June 12, 2018

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On today’s practice:
“It went good. You know, we’re coming to the end of the offseason program here, and this is just the extension of it, and I think we’re in a good place mentally and physically for the most part. Guys are working hard, have a couple more days left and hopefully we end on a high note.”

On Defensive Backs Coach Torrian Gray:
“He’s done great, he really has. I think he’s got the system down. I think it’s important to keep the staff around here because I think the more comfortable he is, the better he is. That’s the case for everybody, quite frankly. He’s a good communicator, does a great job with the safeties and corners – [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] James Rowe with him. They are a good partnership over there and handle the room extremely well.”

On QB Alex Smith’s growth this offseason:
“I think we are all just trying to get him as comfortable as we can and it’s just a matter of him getting used to the terminology, getting used to the players around him, how we call plays, all that stuff. He’s a veteran guy. He’s been there, done that. About every kind of passing scheme concept he’s seen or done, run concept he’s seen or done in his career with both Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and obviously with Coach [Andy] Reid, so not a lot I can throw at him that he hasn’t done or tried. It’s just a matter of getting on the same page – what we call things, how we like to tag certain coverages, progressions, all that good stuff – so, I’ve been very impressed with him as player and obviously as a person.”

On if he anticipates any issues with injured players being available for training camp:
“We’re very positive in their recovery right now. They’ve all worked extremely hard. Trent [Williams] came in here and has shown great progress, great strength. So I don’t see any reason why these guys won’t be ready for training camp. It’s a matter of how much we throw at them early in training camp. We might hold them back early in training camp, but for the most part, I think Ty [Nsekhe], T.J. [Clemmings], Jordan [Reed], Chris [Thompson], Trent, those guys are showing great progress and we have full anticipation they’ll be ready for Week 1.”

On DL Stacy McGee and WR Brian Quick:
“Stacy McGee has had an issue, so he was getting checked out and had a little surgery on his groin. Quick missed for personal reasons.”

On how long it takes a veteran quarterback like Alex Smith to get comfortable with a new system and if he just needs to “get it down by midseason”:
“He has got to get it down by the first game. So, I think he is already close to having it down for the most part. Each game plan is going to change with different concepts depending on who we play from time to time. But he needs to get it down and he will get it down. That’s why we got him here. That’s why we wanted to get a veteran quarterback here that can adjust to different schemes and alert on the fly. One thing about Alex, he is the smartest guy I have ever been around, without a doubt, and he is in great shape. He can move around and he can handle a lot of different things. We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now. This isn’t a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away.”

On details that will make the run defense successful:
“Stopping the run, it’s a team thing. It’s an 11-man deal. You have got to be in your right gap. You can’t abort your gap and leave somebody on an island or what have you. So, it’s up to the defensive line to stay in their gap, the linebackers will play off of them and obviously the safeties have to be a part of it and sometimes when the safeties get blocked by the receivers, then the corners have got to come and crack-replace. So, it’s a total team thing on defense. Everybody has got to run to the ball and every once in a while, somebody’s going to get a hit, but we have to limit the damage and the guys have got to wrap tackle and make good, sound tackles and limit the damage and live to fight another day. I think getting the guys healthy, getting Zach Brown back out here and Mason Foster with him, [Martrell] Spaight is a veteran guy, [Zach] Vigil is a veteran guy, Josh Harvey-Clemons playing the same defense. Adding Shaun Dion [Hamilton], I think we have got a great chance for that front seven to be very, very good. Secondary-wise, getting Montae [Nicholson] back 100 percent, he’s a great tackler. Obviously D.J. [Swearinger] can play multiple spots. Josh Norman is one of the better corners that can tackle. So we feel good about where we are and now it’s a matter of them playing together with [Daron] Payne now in there, and obviously the other young fellows, [Quinton] Dunbar, maybe Fabian [Moreau] at the other corner.”

On how the team will approach the new kickoff and lowering-the-helmet rules:
“I haven’t seen anything written on paper yet [about the lowering-the-helmet rule]. We obviously understand we want to take the head out of the game as best we can. We don’t want to use it as a weapon either offensively or defensively, so that’s something we are going to continue to try to teach. We don’t do a lot of live sessions in practice anyway, so a lot of that will come throughout training camp and hopefully we will have videos to show the players on what not to do, I guess. As far as the kickoff rule is concerned, we are just going to try different things, get it on tape and look at it and try to make certain adjustments. It’s new to everybody around the league and I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know if teams are going to try to get more touchbacks kicking off or try to let the guys return it, so it will be interesting to see and it will play out. I’m sure by Week 1 or Week 2, coaches will have a better understanding of it.”

