Injuries keep coming for Redskins
(TSX / STATS) -- ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins have lost two more key players for the season.
Running back Chris Thompson and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor were placed on injured reserve Monday. That brings the number of Redskins on IR to 13 -- and seven of those players were starters or expected starters.
Thompson (broken right leg) was hurt in Sunday's 34-31 loss to the New Orleans Saints. That's a devastating loss for Washington. Thompson is the second-leading rusher (294 yards) and second-leading receiver (510 yards) with six total touchdowns.
Thompson will have surgery soon, according to Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. That leaves Washington dangerously thin at running back. Starter Rob Kelley (sprained MCL, left knee, high ankle sprain) is already on injured reserve and Mack Brown was cut from the active roster on Oct. 21 because of a previous rash of injuries.
That leaves rookie Samaje Perine, who had a career-high 117 rushing yards on Sunday, and Byron Marshall, a multi-faceted running back who was signed off Philadelphia's practice squad just last week. LeShun Daniels is the lone running back on the practice squad.
"Obviously we have Marshall in here right now, so we have two for sure," Gruden said. "We have a practice squad we can bring up, but we'll have to wait and see where the spots may be and we have to have other positions of need also. The problem that we've had here as of late is with all the offensive linemen injuries, we've been heavy offensive linemen on our roster and we've been light everywhere else. So when other positions get hit, we're trying to draw from places we don't have right now. We'll try to make do."
Pryor's season ends in disappointment after arthroscopic ankle surgery. He did not play against New Orleans and saw foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte last Thursday. Pryor signed a one-year contract for $6 million, but struggled to produce with 20 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown. He had 1,007 yards for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 with 77 catches.
--The Redskins are still reeling from their 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans -- a game they led 31-16 with under five minutes to play.
A critical call came after the Saints tied the game. Kirk Cousins drove Washington quickly down field to the 34, which was in range for kicker Nick Rose to try a game-winning field-goal attempt. But on first down, Cousins quickly threw the ball out of bounds and was whistled for an intentional grounding call the NFL has admitted was incorrect. The play pushed Washington out of field-goal range.
"It doesn't sit very well with me at all. I can handle non-calls from time to time but I can't handle calls that aren't calls if that's the fact," Gruden said. "We have two receivers in the area and he threw it over their heads. It is perfectly legal for a quarterback to overthrow a receiver or a receiver not to be looking and the ball fly over his head. It happens all the time. He wasn't under duress. Maybe I don't understand the rule. We will get clarity on it and if I'm wrong, I'm wrong -- costly mistake. And if I'm right, then that's too bad."
--Washington's offensive line is healthier than it was two weeks ago when four of five starters didn't play (Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Shawn Lauvao and Spencer Long). But that doesn't mean the line is healthy. Long missed the New Orleans game and Lauvao reinjured his left shoulder with a stinger. With only three days to get ready for the Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Giants, the Redskins are still struggling.
"It's still pretty banged up, quite honestly. But we will get the guys ready," Gruden said. "We have some guys in here that can play, you know? If (Tyler) Catalina has to step back in there, he played against Seattle (and) played a couple games. (Arie) Kouandjio has played for us. He will be ready to roll. We have (Tony) Bergstrom in here. He has played center before if we need him."
NOTES: S Montae Nicholson (concussion) is questionable to play Thursday against the New York Giants. ... C Chase Roullier has played every snap at center in three of the past four games. ... WR Ryan Grant is in the concussion protocol after his injury in the game on Sunday and his status for the upcoming contest at New Orleans is unclear. ... TE Jeremy Sprinkle caught his first career touchdown pass in Sunday's 34-31 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints. ... LB Ryan Kerrigan has started 106 consecutive regular-season games, which leads all active NFL linebackers.
REPORT CARD VS. SAINTS
--PASSING OFFENSE: A -- A brilliant day for Kirk Cousins -- maybe his best of the season. It just wasn't enough in a losing effort. Cousins (22 for 32, 322 yards, three touchdowns) made tough throws under duress time and again, especially on two second-half touchdown drives that put the Redskins ahead 31-16. Wide receiver Josh Doctson had his best game as a pro (four catches, 81 yards) and Jamison Crowder (seven catches, 72 yards) had his best game of the season. Running back Chris Thompson caught a touchdown pass before breaking his leg.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Rookie Samaje Perine has a golden opportunity now that starter Rob Kelley is on injured reserve. He showed some encouraging signs against Minnesota in Week 10, but had a breakthrough game Sunday against the Saints (23 carries, 117 yards, one touchdown).
--PASS DEFENSE: B -- Overall an improvement on the Week 10 loss to Minnesota. New Orleans hit far fewer big plays, but Drew Brees (29 for 41, 385 yards, two touchdowns) used his running backs to get 95 of those receiving yards. And the effort was tainted by Washington's performance on the final two drives of regulation where Brees ate up yardage to rally the Saints for the win.
--RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Injuries continue to hurt here with two inside linebackers (Will Compton, Mason Foster) on injured reserve along with rookie defensive end Jonathan Allen. Matt Ioannidis (broken left hand) returned with a club on his hand. But New Orleans had too much firepower in the backfield as Mark Ingram II (11 carries, 134 yards) and Alvin Kamara (eight carries, 42 yards) had productive days.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Ahead just 17-14 and facing fourth-and-1 at their own 13 just moments after Thompson was carted off the field, the Redskins had the presence to recover and order a fake punt. It worked. Niles Paul's up-the-middle run continued a drive that ended with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant. Punter Tress Way had a 60-yard punt and another downed inside the 20. Kicker Nick Rose made his only kick from 38 yards and made all four extra points.
--COACHING: C -- The Redskins went back to an aggressive defensive philosophy and generated their fair share of negative plays with two sacks and five tackles for loss. That helped keep the Saints' offense in check for much of the day. The fake punt was bold, to say the least. Washington was ready to play in a road game as a big underdog for the second time in three weeks. But unlike the Seattle win, this time things fell apart in the end. From questionable play-calling on a third-and-1 with the game on the line to a bad challenge that ultimately wasted a timeout before a late New Orleans touchdown.
Updated November 20, 2017