September 20, 2017

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injuries:
“Did not participate was Jordan Reed with his rib cartilage [and] SC joint ligament sprain. Limited was Rob Kelley with his rib, Montae Nicholson with his shoulder, Josh Norman with his shoulder, Mason Foster with his shoulder, Deshazor Everett with his knee, Morgan Moses with his ankle and shoulder. Full were Spencer Long, knee; Chris Thompson, back; and Josh Doctson, hamstring.”

On the plan and/or concern for TE Jordan Reed:
“The plan is [that] we’ve got to get him healthy. The concern is [that] he’s not healthy right now. So we have to wait and see how it goes.”

On if it was promising that several other injured players were able to practice today:
“Yeah, it was promising. They’re trying to fight through it right now. We’ll see what their effectiveness will be, come tomorrow, Friday and obviously Saturday.”

On if LB Mason Foster received an MRI or second opinion on his shoulder:
“No. Dislocated – popped back in place, I guess. Strap it up and see how he does”

On if there is risk vs. reward in playing RB Chris Thompson more:
“Yeah, no doubt. I’ve said before, he’s a very valuable guy in the role that he’s in – third down. He’s also one of our kick returners. He does a lot of getting back on track calls on second down-and-long, and there’s some first-down plays that he’s in. But, yes, it’s important for us to keep him healthy. He’s not a guy that I personally want to give him 30 carries a game. He probably wants it but he probably won’t get it.”

On if RB Rob Kelley’s injury will change Thompson’s usage:

On how versatility helps the defense:
“I think we have some versatile guys out there, especially defensive lineman. They can play nickel and base, which is important. You’ve got to be able to stop the run, even in sub packages, and they do a good job. And our linebackers are athletic enough that they can play both. Then our safeties and corners, they’re pretty good. He [Greg Manusky] does a good job, matching personnel, playing personnel, whatever he wants against whatever personnel is out there, because out guys are athletic and they are versatile, like you said. That speaks well of the people that we have on defense.”

On what has impressed him about DL Matt Ioannidis:
“I think the first game he was feeling his way, he got a half a sack the first game, did some good things. But he’s feeling his way still, his first real live action he’s had, a lot of snaps in, in some time. Yet last week, against the Rams, he played very well. He had pressured the quarterback four or five times, he hawked down Tavon Austin on a jet sweep, which was a big play on the first play of the game. If he gets out of there, it could’ve been a 70-yard touchdown. I think just the work that he’s put in in the weight room with Chad [Englehart] and in the OTAs, he’s just gotten himself in bigger, stronger shape. He’s in better shape, kind of following Ziggy Hood’s lead, which is good. Coach [Jim] Tomsula has got his hands on him, done a great job with him. He’s played in sub, he’s played at base, done a good job. I think moving him to end full-time has helped him, kind of keeping him out of the nose guard position for now I think has been beneficial to him.”

On the offense playing well early and late last week and if the middle portion of the game was a matter of adjusting and counter-adjusting:
“A little bit of both. There was some pressure and missing throws. Chris Thompson had the unfortunate drop where things could’ve looked a lot different, had he caught that one. That could have been another 60-yarder for us. There was a lot of things, it’s hard to point. It’s not that he wasn’t adjusting, I think we had some throws available. But they have a very good defense. Pressure with [Robert] Quinn and [Aaron] Donald and those guys – they do an excellent job with their pressure packages. Got off rhythm a couple times, but I liked the way he finished. That’s the important thing. Getting a win on the road is not easy, anywhere, anytime. And making the key throws down the stretch, going 3-for-3 on that last drive was critical.”

On Ioannidis’s transition to defensive end:
“I think just playing one position for him has been good. I think he’s finding a home there, he’s playing three-technique and some end. I mean, he can still play shade and play some nose guard if need be. But I just think he’s really strong at the point of attack and he’s showing the ability to rush the passer a little bit.”

On if he plans to run more play action with Cousins this season:
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve tried a couple. We had a couple shots that we didn’t connect on, unfortunately. We had to checkdown to Vernon Davis out of our own end zone, had a chance for Terrelle Pryor down the middle of the field, but the pressure didn’t allow us to get there, so we checked it down to Vernon for a nice gain, backed up. Tried another one to Jordan Reed, they had a good coverage for it, took it away, and tried about three or four more. Just didn’t hit on them. We had a naked out there to Terrelle Pryor we connected on, but we had a holding call. So we’ll continue to use those. The more effective our running game will be, the more effective our play actions will be. So hopefully that’ll build more into our offense this week and next week.”

