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Marine Corps Virginia


December 13, 2012
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On who will be the starting quarterback on Sunday:
“I don’t know yet. We’ll have the chance to see how Robert [Griffin III] progresses through the week and make a decision, probably on game day.”

On Griffin III’s progress from Wednesday to Thursday:
“It’s better. You can see that he’s more comfortable. He was improved over yesterday.”

On if he needs to see Griffin III practice at full strength in order to play:
“You would like to see that, yeah.”

On if Griffin III will try to practice at full strength tomorrow:
“I don’t know. We’ll see how he’s feeling.”

On weighing risk of further injury against the reward of having Griffin III on the field:
“You have to have a good feeling that he can play at full strength. If he can do that then he’ll play.”

On the Redskins’ offense:
“It’s a little bit different than most offenses in the NFL. I think we talked about this before Robert got here. It does put pressure on the defense. You have to account for a lot of variables. Robert’s done a good job of keeping defenses off-balance with the threat of it. Where he had to get better, as you saw early, when to throw the football away if it’s in the passing game or when to hand it off or pitch it to not take those shots that he did in college.”

On if he notices opposing teams treating the offense differently each week:
“Every defense will have a different game plan each week. Like all defenses, they make adjustments during the game. A lot of times after halftime we’ll have a game plan going in and we’ll make adjustments as well.”

On speaking with quarterback Kirk Cousins about his role on the Redskins:
“Well, when you’re drafted, there isn’t much of a conversation. It’s, 'You’re on the football team.’ We felt like we got a diamond in the rough in being able to get Kirk in the fourth round. We had him ranked a lot higher so that’s the reason why we took him.”

On if he’s worried about a talented rookie quarterbacks being placed in a reserve role:
“I think a guy like Kirk understands that he can’t control the situation. He’s going to take advantage of the situation the best way he can. Once you get drafted, you get drafted. Everybody would like to go in the first round, but that doesn’t happen. Sometimes you go in the second or third, but you want to take advantage of the opportunity when it’s presented. Kirk has done a great job of taking advantage of every opportunity. He’s learned the system and played well in preseason. We’re very happy that we have him.”

On if he has seen a change in attitude from the players now that the team is a possible playoff team:
“Anytime you’re playing for a playoff game, there’s always a lot more concentration. Obviously you have a purpose in mind. That’s why we talked about playing the best football in the second half of the season. We were able to evaluate these guys and see how well they were going to play in December. We’ve had a handful of people step up. We’ve had a lot of young guys who haven’t been with us over the last couple of years get their first opportunity to see how they play in the second half of the season and they’ve played well.”

On if the output from the team’s wide receivers is the best since he has been with the Redskins:
“Last year, I think it was our last game, we had a receiver actually catch a ball on the one-yard line and he took it into the endzone. This year, I think we’re ranked No. 1 with yards-after-the-catch. Last year, we were ranked 32nd. Our running game was very average and in addition to a number of players and the cohesiveness of the offense spending some time together, a big jump was the addition of new receiving corps. Obviously, in addition to Alfred [Morris], Robert, guys have been on the same page.”

On if it is surprising that the receiving corps has improved this quickly with the salary cap limitations placed on the team:
“You never know when guys are going to step up. We have a lot of guys playing extremely hard. We still need to take care of business. I think you can see that we have a lot of guys that can make plays. People believe in each other and that gives you a chance to do something special.”

On the Browns’ defense:
“They had seven sacks against the Cowboys. They held the Cowboys to 13-zip. They’ve won four games in a row at home, five of the last eight. Six of the eight games have been by seven points or less. You’re looking at a football team who lost their first five that’s playing extremely well over the last eight games. Our football team is well aware of that, especially playing in Cleveland. We had an excellent two days of practice and we know we have to have a good practice tomorrow because this team is capable of beating anybody.”

On if he expects anything from the Browns defense that he hasn’t seen before:
“This is a defense that doesn’t really try to stump you, they just outplay you. They’re not trying to disguise what they’re going to do, they just play it extremely well. One of the reasons why the eight turnovers and the sacks were so impressive is because they play extremely hard, get to the football and make things happen. They’re fifth in takeaways, seventh in third downs…some impressive numbers.”

On the Browns having multiple kick returners on special teams:
“You have to be careful. Everyone has to be very sound in their lanes. Everybody has to be playing at full speed because one mistake and it’s a touchdown because they have such great speed and running ability. You have to have a great week of preparation and our football team has had that at least over the last couple of days.”

