandon Scherff (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Center Chase Roullier (knee) and wide receiver Terry McLaurin (hamstring) were both limited. That’s a lot of injury uncertainty for a unit that is also playing without starting running back Derrius Guice (injured reserve) and left tackle Trent Williams (holdout).
Among defensive players, linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring) missed practice and cornerback Josh Norman (knee) was limited.
It’s a tough week for the offense to be shorthanded, because the Redskins will face a Patriots team that has allowed 27 total points in four games for an average of 6.8 points per game. The Patriots are on pace to allow just 108 points all season, which would shatter the NFL’s 16-game record of 165 set by the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. They are also on pace to set NFL records in interceptions (they have 10 so far) and sacks (18).
Perhaps most concerning is that New England is holding teams to an NFL-low 13.5 conversion percentage on third down — a concern for a Washington offense that ranks 29th in the league in that category.
Despite the uphill climb the Redskins’ offense seemingly faces, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick offered praise for Gruden’s scheme and the team’s skill-position players during a Tuesday teleconference, calling the Redskins “a very well-balanced offense.”
“It’s up to the quarterback to make those decisions and get the ball to those open players and let them advance with their run-after-catch skills,” Belichick said.
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