Here's five takeaways from Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's press conference Oct. 1, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
1. Cornerback Chris Culliver did not participate in Thursday's practice, but Gruden is hopeful he'll suit up Sunday vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
Check out images of veteran cornerback Chris Culliver during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
Culliver, who sat out on Thursday with inflammation in his knee, is not only the team's No. 1 cornerback, but will be expected to carry a heavy load for the next few weeks while DeAngelo Hall recovers from a toe injury.
"Anytime a guy doesn't practice on Thursday, there is a level of concern there," Gruden said. "We are confident that he will feel better tomorrow. He was just a little sore today — a little knee inflammation. Hopefully it clears up by tomorrow."
Gruden said the team will not consider bringing in another cornerback this week, even if Culliver is unable to play Sunday. The team will go into the game against the Eagles with Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, Will Blackmon and converted wide receiver Quentin Dunbar available at the cornerback position, as well as rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett, who has played several snaps at the nickel cornerback spot.
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2. The Redskins had a quality practice on Thursday in a steady rain.
Forecasts call for a good chance of rain on Sunday, so Gruden wanted to make sure his team was ready to go should they have to play in those conditions.
"I thought it was important for our guys to get used to their shoes, make sure their shoes are what they want to wear. Obviously the gloves... I want to see the quarterbacks throw a wet ball, just see how we handled it in general," he said. "It could be a lot worse out there on Sunday. It may not rain at all, we don't know yet. I thought it was beneficial to all our guys."
Gruden said there was a "good tempo" on Thursday, and that "it was good to see our quarterbacks throw it and our receivers catch it in the rain," but the team will likely move practice indoors on Friday regardless of the forecast.
"We got good work in today," he said.
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3. Asked what he would like to see from the Redskins' pass rush against the Eagles, Gruden answered, "More of it."
"More opportunities, No. 1, more pass rush obviously," he continued. "That's the key thing is we have to give our defensive line a chance to rush the passer. It's up to them also and the linebackers to stop the run on the early downs and get them into some third-and-longs so we can rush the quarterback with four or five, maybe six guys."
Through three games, the Redskins' four total sacks is tied with eight other teams for 21st most in the league. Last week against the New York Giants, they found quarterback Eli Manning was content with quick two- or three-step drops and getting the ball out of his hands before the rush could even begin to get to him.
But when it comes to stopping the Eagles on Sunday, however, Gruden said the No. 1 concern is stopping their three running backs: DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles.
"We always talk about the importance of stopping the run and it is every week. But if we want to rush the passer, we're going to have to stop the run," Gruden said. "How we stop the run will be how the game goes. How we run the ball will be how the game goes. Whoever runs the ball better, whoever stops the run better, probably wins this football game."
4. Speaking of the run game, Gruden said the possibility of rain could be beneficial for the Redskins' offense on Sunday. But…
"I think the team that doesn't turn the ball over, the team that plays well on special teams will probably win this football game," Gruden said. "Running the football will be very, very important. Controlling the clock, keeping your defense fresh will be very, very important."
The second-year head coach said it was that very recipe that led to success in the Redskins' Week 2 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
"We played good defense, got off the field on third down," Gruden said. "On offense, we were able to keep the clock moving, run the ball, convert on third down and got a victory."
When it comes to the Eagles' usual fast tempo on offense, Gruden said his team will be ready — and could even throw a similar approach back at the Philadelphia defense at times.
"They go faster than we go. I don't mind running some clock and breaking the huddle, getting our stance and pounding people. I don't mind that at all," Gruden said. "We have the ability to go fast also."
5. The Redskins will certainly put more emphasis into Sunday's game, which is at home and against a divisional opponent.
Check out these photos of the Redskins'defense and special teams preparing for their Week 4 match up against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
At 1-2 — and in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East — a win on Sunday could help the Redskins establish themselves as a legitimate contender in the division.
"For us to win the division, we need to take care of our home games and we also need to win our division games obviously," Gruden said. "It's the Philadelphia Eagles, who is a rival for us. There's a lot of reasons for us to want to play and play well and have a sense of urgency this week. It's only Week 4, but it is a very important game."
Gruden said all games are important, but taking care of business at home — especially against a division rival — is critical.
"As far as the importance of the games moving on, this one is, the next one is always the most important one," he said. "But when you're looking at a schedule, your home division games are very, very important."
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