ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams says his team's struggling running game means it can't afford to take a struggling New Orleans Saints defense lightly.
''It's not like we're saying, `All right, they're sorry against the run,''' the Pro Bowler said Thursday. ''Sometimes stats can be deceiving. It's all about a case-to-case basis. They might defend us well. You never know.''
After some early success on the ground, Washington (3-5) has rushed for only 172 yards combined in its past four games. Running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones have each been held to fewer than 30 rushing yards and 12 carries in all of those games.
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Against visiting New Orleans (4-5) on Sunday, the Redskins face the league's second-worst defense overall and fourth-worst against the rush. And Washington coach Jay Gruden suggested he's not about to abandon the pursuit of a balanced offense, despite recent problems trying to run.
''There are some teams, quite frankly, you feel like you have a better chance with the running game than others,'' Gruden said. ''Not going to say this is one of them, but you know, they're game-plan specific.''
He added: ''We'll keep them off-balance and we'll attack accordingly.''
Williams says giving Morris and Jones more carries is also important, which hinges on the Redskins' ability to keep a lead or stay close against Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the NFL's top-gaining offense.
''The guys that we've got running the ball are guys who've got to get in a groove and guys who kind of wear a defense down,'' Williams said. ''If you're not getting them any attempts, any carries, it might not work out too well if your only plan is to run the ball.''
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has shown the ability to win games through the air, throwing 40 or more times and completing 30 or more passes in wins against Philadelphia in Week 4 and Tampa Bay in Week 7.
Still, Jones says it's crucial the ground game improves, even if opposing defenses are putting more men in the box than the Redskins can block.
''We've definitely got to get better at it as a team. It starts with the running backs, too,'' Jones said. ''We know we're capable of running the ball well. We've just had some bumps in the road and we've just got to overcome it.''
Note: All 53 players on the active roster participated in some portion of practice Thursday, a first for Washington this season.
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