August 20, 2012
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the status of linebacker Brian Orakpo:
“There’s no tear. That was good news. They felt like [there was] a little scar tissue but nothing that serious. So he should be okay. I think everybody is relieved.”

On the status of safety Brandon Meriweather:
“Meriweather, the same thing [as Orakpo] with his knee. After taking a look at the MRI, it’s a little bit swollen right now, but no surgery. Just a little bit sore, so we’ll have to take it day-by-day.”

On the status of linebacker London Fletcher:
“He had a full practice today. Felt good, no setback, and he should be ready to go unless there’s a setback.”

On if defensive lineman Kedric Golston and safety DeJon Gomes practiced today:
“Kedric practiced. [His] elbow [is] still a little bit sore. Tricep as well, but he practiced in full today, and D.J. [DeJon Gomes] also practiced in full today.”

On quarterback Robert Griffin III’s performance against the Bears:
“Everybody wants to dissect every play. At the end of the day, you put him in different situations. [On] third downs, a couple of screens we had called were covered, and he took a couple of sacks on that instead of throwing it away – different things that will help him throughout the season. Every time he goes in a game situation, there are going to be constant learning experiences, and you’re hoping that you don’t make the same mistake twice.”

On Robert Griffin III’s decision-making that led to a fumble against the Bears:
“You have to know everything that’s going through his mind. On that play we had somebody miss a free safety blitz right away, so we put him in a very tough situation. He did step up in the pocket. He saw somebody wide open in the flat, and the guy hit him from behind. You don’t have eyes in the back of your head. He almost made an unbelievable play there. Unfortunately, it was a turnover, so in the future he’s going to know that, hey, sometimes these guys are pretty quick, especially guys that are 6-6, 6-7, about 300 and can still run. You have to protect the football, but that’s part of the learning experience.”

On Robert Griffin III’s fumble:
“It’s a fine balance. You have to understand there’s people behind you and ball security is No. 1. That is going to happen. You’re going to have those things that happen. On the one scramble that he had, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody cover that much ground to the 15-yard line as quick as he did. You’re going to have some positives. You’re going to have some negatives, but we’re always going to emphasize trying to protect the ball.”

On the status of running back Tim Hightower and if Hightower will play Saturday:
“He’s a little sore today. I just talked to him. He practiced today, so hopefully, he keeps getting better this week. If he does feel good enough to play, we’ll play him. If not, we’ll try to play him [against] Tampa.”

On the status of running back Roy Helu, Jr.:
“His Achilles is still sore. Both of them. [He] did not practice today.”

On guard Kory Lichtensteiger’s participation in practice today:
“Kory went through drill work today.”

On running back Alfred Morris’ performance against the Bears:
“I thought he did a good job. When he did have a couple of holes in there, he got the extra yardage. Like I just mentioned, he missed the Will linebacker and the free safety on one play. Also the sudden, he looked at the Will and didn’t have the experience to pick up the free safety, but that’s part of the learning curve for some of these guys, especially these rookies. You put them in situations and sometimes it gets a little fast. But I was pleased with his effort and the way he ran the football.”

On how quarterbacks sense the pass rush:
“For most people it’s pretty instinctive. Most quarterbacks have a focus downfield, where they’re looking at the coverages. You can’t look at the rush. You feel the rush. The guys that usually look at the rush have a hard time reading coverages.”

On quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins feeling the rush against the Bears:
“Both guys did a great job of focusing downfield. Both of them are natural, coming out of college and not looking at the rush and looking downfield.”

On if running back Roy Helu, Jr. will play Saturday:
“It’s kind of hard to tell right now. We have a number of days left. Right now, both Achilles are a little bit sore. That’s not good news, but he’s had a little recovery time. I’m hoping it’s not as bad as it was last week.”

On how Roy Helu, Jr. injured his Achilles:
“I’m not sure, but both of them are sore today.”

On the offensive line depth compared to last season:
“We have more depth. When you have more depth, you have a guy like [tackle] Tyler Polumbus, who was on our team, obviously, for a very short time last year. He’s come in, and he’s done a good job… And you have a guy like [guard Josh] LeRibeus, one of our draft choices, and [guard Adam] Gettis. They both come in. You get a guy like [tackle Tom] Compton, that can play on the left side behind [tackle] Trent [Williams] but does have the ability to go to the right side. When you have a little more depth, it helps. [We] still have Erik [Cook] at the center position. We have a chance to evaluate some guys, and get them some valuable experience while a few of these starters are out. That’s really important when they learn your system in the offseason . They get a chance to go through the OTA’s. They get a chance to go through the summer camp. But the bad is when you don’t have much depth to start with. If you only have 6,7, 8 guys and two guys go down, when you bring somebody in, they have to learn the system completely. We’re much better off than we’ve been, but hopefully we’ll stay healthy and get a couple of guys back.”

