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Skins Quotes 8/16: M. Shanahan


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August 16, 2012
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Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the plan for how much starters will play against Chicago:
“Pretty much what we talked about last week. We’ll let them go about anywhere from 30-35 plays, usually it’s about a half.”

On who will start at running back:
“I’m not going to go through all the substitutions, but the guys that are getting most of the carries will be…Alfred [Morris] will get quite a few, Tristan Davis will get a number and Evan Royster will get a number. We will concentrate with those three guys. Helu is a little banged up, as we talked about. Tim [Hightower], at practice today, did a pretty good job out there so I felt really good about that. He took a lot of scout team plays but he was making a lot of progress and we’ll get a chance to evaluate him next week. Usually you can’t go with too much more than three running backs and get a pretty good look.”

On the difference in coaching between the first game and this game:
“A lot of the same things, a lot of evaluation. You play about double the snaps than the first game with your offense and defense. You’re trying to build better players. You’re trying to define who the top 53 guys are in a number of positions. We know who our starters are but there’s a lot of competition in other positions where it could swing either way, a number of positions between second and third teams and guys just making the team in general. You’re trying to find the top 53 in your practice squad with an additional eight.”

On seeing Alfred Morris play against starters:
“I’d say sometimes we like to see guys versus starters. I think it gives you a true indication of what somebody can do, not necessarily as much for running backs sometimes as it is for the offensive line. Tight ends, where you’re actually blocking the starter’s running backs, you can get a pretty good feel either way. We talk about the safety position as well, you kind of get a good feel for safeties and how they support the line. You can see a lot more in live situations.”

On the improvement of Morris’ pass protection:
“It’s a learning experience for all rookies. Not a lot of colleges emphasize the protection part of the game. No. 1, they’re carrying the ball so many times that they either scant them out of the backfield or they just don’t work on it because they’re on a different type of offense. I’ve seen big strides with both our rookie running backs last year, tremendous strides. Helu is a different player, as well as Royster. I expect the effort to keep on improving in that area as well.”
On running back Evan Royster’s development since last season:
“He’s better. He’s a better pass protector. He’s always had the running skills, but you can just see overall he’s a better football player, because he hadn’t been put in that situation a lot in college.”

On the status of offensive linemen Trent Williams, Chris Chester and Maurice Hurt:
“They all practiced today, but they weren’t 100 percent. They worked through it. I have to assess them before the game to see how they can play. Chester yesterday only went about 10-15 minutes. Today [he] was without pads. He looked better, but to say the he could [go] right now I think would be a little premature. I got a pretty good feeling about Maurice. I think he’ll be able to go. My gut is Trent will be able to go, but I can’t say that 100 percent right now.”

On linebacker London Fletcher:
“He just wasn’t feeling too good today. We kept him out.”

On cornerback Josh Wilson’s comfort in the defensive scheme entering his second season with the Redskins:
“I think our football team in general, when you have a full OTA schedule and you’re allowed to meet with the players as much as we were able to meet with them, everybody has a much better feel – rookies as well as vets. But you’re hoping that a veteran that has been with your team feels quite comfortable, where he can make all the calls, and I think that’s where Josh is right now. It doesn’t matter what type of spread, what type of formation, you don’t have to think. You can just react, and I think he’s able to do that.”

On how long each quarterback will play Saturday:
“It all depends. A lot has to depend on the number of series, number of plays. I shouldn’t say the number of plays, because sometimes the series really don’t dictate the amount of plays that you have. But we’re going to get certain guys a certain amount of plays. We’ll see if we get that done.”

On linebacker Markus White’s status:
“He had a fractured rib, bruised kidney. After taking a look at the MRI, you can see the crack in the ribs. The kidney was bruised. That’s more pain tolerance. We’ll see how long it takes. Obviously, he’s not going to play this weekend, but there’ a chance he could play vs. Indy.”

On if he prefers nose tackles to be light and quick:
“I’d like a nose tackle to be 500 pounds if he can move, but you can’t move when you’re 500 pounds. Usually, when you have a guy who’s 350…what’s his body fat? Is it 30 percent? Is it 20 percent? We try to look at how he carries the weight. You love a nose tackle to be 350 pounds that doesn’t have a lot of body [fat], that can move and play football. But we thought he’d be better in that 330 range, and he’s looked pretty good.”

On if asking nose tackle Chris Baker to lose weight was specific to Baker rather than a general preference:
“Yeah, it’s body fat. You can’t move sometimes when you’re 350 pounds. When you can’t move, it’s hard to play.”

On Wide Receiver Darius Hanks’ injured shoulder:
“He had an operation and it was serious. It was a six- or seven- month recovery time. He’s hoping to be back for next season so the surgery was quite extensive. It was his shoulder as well as his elbow. The way he hit it, you can tell it was more serious than most shoulder injuries.”

On Defensive Backs coach Raheem Morris:
“He is very well prepared. He is a guy who really communicates well with his players. He understands the game inside and out and he is a great addition to our football staff. You’re always hoping to get the best assistants you can possibly get and we have a heck of a staff on both sides of the ball and I’m very pleased.”

On Defensive Backs Coach Raheem Morris taking a position coach job after being a head coach:
“Well, I’ve been there. You enjoy what you’re doing and you love to coach. One thing that usually happens to you after you experience being a head football coach, you understand how important it is to win. I’m sure Raheem, when he gets his next opportunity, will make sure the situation is right for him and hopefully it will work out. But he will get another opportunity some day and he should because he is a heck of a football coach.”
I am still not 100% convinced that Tim Hightower will be the starting back for the Redskins in 2012. The knee is much tougher to come back from as a 26-27 year old running back than it is for an OL or DL. And Hightower was not the speediest back to begin with.

He filled a need at the time of the trade from the Cardinals, but let's remember he was THIRD on the depth chart there. He has not been a full-time back in the NFL for a reason, he doesn't have the talent to carry an offense on the ground.

He is a hard worker and a solid skills guy in pass pro and catching the ball. But he is not an outstanding rusher.

We saw that the work he did in camp and limited time in the preseason didn't translate once the season started last year. His YPC was under the league average.

There should be room for Morris assuming he steps up and continues to show more over the next two games against better competition earlier in those contests.
I don't think anyone really expects THT to carry this football team. What I expect is for him to fill the role that suits him. Veteran presence, pass pro and 5-10 carries a game. He's got a different run style than some of these young cats and he can go toe to toe with pass rushers. I don't see anyone on this roster "carrying the load" and I haven't seen Shanahan ask that of anyone. He plays the hot hand, and he's been doing it for quite a while now.

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