Skins Quotes 6/11/19: Jay Gruden, Nate Kaczor

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Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC

Marine Corps Virginia

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the safety position:
"[Troy] Apke is doing well. It has been good to see him get a lot of these reps and work. Obviously, last year he did not get a whole lot with his hamstring, so he is progressing nicely. [Deshazor] Everett also has picked up the slack. He has done a very good job. [Jeremy] Reaves, he made some big plays out there today. So, those guys are taking advantage of their time."

On S Montae Nicholson's progression and offseason:
"We are just moving on. The big thing with Montae is getting the communication down with Landon [Collins] and whoever the other safety is. That is the thing about the safety position, who is down, who's in the post. Communication is critical for those guys and the more work they get and the more situations we can put them in, red zone, third down, first and second down, all that good stuff, the better they are going to be. But with Apke and Montae, those are the most important things, critical things for them just to get the reps and get the communication."

On evaluating Nicholson's play last season:
"Well he was having a good year, and then we made the trade for Ha Ha [Clinton-Dix], which moved him down to third, I guess. So, the reps did not come as plentiful as they were before we got Ha Ha, so that is probably why."

On comparing last season to Nicholson's rookie year:
"Well, we had high hopes for him. He had a couple injuries that set him back a little bit. So, couldn't get him in there as often as we would have liked."

On if T Geron Christian Sr. is experiencing setbacks:
"No. He is fine. He is just rehabbing. He did blow his knee out last year."

On Christian's participation in mini-camp:
"He is on pace to be ready for training camp. That has been the goal with him. A lot of these guys [Derrius] Guice, [Geron] Christian, some of these other guys, Jordan Reed, we maybe could have pushed them back in here but the most important thing is for them to get their rehab and to get them back to training camp full strength."

On determining when injured players can participate:
"Health is first and foremost. That is up to the trainers and doctors. They give us a gauge. Some guys we let them practice a little bit and do some individual work, no team stuff, brought them along slowly in that regard. [Brandon] Scherff is a great example. He didn't do a lot of team stuff, but we let him do some individual. Morgan [Moses] was the same way, but with Christian we thought it was best suited for him to stay away and mainly do the work in the weight room and training room"

On the possibility of OL Ereck Flowers playing guard:
"Yeah, yeah we are. I think with the lack of tackles we had participating, we had to put him at tackle and he did a good job. We did start him at guard early and he did a good job, but I think once we get to training camp we'll put him back at guard. Wes [Martin] did a good job with his reps in there at guard. We need to get him some work. We have a lot of guys moving around at different positions. [Tyler] Catalina got in there to play some tackle, some guard. [Casey] Dunn played some guard and center. So, these guys have been playing multiple spots. Now it's the matter, once we get to training camp, to try to get a depth chart somewhat together once everybody is healthy, who is going to be there and go from there."

On the importance of the break before training camp for QB Dwayne Haskins:
"It's very important. He has to learn it. If he feels like he is a little bit unsure of anything he has to study it and continue to go over it in his mind and rehash it. He will have plenty of videos to watch and all that good stuff. Dwayne is going to work hard at it, that's for sure. When he comes back to camp, hopefully it will be more natural to him, calling plays in the huddle. Like I said before, it is his first time he has had to do it. We threw a lot at him, formations, motions, protections, route concepts, run concepts, audible, two-minute, no huddle, all of that stuff. There is a lot to learn for the kid, but we want to get it all out there for him so he has an understanding of what it is going to be like come training camp. A long way to go, but I like where he is at."

On the message to the players before training camp in Richmond:
"Well, I think they [the players] are in great shape. Chad (Englehart; Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) has done a good job, (Head Athletic Trainer) Larry [Hess], the training staff, getting these guys ready. They are in as good of shape as I have seen them, really most impressed with the rookies. The rookies came in here and they are in phenomenal shape. The main thing is to maintain it. That is the big thing, to maintain it, so when you come back to training camp there is not a period of time where we have to get back into shape. You have to stay in shape. That is the most important thing."

On T Trent Williams update:
"Trent Williams? No."

