After putting together their most complete performance of the season Sunday, the Washington Redskins had about 12 hours to savor the 31-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles that snapped a three-game losing streak.
Now it’s Dallas Week, and while attention always shifts rather quickly to the next game, the Redskins must change their focus even more quickly this week, because the matchup with the Cowboys takes place on Thursday.
“Celebrating is probably overrated for these kinds of wins because you don’t really get a chance to,” wide receiver Santana Moss said. “You always have to watch out for the next day. Due to the fact that we play on Thanksgiving, I’m kind of looking forward to it, so I’m not even thinking about [the Philadelphia win]. I’m already moving on and ready to get the body rested up so we can go out there and play on Thursday.”
Coach Mike Shanahan, his assistants and players now must cram a week’s worth of preparation into less than three full days. And they must get ready without safety Brandon Meriweather, who will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in his long-delayed season debut.
Meriweather, the team’s top free agent acquisition on defense, had spent the entire season sidelined by injuries to his other knee. He played a little more than one half before he was hurt on a non-contact play Sunday.
Typically, Mondays following victories are designated for injured players to receive treatment, and for players and coaches to go over some game video. Players have Tuesdays off, although many still come to the team facility to work out and possibly study more video, while coaches finalize the game plan for the coming week. Wednesdays and Thursdays feature the team’s longest and rigorous practices. The Redskins have a lighter practice on Fridays and a walk-through on Saturdays.
But this week, Redskins players had only the morning off to rest their aches and pains and reported late in the day Monday for special teams and some position meetings. The team will practice Tuesday, hold a walk-through Wednesday and fly to Dallas the same day.
“You try to get as much as possible of the normal game plan done,” said Shanahan, whose staff used the Week 10 bye to do some planning for Thursday’s game. “You can’t overdo it, because you want the players to be able to go out there and play, but [the Cowboys are] in the same situation as we are with the preparation, so it evens out.” Dallas, however, doesn’t have to travel Wednesday.
Washington’s players believe that they will be able to cram enough game planning into their week. But the bigger concern is recovery time.
“Most people don’t start feeling good until Friday, Saturday really if you’re a little older in the league,” said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. “You hope that the coaches do a good job of allowing us to do some walk-throughs and allowing us to not be as physical throughout the week. You’ve got to get some massages, and just do different things to make yourself be ready for this game and be up for it.”
Said defensive end Stephen Bowen, who spent the first five years of his career in Dallas, “You have to get ready the next three days, whether it was more stretching, getting in the cold tub, taking care of those knick-knack injuries . . . Just resting . . . You do a lot of studying, watching a lot of film, I’ll ice my knees and do a bunch of different exercises.”
The short turnaround puts in doubt the availability of several key players. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon has been hobbled throughout the season by a torn ligament in the second toe of his right foot. The Redskins will not know if he can play until Thursday, when he tests his toe on turf.
Also hobbled are linebacker London Fletcher (in a walking boot with a sprained ankle), tight end Logan Paulsen (strained hip), cornerback Josh Wilson (rotator cuff ) and left tackle Trent Williams (ankle).
None of those players has been ruled out. The Redskins hope that all their players’ ailments will heal.
“We don’t have any choice but to be ready,” Fletcher said. “If the next game is on the schedule to play Thursday, yeah, your body might not be ready or used to it initially, but once you get the adrenaline going, when the ball is snapped, yeah, we’ll be ready for it.”