November 17, 2016

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:
“Did not participate: [Vinston] Painter, non-football injury, personal reasons; and then [Nick] Sundberg tweaked his back. Limited: DeSean [Jackson], shoulder. Everybody else was good.”

On if there is any further update on WR DeSean Jackson:
“He did more today. He looked good. So we’ll just continue to take it day-by-day.”

On T Vinston Painter’s absence today:
“Painter will be fine. He just had a personal issue. He’ll be fine. He’ll be ready to go.”

On LS Nick Sundberg’s injury and if there is concern for Sunday:
“Yeah, he tweaked his back in the weight room so we’ll have to see how he’s doing tomorrow. Bring in some possible guys to look at and go from there. See how he’s doing tomorrow.”

On what Jackson did at practice today:
“He did everything. He did the majority – he did some of the team reps. He was running. We didn’t do any contact, obviously. We don’t really do that on Thursday. So we’ve just got to see how he’s doing tonight and tomorrow.”

On if Jackson’s range of motion has improved:
“Yeah, he’s gotten better. So it’s just a matter of how he feels with his strength.”

On why WR Jamison Crowder has been so effective in the red zone:
“A couple of reasons. You know, sometimes teams double the outside guys or maybe they’ll double Jordan and leave him singled up and he makes plays. He can work the matchups inside. He’s great against zone coverage and he’s good after the catch so a lot of different factors go into a guy getting the ball in the red zone. So he’s just making plays. Like last week, he did a great job of staying on a shallow cross and crossing the linebacker, beating the safety, and made a great catch and got the ball in there. And every play is different, but he’s done a good job with whatever concept we call for him.”

On if defenses are keying in on Crowder more:
“Yeah, I think if you look at our stats I think he and Jordan [Reed] are leading the team in catches so they’re going to get more and more attention. And Pierre [Garçon] is still doing a good job and once we get DeSean [Jackson] back and obviously Ryan Grant and Maurice Harris, I think we have good balance, you know, with Chris Thompson also getting some catches. If you look at our stat line, I think a lot of guys have over 30 catches I believe so it’s good that we’re spreading it around. Teams can’t just hone in on one guy and if they do want to double somebody or play two-deep, our inside people – Jamison and Jordan – can hurt you on the underneath stuff and Chris Thompson, so… We’ve got a good balance going on. We just have got to finish drives in the red zone.”

On how helpful the health of the team has been:
“Yeah, it helps a lot. It helps a lot. Especially we’ll see how we’re doing going into next week, that’s when it’s going to be really, really important, but I feel good about the health of this football team, I feel good about the depth, you know, which is good – this time of year especially because you’re going to have nicks and bruises and guys are going to miss some time. But guys have got to be ready to step up and so far we’ve had guys step up which you didn’t expect that have performed well and that has to be the case throughout the course of a 16-game NFL season.”

On if the offensive balance has been better during the past few weeks:
“It has been, it has been. There’s a couple factors: 1) We’re not having a lot of negative plays. I mentioned that yesterday and Rob Kelley is doing a great job of getting positive yards, keeping us in good, solid down and distances. And 2) We’re in games and we’re in the lead pretty much, so, you know, Cincinnati got up on us a little bit and then we came back and took the lead and then the whole fourth quarter we had our whole playbook open still. So I think the big thing is in order to keep the balance, you have to have a lead or be close and then, two, you have to stay out of negative plays, stay out of second-and-long and third-and-long and we’ve been able to do that.”

On if RB Matt Jones has gotten some work on special teams and on which backs will be active Sunday:
“We’ll make that determination probably tomorrow, but Mack is getting a majority of the work on special teams.”

On what he hopes Jones has learned during the past couple of weeks:
“Yeah, you just have got to continue to work and practice and his number will be called again. I just don’t know when that will be, but he just has got to continue to prepare and practice and when his time comes be ready for it and take advantage of it. Very similar to Will Compton and everybody else. He had to fight through the backup role for his first couple years and he got a start and he took advantage of it and a lot of guys are doing that. Rob Kelley did the same thing. He just had to keep coming out here, scout team and work and work and then he got an opportunity and took advantage of it. He’s no different. All these guys that lose a starting role, they just have to come out and practice until they earn it back.”

On T Morgan Moses’ injury and his ability to fight through it:
“Yeah, he’s playing with some pain and some soreness. He’s doing a great job in rehab and they’re taking care of him, we’re taking care of him out at practice, but he’s fighting through, getting all the looks but he’s a tough guy. He’s been an excellent player for us this year and will continue to be and he’s getting better and better, so the offense wouldn’t be the same without him, that’s for sure. He’s a big man and done a great job for us, so we just have got to try to do the best we can and manage his health out here in practice during the week and then getting back to as close to full-strength as possible because he can play if he’s 50 percent or more – he’ll fight through it.”

Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry

On if the success in the second half of games is because of adjustments or simply better execution:
“You know, I think it’s a little bit of both. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a game whether you’re playing well in the first half or poor in the first half where you go into halftime and you talk about what’s going on, what just happened. Sometimes obviously based on the course of the first half, you have to make more drastic adjustments, but I think that happens in every single locker room in every single game around the league at halftime. Subtle adjustments are made. But the guys have come out – and like you said also, I think the execution is obviously better in those situations as well. But I really can’t put my finger on it.”

On shutting out the Vikings after the second quarter:
“I really didn’t count the second quarter [laughter]. Mentally I just think we played a first, third and fourth quarter [laughter]. You guys probably get tired of me saying this, but this is the NFL and if you don’t come out ready to play every single snap, you’re going to get bit in the butt at times. You know, I think it was a little bit of a combination of us not doing our job well enough but also they get paid and they practice also and they made a play. And they made a few plays in the second quarter unfortunately.”

On Su’a Cravens’ impact:
“Well, like we said, I think Su’a is a playmaker. I think if we can be creative with putting him in different positions – whether it’s standard just linebacker positions or other positions – around a formation to be able to make plays... So I think again he’s getting into a nice flow, a nice rhythm. We talked a few weeks ago, he kind of got stunted with that when he had the injury when he was out for a few weeks. Su’a is a good player and he works at it and he craves – no pun on words there – he craves making plays. And I just think he’s going to get better and better the more he plays.”

On what Cravens has done to reach this level of performance:
“Well, what he does every day – and that’s work and study. I think he’s a guy that he just craves knowledge – again, no pun on words again there – but he’s always talking to Comp [Will Compton], he’s always talking to the veterans. He’s constant energy. He’s constant juice, but it’s always directed at getting better and mastering his craft. And he is a young guy. I think the advantage that he did have in college is that he played multiple positions. He kind of played all over the place in college. He has a decent understanding of the front. He has a decent understanding of the back end. As a linebacker, that’s crucial because, you know, as a linebacker you play in the middle of those two and you have to know what’s going on up in front of you and you have to know what’s going on behind you. I think with his abilities in college, where they were able to move him all over the place, I think it’s helped him just as a general understanding for a young 21-year-old to have a pretty good grasp of football – especially defensive football.”

On what he learned from last year’s playoff game against the Packers:
“Well, you know, it’s funny that you say that. We just brought that up today. We went back and I showed the guys a play today – with five minutes left in the third quarter, they went for it on fourth-and-one at midfield and got it. I told the guys that up until that point, at that point we were winning 17-18 with five minutes left. What I was trying to get the point across to the guys is anytime in the National Football League – obviously in playoff football – but anytime you have got to play 60 minutes, you have got to play every snap. You have got to be perfect and on your A-game every snap, because, obviously, the other team is trying to do that. I think at times we played very well last year, but when you go against a guy like No. 12 [Aaron Rodgers], you have got to be on it every snap because he demands that type of perfection because if you slip, if you’re off, he’s going to make you pay for it. It was just a great example to say, ‘Hey, we played well at times, but we can’t have lapses, not against a guy like this. You have got to bring it and be on it every snap for 60 minutes.’”

On Cravens getting stronger at the point of attack:
“Again, I think that’s part of the learning process, too. Sometimes, maybe, in college you’re able to use your athleticism and your quick-twitch to make a guy miss. At this level, you’re going up against really, really good athletes who weigh 300 pounds, so you’re not going to be able to just juke them or make them miss. You’re going to actually have to use your hands, and anchor, and get low, and have pad level, and bend your knees, and use your hands. Those are all things that we obviously try to get done in practice on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Fridays, because it’s not just running out there and executing a call. It’s executing a call with great technique, great pad level, great footwork, great hands – and that comes in to being a linebacker. Those are things that he’s still working on every single day.”

On DE Anthony Lanier II and the role he envisions for him:
“Well, hopefully his role continues to increase. Anthony is a kid – if any of you have ever seen him in person – a big, great-looking kid, but he’s raw. But, God, he has so much natural ability, natural instincts. It’s really scary. But it’s exciting as he keeps getting better, as he keeps getting coached, as he keeps getting stronger in the weight room every day, as he starts to understand the tricks of the trade and really the techniques of playing defensive line in the National Football League, it’s scary to think where he can go because he has so much natural ability. A lot of the times he’s just out there – nothing against him, from where he came from, the small college, he doesn’t have a lot of background – he’s doing a lot just based on natural ability and, again, he’s got a very bright future I think.”

