Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.:
1.Should he get his first-career start on Sunday, tackle Morgan Moses certainly has his work cut out for him. Redskins starting left tackle Trent Williams – who has a sprained right MCL and ankle – missed practice once again on Thursday, and his status for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers is up in the air.
Moses – the Redskins' third-round pick out of Virginia in this year's NFL Draft – filled in for Williams last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and head coach Jay Gruden said the rookie played well enough to earn the start against the 49ers, should the need arise.
San Francisco is certainly not the easiest opponent to line up against from an offensive lineman's perspective, however – especially against a guy like outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who will be playing in his second game of the year Sunday, after being suspended the first nine games of the year. "It's going to be a great challenge for him whoever comes off that side," Gruden said. "Their edge pressure's been good all year long and they've got three or four guys that can get there so his technique has got to be sound. They do a great job with the stunts also that have given us trouble and then of course the blitz recognition, he has got to do a good job with that."
READ MORE: Trent Williams Day-To-Day With Sprained MCL
2.The Redskins won't play younger guys the rest of the season just for the sake of potential development. Gruden said some younger players could certainly get some additional playing time as the season goes on, but winning games remains the team's No. 1 priority each week.
"For us to take a starter out and put a young guy in, the young guy has to earn the spot," Gruden said. "That's No. 1. We're not going to just do that. This isn't D-League, trying to develop players. We're still trying to win games. I think players will lose the fact that you're trying to win games if you start doing that." Gruden said injuries have already thrown several young players into starting or key roles this year, "and maybe later on in the year some other guys will start to step into some roles if they earn the right."
3.Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan hasn't displayed any ill effects from a previous wrist injury. Kerrigan injured his wrist Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys and was listed on the Week 9 and Week 11 injury reports, but never missed a practice.
He hasn't registered a sack since that Cowboys game, however, and has been stuck on 7.5 sacks since taking down Tony Romo in the Redskins' big win that night.
"I think initially when he did it in the game, I can remember when he did it, he was a little sore," Gruden said. "If it's still bothering him, hopefully he's getting the necessary treatment. But, I don't know what he's feeling." Kerrigan has acknowledged he's frustrated about his inconsistent play the past couple games, and hopes to step it up immediately, beginning Sunday against the 49ers.
4.Williams, Chris Baker and Jordan Reed sat out practice again on Thursday. Baker – who has an injury to his sternum – and Reed – who has a strained hamstring – suffered their injuries last Sunday against the Buccaneers.
The good news for the Redskins on Thursday, however, was that left guard Shawn Lauvao was able to practice – albeit in a limited role – after suffering a concussion against Tampa Bay.
And rookie outside linebacker Trent Murphy – who was limited Wednesday with a partially-torn PCL in his right knee – was able to fully practice, which is always a good sign.
5.49ers rookie linebacker Chris Borland is "like a little fire hydrant." That description comes via Gruden, who was asked if Borland reminded him of another similar linebacker in Zach Thomas.
"I would say that's a pretty good description… He is not a very tall guy out there but he is like a little fire hydrant running around there making all the plays," the first-year head coach said. "He can cover in space – very instinctive. You want your linebackers to be instinctive and he has got great natural instincts for the position. He sniffs out screens, he can go sideline-to-sideline and then if you run at him he has the power to take on fullbacks of that nature." With others out with injuries, Borland has taken full advantage of his opportunities, averaging more than 15 tackles a game his past three contests and picking off New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning two times in the 49ers road victory last Sunday.