Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.:
1. Four Redskins players did not participate in Wednesday's practice – three of them due to injuries.
With a short week ahead of them, the Redskins on Wednesday took part in their first full practice of the week, and had three players watching from the sidelines, with another one taking care of some paternal duties.
Check out the top images from Washington Redskins' practice on Dec. 17, 2014, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County Va.
Gruden said defensive end Jason Hatcher (knee), linebacker Gabe Miller (ankle) and left tackle Trent Williams (shoulder) sat out Wednesday's practice, while tight end Jordan Reed was not at the facility, as he was welcoming a child into the world.
"Congratulations to Jordan," Gruden said.
Hatcher, meanwhile, has been experiencing problems in his knee for a couple weeks now, and did not play last Sunday, when the Redskins took on the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Gruden said it was a little too early in the week to know if Hatcher would be good to go Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Gruden said. "It's given him some problems here, and we're just trying to do everything we can to speed up the process."
Gruden said Hatcher – who has 5.5 sacks this season – "can only do what he can do" at this point.
"We're just trying to get him right for this week or maybe next week [in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys]," Gruden said. "Only time will tell with that."
2. The coaching staff is continuing to stress the importance of staying away from avoidable penalties.
The Washington Redskins this season have committed 108 penalties, which is tied for the sixth-most in the league. Their 1,014 yards given up on penalties, meanwhile, are second in the NFL.
Some penalties – false starts, holding calls, pass interference, illegal contact, etc. – are just going to happen from time to time to any football team. It's the mental breakdowns, like the personal fouls and other related penalties, that Gruden and his staff know can't happen throughout a game.
"It's just something we have to continue coach and preach of how accountability and dependability is very important," he said. "Penalties are a major issue with us this year – special teams, offense, defense, all of them."
In a bit of good news on the Redskins' penalty front, however, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Wednesday that two penalties called last week against cornerback Bashaud Breeland – a taunting call and a pass interference flag – were reviewed by the league earlier this week, which said they shouldn't have been called.
Gruden said there hasn't really been one guy more than any others committing penalties, however.
"We have done the best we can as far as helping them understand the importance of self-inflicted wounds, but sometimes they happen and unfortunately happen more often than not last week," he said.
3. The Redskins have young, talented players on their roster now that they can build around moving forward.
Gruden admitted the production hasn't been what he'd like, obviously, but, "I think our core nucleus of guys we have here is pretty competitive, really.
"That's an issue that we have to deal with as a staff, getting the most out of our players," he continued. "The players that are here right now, they have all shown promise of being good, solid core NFL football players. We just have got to get more out of them."
Gruden said the team is going to finish the season out before evaluating the players at each position.
"Right now, it's more about the players that we have, coaching the guys that we have and trying to get them to finish strong and finish on a high note," he said. "Then, all the evaluation process with Bruce [Allen] and A.J. [Smith], that'll happen when the season is over."
4. The Redskins will continue to try to funnel the ball to wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon.
Gruden said both Jackson and Garçon have been frustrated at times in a season that hasn't exactly gone to plan for the Redskins.
"When they don't feel like their number's called, obviously they feel like they're underutilized," Gruden said.
Through Week 15, Garçon leads the Redskins with 62 receptions and has 638 yards receiving with three touchdowns. Jackson, meanwhile, has 50 receptions and leads the team with 957 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Gruden said he can understand the receivers' frustration, adding that they feel that way because "they're great competitors" and "they want to help this football team in the worst way."
"We're going to continue to call the game that we think is best for everybody involved, and hopefully they'll all get involved," Gruden said. "Running game, you want to get involved, you want to get the tight ends involved, you want to get the backs involved in the passing game, and obviously you want to try to get your best players the ball and they are two of our best."
5. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has impressed this season – and he's not close to hitting his ceiling.
Kerrigan this season has left his previous career high of 8.5 sacks – a feat he reached both in 2012 and 2013 – in the dust. Through Week 15, he leads the Redskins with 12.5 sacks, and continues to move on up the franchise's record books in that category.
Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan has recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks this season, and counting. Lets take a look back at some notable QB sacks from his four years in the league.
"I think he's got to be a reckoned with every week," Gruden said of Kerrigan. "I know that when teams play us, I think he is probably the first guy they think of as far as rushing the passer."
Gruden said 12.5 sacks "is a great number," but he feels Kerrigan "can get more."
"Hopefully he'll finish up strong and be recognized as one of the top pass rushers in the league," Gruden said.
The first-year head coach said Kerrigan's performance is especially notable this season because the team's other Pro Bowl outside linebacker, Brian Orakpo, has missed several weeks and was placed on IR with a torn pectoral muscle, and his replacement, Trent Murphy, is a rookie still developing his game.
"He's doing it right now with a young guy on the other side and without Jason Hatcher, so he really stepped up his game," Gruden said. "He's a great kid, great player and great competitor, and he's one of those guys that just fits in a great core of guys that we'd like to have here for a long time."