Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's press conference on Sept. 18 at Redskins Park.*
1. DeSean Jackson, Justin Rogers and Martrell Spaight will not play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
We already knew Jackson, who has a hamstring issue, will be out for the next couple weeks at the very least, but Gruden confirmed on Friday that Rogers and Spaight will officially be out of Sunday's game, as well.
Rogers, a cornerback, had not practiced all week as he battles plantar fasciitis. Spaight, meanwhile, also was held out of practice all week as he works his way through the league's concussion protocol. Gruden said it was possible that rookie linebacker Terrance Plummer, who had a strong preseason, could be signed from the practice squad to the active roster in Spaight's place.
As for the rest of the Redskins' injury report for the Rams game, listed as questionable are nose tackle Terrance Knighton (rib), tackle Tom Compton (calf), linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat (thigh) and tight end Jordan Reed (quad). Listed as probably are cornerback DeAngelo Hall (rib), center Kory Lichtensteiger (finger) and tackle Trent Williams (ankle).
2. The Redskins want to limit Rams returner Tavon Austin's touches as much as possible.
Washington is all-too-familiar with what St. Louis wide receiver and return specialist Tavon Austin can do. Last year, Austin returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown in the Rams' 24-0 shutout of the Redskins at FedExField.
Gruden said the Rams will obviously try to get Austin the ball on offense, but it's important that the Redskins try their best to limit his opportunities on special teams.
"He's going to get his on offense. We can't control that but we can control what he gets on special teams," Gruden said. "That's something we've talked about in the special teams meetings that [punter] Tress Way is very aware of. We have our plan going into this game to try to limit his touches, that's for sure – his quality touches, I should say."
Gruden said the Redskins could try some angled punts to keep the ball out of Austin's hands, but there's a risk-reward factor there.
"It's still not a guarantee," he said. "There's a chance that it goes off the side of your foot and it goes right down the middle of the field, but it is something that is worked on quite frequently here and other places, I'm sure."
3. Gruden is confident that tackle Tom Compton and tight end Anthony McCoy, each of whom missed last Sunday's game against the Dolphins, can help in the run game.
Where Compton and McCoy differ, however, is in their knowledge of the Redskins' system. Compton played all of last year and through the preseason in Gruden's system before missing the Dolphins game with a calf injury, while McCoy was just signed last week as a No. 3 tight end behind Reed and Derek Carrier and was inactive against Miami.
The Rams bring it on defense – especially up front – so Gruden knows those assigned with getting in their way have quite the challenge ahead of them.
"I'm confident in all our guys, man. Whoever's suiting up, I'm confident in, there's no doubt," he said. "I know it's going to be a great challenge obviously, but I have total faith in whoever's playing — the two tight ends or the three tight ends, the seven linemen, whoever it is, whether it's [Ty] Nsekhe, whether it's Compton, I feel pretty good about all those guys battling and competing. They've shown they can do it throughout training camp and obviously against Miami, they did a fine job. We're looking for improvement obviously, but confidence is not the issue, it's just going out and actually doing it."
4. Rashad Ross will get the opportunity to return kicks on Sunday vs. the Rams.
Ross, who was inactive against the Dolphins, will get his shot to shine in Jackson's place, starting Sunday against the Rams.
The Arizona State product led all NFL receivers in receiving yards (266) and touchdowns (four) during the preseason, and on Sunday, he'll get a chance to show what he can do as a kick returner, as well.
That means running back Chris Thompson, who was the kick returner against Miami, will need to be ready to go in place of Ross just in case, Gruden said.
"Chris Thompson did a nice job," the second-year head coach said. "He had one return for 35 yards. That's good, man. If he ends his season with one return for 35 yards, that's a hell of an average. But, we'll see, we'll see. I like Ross and obviously if something happens, Chris will be ready to roll."
5. Gruden believes rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder will get more opportunities as the season wears on.
Crowder, a Duke product, is an exciting prospect for the Redskins – both as a receiver and a punt returner – and the Redskins' coaching staff is trying to figure out ways to get the ball in his hands.
He had one rush for two yards and a reception for no gain last Sunday against the Dolphins, but with Jackson out, you can imagine the Redskins will try to utilize Crowder as a primary deep threat moving forward.
"We have high expectations for Jamison," Gruden said. "I think he's going to be the type of player that's going to get better and better as the season goes on. He may not be as productive early, but I think as the season goes on he's going to be more and more of a factor."