- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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ASHBURN, Va. -- One win hasn’t changed the message Mike Shanahan has for the Washington Redskins as they enter the bye week. They have work to do.
“Our team is pretty realistic,” Shanahan said. “They know what type of effort we have to have to get to the next level, what type of play we have to do consistently to win the division.”
At 1-3, the Redskins aren’t in a position to relax even in a division having a down year. The players were upbeat after beating the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, but they also don’t want to assume it’ll be the start of a turnaround.
That’s why Shanahan said they’ll talk with the players about ways they could have clinched Sunday’s win earlier. Or how they can put together a complete game on both sides of the ball.
“Once you get too carried away, to me that’s when a team goes one way or another,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes if you don’t do all the little things the right way you lose a game and all of a sudden the sky is falling. The sky’s not falling. You have got to go back and do the little things the right way.
“If you’ve got that mindset and your players believe in the work, then you have a chance to overcome anything. Even though we won, we know we didn’t play one of our better games, especially offensively. When that happens, then you have a football team that has a chance to get better.”
In other Redskins news:
Shanahan isn't sure yet how tight end Logan Paulsen's knee is doing. Paulsen hurt his left knee Sunday and exited the stadium in a brace. Paulsen is expected to get an MRI, but he told Shanahan on Sunday that he felt good. Shanahan also said if there is a chance that Paulsen’s injury is serious, then the trainers likely would have shared that information with him after the game.
Shanahan on the NFC East: “Remember, this is a long season. Don’t get carried away with things that happen very early or very late. Just stay the course. ... A lot of those games can go either way and people get healthy or they get injured and there’s a lot that goes into it.”
Receiver Leonard Hankerson has caught 15 passes for 185 yards, adding four for 49 against the Raiders in his second start of the season. “Hank is really playing well,” Shanahan said. “When he gets the opportunity to set guys up one-on-one, he usually wins. He’s becoming comfortable not only with the system, but with himself.” Hankerson’s routes have continued to improve; time and again he creates separation off his cut, though he’s not as much a threat downfield or after the catch. Still, he’s getting open underneath. Shanahan credits some of it to Hankerson being healthy. Last offseason Hankerson spent his time rehabbing surgically-repaired hip. “It’s nice to have a guy that’s healthy,” Shanahan said. “You can see the progress.”
The Redskins have an early bye this week; last year they had one after nine games. Not that any of this matters to Shanahan. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the season, toward the end of the season or in the beginning,” he said. “You can use excuses that it’s the perfect time for a bye week. We have a couple guys banged up which is a positive for us to get these guys healthy. ... We can come back healthy and we know where we’re at in the NFC East and start the season all over again.”
Suspended players, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson, will return to practice Tuesday. They haven’t been able to practice for the past four weeks while serving their four-game suspensions. Jackson at least could be at the facility because the nature of his suspension and sit in on meetings. He just couldn’t practice. The Redskins have a one-week exemption before they need to make a move to free up two roster spots.