On if Reed looked like “the old Jordan” last week:
“Yeah, Jordan was awesome. I thought he had the best all-around game he’s had in a while. I think, not just route-running, but blocking. He was outstanding in blocking. Had a key block on the touchdown Chris Thompson had on the second series of the game, was physical and did a great job. But his route-running has always been solid. I might have been nitpicking the first week, he’s just a little too quick sometimes, but he’s still a great player and has done an excellent job for us.”

On if every week becomes a referendum on Cousins’ contract:
“You know what, I don’t really think about all that stuff. We just try to concentrate on our opponent and trying to give them the best plan possible moving forward and try to give our team the best chance to win on a given week. We don’t even talk about dollars. That would never come up with any of these guys, so it’s not an issue. It won’t be an issue. Ever.”

On what he’s expecting from the Raiders’ defense:
“Well, I see this guy, No. 52, he’s pretty good. You know, Khalil Mack is a… he’s a game changer. And Bruce Irvin has done some good things. Their defensive line’s solid. They’re big guys. The rookie is playing very well from UCLA and, you know, they have [David] Amerson obviously. And [Gareon] Conley, the rookie from Ohio State’s a pretty good corner. Sean Smith didn’t play last week but he’s always been a solid corner and Reggie Nelson, I know from Cincinnati, [he’s] got great ball skills. The first rounder they got from West Virginia is an excellent safety – [Karl] Joseph. So they’ve got a lot of good players. They’ve got a good scheme. They change up the fronts a lot, they don’t just line up in one front. They’re multiple in their fronts – unders, overs, linebackers on the line of scrimmage in the box, blitzing safeties. So it’s going to be important for us to identify the fronts, target them and then obviously finish the blocks, which will be a tough task.”

On communication between the defensive backs:
“I think D.J. [Swearinger] has a big part of that. And that’s still going to be a challenge for those guys week-in, week-out. We’re going to have different coverages, different game plans, different opponents, different formations, so that’s going to be a challenge every week for them. This week was pretty smooth. I think partly because [it was] a similar offense that we have and we’ve seen all through training camp, so they were able to communicate effortlessly this week. But this week with Derek Carr and the multiple formations that they have – the ability to run the ball, throw the ball, play action to Marshawn Lynch and [Michael] Crabtree and Amari Cooper – it’ll be a great challenge for them with communication.”

On knowing the team can win by running the football:
“I think it’s good to be able to win multiple ways. It’s going to be important. There’s going to be teams that are going to be really, really hard to run the ball against. We ran into that situation last year against a couple of the defenses we faced and we had to throw the ball a little bit more than we wanted to. But the ability to run the ball is a great asset for us and it’s necessary for us to be successful long-term. For us to get to the playoffs and win Super Bowls, we have to be balanced and we have to be able to run the ball to take the pressure off our quarterback and open up the play actions.”

On the clarity with Su’a Cravens’ status and if they are going to add someone at safety:
“No, we have Fish [Smithson] already as our fifth guy on the practice squad and he’s doing a good job, so we’re OK at safety spot. As far as Su’a’ is concerned, we just have to put it behind us, move forward and let him take care of his personal life and let us take care of this season.”

On what the Raiders’ offense is doing well so far this season:
“Well, everything. There’s nothing they’re not doing well. They can throw it, they can run it, so there you have it. They have a big, powerful offensive line. They have a couple tight ends that can come in and maul you. They have great play actions and their receivers can get down the field. And Derek [Carr] does an unbelievable job at giving them opportunity balls and they come down with the majority of them, so our defensive backs will be challenged. Our defensive line and linebackers will be challenged. They’re anxious. They’re excited. It will be a great test.”

On playing a prime-time game:
“Oh, we’re excited. I think losing our opener – home opener against Philadelphia – hurt a little bit and we’re excited to get our next home game. We know it’s going to be a great test. This is a good football team. They’re playing as well as anybody the last year and a half, the last 18 games, so to speak. They have a great record. Derek has been very efficient with the football. He doesn’t get sacked very often. It’s going to be a great challenge but we’re going to need our home crowd support, so to speak – make it loud, make it hard on him. Hopefully we’ll give them something to cheer about.”

On younger players around the league opting to end their careers early:
“I think every individual’s different and this game isn’t for everybody. I’m not speaking for Su’a or anybody else, but this is a major commitment for a young man, and if you’re not fully committed, then you shouldn’t play it. I’m not saying that Su’a’s not fully committed at this time, I’m just saying in general for anybody who’s choosing not to play. It’s a grind. It’s very rewarding though, if you choose to play it. The people that I know that have played it and had success wouldn’t trade it in for the world.”