On if he feels further ahead at this point in the year because of Smith’s intelligence:
“I have got to be careful too. I sometimes get the script of plays for practice and I kind of go crazy with different formations and stuff like that. I just have got to make sure I don’t get ahead of myself, but it’s never an issue. I spit out the plays and he does a great job repeating them and executing them so he’s somebody that can handle a lot of things, like I said. So, we will just have to wait and see. I think getting to know his players is probably more important. He’s going to handle the offense fine. The terminology and all that stuff is fine. I think just getting to know the players and what they can do and adjusting to those guys -- especially Jordan [Reed] who hasn’t practiced yet and Chris Thompson hadn’t practiced yet – but getting to know Paul Richardson for the first time, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, the rest of them, Brian Quick wasn’t here today, but that’s the big thing. [Also] Mo Harris.”

On the difficulty of practicing two-minute and third down situations while learning a new system:
“It’s just going faster. Two minutes? Easy. We have a set of core plays for two-minute and they can change week-to-week depending on who we are playing, but it’s just a matter of getting the people up to the line, making sure everybody is set before he snaps it, but he handles that great. He knows situations as good as anybody. He knows when he can’t take a sack and get out of bounds when he has to, hurry up to the line, spike it, whatever he needs to do. He’s been in all of those situations so that’s no issue. Third down is just a matter of whether we are going to huddle or not and getting the team ready to roll or get a protection set for the back or the line, trumping everything and making the right call. He can handle all of that. I’m not worried about that.”

On time changes for training camp:
“Morning, I want to give them a full day to recover. I kind of have been doing a little research here and I think we practice in the morning, we are off the field around noon and they get a nice lunch. We will meet and do some install and come back and have our walkthrough, then go back and meet and watch practice and the walkthrough. So, I think to give that full time for recovery, so they can drink a lot of fluids and take care of their bodies is important. When the Jets come, we are going to practice same time – 1:30 every day. But let these guys know, ‘Hey, we are going to get up, get yourself a cup of coffee and get ready to roll for practice,’ I think is important. Get them on a set schedule, give them a chance to recover each and every day.”

On what the team has accomplished this offseason:
“I think, one, that’s the most important thing to me for OTAs is getting them in shape in the weight room, obviously out there on the field running. And then, two, we have to get them mentally sharp and teach them our system. And then at the end once we were able to practice, players get to know one another. I think, like we mentioned, Alex Smith getting to know Paul Richardson and our receivers, and our new offensive linemen trying to work different spots, our new defensive linemen, the rookies – [Daron] Payne, obviously Shaun Dion [Hamilton] – getting those guys up to speed, getting our left tackle, right tackle – [Geron] Christian – up to speed. So I think it’s just a matter of A) you want to get them in shape, B) you want them to get to know each other, and then obviously C) you’ve got to have them learn as much as you can in these few days so when they come back to training camp, we don’t have to start from, ‘OK, this is double right.’ We can jump into our system and install fast and play fast.”

On if he feels this is the best spot he’s been in at this time of the year during his tenure in Washington:
“I’m always confident, really, but I feel really good. I think from a draft perspective, Payne is everything that I thought he was. Derrius Guice is everything I thought he was and more. He’s a lot faster than I thought. He plays faster – explosive. Christian adds great depth to the offensive line. Shaun Dion, like I mentioned, great depth at the linebacker position, could eventually be a starter, who knows? The rest of the guys are excellent. And then our free agent acquisitions, Paul Richardson is faster than I even thought on tape. Excellent free agent signing. So I feel great about where we are to add those new guys in with the veteran pieces that we already have. Very, very confident, very happy with what we have here.”

On how much Smith’s “presence” as a quarterback matters:
“It matters. Confidence is very, very important and presence, like you say, is important. It gives other players confidence, and the whole job a quarterback has is obviously getting the most out of the people around you. That’s what I think he does as good as anybody. He’ll get the most out of the tight ends. He’ll get the most out of the backs. He’ll get the most out of the receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out. Just a great leader-type guy and a good person, good player, that players all seem to react well to and play well with. Obviously we haven’t played a game yet, so we still have a lot of work to do before then, but just from a mental makeup, the physical makeup of the person, obviously top-notch.”

On the growth he expects in LB Zach Brown’s second season in Washington:
“I think Zach Brown physically, when you look at him, he’s as gifted a linebacker as there is, really. He can run, he can hit, and all that stuff. I think learning a new defense, there were some times where we were out of place – and not just him, but whoever – the defense wasn’t quite in sync. I think him being in his second year with his athletic ability, adding Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen in the middle in front of him with Matt Ioannidis and Ziggy [Hood], whoever else is in there with [Ryan] Kerrigan and Preston [Smith], I think it’s going to make him all the more freer to roam and play fast. So, first year, you know, like I said, last year we went 7-9, I can’t really say, ‘Hey, anybody played all-star-type level.’ But I think he was leading the league in tackles there for a little while because of his speed and I think he can play a lot better.”



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