November 16, 2011
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On if running back Tashard Choice will play Sunday:
“He had a good practice today, so that was a big positive. He practiced well last week. I’d say he was at 85-90 percent. Hopefully, there is no setback and he’ll get the chance to dress and see what he can do.”

On Choice facing his former team:
“You always want to play a guy when he’s ready. He’s got to be physically ready, mentally ready. I think he’s feeling pretty good about himself right now. He’s healed up and hopefully there is no setback and he’s ready to go.”

On tackle Jammal Brown’s progress from his injury:
“He was limited today, so that was a positive sign.”

On the injuries to the offensive line:
“There’s not a whole lot you can do. Guys will go down and other guys have to step up. They have to play multiple positions. We’ve always known that about the offensive line. Somebody will get his opportunity and hopefully take advantage of it.”

On placing defensive end Kedric Golston on the Reserve/Injured list:
“He had a third-degree MCL [injury]. That’s not good. He had a partial tear of the ACL. I think what’s in the best interest of the player is usually the best interest in the team. Looking at Kedric and how hard he would have to fight to get back – he might be able to do it in five or six weeks. I’m not even sure if it would be good for him to try, but he’s got the type of attitude you want. He’s always going to fight back and it was disappointing we put him on IR. But with those type of injuries, it was not much of a question.”

On if Golston will need surgery:
“For a third-degree MCL, probably not. With a partial ACL tear, we’ll find out more in a week or 10 days.”

On releasing safety Kareem Moore:
“It’s always tough to release people, especially this time of year. But you have to make decisions about what’s in the best interest of the team. Hopefully, he gets healed up and he’s able to go full speed. I’m wishing him the bets of luck. He’s a class act. He worked extremely hard when he was here. It was disappointing that if somebody did go down, we couldn’t pick him back up with the rules they have right now… He’s been practicing the last three weeks and no decision was made because he wasn’t able to play. As far as I know, he was 100 percent and went on the waiver wire and, if somebody picked him up, he was ready to play. He told me he felt very good so if he did fail a physical, I didn’t know about it.”

On if releasing Moore had to do with his confidence in safety DeJon Gomes:
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in DJ right now and obviously Reed [Doughty]. You’re hoping the Achilles gets a little better for LaRon [Landry] – there’s been a setback there. And [Oshiomogho Atogwe] is full speed this week, so that’s a positive.”

On evaluating linebacker Markus White’s one play against the Dolphins:
“Obviously, you can’t tell with one play. During the week, you’re not really sure what was going to happen relative to a guy like that. Markus is a heck of an athlete and, in time, I think he’ll be an excellent special teams player. Without those OTAs and the practice time, obviously with his first game up, it’s hard to have him as a core player.”

On if knowing the starting quarterback on Monday helps with the game plan:
“No difference. In fact… I used to do six and two [reps] with the quarterback and sometimes used to do five and three. Through time, it’s gotten where the starting quarterback gets a majority of the reps, but there are a lot of different ways to do it. I feel good. Both guys will be ready.”

On if the Cowboys’ defensive scheme has changed since the first time the teams played:
“No, they’re actually simpler. They’re very sound in what they do and playing extremely hard. They are playing well as a group. You can tell they’re comfortable with themselves and their own system.”

On Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray:
“Well, he’s had some big stats, that’s for sure. He’s had some big runs. He’s got great speed. He has the ability to break an 80-85-yarder here or there. He’s done a good job with some straight arms against some big runs. He’s six-foot, 220 pounds and has 4.4 speed. You can see it out there – taking a little pressure off of [Tony] Romo.”

On the run defense against the Dolphins:
“Any time someone averages around three yards-a-carry, you’ve made some strides… [We] didn’t give up the big play. If you can limit those big plays, then you have a chance overall to keep a team in three yard-a-carry [range] and, if you’re doing that, then you’re leading the NFL every year.”

On if he’s frustrated the running game hasn’t gotten going during his time in Washington:
“Well, that’s what you have to do. That’s what you have to work for. If we had that continuity I thought we had going through preseason and the first three or four games in the regular season against some pretty good defenses… You’ve got to make people play honest. Over the last four or five games, it’s been disappointing that we haven’t been able to get that going.”

