November 14, 2016

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injuries:
“Don’t really have any injury updates. Morgan [Moses], he’ll be day-to-day; and then DeSean [Jackson], we’ll just do the same thing as last week. Kind of figure out where he’s at and on Wednesday we come back – or Tuesday.”

On T Morgan Moses’ effort despite playing through pain:
“Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me. He’s been that way since he came here. He’s just been a good all-around football player. Eager to play, eager to learn, and he’s just getting better and better. And he’s played with some injuries before, and an ankle sprain won’t stop Morgan. He’s a big man that plays extremely hard and played well yesterday despite his ankle injury.”

On if T Ty Nsekhe gave Gruden ‘what [he] was looking for’:
“He did, he did. He played extremely well, man. That’s a great defensive line over there. Everson Griffen is an excellent player. He had to pick up some blitzes and was very sound in his protection and the run game. And couldn’t really ask for anything more.”

On if there is a fear that WR DeSean Jackson’s injury could linger:
“I wouldn’t say a fear. I mean, it’s a reality, I guess. I was happy the way the guys stepped up in his place, but we obviously would love to have DeSean back with his game-breaking speed. But we have got to get him healthy first and he has to feel good about his shoulder and he has to have the strength back. An injured DeSean won’t do us much good. We’ve got to make sure he’s 100 percent and ready to roll.”

On if Jackson could play on Thanksgiving:
“I think this week’s in play for him, really. I do. I think he got a shot last week and hopefully he’s going to get more range of motion, more treatment today and tomorrow. And we’ll see how he’s doing Wednesday.”

On how to resolve red zone struggles:
“We just keep working. I think there are sometimes where going down there and kicking field goals isn’t a bad thing in close games like it was yesterday. I would rather do that than force an interception down there. The lanes are tight – the passing lanes are very small down there – if we don’t get somebody open right off the bat, it gets hard. They close quickly. Kirk [Cousins] did an excellent job of not forcing the ball. He had one forced ball that they dropped an interception on. But other than that, I think that he was sound with his decision-making. They just played good defense. We have to do a better job of trying to create some more running lanes to run it in there or find some better passes. Just keep working at it, but getting down there and getting three points and winning the game kicking four field goals isn’t the end of the world.”

On his biggest takeaways from the game after watching film:
“Well, I think just handling the momentum swings. Coming out fast and then seeing them score 20 unanswered points in a hurry, rebounding at halftime, coming back and putting drives together to get a tie game, and then obviously getting a late lead and holding the lead – which is very, very important to us. Any time you’re playing against a good football team like Minnesota, you’re going to have your ups and downs, but finishing the game the way we did was fun to watch.”

On if there is a way to level off the momentum swings:
“I wish. If you guys have that answer, I’d be glad to listen to it. There’s good football players around the league, and they’re going to make their plays. Good football coaches on other teams and highly paid players all across the league – and they’re paid to make plays also. So we just have to weather the storm from time-to-time, but do our best to keep our focus, keep our poise, and move on to the next play.”

On his tone at halftime:
“Well, I had to shut myself in my own room for a few seconds to cool down a little bit. I had to get my poise first, and then we had to just go out and rally the troops – coach them up, see what they were seeing on defense. Sean [McVay] and Joe [Barry] did a good job of preparing for the second half. That’s all you’ve got to do – say a few words and then we go out and play. But the big thing was keep your poise, go out there and shoot your guns and play the second half hard and good things will happen – and it did.”

On WR Maurice Harris:
“Yeah, Maurice has done an excellent job, and really he has picked up the system effortlessly. He’s a very intelligent football player. He’s a physical football player in the running game. What really drew us to him was we kept him because of his size and his effort during the preseason – then the first couple games of the regular season, scout team, he was killing our defense. He was doing a great job running routes full speed. He was taking every rep, and we decided to promote him because of his effort. We gave him an opportunity to play and he didn’t disappoint. Two big third down catches, like you said. He blocked in the running game and did a good job.”

On getting contributions from unheralded players like Harris, Nsekhe and RB Robert Kelley:
“I think once you get them in here, you have to give them an opportunity, number one. When they get an opportunity, they have to show that they can handle it, and those guys have shown that they can handle it. It starts in practice. It starts in the film room and making sure they understand the offense. Then you get out to practice, see if it translates to on-the-field success. Then you see how they handle the lights and preseason games – then you see it’s not too big for them. Then you throw more and more at them and see how they learn and pick it up. You pretty much can tell the guys that can pick it up and the guys that can handle it, and those two guys definitely can.”

On if the possibility of any players on the Reserve/Injured list returning:
“Well, I think Kory [Lichtensteiger] has an excellent chance – he’s doing better and better. Obviously Josh Doctson – we’re keeping a close eye on Josh. I saw him walking around today without a boot, so that was exciting, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

On RB Matt Jones’ role moving forward:
“Yeah, it’s difficult. Like I said, Mack Brown did a nice job on special teams and he was our third back yesterday because of that. Moving forward, we’ll just have to make that determination every week. You know, we’re not giving up on Matt. He’s a part of this football team, without a doubt, but on game day when you can only dress three running backs – we only do dress three running backs – the third one we would like to have some impact on special teams if we can. That’s not always going to be the case, week-to-week basis. Sometimes we may not need our third running back to be on special teams, we can get Matt up, so we just have to keep working with those guys. They’re both young football players, both very talented, and we like what we see in both of them but we have to make a decision every week and that will be week-to-week.”

