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Skins Quotes 8/22: M. Shanahan


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August 22, 2013
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Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On young players’ willingness to report concussion symptoms, in contrast to linebacker London’s Fletcher’s reluctance to do so last season:
“I recall with London it was more of a balance issue. He wasn’t really sure exactly what it was. He got a lot of tests. I know he got a lot of tests and at the end of the day, I think it was a different experience for him because he is old school. He hasn’t had very many injuries that would set him back, and to have an injury like that where you’re not really sure what it is, something you haven’t experienced, I think it was really tough on him. He did everything he could to get the proper attention, but I think it was tough on him for a while because he wasn’t really sure what it was.”

On convincing young players to report symptoms:
“It’s much different now in comparison to what it was. I think you just said it right there. I remember a number of quarterbacks come to the sideline and you knew there was something wrong. They’d give him the old one-two-three finger test and they’d go back out there. Times have changed. The education has changed for the right reasons. And so if anybody experiences something like that, we have a procedure to go through and hopefully it’ll help these guys in the future.”

On the status of quarterback Kirk Cousins and the quarterback rotation for Saturday’s game:
“I think with Kirk you always say there’s hope. I wouldn’t rule him out but I’d say he would be a longshot. No, we haven’t decided on the rotation. We’re going to look at today’s practice and get a game plan together. But it’ll probably be pretty close to a 50-50 split [between quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Pat White].”

On how close quarterback Robert Griffin III has come to a full practice:
“It has been a full practice for him. We’ve had a chance to go against cards, we’ve had a chance to go against our defense. So he’s had two excellent days, same thing he would have during the regular season.”

On how much more Griffin III has to do to prove that he can function in a game and be cleared to play:
“He was cleared the first day. That’s when we started practicing. He was cleared right from the beginning. There’s a difference from the first day to where he is right now. That’s one of the reasons he’s going full-speed in practice. We’re just hoping there is no setback because he’s getting some good work. We’re putting him in situations that he’s going to get once Monday night comes, if there is no setback. You want to put a guy through those type of practices as much as you can but not throw him in there too early where there’s a setback.”

On if he has to manage the team’s confidence level after last year’s success:
“You want confidence. You want people to believe in each other. You start with the offseason. You want to do everything that gives you the best chance to win. Your players should feel confident because they paid the price in the offseason to do the things that give you the chance to win. You still have to take it to the field and you have to have great preparation during the week, but I like it. I like when they believe in themselves.”

On the status of cornerback Josh Wilson for Saturday’s game vs. Buffalo:
“Josh Wilson, he’s going to start. I’m going to play the starters probably around 20 plays on offense and defense, and not much more than that, somewhere in that area. Guys that have been the starters. A guy like Josh, we’re going to play him with the first group and see how he does. We’ll play him for in that area, 15 to 20 plays.”

On the status of safety Brandon Meriweather for Saturday’s game vs. Buffalo:
“Right now, I would say not and we’ll play him in the last game. That’s my thought process right now. It could change after a look at the film today, but right now that’s my first thought… If I felt like he was ready, he would be in a game situation, practicing full-speed. I just don’t feel like he’s quite there yet. I like the strides that he’s made, and I’m hoping by the Tampa game he can play.”

On if he is still confident that Meriweather will be able to play Week 1 vs. Philadelphia:
“I didn’t say I was that confident. I said we’re just going to test it out. I said I would like to get him to go in the Tampa game, I just felt that it’s a little early right now, watching him in practice. I think he’s close, but he’s not there yet. He might be ready for the first game, he might not. He might be ready vs. Tampa. I just don’t know at this time. I don’t want to put him out there unless practice looks a little bit different to me than I first saw it today.

On if he knew Fletcher had a concussion after the first preseason game in 2012:
“I don’t know for sure. Any time you deal with a balance issue, my first thoughts are that it could be a concussion, but that’s what the doctors are for. That’s what they’re experts in.”