On if continuity is the biggest factor for the struggles in the running game:
“That’s definitely the biggest factor. An offensive line has got to work together as a unit. If you don’t work as a unit, it’s hard to get everything down. If you lose a guy like [Tim] Hightower and you lose a guy like [Chris] Cooley, two guys that are excellent, of course Kory Lichtensteiger was probably our best run blocker, it hurts some of that continuity. But we’ve got some other guys that are stepping up and getting some valuable experience. Hopefully, we get it going, like this weekend.”

On if he thought what he saw in the preseason was promising for the running game:
“With the first group, yeah, definitely. Through the first four games, same thing. Then, lack of consistency has not helped.”

On if he was satisfied with the running game early in the season despite the yards-per-carry average:
“Yeah. Against the Giants, you’ve got 25 carries for 75 yards or 80 yards, something in that area. It keeps a defense honest. They’re a very excellent defensive football team and we didn’t have any big runs. Every once in a while, you get a big run and you break that and you have one for a penalty in there. That’s what you want to do is keep a defense honest. Against Arizona, you’ve got almost 500 yards in a game. All of a sudden, you’re against a team like Dallas and we didn’t run the ball well in that fourth quarter – probably was the difference in that game.”

On the decision to re-sign wide receiver Donté Stallworth:
“Donté – we lost another person at the X position. Obviously, when we lose a guy, somebody has to come in and they’ve got to know the system and they’ve got to play right away… It’s really hard to bring somebody in that doesn’t know the system.”

On wide receiver Terrence Austin not playing much against the Dolphins:
“We’ll play the best players and we thought that David [Anderson] was a little further ahead than Austin. But these guys compete every day and we’re going to try to play the best players that give us the best chance to win.”

On linebacker Brian Orakpo’s struggles recording sacks against divisional opponents:
“Those things come in bunches. He’s been very close. Everybody looks at the end result and he probably missed four or five sacks where he had guys right in the grasp of his hands. As he gets older, I think he’ll get those sacks. But he’s there and he’s putting pressure on quarterbacks and hopefully it comes this weekend.”

On tight end Fred Davis playing nearly all of the offensive snaps:
“We put a lot of pressure on Fred in that position. I’d like to probably limit a little more of his plays because, any time you do that to a player, it takes its toll. But Fred’s given us everything he’s got. He’s made some big plays and hopefully he can continue to do that.”

On tackle Trent Williams’ play since coming back from injury:
“He’s doing better every game.”

On the possibility of re-shuffling the offensive line because of injuries:
“We’re trying to decide that right now what direction we’re going to go. We have a couple of options that we’re messing around with and obviously we’re not going to share all of those options, but we’re going to try to come up with the best formula to give us the best chance to win.”

On if he looks at fourth quarter drives against certain defense when evaluating someone’s play:
“Yeah, I take a look at the defenses and what they’re doing. Are they playing a prevent defense or aggressive defense? You’ve got to take a look at what they’re doing. Are they a bend but don’t break? Yeah, we look at all those type of things.”

On if there are things he can work on with returner Brandon Banks to help him break long returns:
“Well, you’ve got to give the other team credit, No. 1. They understand that he is a weapon. Sometimes, they try to kick it right to the sideline or try to kick it out of bounds. Obviously, the ball being up five yards hurts on kickoffs. It’s a combination of those things.”

On if Banks is too small to play receiver:
“We have him out there as a possibility if somebody goes down. Brandon is a backup at the wide receiver position. We used him a little bit last year and we can this year. We have a little more depth at the wide receiver position than we did a year ago even though we have lost a few guys here in the last couple of weeks.”

Quarterback Rex Grossman

On the similarities in preparing for this Cowboys game and the September meeting:
“I mean, it’s a little different defense than the first time we faced them but it’s the same basic fronts and things. It’s always a fun game to play in. That’s been the common theme. Anytime you’re in a rivalry game it’s fun.”

On the September loss to the Cowboys:
“We got the ball in the third quarter and went down and scored a touchdown and we didn’t really get the ball in the third quarter again…one time. In the fourth quarter, we had our shots to win the game and didn’t get it done, so that’s frustrating. Looking back on that game, trying to figure out some new plays and things, that was a pivotal part in our season that was disappointing but we got the chance to fix some of those errors and get it done on Sunday.”

On the importance of bonding with wide receiver Jabar Gaffney after Leonard Hankerson’s injury:
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Jabar and it’s fun to throw to him. A lot of guys need to step up and make plays. I fully expect we’re going to do that and the guys we have out there are fully capable of going out and having big games.”

