Jay Gruden might use starters vs. Bucs

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
4:30
PM ET
ASHBURN, Va. -- Jay Gruden said he didn’t need to see his starters in the preseason finale, after the Washington Redskins' preseason loss on Saturday to the Baltimore Ravens. Now he’s changing his mind. Then again, maybe not.

Gruden said there’s a “10-percent chance” some offensive starters will play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. The starting defense will not play Thursday.

Under Mike Shanahan, the Redskins’ starters never played in the preseason finale. The last time Washington’s starters played in the finale was under Jim Zorn in 2009. Most teams do not play their starters in the final exhibition game, though the Cincinnati Bengals did so last year. Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

“The big thing is we want to come out of this preseason feeling good about ourselves going into Houston,” Gruden said. “Feeling good about yourself doesn’t always mean you lead the league in offense or lead the league in defense. Feeling good means you’ve prepared yourself and you’re healthy. I want to make sure we’re healthy going into Houston. If I don’t play the starters it’s only because I want them to be 100 percent healthy.”

The Redskins’ starters are coming off a bad night in the 23-17 loss to the Ravens. Quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled, but so, too, did his blockers. Fullback Darrel Young called the game “embarrassing.”

“You hate to end on a sour note and we ended on a sour note,” Gruden said. “We’re running concepts that should be successful, should be more successful than they are. We ran a couple outside zone plays where the guard went the wrong way a couple times and that can never happen. We had pass plays that should be OK, shouldn’t be as bad looking as they were. We should be better at what we’re doing.”

Earlier in the day Griffin simply said it was Gruden’s call when asked if he’d want to play Thursday. It’s hard to imagine putting your starting quarterback on the field without all the starters around him. If Griffin did play it likely would only be for one series.

Gruden said he would make up his mind after practice Tuesday.

“It would be beneficial in some ways, but I don’t think it’s mandatory that he plays,” Gruden said. “I don’t think it’s going to make or break his season whether or not he plays a quarter or a drive in the fourth preseason game at Tampa. The Tampa game is not a make or break thing for Robert Griffin to have a successful season.”

Gruden said his decision rests on how many healthy bodies he has ready to play Thursday. Also, if they practice well Tuesday. Gruden did not appear happy early in practice Monday, chastising the quarterbacks for being off on their throws.

“Let’s see how we progress in practice,” Gruden said, “and make sure I feel good about resting the guys I’m going to rest.”

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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