On why Fletcher’s situation was different than the other concussions reported last year, such as those to Griffin III and wide receiver Santana Moss:
“I don’t remember to be honest with you. I’ve got a hard enough time thinking about what was last week with injuries, let [alone] a year ago.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On what he has seen and what he wants to see from the offense:
“I’ve been somewhat happy. I don’t think a coach is ever satisfied. There’s always stuff you can get better at, but I think the guys have played hard. They’ve competed. Last week I thought third downs was a problem. I thought we moved the ball well on first and second down and we couldn’t stay on the field on the first three third downs we had. We had a third-and-3 we didn’t convert, then I think a third-and-2 we didn’t convert, and then a third-and-17 we didn’t convert, but I thought we still had a good chance to do, so it’s hard to be fully as good as you want to be when you can’t move the chains on third down.”

On what quarterback Robert Griffin III did in practice today:
“Today was the same as yesterday for him. Yesterday was his first day doing stuff that wasn’t carded period. He was able to go live vs. the defense. We did a couple, two live, move the ball situations, so he was able to get a lot more reps than to do something that was totally scripted.”

On Griffin III’s mechanics:
“I’m pretty impressed with how Robert throws the ball. I think he’s pretty good at it. I think he has pretty good technique too. I mean, he has very good technique. It’s all about keeping your technique in the pocket when you’re under duress. That’s the challenge for guys when they can make plays with their legs – how do you stay a passer and how long can you stay a passer, but I think Robert is as good of a thrower as there is.”

On if the offense accomplish what it needs to without Griffin III or Kirk Cousins:
“Yeah, it needs too. I mean, it’s just like the season. You have guys go down all the time and I don’t think any of you guys give us a free pass when we don’t play well when we have injuries. So, it’s just like the season. Next man up, and you expect to not miss a beat. That’s the expectations and guys have got to rise up to the occasion and hopefully we can do that with Pat [White] and Rex [Grossman].”

On the quarterback rotation for Saturday:
“We don’t know for sure. I mean, I’d guess probably a half for each, but right now that’s my guess.”

On what he saw from tackle Trent Williams against Pittsburgh:
“It was really the first time that he’s tried to use his left hand since we started training camp. He’s had it in the club so he’s been avoiding using it all the time, so the main thing was, and I think he’ll get used to using it more since he took a month off of it, but the main thing was getting through the game without having a setback on it, and I think he did. He told me it didn’t hurt after the game. It felt the next so it was good that he was able to compete for a couple of quarters without a club and to have no setbacks.”

On his evaluation of Griffin III in practice this week compared to last week:
“He’s looked healthy to me. Guys are going to look healthy. You get them in more live action. There is a little more he’s got to react to and stuff, but he’s been fine out there. You obviously don’t see anything wrong with the knee. If you did, if you saw limps and stuff, he wouldn’t be out there. So he looks good going. He’s getting more reps as it comes. The more reps he gets the better he gets, and I think he’s gotten better each day.”

On what he needs to see from Griffin III moving forward:
“No, mine is just a continuation of, just like we do with every quarterback when they come to camp, once the doctor tells me he’s OK, he’s OK to me. I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about anything outside of football, so I’m not going to even use my brain in that aspect. But when they tell me he’s clear I go, and I try to get him ready at everything, and when guys just start out they are rusty whether they are injured or not. So it’s about just getting him through everything – the play pass, the movements, the dropbacks – it’s a little bit of everything and he’s been good so far.”

On if Cousins has been ruled out for the Buffalo game:
“I haven’t ruled him out, but it’s not looking good right now. He didn’t practice today. I know we’re not allowed to talk about that, but it’s the preseason so hopefully I won’t get in trouble for it too much.”

On if he has a targeted number of plays he wants to run each game:
“You want to win the game. That’s really the main thing we think about. I think having a good tempo can definitely help you win the game as long as you are moving the chains and holding onto the ball. If you do a three-and-out as quick as you possibly can, that’s not going to help anybody. You want to control the ball, you want to help your defense rest, but you want to score points too. So I think the more we have guys together, I think we played about six new guys last year, and we don’t have anyone new this year except a few rookies, but, I expect our starting lineup to be close to the same and I expect guys to get in and out of the huddle a lot faster. I think we’ve done that in the preseason. I think it’s been good, but there’s never, 'We’re trying to run this amount of plays, we’re trying to get this many yards.’ We’re trying to win the game, and we try to figure out how that’s going to be as the game goes.”

On if quarterback Rex Grossman has a future in coaching:
“I’d be surprised if Rex got into coaching. I think he’s made some good money, and anybody that’s made good money, I think, is smarter than that to get into coaching [laughter].”

