August 8, 2017

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injured players who will not play in the first preseason game:
“[Jamison] Crowder, [Josh] Doctson, [Jordan] Reed, obviously. Kendal Thompson still. Those four for sure. Fabian [Moreau], Montae [Nicholson], those guys for sure. I think that’s about it.”

On how long starters will play Thursday:
“I don’t know, we’ll see. I told everybody yesterday just get ready to play the game and then I’ll decide on the substitution pattern.”

On the next steps for CB Fabian Moreau and S Montae Nicholson:
“We’re going to let them see the doctor after the first preseason game and Larry [Hess] and hopefully we’ll get them in some more team activity starting next week. That’s the goal right now. We’ll see how they’re doing and get to the doctor, but that’s the goal is to get them started next week in some team and some one-on-ones and all that.”

On what Moreau and Nicholson have been able to do in practice:
“They’re been doing individuals and walkthroughs. They haven’t participated in any team drills or one-on-one matchup drills yet, but I think hopefully starting when we get back to practice they’ll start. That’s the goal.”

On if he’s concerned that LB Junior Galette might be “too fired up” to return:
“Why would I be worried that somebody is too fired up? I hope everybody is as fired up as Junior. I think everybody is excited to get back on the field. I know Junior is after two years. Obviously there’s a strong case for that. He’s put a lot of work in. I’m proud of the fact [of] what he’s accomplished getting his body right, getting his weight down, getting himself in football shape. He said it yesterday, he feels like he’s in as good of shape as he’s ever been in. Now it’s about working on his pad level, his hand placement and all that stuff. He’s on the right track.”

QB Kirk Cousins

On the last two weeks:
“I feel encouraged by the growth of the some of the newer players, the receivers come to mind. I think they’ve played even better than they did in OTAs so that’s encouraging. The value of preseason games is you go against a different defense, and I think that helps us. To against the same guys every day in similar coverages, you’re probably not getting a total picture of what are we going to look like as an offense. So, we want to see some different looks, some different players on the other side of the ball. But overall, I think we’re at a good place, but again, it’s so early and it’s so hard to tell until you actually get thrown into the fire.”
On adjusting to receivers other than projected starters:
“It’s going to be a good test because I stood up here at the previous podium session a week or two ago and said the best quarterbacks as the players come and go around them, they continue to produce at a high level. And that’s certainly a goal of mine is to play well regardless of who’s in there. In this league, with how much attrition takes place, you’re not going to have the luxury of playing with the same starting receivers for 10 years. So, welcome to the NFL. I would love to have Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder out there on Thursday night, but that probably won’t happen. So, I’ll develop the rapport and get to know these young guys even better. So I think it’s a good challenge. You know, do I want to play on Monday Night Football with the best players we have? Absolutely. But that’s not necessarily the luxury you’ll always have so it’s good work to have to play with whoever is ready.”

On the benefit of practicing against other teams in previous years:
“There is tremendous value in that and I would love to do that as much as possible. I wish that was all of training camp – just practicing against other teams. The value lies in the fact that it’s different schemes. You get very comfortable and accustomed to the other side of the ball when you’re going against them day in and day out. They know our hand signals, our code words, what we like to do better than any defense that we’re going to play during the season and vice versa. So it’s not a true representation of what Sunday afternoon is going to feel like when I know that corner inside and out because I’ve gone against him now every day for three years. I know what their blitz checks are so I already know before they’ve even given away the blitz sometimes. Those are the things that you don’t want to have the answers to the test before you take the test, you want to play it true and honest. When you have a brand new team come in here with brand new players, it really helps you get a better test of where you as an offense and as a group. There is a lot of value in that.”
On how much he wants to play in preseason games:
“I would like to play as much as possible without the risk of injury. Just like practice, I want to get as many reps on the practice field as possible. So there is never too many reps. There’s no such thing as ‘I was too ready for the game, I had too much experience,’ but I understand the need to pull a player when the value gained by playing isn’t there and where the risk of injury is much higher. I want to play a lot but I also understand that those games don’t count.”

On the difference in the Redskins’ defense:
“I don’t want to give away too much of our defensive philosophy or what I’ve noticed, but I do think there are differences. I think that it’s going to allow a Josh Norman – I think – to be more active and make more plays, I’d like to think. He’s been scaring me a little more this camp than maybe last year simply because of the coverage schemes and what he’s being asked to do or given the opportunity to do. Ultimately they know what they’re doing and I’m just trying to react accordingly. I do think that they’ve got a good group there. I think there’s some continuity there with the linebackers and their leadership. I’m excited about our defense certainly it’s a big part of us winning football games.”
On if he thinks about his contract:
“I understand that this season impacts my future in this league, but it’s not affecting me on a day-to-day basis. And because I played on a fourth year of my rookie contract knowing that I was going to be a free agent and then I played on a contract last year where I knew I would be a free agent after the season, now this year this is my third go around in that sense, and as a result I do feel like I know how to handle that. I understand that ultimately we just need to win football games and everything else will fall in place.”