On if he just focuses on winning the next game rather than looking at playoff positioning:
“Yeah, that’s basically where we’re at. We have to win the next one. We see where we are in our division and we’re a couple games back behind Dallas, who is playing extremely well. So that’s on our radar, number one. We have to figure out a way to catch Dallas and in order to do that we can’t have any hiccups. So we have to continue to play well. One game at a time, like you said, is a motto. Coaches’ cliché, but it’s absolutely true in this business. You can’t look ahead, you can’t look at your record and think and try to guess what’s going to happen each week. You just have to take care of your next opponent and that’ll be Green Bay coming here Sunday night.”
On the success of the scripted plays to start games offensively:
“I think it’s good planning. First of all, we get those plays repped in practice and Kirk [Cousins] feels good about them, that’s the first step. We’ve got to make sure we feel good about the plays and Xs and Os on the board are beautiful but the quarterback has to like them and feel good about them and he has… We’ve had a good changeup as far as the runs, the play-actions, the quick game, keeping defenses off-balance and then converting on some key third downs, you know. So, that’s important to keep drives going, so did an excellent job getting out of the gate, I think Minnesota hadn’t given up a first-drive touchdown all year. That was a challenge for our offense and we answered the bell and it was good to see.”

On if QB Kirk Cousins can be more assertive with what he likes when scripting plays:
“Oh, yeah, yeah. We go over everything with Kirk and we make sure he likes everything before we put it in so he has input in the offense every week.”
On K Dustin Hopkins’s ‘bounce back’ performance:
“Yeah, there was really no doubt. You know, I think he’s been excellent all year. He gave us no reason to believe that he wouldn’t do otherwise then to bounce back. It was great to see it though. He made the first one, the first two extra points, which are obviously… there are no gimmies anymore. And then the first couple field goals and then obviously the 50-yarder was huge. That was a big kick because that was a field position swing right there had he missed it, but he knocked it through, gave us a lead and then he made the last one to go 26-20. So, happy for Dustin, man. The snapper – obviously Nick [Sundberg] – did a great job and Tress [Way] did a nice job with the hold and the guys gave him protection.”

On the growth of RB Robert Kelley:
“Well, the first thing you have to like about Robert is there aren’t many negative plays with Robert. I think he had one negative play. He lost a yard and that was… it should have been a five-yard loss and he got a minus-one. There were other plays where it looked like there was nothing there and all of the sudden, second and seven. And those are huge. You stay on track as a play caller and it makes the game flow a lot smoother when you’re in second and seven, second and six, second and five, and that’s a great tribute to him. He’s a hard runner. I think he was more patient this week than he was last week. Ninety-seven yards against an excellent defense is a great stat for him and a great tribute to his running style. The line did a great job for him – tight ends also. It’s good to see. I think he’s just going to get better and better the way he plays, the way he studies, the way he works and Randy [Jordan] is doing a great job with him.”

On Spencer Long’s performance at center:
“He’s doing great, man. You just never know when you put a guard in there at center for the first time. You worry about the snaps, you worry about the snap count, you worry about the calls. There’s so many things that happen on game day that you can’t emulate in practice – the speed of the game, the tempo, obviously. And he’s handled it like he’s a 10-year guy. I mean, he really has. He’s been excellent. I think he’s going to be one of the top centers in the league for a long time.”

On Su’a Cravens’ expanded role:
“Yeah, I think you said it, his role’s starting to expand a little bit. And the more that he can handle, the more that he will do. And he’s got to prove it to us that he can handle it. He’s a great football player, he’s very smart. But, you know, one time you’re playing inside backer, the next time you’re playing nickel, and the next time, you know… We’re trying to slowly expand his role for us. He’s handling it very well, because he’s a great football player. He’s all over the place, plays with great energy.”

On Cravens playing outside linebacker on occasion:
“Well, he’s athletic enough to play in space and obviously he’s shown the ability to rush the passer. And he’s shown the strength to handle people running at him – big people running at him. He’s a very elusive target for those linemen to try to get their hands on him. He can wiggle his way out of a jam and play big despite his frame and obviously he can play fast out in space.”

On if he is beginning to prepare for the short week against Dallas or if he will ‘worry about that’ next week:
“Yeah, we’re starting to worry about that. We have to handle the schedule now as far as after the game Sunday. I mean, the schedule-makers did us no favors playing a night game on a Sunday and then having to leave Wednesday afternoon and play Thursday. That’s going to be a grind, and we have to adjust our schedule next week. This week will be the same. We’re going to handle it just the same. After the game Sunday night, we’ll talk about our schedule with the players. We’ll have to find a way to get the work in to get ready for Dallas, but now it’s all about figuring out how to beat Green Bay.”

On how he is feeling about the center position:
“I feel good, I feel good. And then getting [John] Sullivan from Minnesota obviously as a free agent was a big get for us because he’s a veteran guy who can step in there if something were to happen to Spencer, which obviously we hope doesn’t. And then Kory’s [Lichtensteiger] almost ready to come back also, so we feel really good about the center position right now.”




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