The Redskins have been dealing with the injury bug for the majority of the season, but this week has offered some optimism as the team approaches the stretch run.
While eight players are listed as questionable – including cornerback Quinton Dunbar (shin) and wide receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle) – for Monday night's matchup with the Eagles, the Reskins expect to have running back Chris Thompson return to action for the first time since he injured his ribs against the Giants.
Among those listed as questionable with Dunbar and Crowder include linebacker Zach Brown (knee), defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (shin), right tackle Morgan Moses (knee), running back Adrian Peterson (shoulder), wide receiver Trey Quinn (ankle) and tight end Jordan Reed (back). Note: These designations are subject to change following the team's Saturday night practice.
"There's still a little bit of questions as far as who we can dress, who will be available, who is full strength, and if you dress a guy that's not quite full strength and he goes down early, it's going to have a major effect on that position group," head coach Jay Gruden said. "We've just got to do a good job figuring out the guys that are ready to play and can't play but we are pretty healthy on defense – knock on wood – and then offensive line-wise they are as healthy as they've been."
Dunbar has been in and out of the lineup over the last several weeks dealing with a pinched nerve in his leg. He played last week against Dallas, but struggled with his explosiveness. He hasn't been able to participate in practice this week, but the Redskins are hopeful that with enough rest he might be able to go.
"Yeah, I don't know. This is a unique deal," Gruden said. "When you're talking about the nerve and you're talking about that area for a guy who utilizes his speed, it's tough. It's only something that Quinton can help us along with. We're trying to do everything we can as far as rehab is concerned, seeing the doctors and specialists for the nerve, but at the end of the day it's all about what he feels comfortable with. Last week, he felt comfortable enough to play but, you could see he was struggling with it as the game went on."
There seems to be more optimism with Crowder, who has missed the last seven games with an injured ankle. He had a positive outlook this week, tolerating the pain and making cuts and breaks in his routes with more ease than previous weeks.
He was limited in practice this week but believes he'll be ready for Philadelphia. Gruden said that there could be a chance that he and Quinn, who has been nursing his own sore ankle this week, could both be active on Monday.
"Oh there will be a chance for sure," he said. "We'll just have to Gerry-rig how we are going to do that. Right now with Trey being limited and Crowder being semi-limited, we'll see, probably this week play the healthiest one. If we can play both, we'll figure out a way to do that. The good thing about Jamison, he can play all three positions. Quinn can probably play all three also. He's a very smart guy but we'll just have to figure out where we want to put them as far as matchups are concerned. We could play both."
The best news this week has been that Thompson has practiced in full all week and the team expects him to suit up against the Eagles. Gruden commented on what that would mean to the offense to get back a playmaker in the backfield.
"Well, I've said it a lot, he's a very explosive player," Gruden said. "Not just when he touches the ball, but when he is in protection also. Philadelphia does a nice job, they did a nice job early in the year, they've done a nice job against us in year's past with some blitzes and he can fit up on the linebackers. Sometimes he's forced to block a defensive lineman and sometimes he's forced to block a defensive back, but the recognition of the fronts and the blitzes, he's very good at. Then, we can get him outside and work him in the screens and work him on some options routes, so he's very important. He's a guy that's a valuable asset to this football team."