On what he thinks he can get out of limited time in the preseason:
“There’s a lot of mechanics that go into our offense in terms of hearing a play call from the sideline with legitimate crowd noise. The warm-up process of going through a game to be ready to go from the first snap, which is the entire day, hours leading up to the game, it’s a good routine to go through. The blitzes we’re going to see, the way they’ll disguise their fronts, the play clock, substitutions from the sideline, you don’t have a coach only standing five yards behind you able to talk with you the second after you throw the pass… Having to stand on the sidelines for what could be 10 minutes before you get a chance to go back out there, all those things that are true of game day are not well-simulated in a practice because that’s not the way we structure practice. So the mechanics of how games process through is good to go through and is not the way practice is always structured.”

On purposefully trying not to “over-prepare” this year and if he feels better mentally:
“I think the short answer is, yes, I do feel better. I feel more confident. I think it was probably reflected when I was mic’d up. There’s just a greater relaxation, there’s a greater comfort level and ability to just be myself. If you mic’d me up three years ago, I just wouldn’t be in that place. My personality wouldn’t come through because, like I said, training camp was my Super Bowl. It’s not a time to be joking around. If you act like that every single day and never let your personality come through, that’s where I said the burnout can happen because you’re on edge all the time. As you get more comfortable and solidify your role and understand where you are and feel like you’ve been there before, you can relax, let your personality come through and just enjoy the game and play. I like to think there’s a balance there where I can be the best possible football player when I’m relaxed, but also locked in.”

On the difficulty of learning how to extend plays during training camp:
“I get frustrated with practice because I want it to be as close to game day as possible and today had a bit of a walkthrough feel to it. The pass rush wasn’t 100 miles an hour and I want it to be 100 miles an hour because I want to feel Terrell Suggs coming off the edge and get ready for what it’s going to feel like in a real game. And so I dropped back and it was a three-man rush and nobody's really open because they’re dropping eight players, so I kind of tried to scramble and the D-Line pretty much gave up and the play was over and I’m like ‘No! Come chase me! I want to make this play happen and get work at that.’ I didn’t really get a great simulation of it because it’s practice and it’s not the real thing, so that’s where preseason games have value. We do need the scramble work, we do need to get better at that. We have made a couple plays, which has been encouraging, but we want to do it more and more and it is tough to simulate when they can’t hit me and you never really know when you were sacked and when you weren’t. It's a tough thing to practice”

On the mixing of defensive linemen and if he is facing a better pass rush in practice:
“I do think that my clock has been going off pretty quickly, and it’s the same catch with any play made in practice. Who are you cheering for? Every time there’s a big play made and the crowd cheers, you say, ‘Well, someone just got beat too and that’s not a good thing.’ Very much the same with the pass rush. You certainly want to feel them and want to feel like they’re coming and they’re making life tough, but you don’t want Trent Williams getting beat either. I think it’s been a good mix, it’s been competitive. I certainly don’t feel like we’ve just had our way with the defense by any means and that’s a good thing. There’s been a good rotation on the defensive line and depth is so important in this league. As you know, injuries end up having a big impact on who’s there at the end of the year and which teams had the best possible years, and I think that we have got to stay healthy but that fact you have depth and can rotate guys in should help guard against injuries.”

On the last time he felt this relaxed going into a season:
“I certainly don’t want the narrative to become that, ‘Kirk’s so relaxed, he’s got this. He’s like Aaron Rodgers out there – just chill like he knows what’s going to happen next.’ That’s certainly not how I feel. I definitely feel like I’ve got to go out there and prove myself and the season is a grind. I guess compared to previous years, I guess having experience has built confidence and has helped me to have a little more – whatever the word is – a little more confidence. But I’ve still got a long ways to go. When was the last time? I don’t know. I feel like it goes back a ways because even in late college it was a grind and was certainly – as I’ve said before and alluded to – trying to chase the next goal and never really felt very safe or comfortable. But certainly senior year of college had that little more stability in my role and I had been in the role and had been a captain and was kind of my second or third time around the block, so that helped.”

On what that confidence can do for him:
“I’d like to think it will make playing the position more fun and less of a grind and I can just enjoy it and truly live the dream. We went to the concert the other night at FedExField and I said, ‘You know, growing up I’d pull up to a venue like this for a sporting event and I’d say, ‘Man can you imagine being the guy playing in there? What a thrill, what a dream, I can’t imagine being that guy.’ I said, ‘I’m pulling up right now thinking that same thing about the band that’s playing, and yet, when we pull up in our bus for a game, I just don’t feel that way.’ And I think it’s partly because the game is such a challenge, it is such a grind. It takes everything I have to be successful and as a result, I just treat it like, ‘That’s my job, I have got to go do that tonight,’ you know what I mean? There’s nothing fun or cool about it, it’s just I have to go get the job done. I’d like to think that the longer I play, you can appreciate the fun of it more and just relax and enjoy it. I think I’m hoping to get there as I continue to play and get better, but it’s a process.”

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