On if there will be a concern if Williams is not at the start of training camp:
"If? There are a lot of "if's" that we can go over right now, but I do not have time. I do not know what is going to happen. If Dwyane Haskins isn't there, I'll be concerned and if Case Keenum decides to not show up, I'll be concerned. I expect everybody to be there, yes."

On the defense:
"I know it's early, but I really like our defense's mentality, number one. I think we have a tough edge to us and I'm expecting that to carry over. I think it starts with our defensive lineman: Jonathan [Allen], Daron [Payne], Matt [Ioannidis], [Ryan] Kerrigan and adding [Montez] Sweat, I think those guys upfront set the stage for everybody. Now we have a tone-setter in Landon Collins that can help stop the run, obviously and be an impact player for us in the secondary. I've been really impressed with Fabian Moreau. I think his development has been outstanding at both the corner and the nickel spot. Obviously, the other safeties we talk about, [Troy] Apke, Montae [Nicholson], [Jeremy] Reaves, [Deshazor] Everett, those guys are going to have to step up. At inside backer, even though we lost Reuben [Foster], who we had high hopes for; we still didn't know what he was going to bring to us. Having Mason [Foster] and [Jon] Bostic competing, and Shaun Dion Hamilton, along with Fabian, are our two most improved players out here."

On WR Josh Doctson's attendance at OTAs:
"Yeah, he's been here the whole time."

On Doctson's production:
"We just have to get hopefully more production for him and he gets more opportunities. You know, I can't promise he's going to get a ton of opportunities with the group of guys that we have. You know with Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson healthy; they're still going get their opportunities. With watching Terry [McLaurin] play, he's going to get his, and we haven't even talked about Paul [Richardson Jr.]. Trey Quinn is going to get some. The whole intent of this offense is to spread the ball around. We still want to run the ball. Hand the ball to Adrian [Peterson], [Derrius] Guice and Samaje [Perine]. It's about spreading the ball around and everybody taking advantage when their number is called."

On the injuries at the running back position:
"I do expect [Derrius] Guice for camp. [Bryce] Love, I'm not too sure. We'll have to wait and see on that one."

On if Doctson is injured:

On splitting carries between the running-back group:
"You know with Guice not here and [Adrian] Peterson not here for the majority of camp, Perine has done an excellent job. He's been one of our top performers on offense, really. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you, but I do know that those are three very good football players. Adrian is a [Pro Football] Hall of Famer, Guice, we drafted in the second round for reason, and Perine has continued to get stronger and stronger in the weight room. He's a powerful running back and he has not had the opportunities that he probably deserves or needs. But we just have to figure out a way to make the competition fair and play the best player, no matter whom they are or where they're from."

On his time before training camp:
"Well, I don't know yet. I haven't really decided. I've got a few things to do to get ready for training camp. Play a little golf maybe. Maybe get away for a little bit, I can't tell you where I'm going, [points off camera] he might follow me… with his microphone [laughs] but I don't know have any big plans yet."

On RB Samaje Perine possibly playing fullback:
"We tried him there a couple of times a couple of years ago. I'm sure that he could probably do it. That's an option, but he's also a tailback in his mind and he wants the ball. Push comes to shove, if we need to have a full back and he's the only one here, then he surely could do it because he's got the power to do it. We got [Elijah] Wellman right now; he's doing a nice job. J.P. Holtz can both play fullback and tight end, so they're filling that role for us right now."

Special Teams Coordinator Nate Kaczor

On WR Terry McLaurin's skills as a specialist:
"Very good question, so, three of the most important traits playing special teams: smart, tough and very fast. That checks the first three boxes and he's got all of that. So, what we're finding out with Terry is his play, obviously, covering all three of those traits at any level and running 4.3, being that speed we're talking about, we're just teaching him every position that he could possibly play. You really with a player like that almost have to save him from himself because he'll just keep going and going and going and he only has one speed. So really with a player like that, that works so hard and is so blue collar and talented, you just have to really pace him and only use him where needed. When he's on the learning curve right now he's probably getting a little more work than he normally will because he's getting obviously a good amount of reps on offense as well. But, really with a player like that you just got to make sure they're not overdoing it because they're doing anything you ask, any you want to do it. They're just special people and he's certainly one of those."

