ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ After as tough and trying a week as could be, the Washington Redskins finally felt ready to focus on football.
``I kind of sensed a deep breath was taken, a sigh was taken,'' assistant coach Gregg Williams said. ``And now: Let's move on.''
Even with a less-than-ideal amount of time to prepare for the next game, Thursday night against the visiting Chicago Bears, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs opted not to have a full practice Tuesday and instead put players through an extended walkthrough.
As limited as the work might have been, something seemed different.
``It was normal today,'' defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said, ``for the first time in a while.''
From the moment they first heard the horrific news that Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor had been shot at his home, to the moment they heard that he had died, all the way through to Monday's funeral in Florida, the Redskins thought about their friend and teammate.
They were sad.
They were reflective.
And the collective mood only began to brighten after everyone got the chance to formally pay their respects.
``Until that day happened, you never really got the closure,'' Daniels said. ``Last week, we went into the game with a lot of emotions, a lot of heavy hearts. Hard to get ready for that game.''
As Daniels spoke at the Redskins' practice facility, he sat on a stool a few feet away from Taylor's locker, which has been sealed off with Plexiglas.
A framed photo of Taylor and his 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, sits alongside football pads on the top shelf. Other contents are neatly arranged: sweats, practice jersey, helmet, mouth guard, burgundy cleats, a game ball from Oct. 1, 2006, notebooks, a pencil.
``Now I think guys are a little more focused on the Bears. Last week, the talk was about Sean and what we can do for him,'' Daniels continued. ``But this week, it's more about the Bears. We know Sean is always going to be on the field with us.''
Despite the unusual circumstances, the Redskins did not petition the NFL to postpone the game.
``I don't think it has been an option from Day 1,'' Gibbs said. ``There's a precedent set where you just don't do it. So I really didn't consider that anything like that was going to happen. I don't think any of us did.''
Neither the Redskins nor the Bears have the benefit of as many days to prepare as they would like, particularly given that both are 5-7 and barely hanging on at the very edge of the race for a wild-card berth in the mediocre NFC.
Chicago's players are well aware, of course, of what the Redskins have been dealing with away from the field of play.
``They've been through a lot more than us,'' Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman said. ``Going through what they've gone through, I have no reason to complain at all.''
The Bears, last season's NFC champions, have been alternating wins and losses over the past nine games.
Still, Chicago coach Lovie Smith sees no reason why a victory at Washington can't point his team back toward a postseason push.
``No one has told us that we're out of anything,'' Smith said, ``so we have to just keep playing, and that's what we'll do.''