September 5, 2017

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the latest news with S Su’a Cravens and his response to it:
“Well, it’s Su’a’s business, number one, and he is taking care of some personal issues and he has a lot to decide for a young man. If he wants to continue playing pro football, how he wants to go about it, number one, number two, things that he has to deal with. I think he has got four weeks really to try to get his life in order on and off the field and figure out where his priorities are and what he wants to do. You know, some people, football is not for them, but I know he has a strong passion for the game and wants to play, but there are some other things in his life that he needs to keep private – that we will keep private – that he has to take care of.”

On his disappointment level with losing Cravens:
“I think it’s disappointing. I think when you talk about something personal like this, this is something we have to deal with and he has to deal with. Luckily for us – not luckily – but he was injured and other guys got reps. [Deshazor] Everett got a lot of reps the last couple of weeks. [Stefan] McClure has stepped up and made some big time plays in his absence. Montae [Nicholson] has gotten some reps since he has been healthy. So we feel good about the four safeties that we have, obviously led by D.J. [Swearinger].”

On when he knew Cravens considering retirement was a possibility:
“I didn’t really know until it happened. He came in my office just the other day and had some personal issues he wanted to tend to and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue playing football until he got those resolved. We are going to let him get them resolved and see what happens in a month.”

On if Cravens ever brought up retirement before:
“No, not to this extent.”

On what gives him confidence in starting Deshazor Everett at safety:
“I think just his steady progression at the position. He is one of those guys – like I said before – moved from corner and that takes some time, but I think the more reps he gets with the first group, I think the more detailed oriented he is going to be in the film room and studying. He is a very passionate guy about the game. I think he will do a good job. It’s just a matter of lining up correctly, getting the calls, communicating with D.J. and making plays. I know the one thing he can do, he can tackle. He is not afraid. He has got good ball skills. So, that’s a good combination for a safety.”

On if he thinks Cravens “owes something” to the fan base or to his teammates:
“There is that side of it, but I think the way he handled it was in a professional way. From what I understand of his situation, I understand where he is coming from. You know, there are some issues there that he has to take care of and only he can take care of him the way he sees fit. But as far as owing things to us, he has given everything he has had since he has been here. We have taken some time to try to get him ready for this first game, but I think sometimes your personal life is more important and in this case for him it is.”

On if Cravens would need to restore faith with coaches and teammates if he returns to football:
“I think he wants to play. I’ve seen him at USC. I’ve watched him at practice. I’ve watched him play in games and I know that he loves the game of football, so I don’t think that is the issue. I just think that there are some things really weighing on his mind that he has to take care of. So if he gets those things cleared up, then sure, we will take another look at him. He is one of our guys.”

On RB Chris Thompson’s contract extension:
“Yeah, it’s big. I’m happy for Chris. I’m glad we came up to an agreement because – like I said – he is the security blanket that we have offensively, especially on third down in the red zone. So, he has done everything exactly right as far as work ethic, preparing, working hard, studying, being productive, dominating a situation that he is asked to play in. He has done an excellent job and he is going to continue to get better. That is a big time role for us. He is not a ‘lead down’ back like some of these other big time names, but his role in pro football is critical to the success of the football team.”

On his approach to talking to Cravens now:
“Well, I’m not talking to him now; he’s on [the] Left Squad [list], so we have got to let that take care of itself. But as far as him understanding if we want him or not, obviously he knows that. We drafted him in the second round, for goodness’ sake. We’ve given [him] every opportunity to be a starting safety here and he’s taken advantage of that opportunity and played well in the time that he was playing it. He was growing with the position. This just kind of came out of nowhere. It’s hard to say what I would do in that same situation because I’m not in that situation. Only he is and he has to deal with it the way he sees fit. This is what he chose to do, so we’ll stand by him and hopefully he gets everything situated and maybe we’ll see him in a month.”

On resources in place to help young players transition to the NFL:
“They definitely have a lot of things in place that can help them out. I’m not going to go into every detail because that’s getting into his privacy. He’s got plenty of support system around him from what we’ve instilled for him and what the league instilled and NFLPA and all that stuff. Hopefully he just takes his time and tries to figure out what he wants to do in the future.”

On if the decision to make one roster cut instead of two was positive:
“I think so. I think it helped a lot of guys also. I think it helped a lot of guys around the league because that fourth preseason game, people got to play a lot of minutes that they normally would’ve been on the street at that time. Just more film that you can put out there for other teams helps, not only for the active roster but for our practice squad. We were able to pick up a couple of guys that were not on our team for the practice squad because of that fourth preseason game, so I think it helped everybody, personally.”

On watching Thompson overcome adversity early in his career to develop into the player he is:
“It’s great. It’s great that you see the hard work pay off for somebody like Chris. He’s such a great kid off the field. You want to see him succeed in the worst way because he does everything exactly right the way you ask him. In practice, he takes all the reps, he works hard, never takes a play off. He’s never been late one time to a meeting or a workout. He’s a coach’s dream, quite frankly, and you want those guys to succeed because it trickles down in the building. Guys like that, when you see them get rewarded, the younger guys see what it takes to get rewarded and it rubs off on the younger players. So it’s great to have a leader like Chris.”

On the decision to keep five receivers:
“There were some tough decisions – five receivers, two quarterbacks, only four tight ends. There was an issue, we could’ve kept five. Eight linemen. I think we had to keep five outside linebackers for sure, the six defensive linemen were important, and five inside linebackers. I think Josh Harvey[-Clemons] deserved a chance. We knew he’d get scooped up right away if we let him go, so we wanted to keep Josh Harvey. He played well. Then we had to keep the five safeties initially until Su’a was on Left Squad, and then six corners. I think Josh Holsey did a great job playing for us and we want to keep him in the loop. With Kendall [Fuller] there in nickel and obviously Fabian [Moreau] the way he came on… Based on the numbers, we thought we did a pretty good job. We would love to keep about 56 but we had to get down to 53 and that’s the best way we decided to do it.”

On if the plan was to keep five safeties prior to the Cravens news:
“Oh, yeah. He wasn’t 100 percent yet. He was close. He was going to practice the day that it happened or soon thereafter, but, yeah, we were going to keep [Stefan] McClure. McClure played very well.”

On keeping five wide receivers and if he is worried about WR Josh Doctson’s health:
“No, we have three on practice squad, and obviously Maurice Harris is here so we feel good about him at any time, any place, anywhere. He could be a top three for all I care. He’s a very good player. We’re fortunate to get him back. Obviously Robert Davis has been schooled now, so really we have seven. We have Dres Anderson in here to take a look at also, so we have eight, really. But with the three tight ends, the four tight ends that we have, we don’t have to be in three-receiver sets, we can be at two-receiver sets more often or maybe even one-receiver set. So we got it covered.”

On his reaction to QB Nate Sudfeld signing with the Philadelphia Eagles:
“Don’t have one. I’m happy that he signed. We wish him well.”

On the players’ communication with Cravens and if he’d be welcomed back:
“I think that wouldn’t be an issue. I think D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] has kind of taken the lead on that. He’s done a great job of trying to communicate with him and help him. The rest of the guys have too. He’s made a lot of friends here since he’s been here a year and a half or two years, however long it’s been. He knows that we’re all here for him if he needs us, but I think he just needs some time for himself to figure out what he wants to do.”

On if his role in making roster cuts changed following the offseason changes in the personnel department:
“No, it’s always been the same. Always been the same. We work together.”

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