On what Grossman’s willingness to mentor the younger quarterbacks says about his character:
“Well, I mean, Rex, he’s a guy’s guy. Everybody loves him. Everyone will fight for Rex. Everyone knows that Rex is a real dude, who keeps it real with everybody. He doesn’t care what the circumstances, are he’s going to go out there and do his best, and do whatever he can to give everyone a chance to win and people feed off that. Rex has been through a lot, and it doesn’t faze him. I think guys go to him and they respect him for that, and I think he’s a guy that everyone in our locker room really appreciates and respects.”

On how hard it has been to evaluate running back Chris Thompson:
“Yeah, it’s real tough. We know what we got from him in college. I mean, he has as impressive a college film as you can look at. He does some really good things. He didn’t do anything in OTAs and he had about two days of camp and we had to sit him down and rest him more because he was still a little sore in his knee, and he got out there. He just got really practicing with us a few days before that last game and he got hit in the right spot on the shoulder and got hurt on his shoulder and had to sit out too, but he’s been looking good this week. He’s gotten more reps this week, and hopefully we can get a better look at him here these next two weeks.”

On if he visited with college coaches in the offseason:
“We really haven’t. There’s so much film, and there’s such a good library that we have in there that, for the most part, we like to sit in there and study it ourselves, and put cut-ups together. You know, we’ll ask guys questions if we ever run into people in Indy [at the NFL Combine] and stuff, but as a staff, we really haven’t done that yet.”

On if running an up-tempo offense makes a defense look worse:
“Yeah, I mean, it definitely looks like that when you look at the stats, whether it’s college or NFL. I couldn’t know that for sure. I mean, I’ve never done a no-huddle system, but I do know that defenses get tired. If you get them on the field too fast and they don’t get a rest, then it hurts them, but I also think if you go the whole field and score some points, I don’t think anyone is going to be too concerned about that. But, it’s a fine line. If you always are practicing that no-huddle stuff vs. your defense, I think it could hurt them a little bit, but that’s just my guess, I don’t have too much experience at that. But you’ve got to mix it in. You definitely can’t be a stagnant offense. You’ve got to speed it up and it will be interesting to see this year.”

On wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson:
“We’ve got a good group of receivers. Everybody knows Pierre [Garçon] is our number one guy. Everyone knows Santana’s role in the slot as one of the top third down receivers, I think, in the league. And then we’ve got a group of guys that can do a little bit of everything. They all can play all the positions. They’re all very good. Like you said, they haven’t totally jumped out and taken over a starter role. It’s kind of a been a guy by committee, which has been fine with us because all of them are tough players who block, who do their things and get after it. You’re always hoping one guy can separate himself because if you separate yourself from a group of good players, that’s a good problem to have because you’ve got a couple of really stars and you’ve got some guys who can always help them. Then when you get a guy hurt, you don’t miss a beat. Hank and Aldrick have gotten more consistent. They’ve upped their game. Aldrick’s been a lot better in all the underneath routes and doing stuff, where last year he was more just a deep guy, but he’s been running the whole route tree. And Hank’s gotten better too. He’s had a couple drops here in the preseason but he’s done a lot better job in practice. He’s come back after those drops in both of these games and made a couple of big plays. You know, obviously you want to eliminate all that stuff because they’re both as talented as anybody I’ve been around, you just want them to take that next step.”

On if Hankerson is at a point in his career where drops are unacceptable:
“Yeah, any receiver knows that if you drop the ball too much, you’re not going to play in this league. Hank, he had a drop last week, a tough one in a 2-Man coverage that just got up on him. It’s something you’re definitely upset with, he’s upset with. What you’ve got to do when you do something like that, you’ve got to come back and make a big play and that’s what he did with his one-handed catch on the touchdown. [He] did some good stuff blocking in the game too. If he never has those drops, then he’d be a lot higher than what he is, but Hank has gotten better at it. He is working at it. Drops will happen, but you don’t want it to happen consistently.”