On tight end Chris Cooley’s performance at fullback against the Bears:
“I thought Chris did a good job. We didn’t have as many plays as we would have liked in the first half. Therefore, we didn’t get all the reps we would liked to have had, but the reps Chris did, he did a good job.”

On Saturday’s upcoming game featuring Robert Griffin III and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck:
“We’re looking forward to both teams going against each other. Before we made the choice to move up in the draft, we looked at every game that both quarterbacks had played. We loved both guys. Andrew, I thought, did a good job yesterday. I watched the whole game this morning, but I did see just a little bit of it last night. I thought Andrew did a great job of playing very poised. I’m sure he’d like to have a pick or two back, but I thought it was two great plays. One, he hit the receiver in the hands, and the ball popped out. The other one I thought was great coverage. But he led the team on a couple of drives, and that’s what you’re hoping your quarterback does.”

On the decision to draft Robert Griffin III:
“I think every quarterback is a little bit different. Everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses and you always try to surround your football team around a quarterback with his talents. Hopefully, he’ll have a good supporting cast; however every quarterback has some things they like to do more than others. That will never change, but we felt good about both of them to make the decision when we did.”

On his thoughts regarding Andrew Luck:
“I sure liked him. After all that hype, you’ve got to get it done on the football field. You like guys that are very sharp and enjoy the game. I had a chance to spend time around him and Robert, and I felt great no matter what direction Indianapolis decided to go in the draft, we’d be in good shape.”

On the competition between wide receivers Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe:
“I think they helped themselves. I took a look at the one play Aldrick made and it was a big-time play. The ball was deflected, he caught it on the shoulder pad, made some guys miss and you could see the speed and explosion and that is what you’re looking for. Anthony Armstrong played a couple plays but not much. A guy like Briscoe, I thought, did a good job catching the ball, using his hands and taking advantage of his opportunities.”

On Kirk Cousins ‘treating every preseason game like the Super Bowl’:
“First of all, any rookie has to think that way. Anytime you get an opportunity to show people what you can do, I think it is a big plus. I think he did a good job and was very relaxed. He went through his progressions and made a number of big plays. You have to feel good about the job he did.”

On DeJon Gomes’ foot injury:
“It’s a little sore, but I think he will be able to play this week.”

On competition for the backup quarterback position between Rex Grossman and Kirk Cousins:
“What I’m trying to do is evaluate everyone on our football team. I know what Rex can do because I’ve watched Rex and he had a chance to play some games. I just didn’t want him to go back to Chicago where he played and started and took them to the Super Bowl, and only play him for one series. It just didn’t make sense to me. I want to get a look at Robert [Griffin III] and give Kirk [Cousins] a chance to see what he can do against a good football team in a tough environment.”

On what Kirk Cousins has to do to solidify the backup quarterback spot:
“We can use this at any position, but we are going to try to evaluate these guys and see what they can do on a day-to-day basis. At the end, we will come up with the top 53 and hopefully not tell everybody how good someone is playing so they don’t come and take them off our practice squad.”

On wide receiver Brandon Banks’ chances of making the 53-man roster:
“When a guy has game-breaking potential and ability, which he has shown, it is tough not to keep a guy like that. But we have a lot of competition and that is what you want to have. Who else can return punts? Who else can play wide receiver? That is what you have to evaluate and sometimes you let some good football players go.”

On plans to prepare Robert Griffin III for the first game of the season:
“We are going to go through more of a game plan situation for everybody on our football team. The reason we do that the third game is because if we have any injuries, we have a little chance to recover before our first game. We are going to evaluate some people as well, but when that first game comes, we will have a gameplan and we will do the things that we do best. Hopefully it will be good enough to beat the Saints.”

On having to play the final preseason game on a short week:
“That’s why I think it’s good that we don’t play a lot of our starters and you evaluate some of the guys who have a chance to make your 53-man or your 61-man football team. We will treat Monday like a normal Wednesday or Thursday [during the season]. Tuesday will be like a Friday even though we play the next day. Our first offense and first defense will act more like a scout team for the other players who are being evaluated. It’s a good two days for them. It’s good for our scout team guys because they get a chance to recover a little bit more even though it’s a couple days.”

On the first-team secondary’s performance:
“Well, what we try to do is change up our coverages and not always put the pressure on. You are going to evaluate people all the time. They had a couple big plays, but overall I’m pleased with our defense.”

On the status of tackle Jammal Brown:
“He did have a second injection to alleviate some of the pain, but besides that, that’s it.”


Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On the ongoing competition between he and Andrew Luck:
“I think they’ll be talking about me and him and comparing everything like you guys. I definitely look forward to playing the guy throughout my career. I think it will be exciting matchups every time we face each other. You hope that for every quarterback. I never wish any quarterback any harm. We’re all trying to make it in this life and make it in this league as the best one.”

On if he and Andrew Luck:
“We’ve text back and forth. Like I said, we’re not holding conversations about this defense and that defense but we text back and forth. Since we’ve been drafted, we haven’t talked very much but that’s because we’ve both just been busy.”

On his father’s advice after the Chicago game:
“It was my dad’s first preseason game. He just told me don’t stress about anything that happened in the game, that we did fine and we just have to make sure all 11 of the guys on offense are on the same page. I think we came out today and fixed a lot of things that we had wrong in the game. It’s just about those little things because sometimes those things can make the biggest difference.”

On when it makes sense to leave the pocket and when it makes sense to run:
“I can’t give you guys answers on those types of things. It just comes with a feel for the game. Sometimes in the game against the Bears, I had the ball longer and made good plays and some of the times I had the ball a little bit longer and threw it away or took a sack. You just have to try and make sure you eliminate the sacks. Aside from that, it just comes with getting a feel for the game and knowing when you can and can’t do things. By far, the players in the NFL are better than the players in college. That’s a given. You just have to make sure you don’t concede all the time but don’t always think you that have to make the best play in the world.”

On if the adjustment period is as expected or more difficult:
“I think it’s as expected. I don’t think it’s any more difficult than I thought it would be. I didn’t think it would be easy and I certainly didn’t think it would be hard either. It’s just as expected, it’s right there in between. There’s a fine line between playing with fear and then taking bad plays and playing with no fear.”

On situations against the Bears where he thought ‘I was better this week than last week in this situation’:
“I’m not sure. Against Buffalo, we didn’t play very much and it was kind of a clean slate. We went out, had two three-and-outs and put together a touchdown drive and got out. I think against the Bears we did a good job of coming back from my turnover and going and putting points on the board. Whether it was seven or three points, I thought we did a good job there. Other than that, I don’t necessarily point out little things that I did because it’s the old cliché, ‘There’s no I in team.’ I just try to pick out one thing that I did that was extremely great and that helped us out.”

On not playing in the final preseason game and how much he is preparing for regular season:
“You just want to go out and continue to get better. You want to play and get a lot of plays in during those three quarters. I look forward to that and going in at halftime, coming out and getting to play again. Other than that, you don’t try to invest too much into it as far as, ‘This is the outcome that I want to have.’ You want to win the game. There’s no doubt about that. I think the guys in the locker room want that to happen as well. It’s our home opener and we want to go out and put on a good show, but for me it’s about continuing to get better.”
On his relationship with Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan:
“I think it’s great. We have one of the youngest offensive coaching staffs in the league. It’s definitely fun; we’ve got a good atmosphere out here every time that we come out and in the film room. I look forward to continuing to grow with him, continuing to have many, many, many successful years in this offense, under his coaching and offensive side.”

On Kyle Shanahan’s coaching style:
“I think it’s a total package. It’s definitely a technique type of thing. It’s X’s and O’s. These guys know what they’re talking about. They know what they’re doing and they’ve been doing it for a long time. You’ve just got to trust them and I am trusting those guys and doing what they’re asking me to do and then we’ll just move on from there and continue to go out and try to win games.”

On what he thought of quarterback Kirk Cousins in the last preseason game after watching film:
“I thought the whole team did a great job just coming back and making a good game out of that game. I thought he showed a lot of heart and, I said this after the game, I am very impressed with what those guys came out there and did. Everybody was out there, as we said, they were out there balling. Everybody was excited. Aldrick Robinson made a bunch of great plays, Dezmon Briscoe came out and had a great touchdown catch to put us in the lead. You can’t discount what Kirk went out there and did. You can always learn from other quarterbacks, no matter if they’re the starter or the backup from the other team or the backup from our team. I thought those guys went out there and did a great job and you can definitely learn from that.”

On getting tips from Kirk Cousins during practice on taking a snap under center:
“I like to stay in the gun more than drop back, but you have to be able to do both. The one thing I try to do is not only listen to the coaches, but listen to the quarterbacks, whether it’s Rex Grossman, Jonathan Cromp[ton], or Kirk - all those guys. They might not necessarily talk. When I say listen, I probably just watch, and you can learn from little things like that, watching other quarterbacks on film. Whether it’s Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, everybody does it different. That’s the one encouraging thing for me, I don’t have to do it like those guys but I can learn from them.”