On his evaluation of his performance in the Miami game:
“I thought it was pretty good. Anytime you don’t win, there’s always a couple plays that could’ve made the difference, so you can’t really pat yourself on the back too much. But for the most part, I did what I was coached to do and made a lot of plays, but not enough.”

On if he felt he was going into the Miami game without preparation:
“No. I was ready.”

On if he feels it’s easier to hit the reset button on his season after being named the starter again:
“Do I think it’s easier? I mean, it’s extremely disappointing when you get taken out, but you definitely have a month or so to kind of reset yourself and what your goals are and what you need to get accomplished and how to go about it by just sitting back and watching and thinking and going through just mentally. And then getting the chance to go back in there—I think it’s good. Obviously I want to play every single week but getting a chance to kind of take a breather and get back in there and reestablish how I want to go about things [is helpful].”

On if he’s motivated to show people he never should have been replaced as the starter:
“My motivation comes from just trying to win, trying to have fun out there, make plays and win the game. I have no animosity. I’m very excited about this opportunity to go out there and finish this season, the next seven games, and just see what happens.”

On what he saw on film concerning the interception he threw at the goal line in the Miami game:
“It’s a play that not everything worked out the way it should’ve. That’s all I’ll say about that.”

On if he feels beating the Dallas Cowboys would change the season for the Redskins:
“Of course it does. I’m an optimist. You never know. We have to win—we have to just beat Dallas and get a victory. Then everybody starts to have fun and feels better and we come in here next week at 4-6… Nobody’s giving up. Everybody believes that we should be a lot better than we are. All 11 guys on offense, myself included, just need to do their job. We have plays out there to be made and it takes all 11 guys on every play. We want to establish a rhythm and get going and you never know what could happen.”

On if he’s confident the starting position is his for the remainder of the season:
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t need to think that. I’m not looking over my shoulder or anything like that I’m just going out there trying to have fun, make plays and win the game. I don’t need to be told that it’s my season or whatever… I’m just going out there to have fun.”

On if it’s difficult to wonder if things would have been different if he had remained the starter:
“It is what it is. We are where we are. Let’s see if we can get something going and get headed in a positive direction.”

On if this is the perfect time in their season to have the Dallas game for motivational reasons:
“Everybody’s frustrated right now and to have the Cowboys coming in, there’s no better team to go against to get everybody fired up and have that extra juice, extra motivation, to get this thing turned around and get a big victory.”

On if there is a different sense of confidence in the locker room after he was named starter again:
“I’m never going to speak for anybody else. I know that’s how I feel. I feel good about it. I’m just looking forward to playing. It’s fun to get out there and make plays and be in the huddle with all these guys. It’s a lot more fun when everybody’s on the same page and scoring a bunch of points and winning games. That’s what we’re striving for, but I’m not going to speak for anybody else.”

On if he feels he’s letting the defense down by not scoring points:
“Definitely. Our defense is playing well and we need to pick it up and match their standard of play. If we do that—if we can get that done—we’ve got a good football team. There’s no reason for me to think that we won’t do that. You watch tape and there’s too many plays out there to be made. Everybody is fully capable. Our offensive line gives us time to throw. Our running game gets some big chunks. We can be a lot better than we are. We have a good offense. We’re not playing well.”

On how much the passing game is dependent on establishing the running game:
“It takes every phase on offense - pass game, running game, everything. You can’t be one-dimensional in the NFL.”

On the benefits of having former Cowboys running back Tashard Choice in the locker room this week:
“I think it helps. I think it will help out the defense, just some keys here and there. I used [safety Oshiomogho Atogwe] when we were playing St. Louis—he gave me some keys. It’s a little bit of help. Obviously running backs have an idea of what their team is doing just from training camp practices and stuff. I think it will help him a lot and he can definitely give some pointers.”

On the potential benefit of Tashard Choice’s skill set in the Cowboys game:
“I think he’s really good. I don’t know, I haven’t really seen him that much. I fully expect him to go out there and be effective in the pass game and use his speed to get around the edges and cut back and do all the things in the running game. We’ll see, but I have yet to really see him a whole lot; he’s been a little bit banged up.”

On if it feels like a different team than the one he started the year with:
“Yeah, anytime you go through some injuries, guys have to come in and step up. It’s very rare that you don’t have injuries so anytime you start a season it’s always going to look a little bit different when you do have injuries. It is a little bit different but I think we’re doing a good job of taking care of some of those issues.”

Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett

On the growth in his offense:
“I think we’ve played well the last couple of weeks. But you know as well as I do there are a lot of things in those ballgames we’ve got to get better at. So there were some positive things, both running it and throwing it. But we’re going back and trying to clean some things up and build on the positives and correct some of the negatives.”

On the decision to release running back Tashard Choice:
“I think as much as anything else, it had a lot to do with the emergence of the young backs we’ve had. Tashard has been a really good player for us the past few years, but he was banged up. He was banged up in training camp and banged up at different points during the season. And DeMarco Murray emerged as a runner for us, and Phillip Tanner, a young guy that we had in camp, continued to get better and better and better. So, we just felt like you’d love to still have Tashard, but with the emergence of those guys and how they’re going to play on special teams and contribute to our team, we just felt that was a move we could make and it seems like he’s landed in a great spot up there in Washington.”

On if DeMarco Murray has been a pleasant surprise:
“I don’t know if it was a surprise. You know, we felt really good about drafting him in the third round. He was a very productive player out of Oklahoma, both as a runner and as a receiver. We really liked him coming out of school. He, too, was banged up in training camp. He didn’t really play until our last preseason game. So we didn’t see a lot of him. He’s done a nice job in the early part of our season getting himself acclimated and understanding what we want to do on offense. He got an opportunity three or four weeks ago and he’s really taken advantage of it.”

On his concern about Murray’s history of injuries:
“Different people have different takes on his injuries in college. We didn’t think that was as significant as a lot of people might have. Sometimes those stories grow a little bit. But he came in, like a lot of guys, and had a little bit of a hamstring pull early on in camp and that was the biggest issue. We didn’t think it was severe, but the problem with those kind of injuries is they take time. And it was valuable time in any year, but particularly this year for a young guy with no OTAs. So it just took him a little bit of time to get going, but he’s certainly taken advantage of his opportunity here in recent weeks.”

On his thoughts of Mike Shanahan rushing attacks:
“Certainly it’s been as good a running game as there’s been over the last 20 or so years. Clearly, I’m no expert on it, but just looking at it from afar, it seems to be predicated on those zone runs — the inside zone and the outside zone. They seem to run that kind of a play over and over and over again, but they do it from so many different looks and they create so many different little nuances and wrinkles off of that scheme that’s very difficult for the defense to keep up with it. And they execute it so well. There are so many different runners and different linemen. The constant is that they’ve been very good at it. Then they do so many great things off of it with the quarterback making plays down the field. So it’s a great challenge every time you go against him. He’s such a good coach and they do such a great job with that scheme.”

On what he’s seen from the Redskins’ running game in the last several weeks:
“Like anything, it’s a work in progress for everybody. I’m just completely impressed with their team and how they can plug different runners in and have success. So you get challenged in so many different ways when you play the Redskins and Coach Shanahan’s team. We see those things on tape. We understand the challenges that are going to be presented on Sunday when we go up there.”

On the importance of being able to run the football effectively:
“Well, you want to be balanced. Every offense wants to be balanced. You want to be able to run it and throw it, and run it and throw it lots of different ways. But it’s a struggle. Every week it’s a struggle for every team in the league to move the ball, both running it and throwing it. You’ve got to keep banging away. That’s what we try to do and I’m sure they’re trying to do that up there as well. You keep trying to tinker with what you’re doing and also focus on your execution. Those are our challenges and that’s what we’re trying to do in preparing for the Redskins.”

On if his team feels different than the one that played the Redskins in September:
“We’re a work in progress like every team in the league. You try to get better from day to day and week to week, and you try to do that individually and collectively throughout your football team. You’re always trying to inch along and work hard to improve yourself. I really believe that the teams that get better throughout the year are the ones that are around late in the year. So we’re trying to do that. There are a lot of areas where we had to get better in, and we know that and we are going to work every day trying to resolve those things and also build on some of the positive things that have happened.”

On if he looks back at how far the team has progressed since the first few weeks of the season:
“We probably don’t compare ourselves so much to that [the first few weeks]. We had some good challenges early in the year. We played the Jets in the opening game, then we played San Francisco out there in Week 2, so, like a lot of teams, we’re battling through some injuries with some young guys playing. Hopefully when you get your guys back and you get your guys a little more experience, you’ll grow. But again, there’s a challenge every week. You never get to the point where, ‘Hey, we’ve got that down.’ We don’t look at it that way. I don’t think we can. We’ve just got to make sure we keep trying to get better in all phases of our football team.”