On tight end Jordan Reed knowing to cross the face of safeties has to be learned in game action:
“It’s something you’d like them to learn at practice so you don’t have to learn it in a game that you’re trying to win, but I do think it’s a good thing when that happens in a game because I don’t think he’ll ever forget about it. He could have got a ball there. We want our quarterback to let it go when the tight end is supposed to be where he let it go, and he didn’t break it off. He wasn’t sharp enough. He wasn’t decisive enough, and the result in the NFL is an interception. Guys move too fast. Windows close, and if quarterbacks can’t let that go on time because they have got to wait to make sure a receiver is in there, then it’s tough to throw the ball in the league. When you see a hole and your feet are timed out, you’ve got to let it rip and you’ve got to trust that your guy is going to be there. It’s a great thing for him to learn from. It’s a great thing to use as an example for the rest of the team so guys just understand the urgency of getting to the right spots at the right time, because that quarterback should let it go. He’s got to count on you guys to do your job, too.”

On running back Jawan Jamison’s performance on Monday:
“I thought he did a good job. He got banged up there at the end. He came in, he ran hard. The game didn’t seem too big for him. He took some hits, kept his feet going forward, held onto the ball. I was impressed with him.”

On the amount of game action Jamison and Thompson need for the coaching staff to feel comfortable with their abilities:
“We get a lot more from practice. We get a real good idea from what guys do in practice. We never take to the ground, so you really never truly know about a running back until you get in the games, so you want to get them obviously some looks in the games and we’ve got two more here to do it. Definitely a guy like that gets a lot more in the fourth game, so this will be a big two weeks for him – both of them.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On being in the booth during Monday’s game:
“Well, I wanted to try it out for a couple of different reasons. There are a lot of guys on the sideline and I almost got ran over a couple of times, but more than anything, it’s just something just to see different. Actually I thought it was good. You can see everything. That’s basically everything. It’s different because down there you can communicate with the players. You can talk to them when they come off the field, and you can talk to the coaches, but up there you have to get them on the phone, the headset. So that was kind of a pain, getting the players back and forth. But you see a lot up there. Sometimes the holes get real big. They don’t look that big down on the field, so it’s kind of scary sometimes… I’m going to try it again. We’ll see. We’ll try it this week probably and decide what I want to do.”

On similarities between the offenses of the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles:
“I don’t know if it’s similar. They run the no-huddle or whatever they call it out of every personnel grouping, and they get a lot of plays off. I think they got 91 and 82 plays in two games. It’ll be a good test to see our conditioning and see where we’re at with everything.”

On the importance of players communicating injuries to medical staff and/or coaches:
“To be honest with you, that’s between the player and the trainer and the doctors. I didn’t know he [middle linebacker London Fletcher] had a concussion obviously. When I played, I probably had a bunch of them I didn’t know about either. Players want to play. I understand that standpoint, but obviously it’s protocol these days.”

On changes in concussion protocol since his playing days:
“I think the NFL is doing the right thing trying to take care of the players from that standpoint, and I think they’re doing a good job with the concussions, the injury stuff, and I think they’re going in the right direction with all that. I think that’s the best thing to say that I think the NFL is doing the right thing.”

On safety Bacarri Rambo’s play against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
“I’ll tell you what I do [like] – I like the way he shows up. He shows up four yards from the line of scrimmage which is a great attribute for a free safety; to be that tight to the line of scrimmage on plays. Now, obviously, the tackling is a concern. But that’s something he’s willing to do and we’ve got to keep working at it. It’s not the will to tackle, it’s the angles that he’s got to come at. When he gets in line, he had a couple of bad angles, but I think he can correct that because it’s not that he doesn’t want to tackle. You see players that kind of shy away from it. He’s up there, he’s up in the fray of things, he’s up in the mix, so we’ve just got to get him to take the right angle, and he’s got to understand that we don’t care how he gets them down, he’s just got to get them down – grab tackles, wrap tackles, knife tackles, you know, however he gets them down, he needs to work on the angle a little bit.”

On if it is common for rookies to struggle with tackling:
“No, there’s some guys that are just good tacklers. They get them down. They take angles, and they do a great job. That’s something he needs to keep working at, and, you know, he’s got great ball skills and range and all that other stuff, this is one area that is a concern and he understands that and he’ll get better at it.”

