He first commented on Hakeem Nicks’s progress. Nicks practiced this week as he continues to heal from foot and knee injuries.
“He’s getting better,” Gilbride said. “Unfortunately, it’s a lengthy process getting back to where he was. He is definitely better this week than he was the week before. You’re encouraged by seeing him do some things maybe he couldn’t have done last week. It’s a matter of just continuing to see that growth and return to where he was before he was injured.”
Gilbride said that having a healthy Nicks gives him so many more options on offense.
“I think there’s a respect that defenses have for him so there has to be a focus on him to a point where he’ll help open up some opportunities for some other people,” Gilbride said. “He still gives you some things that are very special.”
Ahmad Bradshaw sat out practice Wednesday after re-aggravating a previous foot injury, but he’s been known for being able to play effectively through injuries.
“I don’t think there’s a running back that can play it well if you’re not physically tough, but I still think he (Bradshaw) has raised the level of the bar, so to speak,” Gilbride said. “You have to appreciate what he brings to the table. Not only do we as coaches, I think his teammates appreciate it as well.”
Continuing with the theme of injuries, David Diehl returned last week as an extra lineman after spraining his knee in Week 2. Like with Nicks, Gilbride is encouraged by Diehl’s progress, but he didn’t commit to automatically sliding Diehl back into the starting lineup when fully healthy.
“Right now, I like the way we’re playing,” Gilbride said. “We’ll cross that hurdle when we have to. It just gives us some additional flexibility both: a) with depth and b) what we call, ‘big tight end’ or ‘big regular personnel group.’”
As far as preparing for the Redskins’ defense, Gilbride mentioned that 15-year NFL veteran middle linebacker London Fletcher is a smart player and makes sure his teammates know their defensive responsibilities on each play.
“For example, you’re running a play action pass and your backs and your quarterback look different than they do on a run, then he’s going to smell it out and he’ll diagnose it and stop it,” Gilbride said.
Gilbride said the Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has some unconventional methods, but that his offense needs to be prepared for those looks.
“You have a certain set of plays that would be good against that and a certain set of plays that are good against blitz,” Gilbride said. “Now all of a sudden, he’s exchanging where you would normally be exposed to those things. It makes it a little bit more challenging schematically or to your guys, you have to call routes that have the opportunity to be good against both.”
Gilbride hopes his offense will keep rolling right along against a defense that is ranked 31st in the NFL in pass defense. Eli Manning should have a field day, especially if Nicks and Bradshaw are fully healthy.