On receiver Dez Bryant’s red zone production:
“Dez has made some plays for us down there in the red zone. Like a lot of players around this league, he’s a guy who gets a lot of attention from a defense, really throughout the ball game but also particularly down there in certain situations. You try to move him around and give him some opportunities where he can make some plays, but typically the defense is giving him some attention so we’ve got to make sure we find ways to get it to him regardless but also get the other guys involved and execute ball plays to help us score points.”

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo

On the Cowboys playing better in recent weeks:
“I just think we’re putting together some wins. We kind of have a few different guys in different posts. We’re playing some good football and I think we’re starting to figure out what some of these guys can do and how to do the things that allow us to be successful.”

On Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray:
“Well, he’s done a great job. It’s a combination of a lot of things though. Murray’s obviously played well, the [offensive] line has played great lately and we’ve got a new fullback these past few weeks and that’s helped a lot. There’s a lot of things that go into it, and I know Murray’s the obvious choice, but it’s been a lot of guys and that’s been a big deal.”

On if Murray is the team’s No. 1 running back moving forward:
“The coaches will make that decision and whoever is in there is going to do a great job and the guy’s been playing great.”

On what’s impressed him about Murray:
“He has a good burst. He sees the hole and he attacks it. At different times, he can be patient. He does a good job doing a little bit of everything.”

On running back Tashard Choice:
“Tashard helped us out a lot. He’s a smart tailback who understands protection. He understands where the holes are going to be and he was successful when he was here with us. I know he’s a great locker room guy and you guys are going to end up loving him in Washington.”

On improving the center exchange with Phil Costa:
“It really hasn’t been an issue. It was just for that game. That was early in the year and I want to say our first home game, if I remember correctly. Just little things like that, we were still working out some kinks and some people in new positions... We got it righted and he’s doing a good job now. It prepared us for some of the stuff Washington did to us that week. I think looking at tape of some of these guys – they’re still a good defense and they do a great job, not unlike early in the year. They’re aggressive and I suspect they’re going to have a lot of blitzes. I think that’s their game plan against me in general. Shanahan, I believe, thinks it’s in the best interest to pressure us. In times I’ve played against him, they’ve done that a lot. So I suspect he’ll do that again this week and then they’ll go back into their all-out pressures and do some two-man pressure. We’ll be ready for all that stuff.”

On if he feels fortunate to be close in the NFC East race with a 5-4 record:
“We’re not thinking about any of that stuff. We’re just trying to get better each week and win football games. Whatever happens is going to happen. Like I said, we had some chances early in the year and we haven’t won them. And then other chances, we were behind late in games and we came back and won. All we have to do is keep playing. All this stuff is going to solve itself out at the end of the year. It’s just about playing this week, getting better and winning. And then moving on to the next one. That’s all we’re doing right now.”

On how much film of the Redskins the Cowboys watched prior to the Bills game:
“Well, you watch a lot of games. I think Washington does things offensively a little bit different than we do, so you watch some things and you take certain things away and you discard others. I’m watching a lot of what the individuals are doing defensively, what tips they’re giving away, what coverages, where they’re rolling, what they’re doing, the way they want to make it look. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, not off of one specific game. I do know that Buffalo’s a good football team and it’s not easy to do that to a football team. Personally, it was nice to be able to throw the ball and be healthy and feel comfortable. All of that sort of stuff that goes with being a quarterback. But really you just base it off of each week and you look at a bunch of tapes – six or seven games throughout each week. So it’s not just in one game.”

On the development of rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan:
“I’m not surprised. You watch him on tape and you can tell that he’s a good player. He allows them to have a couple of really good pass rushers and they can do a lot more with their scheme. Last time we played them, they had a lot of all-out pressures and people up on the line of scrimmage. Obviously, we’ve had to come up with some good things for that and they back out of two-man. A lot of the reason they can do that is because they have those guys Kerrigan and [Brian] Orakpo that can get to the quarterback when they do drop out of there. I just think he’s a good player and he allows them to do a lot of different stuff with their scheme that has allowed them to be one of the better defenses in the league, I think, this year.”

On how different it is this season than in the past when he only had to look at linebacker Brian Orakpo:
“You’ve got to trust your guys. You’ve got to go out there and know that you’re guys are going to battle with these guys and they’re going to win some and we’re going to win some. From my perspective, you have to trust the people that are around me and if they do their job, which I suspect they will, we’ll be all right. And if you lose some, you have to build them up sometimes.”



(Courtesy of the Washington Redskins)