On how his system compares to others in the league:
"So, I think Jay [Gruden] said this the other day, most of our systems there's a lot of carry over. Really what we're working on is the fundamentals and we teach our fundamentals through drills. So, anytime that we watch video we want the drills we're doing on the field to actually show up in a game. You'd be surprised that there are people that work on drills that don't show up in a game much. There may be a year where a certain drill doesn't show up or the situation doesn't come up, but really there's a lot of carry over. Just teaching our language of our fundamentals through our drill work, that's really the only learning curve. What the guys are going through. I know most of the coaches in the NFL and probably the difference in all of us is probably going to be personality. If you go by the rule of thirds, if I'm here and I go somewhere else as soon as I get there a third of the guys are going to like me and a third of the guys won't care and a third probably won't. So, with that being said you've got to be who you are. I am a believer in as you grow in coaching and trying to build bridges to players – I know that's more talked about in the last few years, not only in coaching but in the business world with all the public speakers and motivating and social media, and I can get on and listen to any motivational speaker I want that spoke at IBM or other big companies and take all his quotes. So, with these players and kids today getting exposed to all those good motivational speakers nonstop, you got to challenge yourself as a coach to be pretty good from a personality standpoint and challenge yourself to build bridges to these guys. So, I would say that that's what would be the difference in most of the coaches and our systems are going to be fairly similar. So there's a lot of carry over and I'm just trying to stay within my personality and coach through that."

On the drill involving soccer balls:
"That was a punt-block drill and if I were a punter I would be getting cut right now by [president] Bruce [Allen] because I got 68 punts blocked in a five-minute period. Either we got to get some new protectors or I got to get a faster operation time. That was a punt-block circuit where we work on finding the block point. Actually, you'd be surprised when you see players that work free in a rush and no one's touching them and they still miss. A lot of that is merely having your hands properly positioned and targeting the ball in the proper way and that's what we worked on in that drill."

On where he got the drill:
"That's a drill that's actually been around a long time. One of the twists that we do on it is we have the guys lead from different angles to the block point. A lot of people do that too, I'm just saying they need to learn that if they are approaching from a wider angle as opposed to right up the middle of the formation that you're going to approach the punter in a different manner. Really what happens is, and talking about drills, you can work drills and cementing that in their head because in special teams you're teaching a player how to play four different positions. Not just running back or receiver or DB. Those guys do what they call their 'every day drills' all the time. Well, we can't do that because we have to get in punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return. Those guys are playing four spots. So with a drill like that, showing game clips and doing that where you can reference it because you can't really do it enough to make rope memory or muscle memory, so you really have to hammer it in. That's why a drill is such a great picture to communicate with the players. So, I'm going to refer to that drill a lot so we're playing the preseason game and someone comes free then I'll say, 'That's like that drill we did with the soccer balls and the volleyballs.' You approach from the c-gap, take this angle, put your hands like this and imagine me sitting there. Unfortunately, that guy back there in the preseason's going to be better than me."

On how they can improve the return game:
"Yes, well so much of the return game and I know you all know this stuff but you asked the question, so the return game has a lot to do with the person back there because there are people that are gifted and you don't block a soul and they catch it and get yards. There are people that make great decisions, there are people that are conservative and only catch the ball and return it when they have a lot of room and fair catch it anytime someone's close. So, even the returnable punts that they catch vary, so it starts with that guy. You could have an aggressive guy that might get tackled for a zero gain because he was taking a chance and the very next time he does it, that first guy misses him and then he goes for 40 [yards] and you were chewing him out on the one before for not fair catching it. So, some of those guys that are a little bit of risk-takers are pretty good returners too and the conservative guys can be as well. So, it starts with that person. You've got to catch the punt first and make a good decision – then the blocking. You could and this is something that you have to sell the players on this in my shoes, if you guys were my punt return team and we have this great scheme and we're going to do this and you're selling everyone on that scheme and you go out and play someone and they hit you five punts that hang five seconds and are 45 yards, you're fair catching every single one of those. If we're on offense and I want to run power, I want to run wide zone, I'm going to call it. If they blitz then we're going to have an RPO or a check or something like that. But, in the kickoff and punt return game you get what you get when in terms of the kick. So matching all of that stuff up is a challenge, and that's why when you're in our position as special teams coach is getting those guys to keep busting their butt and keep blocking and keep believing so when you get that low hang time punt in the middle of the field, hopefully you've got the right call on them. So, that's the challenge of that is really matching up the blocking with a good returner. The better the punt returner is, it makes the blocking better."

