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Redskins face their former offensive coordinator, McVay

(TSX / STATS) -- HERNDON, Va. -- Sunday marks a reunion between the Washington Redskins and former offensive coordinator Sean McVay.

After seven years with Washington, rising from a low-level assistant to offensive coordinator the last three seasons, McVay became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history when he took over the Los Angeles Rams in January.

That makes for an intriguing chess match when the Redskins and THE Rams meet in Los Angeles on Sunday.

McVay was the primary play-caller for Washington in 2015 and 2016 with input from head coach Jay Gruden. The two men maintain a friendly relationship.

Gruden texted congratulations to McVay after his team played a dream first game in a 46-9 victory over Indianapolis in Week 1.

Said McVay, "It's different because of getting to see the people, and it's weird, you know you're watching a lot of guys that you know and you're talking about some of the offensive players that have been instrumental in helping your career go the way that it's gone. The one thing that you do know is, at least you'd like to think so, is that there's a lot of emotions."

McVay, Gruden and even Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins insisted that such on-field familiarity wouldn't matter as much as execution on Sunday.

Washington has a new defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, who has his own ideas and philosophies.

"But I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a chess match," Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said.

McVay was able to walk into a Rams locker room at age 31 and convince players with little knowledge of him to buy into his philosophies. There's an obvious reason for that, according to Cousins.

"He has charisma. That's hard to teach," Cousins said. "It's hard to teach being a good communicator. You either have it or you don't. So you can talk about his age, but Sean had presence when he was 20 years old and there's a lot of guys who are 65 and don't have any."

Friendships aside, the Redskins have a difficult schedule upcoming with games against 2016 AFC playoff teams Oakland and Kansas City. The Rams looked good in their opening week blowout of Indianapolis. But a win is crucial for Washington to avoid a damaging start.

"Sean will have his team ready," Gruden said. "That's all I know. We have to treat this like another game."

--Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger made a concerted effort before practice on Wednesday to pull his teammates into a huddle at midfield following warmups.

The move was a little odd. Washington is only 0-1 after all and had the ball with a chance to win the game against Philadelphia late in the fourth quarter.

But with a road game this week and then two contests against 2016 AFC playoff teams Oakland and Kansas City upcoming, Swearinger wanted to ensure the practice week began with a sense of urgency.

"I think everybody is still smarting a little bit," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said. "We should be. I am at least. But it's time to get over it."

--The Redskins remain frustrated that second-year wide receiver Josh Doctson continues to struggle getting on the field. Last year, it was sore Achilles tendons that led to being placed on injured reserve on Oct. 21 after just two games. This time it is a tight hamstring that limited Doctson on Wednesday. He played just 20 snaps in Week 1 and Gruden made clear this week that Doctson needed to stack good days on top of each other to get on the field and make the impact Washington needs after losing Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, its top two receivers, to free agency. Is this another setback for Doctson to accomplish that?

"It doesn't help," Gruden said tersely.

--Washington makes the first of three road trips to the West Coast this weekend. The Redskins haven't played a game in Los Angeles since the last one the Rams played in that city in 1994 before returning "home" last season. This season they play both the Rams and the Chargers in Los Angeles in a schedule quirk. There is also a trip to Seattle. That daunting schedule has led to detailed planning on how to handle the time change and long flights three separate times.

"We've talked to sleep specialists and all that," Gruden said. "We're also going to have to tinker with the schedule a little bit, try to get the players more sleep. For the most part, it's a business trip. But it's a long one and we understand that."

NOTES: WR Josh Doctson was limited at practice on Wednesday with a tight hamstring that has bothered him since Aug. 7. Doctson played just 20 snaps in Week 1 and missed three of the four preseason games. ... S D.J. Swearinger (sore back) was limited in practice on Wednesday.

Updated September 13, 2017

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