On Griffin III’s physical resiliency to be practice after his injury:
“I said this yesterday, after taking a look at the hit, I didn’t think there was any way he could possibly do the things he did yesterday. It’s pretty impressive. He’s very strong and flexible. That’s one of the reasons why he’s been able to do what he has done throughout the collegiate level and this year.”

On Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden:
“He’s a great kid. We really liked spending a week with him [at the Senior Bowl]…Very talented, tall, very strong arm. He’s a very impressive kid.”

On what percentage of practice Griffin III took part in today:
“ I can’t tell you that [laughter]. I don’t know. He was better than yesterday.”

On how having an accurate and long-range kicker affects offensive play calling:
“To be honest with you, you know what a guy’s limitations are. I’m not sure what his limitations are. I’ve watched him in practice kick 60-yard field goals, 57, 58. I think he feels very comfortable right around that 50-yard area. Could he make it deeper? Yeah, I think he could. I’ve seen him do it. Hopefully you don’t have to push him that far because you give the other team such great field position unless it’s at the end of the half or game.”

On kickoffs:
“Sometimes we kick it to the sideline on purpose to get guys inside the 20 and then dare them to come out. Kai’s [Forbath] kickoffs could be a little bit better if he could kick it straight ahead, but then you give a returner a lot of different avenues so it’s a little bit tougher. I think his leg is a little bit stronger than what people think right now. Hopefully our kickoff coverage can do the job if we do kick it in the corner, but if he does kick it straight ahead we’d probably have some more touchbacks.”

On if his mindset changes in specific offensive situations with an accurate kicker:
“Without question. If it’s fourth-and-one, we’ve gone for it a number of times in that 35, 40-yard range. If your field goal kicker has just missed two in a row or three in a row, your mindset is probably taking a chance and going for it on fourth-and-one. The percentages are a little bit better. You’ve got a guy who has been very consistent. Like what we did against Baltimore. You give him a few situations to make it and he took advantage of both of them.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On quarterback Robert Griffin III saying he wouldn’t have changed anything on the play in which he was injured:
“I mean, he got hurt. I wish he didn’t do it, but you can’t decide that. Hindsight 20/20. It’s our biggest game of the year. We’re playing for the playoffs. It’s at the end of the game in a two-minute drive. Robert, I think in a normal situation, hopefully stays out of bounds. He’s doing everything he can to win the game there. I definitely have no problem with that.”

On how much he will work with Griffin III to prepare for Sunday:
“I think that depends on how healthy he is. I don’t think I’ll know that until Sunday. [I’ll] see what the percentage is and have to decide then.”

On if Griffin III can run a normal game plan on Sunday:
“I think that’s a decision that the powers that be will make. If he can’t protect himself, then there’s no chance of him going out there.”

On the amount of recovery Griffin III needs before he can play:
“Robert’s capable of doing anything. He’s not just a running quarterback. If Robert’s healthy enough to play the position and he can protect himself and it won’t cause any harm to his knee, then I want him out there of course. And I know he wants to be out there, but I think it comes down to is there a risk of him hurting himself more and can he protect himself?”

On if he saw a replay of “how gruesome” Griffin III’s hit looked:
“I don’t know any of that during the game and I saw it on SportsCenter when I got home late that night and any time that guy, [Ravens defensive end] Haloti [Ngata] running at him, he’s the biggest man – to me – alive. It’s kind of a freak thing. Robert can’t really see him. It’s pursuit, chasing him from behind him, and the way he Robert and collided into his knee was pretty scary. I always joke with Robert, I call him 'Gumby.’ He gets into some weird positions and his body… I thought he’s gotten hurt a number of times and he gets back up. That one was a little different. He didn’t see the guy coming and just collided with his knee and it hyper-extended a bit. I’ve been pretty impressed with how he’s bounced back from it so far.”

On if he was amazed with how much Griffin III could do in Wednesday’s practice:
“I’ll wait to see how he’s moving on Sunday before I decide because I haven’t made any final decisions yet. He’s not going full-speed out there so you never really know how healthy he is until he’s going full-speed.”

