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Strong Practice Week Boosts Big Redskins Victory

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It was a common refrain in the locker room and at Jay Gruden's press conference on Monday: an intense week of practice was the foundation for a 33-point victory over the Saints.

Before last Wednesday's practice, the first of the week for the Washington Redskins in their preparations for the New Orleans Saints, defensive captain Dashon Goldson wanted to make a point.

Instead of breaking off into their usual positional drill routine following the opening stretching portion of practice led by head strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark, the players huddled together at the middle of the field in the indoor practice facility at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Goldson made it clear that the team has an opportunity in a wide-open NFC East this year. What happened against the New England Patriots in a losing effort, what happened in their comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, those games were over.

"I know what type of team we have, we showed spurts of the kind of team we got and sometimes we get a little lazy at practice sometimes," Goldson said. "So I just wanted to make sure guys come in, understand what we got. We got a good football team. We need to start believing in that and having these practices. Challenges, challenge each other at practice."

The coaches also made some changes as well, having the team's top cornerbacks challenge the top wide receivers and the top safeties go up against the top tight ends.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said the defense won their 1-on-1 matchups by a score of 4-1, but the competition between top units helped lead to the team's "best practice week" of the year.

"I don't think that was a result just because we went 1-on-1s for five plays, but that was part of it," Gruden said. "I just think for whatever reason our guys came out with a lot of energy. We had everybody healthy for the first time in a while. Wednesday, a couple guys sat out like Hatch [Jason Hatcher]. But Thursday and Friday, all three of those days were outstanding work. That was part of it, just to get the competitive juices flowing. It's been good."

Check out these photos of the Redskins' defense and special teams preparing for their Week 10 match up against the New Orleans Saints Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Their good practice week turned into an even better Sunday, as everything seemed to click for the Redskins.

The offense simply overpowered the Saints' defense, the defense held Drew Brees in check after two early touchdown throws and Dustin Hopkins converted on all four of his field goal tries.

"We had a really, really great week of practice and it translated on the field," Alfred Morris said. "And that's always awesome when you have a great week of practice. Sometimes you have a great week and it doesn't translate and that makes those days a lot harder than [Sunday]. So I'm just glad it translated, I'm glad we went out there and played our all today and left it all on the field."

The Redskins will need something close to their intensity last week for this week's work, as they travel to North Carolina to take on an undefeated Carolina Panthers team that sits atop of the NFC at 9-0.

"When you have a great week of practice and reward them with a positive game like we played against New Orleans, hopefully it will make them want to come back and practice hard again this week, which I think they will," Gruden said.

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