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Back from the Bye: 'Refreshed,' 'Ready'

Players stood aside one another, in lines stretching across the Redskins Park practice field. Coaches were scattered about, overseeing the start of Monday's practice.

In a surprisingly warm autumn afternoon, the only voice to be heard was that of strength and conditioning coach John Hastings, who barked out instructions to players.

The buzzwords following the Redskins' first post-bye practice were "refreshed" and "ready." A new tone had been set during practice, and players seemed focused on turning the team's season around.

Clinton Portis said that the bye offered a chance for players to get reenergized physically and mentally. Portis has been nursing a high ankle sprain and he sat out Monday's practice.

"We needed it," Portis said. "On the physical part, we have a lot of people hurt. Mentally, nobody believed we would lose five games. So we needed this break."

Mark Brunell, who also sat out Monday's practice, did his best to get away from football--he even avoided watching Sunday's NFL games on television.

Brunell did not even watch the Dallas Cowboys-Carolina Panthers game on Sunday night. (Dallas defeated Carolina 35-14 on national television.)

The Redskins host Dallas at FedExField this Sunday. Coaches and players will spend hours in meetings this week reviewing that game film.

Asked how much of an impact the bye week would have on the 2-5 Redskins, Brunell replied: "We've only had one day back, so we'll see. I think, for the most part, guys are pretty refreshed and ready to get back to work."

Wide receiver Santana Moss, who missed Monday's practice with a hamstring injury, was on a flight during the Cowboys-Panthers game, but he did catch some of the highlights.

That the Cowboys rebounded from losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants earlier this season was not a surprise to Moss.

"On this level, any team can do anything," Moss said. "I don't know why people are surprised when they see Arizona almost beat Chicago. All of these teams are good and all of the players on this level for a reason. It's just a matter of coming together at some point and turn that switch on.

"For some teams, the switch has been on from day one. For other teams, they're trying to catch up."

Meantime, on Monday, Joe Salave'a practiced along-side Cornelius Griffin for the first time in weeks. The Redskins' starting defensive tackles have missed action due to various injuries and the defense has been forced to start rookies Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston.

"When everybody is out there, it makes it easier to go out and practice," Salave'a said. "We can focus on doing the things we need to get done on any given call. I think everybody is coming around."

Head coach Joe Gibbs took a short weekend break to spend time with his grandchildren. He went to bed early on Sunday evening, anticipating a long Monday in which he works with offensive coaches to break down the Cowboys-Panthers game film.

That is a departure from last week. Redskins coaches took time out to study the entire Redskins team, breaking down every play of the first seven games of the season.

"What we tried to do is analyze everything up to this point--how we won football games and how we lost them, from penalty issues to playing poorly in the second half. We presented all of that to the team.

"We had a good three or four days of work for the coaches, gave the players a break, and then we came out and practiced [on Monday] a number of those things we're trying to get done."

Added Gibbs: "When you get a break, it allows you to step back some. When you have time to do that, certainly there are things that jump out at you that you would not have picked up on had you been getting ready for the next opponent."

The results? Gibbs finds out starting this Sunday against Dallas.

"It'll be played out over the next nine weeks and nine games-that'll be how we're measured as a team," Gibbs said. "I like that part of it. It's not going to be a guess on somebody's part of what has happened here and there. It'll be based on our won-lost record and how we play."

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