On having two rookie quarterbacks learn alongside each other:
“I think it’s a great situation. I think anytime you bring in two guys who are both highly touted in college -- and there’s a lot of attention drawn to that -- but when you deal with the two guys, the type of people they both are, they’re both different in how they act but they’re so similar. They’re both their own person. They both are themselves no matter what the situation is. They don’t change for anybody. They come to work every day. They’re always the same. They’re never too high. They’re never too low. When you’ve got guys who are very competitive but are really good people, smart people, they really do push each other and bring the most out of each other.”

On what differences he sees in quarterback Kirk Cousins since the Atlanta game:
“Not much. He stepped into that Atlanta game and made some real good passes too. I think he had a 70-yard touchdown … right away. I think his first throw was a 20-yard throw on a dagger that we ended up having to drop on the play. But Kirk will come in and sling it around. He reads defenses and lets it go. He hasn’t had a lot of reps in practice or the NFL. I think there were a few things in the Atlanta game that if he kept doing it, he’s going to let it go when he sees something. He doesn’t sit there and hesitate. But when that does happen, like a couple times in the Atlanta game, he made a couple mistakes. I know he learned from them and hopefully if he does get more reps this week, he’ll be better.”

On what he needs to see from Griffin III:
“It’s not really up to me. So I wait and see. But I have a lot of confidence in Robert. He tells the truth and I think Robert will push himself. Robert’s not the type of guy who’s just going to show up Sunday and give it a shot. I think he’ll push himself during this week so we’ll all be able to watch him and get an idea, mainly from a medical standpoint. I think Robert’s going to be able to show us that he can move well. It’s more is his knee stable enough and can he protect himself in there and is there a risk of a further injury?”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On when he makes defensive adjustments during a game:
“After that first drive, we started correcting some things that we messed up. From a game plan standpoint, we changed some things at halftime. From a technique standpoint, we were correcting and trying to get better. You always do that on the sideline. We did change a little bit of the things we were doing in the second half.”

On how good he feels about the way the defense played in the second half of the last two games:
“Considering the field position and the way the situation was, I thought the guys played well. [They] did a good job stopping the run in the second half. That put us in a position where again – kind of the same as the week before – we had manageable third downs. It turned out a lot better for us.”

On the biggest factor in the changes in the second half of the Baltimore game:
“You take the first drive and they had a 50-yard run because we misplayed it and had two missed tackles. That could’ve been at best an eight-yard run, but it turned into a 50-yard run because we didn’t tackle a really good running back. Then, the second play we just had a safety execute their play wrong. That’s things you can always work on. You’re correcting and trying to get better. We did change a few things at halftime – things we were going to do.”

On Cleveland running back Trent Richardson:
“I think he’s a really good running back. He’s got great speed and power. He’s perfect for what they’re doing offensively. They’re a very good football team with – I think – an excellent offensive line. The skill players are getting better and better every day. [Richardson is] a running back that they can hang their hat with for a long time.”

On if he prefers to have four every-down linebackers:
“That would be nice. That would be nice if you could do that. I’d like to do that in the back end, too. We’ll do it according to who we have and what we have and just different situations. Ideally, you like to have some consistency at all the positions.”

On teaching safeties not to be tricked by a quarterback’s eyes:
“No. 1, if you’re playing straight zone defense, you shouldn’t leave until the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands – whether he pumps, whether he looking over there, it doesn’t really make a difference. You have to make sure you do your assignment first and then you don’t execute what you’re doing until that ball is in the air. That’s No. 1. If you’re playing a man concept, obviously you have to have your eyes on the man and then when he calls for you look up for the ball, then you look up. You have two different ways to approach it.”

On if he thinks Cleveland’s offense has performed better in the second half of the season:
“I think they’re getting better and better every day. I’m talking about the receivers, the quarterback, the running back. Obviously, he [Richardson] was knicked up early. They have a really good offensive line – a young offensive line. They’re a good football team. They’ve won a bunch of games lately and they’ve been in every single game. This will be a good challenge for our football team.”

On linebacker Ryan Kerrigan’s performance against Baltimore:
“I thought Kerrigan played an excellent game. I thought he played with power. I thought he did a nice job on the tight end. He put pressure on the quarterback. We had some blitzes for him; he executed those really well. I thought he had a nice game last week.”

On if the defense has struggled against tight ends:
“I don’t think we’ve really struggled against tight ends. I think you’re playing [Tony] Gonzalez – maybe the greatest that ever played the game – and a couple guys like that. They’re pretty good. I don’t know if we struggled. I think they’re just really good football players.”
 

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