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Redskins' Gruden: a night owl who needs his sleep

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden smiles as he watches during the second half of the Redskins' NFL football preseason game against the New England Patriots in Landover, Md., Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)
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ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Jay Gruden is more of a night owl than an early bird, which puts him in the Joe Gibbs category among Washington Redskins head coaches.

Well, not quite. Gibbs would meet with his assistants until the wee hours and then catch a few hours of sleep in the office, sometimes spending days without leaving Redskins Park. Asked if he plans to spend to the night at the facility, Gruden didn't hesitate.

"No. Maybe I'm new to it. (But) I need my sleep. I need at least about six hours or otherwise ... ," he said with a shrug.

Norv Turner and Mike Shanahan liked to arrive absurdly early to satisfy the workaholic lifestyle that has become synonymous among NFL coaches. Steve Spurrier famously ridiculed the long hours but lasted only two years with a 12-20 record — although Shanahan, it must be said, had the same winning percentage over four years.

The transition from Shanahan to Gruden, therefore, would seem to call for a change in body clocks for the assistants who bridge both regimes.

Interestingly, that's not the case. A major difference between Shanahan and Gruden is the autonomy Gruden gives his coaching staff, and that applies to working hours as well.

"Jay lets the coaches coach," said Chris Foerster, who was retained as offensive line coach. "We all have a set assignment within a week. If we have a game-plan week, I'm in charge of the base runs, or whatever the situations are. Every coach has a responsibility, and they know when that job has to be finished by.

"I'm an early riser, so I'm in very early, and I'll stay here until whenever the job is done. I'm not going to be burning it much in the late evening."

Foerster said he could envision coming in early to find notes left on his deck from Gruden's late film study the night before.

"Everybody's here for 14, 16, 18 hours a day anyway," Foerster said, "so we're going to overlap a good portion of the day. So if I'm finished with my work at 9 and somebody else stays until 11 at night, I might have been in 2 hours earlier in the morning."

Of course, it's still very early in the Gruden era. He hasn't coached a regular season game yet, and this week — leading into the third preseason game — is the first in which he's running the practice and meeting schedule that will more or less be in place through December. No doubt circumstances will arise over the weeks ahead that call for a late-night serious powwow among the entire staff, but that's not part of the planned routine.

"I believe in letting them get their work done at their own pace," Gruden said. "If they want to come in at 4 or 3 (in the morning) and get it done and get out of here at 6 (in the evening), that's fine with me. We're all on the same page and we're speaking the same language, and I feel good in that regard."

No one gets into coaching expecting to have leisure time in abundance, but Gruden, like most of his peers, has his way of escaping the game when necessary. He likes movies, with "Cinderella Man" and the "Rocky" films among his favorites.

As long as it's not something to do with football.

"I don't even like to watch 'Sunday Night Football' after games," he said. "When I'm away from football, I don't like to watch any of it. When I come home at night sometimes on Fridays, when I get home early, the kids are watching 'First Take' on ESPN. (I say) 'Turn the channel.' I'd rather watch 'Days of our Lives' or something."

Notes: DT Barry Cofield returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday with a sore groin and is expected to play Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. ... Gruden said CB Tracy Porter (hamstring) will likely miss the game, and that RB Chris Thompson (sprained ankle) is "50-50" to play. ... RB Lache Seastrunk was absent for personal reasons.

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