On what he took away from watching film, specifically his poise in the pocket and decision making:
“Well, we watched the film together today. I watched it on Sunday by myself and the same pointers that I was coming up with for myself just to work on throughout the time we were in the game is the same pointers that the coaches are coming back with me about, whether it’s on the screens... We had three sacks. I told the offensive line today, kind of joking, we’ve just got to work on a few things and throw the ball away. [If] we don’t have those screens, I don’t get those sacks. You never want them to feel bad about those kind of things when it’s your own fault. So when it comes to those things, [I’ve] just got to get the ball out of my hand and know when to make the play and when to try to not make a play and move on to the next down. When it came to being in the pocket, the poise was there. It was just a matter of getting through every single read. I got through a bunch of the reads. On the long run that I had, I scanned back across the field and then took off. Sometimes it happens like that, but sometimes in those crucial situations, you’ve got to get off of a receiver, no matter who it is, whether it’s Santana [Moss], Pierre [Garcon], or any of those guys. Then I move down until I check down, but that’s something that you learn from. I did it in the Buffalo game, missed it on one play against the Bears, and it just happens that way sometimes but you can learn from it.”

On if he notices a difference in difficulty when keeping his eyes down the field against the pass rush in the NFL:
“No, not necessarily. I think every pass rush that you’re going to face every week is a good one. I trust my offensive linemen no matter the defensive linemen. On one of the plays, I think it was earlier in the game, I had pressure right up the field on me, and you might think you‘re looking at the rush in those situations but I actually wasn’t. I came around after I did my five-step drop, looked, and hit my primary target and had a color flash on me so I moved to the side. It’s a tough thing to explain. You’re never totally watching the rush. You’re always keeping your eyes downfield but you do have to feel things in the pocket and I thought I did a good job at just feeling around.”

On the difficulty of deciding between buying time or getting rid of the ball quickly:
“I don’t think it’s that tough. You can scare coaches a couple times whenever you do, take a hit that you shouldn’t necessarily take because you’re trying to make a play. But other than the two screens, there were really no situations that I got into that I took a big hit that I shouldn’t have taken. I got pushed out of bounds by Peppers one time, backpeddling, trying to get the other guys get open and just get rid of it quicker on that. But for the most part, you’ve got to make sure you weigh the pros and the cons, and in the heat of battle, you’ll figure it out as you go along. I think I’m starting to figure out when I need to get rid of it and when I don’t need to.”

On scrambling:
“What I do is I try to go through my reads and then, if I have the option to run, I do run. So in that sense, on the long run that I did have, I did exhaust all my reads and a hole flashed so I took off and ran. And that’s how you have to do it that way. Having the ability to run helps you in those situations. I don’t think it necessarily hurts you as long as you’re not taking negative plays, but it helps you in those senses, it can help guys get open, help broken plays because no one coaches what to do after three seconds after the quarterback’s broken the pocket or he’s been in the pocket for five, six seconds. Guys can’t cover that long. Most of them are used to covering for two to three seconds, then the play being over. So, I think those things can help, but you don’t bank on those kind of things.”

On his relationship with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck:
“I didn’t watch the game last night, not for any particular reason. You would think you could try to scout their defense through the TV copy, but it’s extremely hard, so I just didn’t pay attention to it. I just took my time to relax, watched a movie. But I’ve known him since I was in high school. We weren’t best friends by any means but we knew of each other. We met each other at the Heisman for the first time I think or at the college football awards in Florida. But other than that, we told each other good luck in our careers and moved on from there. He’s trying to lead his team. I’m trying to help lead my team. I will never will truly get to face Andrew because he doesn’t play defense. That’s the one thing I’ve always said. That’s the one thing I’ll continue to say. We’ve just got to look forward to playing the Colts’ defense.”

On what he took away from the safety blitz:
“Hopefully, don’t fumble. We watched the tape today, and like I said, I watched it last night. I made that one guy miss and then saw Alfred Morris open in the flat, so I did tuck the ball, tried to get it back to throw it to Alfred as I was stumbling and that’s what caused the fumble when he hit me. I think if I wouldn’t have saw Alfred, he would’ve hit me and I would’ve held on to the ball. But that was then, this is now. You just move on from those kinds of things, learn from them, just know that you can’t see everybody. I was going to protect the ball, try to throw it into the flat, got hit. They called it a fumble. That’s it.”

On if he will keep trying to make the play even though he lost his balance:
“I think once you stop trying to make a play, that’s when you start playing with fear, so I’m not going to play with fear. I’ll learn from that mistake. It’s something, to me, it’s very simple to learn from something like that. But it’s not necessarily to say that I can come out here, get off balance and work on tucking the ball. It’s just something that happened in the game and you’ve got to learn from it and move forward.”