On CB Josh Norman not frequently defending slot receivers:
“When we have traveled Josh, if that guy he’s traveling on is in the slot, he goes in there. You know, playing… It’s just like on the opposite side, not a lot of receivers can go in and play the slot receiver, it’s different in there and I really could talk an hour on the differences and the subtleties on it on both sides of the ball. Some wideouts are just more comfortable outside. Some wideouts just have a better feel outside. I think it’s the same thing. I mean, I think Josh Norman, we could say, ‘Hey, you’re going to play nickel corner today and be in there every snap,’ and he’d be fine with it. It’s just some guys, some guys can, some guys can’t. You have really got to be able to do everything when you play nickel corner. What I mean by that, you have got to be able to play man, you have got to be able to play zone, you have got to be able to fit the run a little bit more than you would as an outside corner. You’re a little bit more of a blitzer, so, you know, we love Josh where he’s at and what he does for us within this defense, but, no, I think if we wanted to, Josh could absolutely be a nickel corner.”

On if blitzing on the final play against Minnesota was a conscious decision following the result in Detroit:
“No. I mean, if you go back, we rushed four and five in Detroit except for the last play unfortunately, and really up until the last play of the Minnesota game, we rushed four the whole series. So, it was just that… Guys, if you ever want to look at it, I’ll show you my call sheet. We have a situation specifically for what happened with where the ball was on the field, with where the clock was with their timeout situation. That’s our call and we called it and rode with it and it ended up being great. That was purely a situational call that we talk about in practice and we’ve practiced it in OTAs, we’ve practiced it in training camp. Situations like that very rarely ever come up. It might come up once or twice in the course of a football season, but that’s why you meet. That’s why you talk as a staff, and when that situation came up [snaps fingers], didn’t hesitate, made the call and it was great. The players went out and executed.”

On the challenges of preparing both for the Packers and for the short week ahead:
“I don’t know if we talked about this last time I was up here. Our bye week we dedicated a few days obviously to ourselves, our self-scout, going back and evaluating ourselves. We dedicated a day to the Vikings, but we also dedicated a day – as a coaching staff, I’m talking about – to the Cowboys. So, we got a little bit of legwork done over the bye week for these guys, but it’s hard. It’s a challenge that every single team has, every single week playing on a short week on Thursday night.”

On the difference in playing a prime-time game before the short week:
“People don’t realize how big a difference it is between playing a 1:00 game on Sunday and playing an 8:30 game on Sunday. So as coaches we are going to do a little bit of work at the hotel on Sunday… since we’re going to have quite a bit of time in the hotel on Sunday. But it’s hard, it’s a challenge. It’s part of the deal.”

On if he prepares the defense for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ ability to draw players offside and/or catch defenses with too many men on the field:
“He’s a master at it… Oh, sure. He got us in the second quarter last year on a crucial third down. Third-and-four, got us. So, yeah, it’s something that you preach, you prepare for, you talk about. The first thing with the hard count, the key thing is any defensive linemen should get off on the ball. You don’t get off on sound, you get off on movement. And that’s the biggest issue that defensive linemen have when they jump offsides, they use – as far as the stimulus of getting off – they use the sound of the quarterback’s inflection instead of the ball. So those are things that you constantly talk about, you constantly work on. You’ll see in individual. Our defensive linemen, every drill they do it always starts with what? Not ‘set, go,’ but the ball. But in the heat of the moment, that’s why quarterbacks do it, especially quarterbacks like him that really use that voice inflection very well. But it’s something that we point out. We’ve showed them on TV copies in the meeting. But you’ve got to be disciplined, you’ve got to get off on the ball, not on sound. The other thing is, you’ve got to sub and you’ve got to sub with urgency. And it’s not only the guy running onto the field subbing, it’s more importantly the guy running off the field, because he [Rodgers] looks for it. And I don’t know if it’s truly just him looking for it or if the coaches on the sideline see it and give him the green light through the headset, but he’s outstanding at it. So we’ve got to counter-balance that with being disciplined. When we do sub, we’ve got to sub with great urgency on and off the field so we don’t get caught.”

Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay

On how WR DeSean Jackson looks:
“He looks good. He was out here moving around today [and] looked healthy, so if he’s ready to go we’ll be excited to have him, If not, then I’m very confident in those other guys to step up like they’ve done.”

On WR Maurice Harris’ progression:
“Well, I think he’s done a nice job picking up the offense. [He’s] a real mature rookie, like a lot of these guys that are contributing for us right now. I think he’s a big target. He’s got big natural hands, just good overall instincts and awareness, toughness to compete in the run game. I thought when he got his opportunities the other day – 3-3 on the targets that he did have and two huge third-down conversions for us – it was what we expected from Maurice, but I know it’s encouraging for him and it’s something that he can gain a lot of confidence from.”

