Red­skins are back in full pads but are not at full strength

The Washington Post Sunday - - PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL - BY LIZ CLARKE liz.clarke@wash­

rich­mond — Wash­ing­ton Red­skins Coach Jay Gru­den rev­eled in the depth of his ros­ter at the out­set of train­ing camp late last month, ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the bat­tles for start­ing jobs that would pro­duce the strong­est 53man group for the Sept. 10 sea­son opener.

But af­ter just one pre­sea­son game — Thurs­day’s 23-3 trounc­ing by the Bal­ti­more Ravens — the Red­skins were back in patch­work mode when they re­grouped for prac­tice Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon, par­tic­u­larly at out­side line­backer.

Trent Mur­phy was placed on in­jured re­serve, sig­nal­ing the end of his fourth NFL sea­son af­ter a Ravens full­back slammed into the back of his left knee, tear­ing the two ma­jor lig­a­ments. Rookie Ryan An­der­son, the team’s sec­ond-round draft pick and one of the few bright spots in a dis­mal de­feat, suf­fered a stinger in the game and was with­held from prac­tice. And Ju­nior Galette will sit for an­other six or seven days with a ham­string strain, Gru­den said, pro­vid­ing a run­down of the in­jured and ail­ing be­fore the penul­ti­mate prac­tice at the team’s train­ing camp in Rich­mond.

But with the reg­u­lar sea­son four weeks away, the Red­skins were back in pads Sat­ur­day.

“We need work, and that showed Thurs­day night,” Gru­den said. “Ev­ery­thing we need to work on in pro foot­ball can only be prac­ticed with pads on and chal­leng­ing them in that re­gard. We’ve got to do the best we can to push them, but also it’s our job and the train­ers’ job to make sure we keep them healthy some­how. But there is no sub­sti­tute for prac­tice.”

The trou­bling in­jury news that fol­lowed the poor pre­sea­son de­but was leav­ened by a bit of good: Safety Su’a Cravens suf­fered no struc­tural dam­age to his knee dur­ing the game, Gru­den said; tight end Jor­dan Reed has been fit­ted with or­thotics that ide­ally will ex­pe­dite his re­turn from a toe in­jury; and third-round draft pick Fabian Moreau, a cor­ner­back from UCLA, prac­ticed with the full team for the first time af­ter suf­fer­ing a chest in­jury on the eve of April’s NFL draft.

Gru­den didn’t at­tempt to put a pos­i­tive spin on the per­for­mance of his start­ing of­fense against Bal­ti­more’s blitz-happy de­fense. The unit was on the field for just six plays, failed to get a first down and net­ted mi­nus-one yard. And the coach ac­knowl­edged short­com­ings in ev­ery po­si­tion group: an of­fen­sive line that wasn’t phys­i­cal enough, run­ning backs who didn’t at­tack open­ings force­fully enough, re­ceivers who didn’t get open and quar­ter­backs who didn’t “let the ball fly” when op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self.

“It was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­body,” Gru­den said. “I’m glad they got out there and got beat around a lit­tle bit, took a few hits and played against a phys­i­cal de­fense. Now they know what to ex­pect next week.”

The flip side to in­jury in the NFL, of course, is op­por­tu­nity.

And Sat­ur­day’s prac­tice rep­re­sented that for third-year player De­s­ha­zor Everett, who con­tin­ued in Cravens’s stead at safety, con­fer­ring with de­fen­sive backs coach Tor­rian Gray be­tween plays to make sure he knew his run fits.

“I just want to show coaches that ev­ery­thing he’s look­ing for when I get out there, I’m go­ing to do it and do it well,” Everett said after­ward. “They know I’m go­ing to play phys­i­cal and I won’t be afraid to stick my nose in there.”

The thin ranks at out­side line­backer pre­sented op­por­tu­nity for Lyn­den Trail, the 6-7, 277-pound for­mer Nor­folk State line­backer who worked as a UPS driver be­fore be­ing signed to the Red­skins ros­ter last De­cem­ber. With Mur­phy, Galette and Pre­ston Smith side­lined, Trail stepped in with the starters in 11-on-11 drills, paired with out­side line­backer Ryan Ker­ri­gan.

“The game of foot­ball is a very danger­ous sport,” Trail said af­ter prac­tice. “We all know what we sign up for at the end of the day. Un­for­tu­nately, Murph went down, but we work in a sys­tem where you have to be ready to go at any given time.

Trail said he texted Mur­phy on Fri­day, the day af­ter he was helped off the field at Bal­ti­more’s M&T Bank Sta­dium, to say he was pray­ing for him and wish­ing him a speedy re­cov­ery.

“I un­der­stand I got some shoes to fill,” Trail said. “But I put the work in, and, Lord will­ing, I’ll be ready.”

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