On how to work on Rambo’s tackling:
“We did it yesterday after practice. We went out and did it, about 15 minutes with afterwards with other players. We gave him a bunch of air and space in between and he had to get a hold of the player, and we closed it down where he had to come inside the box like the two he missed in the last two games. He had to be under control, took a good angle and just working on the angle part. We’re not actually blowing our players up, we’re just taking angles, wrapping up, and we did some tackling the sled and the dummies.”

On the plan for linebacker Nick Barnett, and the similarities to defenses he’s played in before:
“It’s more like Green Bay. It’s the same defense he played in Green Bay, terminology-wise. The technique is a little different, but same thing he did with Dom Capers up in Green Bay. He hasn’t played it in a couple of years, so it’s coming. The thing about him, he plays fast. He’s aggressive. If he does make a mistake it’s going to be 100 miles an hour. He’ll play, hopefully he’ll get in, but we’ll see how he does this week and we’ll go from there.

On what he wants to see from the defense over the final two preseason games:
“The disappointing thing we let – in the two games – we let a couple runs get out because of poor technique. We didn’t execute it very well on a couple of counters. We’ve got to get better in that area, the tackling part. All of the other stuff, I thought guys were playing pretty well. The pass rush is good. When we do get the normal runs, we’re pretty good. We’re not giving up big plays. All of that’s a plus. But there are a lot of things we have to keep getting better at.”

On the third down defense:
“I think the first game we were 3-of-12. Two years ago, we were pretty good on third down, we were up there pretty good and the year before we were pretty good. Last year we fell off for a number of different reasons, a lot of third-and-ones, put ourselves in bad positions. That’s a point of emphasis. We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to get a better rush, play some things a little bit different and hopefully we can keep that up.”

On safety DeJon Gomes’ performance against Pittsburgh:
“I thought he played well, except for the same issues that all the safeties had. He took a couple bad angles, and that’s something we’ll correct with those guys.”

On how effective the pass rush will be this season:
“That’s just something we’ve got to keep working at. We’re getting [linebacker] Brandon Jenkins involved, and [linebacker] Darryl [Tapp] involved, we’re get 'Rak [linebacker Brian Orakpo] out there. I think we’ve got different combinations. We haven’t really done a lot of blitzing, per se. It’s just trying to evaluate these guys. I think from the standpoint of the two games, I think you see we’ve got some pretty good rush guys.”

On if the pass rush is more versatile than he expected:
“Well, more because Brandon [Jenkins] is kind of new, but you’ve got [linebacker] Ryan [Kerrigan] who can move around, play different spots now. His first year or two, we didn’t want to do much with him because he played left side in college. He can get out, move around. Same thing with 'Rak, [defensive end Stephen] Bowen, [nose tackle] Barry [Cofield], those kind of guys. You’ve got more versatility with those [guys] because there’s more of an understanding of the scheme.”

On the importance of the defensive line in pass rushing:
“A lot of it was the defensive line. I thought Barry was outstanding in the game. I said before I think he’s one of the best, if not the best, nose tackles in the league. Played against a Pro Bowl guy. Barry was outstanding in the game. I think if he can keep up that – we’re talking about two preseason games. We’ve got a long way to go, but they’re playing very well.”

On how creative he can be with the pass rush because of the defensive line:
“I think you can, you can do a lot of things. Again, those guys like that stuff, too. They want to be moved in different spots, and be put in positions where they can be successful. I think you can still do what we were doing, but I think you have more latitude, or whatever you want to do, with the guys we have.”

On being called for the multiple personal fouls against the Steelers:
“I think the first one was set because of the way we played them last year. That’s why the first personal foul happened. What happened to us last year in the regular season wasn’t going to happen that game, so that was the first. The other one on DJ [safety DeJon Gomes], the helmet-to-helmet, I don’t know what to tell him on that. The play, I thought, was outstanding from the standpoint that the coverage was excellent, and it was just helmet-to-helmet. The other one, we pushed a guy out of bounds. That’s not very smart. You can’t push a guy three or four yards out of bounds and think you’re going to get away with it. I thought that was a bad choice or a bad decision by DJ on that. But the helmet-to-helmet, I really don’t know what to tell him on that. What are you going to do?”
theres a lot of talk about Rambo...the need to practice tackling concerns me. I know I sound like a broken record but he has already gotten beat once...I dont want this to become a habit.

I figure between Raheem and London this kid will be squared away.

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