On how the offense can stretch the field in Jackson’s absence:
“Well, I think it’s a fortunate thing that we do have a lot of players that have that vertical speed. You look at Pierre [Garçon], Jamison [Crowder], Vernon [Davis], Jordan [Reed], all of those guys have the ability to make plays down the field. Each game plan and each defense kind of presents some different problems and issues in how you want to go about attacking them. Green Bay is a team that we have a lot of respect for. Tough defensive front, and I think Coach [Dom] Capers does a great job. We’ll see based on who is available kind of how we want to attack them on Sunday night.”

On QB Kirk Cousins’ success on bootleg throws:
“Well, he’s been a guy that’s always had a great feel for that. When you do change the launch point with him, I think he does a nice job of being able to kind of exhaust his progression. But the key is being able to be efficient in the run game. I thought Rob Kelley did a great job where you stay in those normal down-and-distances and that kind of opens up some of those run-actions, and that’s what we were able to do towards the end of the game.”

On how to improve from last year’s playoff game:
“You know, I think really each and every week it always comes down to execution. It’s staying in those manageable down-and-distances, being in manageable third downs, and then once you get down in the red zone, that’s a big point of emphasis for us, obviously, with the lack of success that we’ve had. Each game plan kind of presents a different challenge for us. Certainly Green Bay did a great job of defending us last year. It’s something I know the guys will be excited about and looking forward to on Sunday night.”

On WR Jamison Crowder’s improvement this season in the red zone:
“I think it’s one of those situations where he’s just a football player that’s so conscientious that his improvement is inevitable just as he continues to gain that experience. A very valuable player when he gets the ball in his hands. You always try to find creative ways to get him involved and I think he’s had so much success with us. Anytime that a player is able to have success, I think you gain confidence. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and it gives us the ability to kind of move him around and use him in a variety of ways. The red zone has been something that he’s been used in a little bit more and normal field, jet-sweep actions. Any way that you try to get him involved, usually good things happen for us.”

On his initial reaction when the Redskins signed TE Vernon Davis:
“I think he’s a guy that I’ve always been a fan of just watching him from afar throughout the course of his career since I got involved in coaching. And when you really go back and you watch it, the production might not be there as far as the stats, but you just watch the way his movement is still there, a guy that takes care of his body and I think we felt very comfortable that if he was put in this situation that there would be a chance for him to have success. And he’s definitely done a great job. He’s exceeded a lot of expectations. But based on what I’ve seen from him throughout the course of his career, I don’t ever really think there was [a time] where he ever went through a rough stretch. Sometimes you’re a product of some of the environments and experiences of where you’re placed. And I think there’s still that talent there. He never really lost a step, and he’s done a great job and we’re very fortunate to have him.”

On if he’s seen any differences in the Packers’ defense between last season and this season:
“I see a tough defense that does an excellent job mixing it up, presenting a variety of issues for you both in protections, some of the coverages that they do. The one thing that stands out that’s just a little bit different is they’re not playing as much base defense. So they’re more nickel where you see Micah Hyde’s on the field a good percentage of the time versus most of the personnel groups that you’re going to present, even in some of those run-heavy personnel groupings when you’re talking about normal down and distances. But Coach Capers is a guy that I’ve always had a whole lot of respect for. His defenses always seem to be productive and I know that they’re going to be ready to roll on Sunday night.”

On the success of the offensive line this season despite injuries and suspensions:
“I think it’s a credit to those guys and Coach [Bill] Callahan and Kevin Carberry. They’ve done an excellent job developing depth up front, guys all understanding exactly what’s to be expected, what are the roles and responsibilities within the framework of the run and the pass game, and they always preach that next man up mentality. And I think you saw with Ty Nsekhe. He did a great job and I think probably a lot of people were surprised, but I know Ty wasn’t and the people in this building weren’t surprised by the way that he played last Sunday. That’s kind of the expectation we have for him and when guys have been put in the position to step in – even [Vinston] Painter a couple snaps the other day for Morgan [Moses] – they’ve done an excellent job and that’s kind of the motto that they have in that line room and it’s a credit to those guys and Coach Callahan and Carberry being able to get everybody on the same page and it’s been very encouraging and I think a big reason why we’ve had some success this year.”

On Spencer Long’s development into a ‘reliable option’ at center:
“Yeah, you said it right there. We put a whole lot on the center position in terms of the communication, understanding exactly what calls need to be made based on run or pass, and he’s a guy that’s continuing to get better as he gains that experience. Very conscientious, very detailed, I think he and Kirk [Cousins] have a very good rapport right now and that’s real important for the quarterback and center and he’s just going to continue to grow, continue to improve each and every week and we’re very happy with what Spencer has done so far.”




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