QB Kirk Cousins

On RB Chris Thompson:
“Chris is one of our best players and is a tremendous asset to our offense because he is so versatile. He can pass protect. He can catch the football. He can run good routes. He is a smart player. He is a good teammate. He runs the ball well. He can hit the home run. He can make people miss. There is just a lot to like and the other thing about Chris that you have to know from his story is it wasn’t like he showed up as a rookie and was an All-Pro. It took time to develop and that’s the case with so many guys in this league. I think people like to write the book on somebody pretty quickly and I think we have to understand that guys take time to develop and I think Chris is still getting better and doing things this year that he didn’t do last year. So [I am] thrilled with his growth and development and can’t wait to see where it goes from here.”

On if he and Thompson have a better relationship because they’ve both had to work their way into their current roles:
“I remember when they drafted him the coaches said – one of the ways we pick people in the draft is we try to watch their best plays, like their 25 or 50 best plays from college. Chris’ best plays – when he was healthy at Florida State – were as good as anybody in the draft. They said his best plays look like a guy who is a top 10 pick and so they said we really felt good about taking him. So there was obviously some other things that needed to be worked out, which is why he didn’t go that high, but you knew it was there if there was a way to coach it out of him, develop it and to his credit he worked hard and got it going. It is a thrill to play with him. And I know you guys have gotten to know him. He has got a great demeanor about him. He is very composed, very intelligent, good teammate. I told him that, I said ‘You’re the kind of guy I want in the huddle in a tense moment in an away stadium,’ just because you feel like he is a guy who has composure about him and the moment is not too big for him. So, can’t say enough good things about Chris and hopefully continue to lean on him. I think we will continue to lean on him because of the mismatches he can create on linebackers and things like that.”

On Thompson thinking about Cousins’ stats after his drop:
“I’ve said it many times and hopefully it translates to wins, I don’t know that it always does, but we do have a really good locker room. It is examples like that where players are thinking of other players that makes a big difference. The second the ball left my hand and we didn’t complete it, I said to myself ‘I threw it too hard.’ I didn’t give him a chance to really catch it. I rifled it and needed to just throw a more catchable ball. So we are all being critical of ourselves and finding ways that we individually can play better so that collectively as a group we can have improvement going forward.”

On Head Coach Jay Gruden calling the passing game “very, very close” and the next step for it:
“Well, when I look back at this last game, I think we were 18-of-27, and when you look at a few dropped passes, the missed fade throw, there were couple screens we didn’t hit, you very easily could start adding it up and be like, ‘We very easily could’ve been 24-of-27,’ and we would’ve said ‘Wow, what an efficient day in the passing game.’ A lot of the throws we did complete or balls that were thrown were good accurate passes and so we felt good about that. So that’s where I think he says we are really close because you’re a touchdown pass away and a couple other situations from really having a big day. I think that is where we say we are close. I think so many times we come away from games saying, ‘If we would’ve done this, if we would’ve done that…’ There are always those plays that can put you over the edge so we have got to find ways to continue to make those plays so that we aren’t saying that as often when we walk away from the game.”

On if he expects the offense to keep progressing throughout the season:
“I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better. Sometimes around this league – I don’t know, I would be interested to do a study to see do offenses tend to take more time to get going than defenses in this league, I wonder? I know for me these last couple seasons we’ve gotten stronger as the year has gone on offensively and have gotten an identity and kind of gotten a better understanding of what we do well and how to make that work week in and week out. Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks. But that being said, we have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out.”

On determining how long he can wait to try to make a play downfield:
“Every play is different, but you always have your reads and where your eyes are and you focus downfield and you try to feel the pass rush. There are times where you stand in there and make the throw, which I have done many times. There is times where you eat it and you take the sack to avoid a tipped ball or an interception, or whatever it may be. There’s times where you have enough time to throw the ball the way to avoid the sack, but you also knew that the read downfield wasn’t declaring and so rather than throwing it into a gray window, you just throw the ball away. Those are those split-second decisions that you try to train through muscle memory with a lot of practice reps and game reps. That’s something that I think I am continuing to get better and better at.”

On if chemistry comes into play when making those split-second decisions:
“I think it would depend on which rep. I think each rep I could say ‘Oh, this one is more of a building timing or this one has nothing to do with that.’ I think it all depends. But there is no doubt that with our receivers we are still young and new with this a little bit with a few of the guys, and so we can continue to improve each week as we spend more game reps and practice reps together learning on the fly.”