On how much input he had during the draft:
"What we do here is that I do a lot of our work in the train station interviews because a lot of the train station or the informals, a lot of those guys are more of the special teams players. The top picks, those types of guys and you'd have to talk to the personnel guys about how they choose the guys they're going to interview, but if it happens to be a really high pick then my input on him isn't going to be maybe as important or listened to as maybe a down the road player. I'm not necessarily talking about how we do it with the Redskins, but just over the years I've done a lot of my work in the informal interviews and then a guy like Terry who could be a higher pick, I'm going to eventually bump into him or our personnel guys may have me interview him on my own that way I don't need to be in the formal interviews in the hotel unless they want me in there. I can get more work done behind the scenes so to speak."

On if it helps his job to enter camp without a competition at place kicker or punter:
"Yes, so when you have specialists that are in place and talented like ours are it -- continuity, everyone loves continuity with talent. The only time you wouldn't enjoy continuity is if you thought you needed to improve your talent level, but obviously those guys both are very, very talented and everyone also has stuff they can get better at and that's what they're working on. But both are… I have been very impressed with their professionalism. They both, you would categorize both of those guys as workers. They are very blue collar and you have to say, whoa instead of go with them too which is a good thing. But, for the most part when you have specialists that are talented in place then yes, that is a good thing."

On balancing McLaurin's workload on special teams:
"Well that is a very good question. There was a lady one time that asked me on a Sunday, 'What do you do during the week?' Like she thought we just showed up for games on Sunday, so I'm prefacing the answer with that. So during practice for example when I'm not working with the specialists we are observing, watching players, watching their movement patterns this time year certainly evaluating the roster, so if the personnel department or Jay has a question, 'What do you think of this guy?' We'd be prepared to answer in terms of, 'We like the way he moves.' Or, 'He doesn't change direction like we want.' So, what do I do when I'm not working with the specialists is evaluate those guys. So I literally sit there and if I'm watching Terry McLaurin for example, run a whole bunch of routes, deep post routes right before the kickoff return period then I need to monitor like, 'Hey Terry get back here and watch.' And maybe not give him the first couple, so literally and physically monitor him. You've got to observe and just watch and that's a great question because if I'm oblivious to how much he's getting then that's not good for him either and for example, not talking about Terry but I was more referencing that type of player that is such a blue collar hard worker and managing them and I said Terry fell in that category. But, let's say a guy like Terry was a backup and the period before a special teams period the starter hurt his ankle or something and all of a sudden he is getting every single rep. I need to be aware of that, so watching is a way to do that."

On which players have stood out to him on special teams during the offseason program:
"Yeah, watching the 53 [man roster] and I'm not even trying to be funny here, but what you guys are doing over there I'm doing the exact same thing. Obviously I get communicated with by anyone from personnel or Jay, 'Hey what do you think of this guy? Let's keep an eye on him.' We may move someone up a depth chart. If I start getting the sense that we're really liking this guy then I need to get him up here and get a more urgent evaluation on him so that's an ongoing process. But probably with where I'm at [evaluating] these guys it would be unfair for me to single anybody out. Any of the guys that have played well here last year that would stand out certainly are still standing out. A new person that has been a really good professional and I don't know how much special teams he will play, but he is certainly battling for a spot would be a guy like Jon Bostic who has not been around here, but he has been a real professional. He would be a guy and I'm sure when you talk to the defensive coaches or Jay or someone in personnel that Jon was brought in here to compete, so he would certainly be in that area. He is someone that's new to all of you folks, but he's doing a nice job and like I said, the draft picks that you would expect, their DNA and you've heard it from the pundits before the draft and our people after the draft. All of those guys are doing [well] there is just a big learning curve with them. I can't really single a bunch of people out, but Jon would just be one that is new that you guys probably don't have a lot of data on right now that is doing a nice job and just being a good pro."

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