On the offense playing well early and late last week and if the middle portion of the game was a matter of adjusting and counter-adjusting:
“Probably adjustments here and there. If we hit the fade to Josh Doctson or the third down, if we get a touchdown pass there, we’re saying, ‘All right, we’re rolling, passing game is rolling and we’re doing good in the red zone.’ Then we got the ball back in that two-minute drill and we hit the run instead of having to pass it down the field. So I’m happy to hand the ball off and get a long touchdown run, but if we had dinked and dunked our way down the field, we could be saying, ‘Oh, the passing game is what did it.’ It was the run game, and we didn’t have to use the passing game. And then we got the ball back and hit a couple completions but ran out of clock and then didn’t get the first down. It goes, like you said, all over the map. It’s one player, one player, the third down that we missed, when I scrambled to my right and Chris Thompson’s open and I was nervous I had crossed the line and so I threw the ball a little awkwardly and we just missed the throw. Those are those plays that you say, ‘They happen.’ And you’d love to eliminate them but they happen. If a couple of those go your way, now it’s a totally different day, statistically. But what we’re happy about is [that] we won the game, found a way to win, made the plays as the game goes on that we needed to make.”

On the Raiders’ defense:
“First of all, they win football games. They’re a good team. That, I think, breeds confidence. Success creates more success. They have a great culture going there. You can tell they have a good locker room and a good group of guys that play together and play hard. Khalil Mack is as good as they come in the NFL and Bruce Irvin I’ve played against when he was in Seattle and he’s a very active player, both in the pass game and in the run game. Very athletic in space. Obviously we know David Amerson and the player that he’s become. They’ve got experienced players, they had a great year and went to the playoffs last year for a reason and they’re 2-0 for a reason. Very good defense.”

On not being able to connect with players downfield in the face of the Rams’ pressure last week:
“I think the beautiful thing is when you win the game, you can watch it and say, ‘OK, that’s a place to get better,’ but it doesn’t hurt quite as much, because you know it didn’t cost you the game. When you lose the game, that’s where watching those plays just eats at you. Getting the win healed a lot of that. There will be plays up ahead, lots of games left thankfully, and we’ll get a lot of opportunities. I’m excited to watch our players and offense, including myself, develop and improve. I expect us to be a more mature offense – a better offense – Week 15 than we are Week 3. It’s not just a set, cut-and-dry thing. I think we’re going to continue to get better as we go.”

Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio

On the Redskins’ defense:
“Well, I’ve known Greg [Manusky] for a long time. He does a great job with his preparation and his game planning, so I’ve got a lot of respect for Greg. I also know [Ryan] Kerrigan is special. I really liked him coming out. I was hoping we’d draft him back in whatever year that was when he came out; it was my last year in Jacksonville. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. Josh Norman is probably as good as any corner out there. We know Stacy McGee, we tried to sign Zach Brown, so there are a bunch of guys in there that I think are really good players and I know Greg does a great job with them.”

On how Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky coaches defenses effectively:
“Well, he’s been around a lot of ‘ball. There’s design, there’s teaching, all the things that it takes to be good on defense.”

On what made him interested in LB Zach Brown:
“Well, he’s theirs now, so we’re going to move on from that. But I wish him the best. It was good to get to know him.”

On what he liked about Brown’s skill set:
“I like him as a player. I think he’s a big guy that can run and can be an every-down linebacker.”

On how versatility helps on defense:
“It’s just a matter of utilizing your personnel, and that’s what we all try to do – utilize it to the best of your ability. Each week’s a new set of challenges and how you’re going to get ready for it and what you’re going to do. I think we recognize that.”

On what he thought of RB Marshawn Lynch before signing him:
“Before signing him, it was more appreciating the way he ran the football, but mostly from afar, knowing we’re both from the Bay Area, kind of having that kind of respect for a guy that came out of this area and did well. But having him, it’s been great to have him. He’s a passionate player. He brings toughness and he brings that passion and love that he has for the game of football and the city of Oakland to us.”

On the challenges RB Chris Thompson presents:
“Good player. You can hand it to him, you can toss it to him, you could throw him the football out of the backfield. He’s been good. In fact, all three backs have been productive for them behind that line. The line is doing a nice job blocking – good design. They’ve done a nice job. They’ve run the ball as well as anybody in the league to start the year, and obviously they’ve got a quarterback that threw for almost 5,000 yards last year. So it’s a good group.”

On if he had any concern about the media attention Lynch garners:

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