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Skins Quotes 8/26: M. Shanahan


The Commissioner
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BGO Ownership Group
Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC
Military Branch
Marine Corps
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August 26, 2013
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the reasoning behind releasing players this morning:
“Because if you practice with them and they get hurt, then you’re in trouble.”

On the status of quarterback Kirk Cousins:
“You can tell the ankle is still tender. He did some drill work. You can see it’s much improved than it was a few days ago. It would be a long shot for him to play in the game [at Tampa Bay].”

On the status of safety Brandon Meriweather:
“Brandon’s going to play in this game. Brandon will play, I’m hoping he can play a half if he looks like he did today. [Cornerback] Josh Wilson will play about 15-20 plays. I’m trying to give you a couple of veterans. I’m not going to go through the whole plan because we’ve got a couple of guys banged up, but I’ll share that a little bit more honestly tomorrow when I know for sure.”

On how ready Meriweather looks at this point:
“That’s why we’re going to play him against Tampa and find out in a game situation. You know, we haven’t played him because we’re trying to give him enough time to heal up and give him the best chance to show us what he can do. We looked at him today; he looked pretty good in practice today. We had a good practice for about an hour and 50 minutes, and he hit it pretty hard so we’ll get a chance to find out.”

On which player will assume the punt returning role:
“We actually had 14 guys returning punts today, so everybody wants a shot to be our returner [joking]. I’d say our experienced guys are guys that you all know about. [Wide receiver] Santana [Moss] has done it in the past; D-Hall [cornerback DeAngelo Hall] has done it; I think everybody saw what [running back] Chris Thompson has done. So we’ve got a few of guys back there – along with [wide receiver] Skye [Dawson], we saw him, what he’s done in a couple of preseason games – so we’ve got a few candidates back there.”

On if he would use a player with a major role on offense or defense as a punt returner:
“If they’re the best returner, yeah.”

On if he would prefer using a player already on the roster to return punts instead of keeping a player specifically for his return ability:
“I think everybody would like to have that, in a perfect world. Normally I always look at it, you’ve got 21 on offense, 21 on defense, you’ve got three specialists and kind of a wild card. We’ve had that in the past. It can help you on special teams. If it’s a kicker, a returner, if it’s a defensive back, running back, a guy that just adds a lot to your special teams. Because you always believe that you should be able to get it done with 21 on each side of the ball, the three specialists, plus a wild card that can help you in that area. So there are a lot of possibilities.”

On the possibility of wide receiver Aldrick Robinson returning punts:
“Number one, Aldrick does have that capability to return punts and kicks. The reason why he didn’t do it in college, he was too valuable as a wide receiver. He had 19 touchdowns in his senior year. I talked to [Southern Methodist University Head Coach] June Jones. He said he’s by far the best punt returner and kickoff returner, but they couldn’t take the chance of getting him hurt. He’s another possibility as well. He’s gotten much better. We haven’t put him out there for obvious reasons. [Cornerback] Richard [Crawford] did a great job for us last year. Now that he’s gone, we experimented today. We’ll do it the next couple of days. We’ll see how we step up in a game situation against Tampa and then make a decision.”

On what he is looking for in a punt returner:
“You can’t have anybody that turns the football over. We’ve talked about that before, regardless of what position you play. You can’t turn it over and play in the National Football League. But we’ve got some guys with some ability. We’ll get a chance to see hopefully some returns in the game and kind of get us a little bit better of an idea of what direction we could go.”

On losing cornerback Richard Crawford and if Crawford mentioned anything after his first punt return against Buffalo:
“No, he said he was fine. I talked to him this morning. After the first punt return, it was one of the few times he really changed directions and didn’t just turn it upfield. He was really disappointed. He’s worked extremely hard this offseason to put himself in the position that he’s at right now. He’s a great kid, an unbelievable worker. He’s done everything you ask the kid to do give himself the opportunity to be successful. It is a blow not only to him but to us, when you lose a good football player but that’s the nature of the business. We’re going to have to have a guy step up now and hopefully get the job done for us.”

On Crawford had any ACL damage:
“Yeah – ACL, LCL, MCL had a little damage in there. It’ll be about a nine-month recovery.”

On releasing wide receiver Donté Stallworth early was a case of giving him a chance to sign elsewhere: “Well, what happened is he had a hamstring injury. Anytime you get set back and you are missing a couple of weeks, it’s really hard to make a football team when you can’t go out there as a veteran and show what you can do. Donté has always been a guy that has been a standup guy. He’s not only played the wide receiver position well as a receiver, but he’s blocked well. He’s wanted to help on special teams, but you could see with the setback with his hamstring he just wasn’t ready.”

On which person tells players they have been released:
“We have a bunch of people that, when they come into the building, they tell them to see me. We have about four or five people that do it.”

On status of nose tackle Barry Cofield:
“I really don’t know how long he’ll wear the cast. He’ll wear a cast for a while until we feel that there is no chance of injury with that bone, to protect himself, but his fingers will be free so he’ll be able to use his hand. He was out there running pretty hard today. He got some good conditioning in, and he’ll continue to do that. Usually over the first week or first four or five days, they don’t want him to run too much, put too much pressure on that area, inflame it at all. But right now the doctors feel pretty good where he’s at and it’s a good sign he’s back getting some good conditioning.”

On if he was serious about 14 guys returning punt in practice:
“No, that was a joke [laughter]… The guys that have experience, I think we all know. You get a guy like Santana who has returned punts when he first got in the league. I watched his returns back in college, what he was able to do, so Santana is a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in. You are always going to take a look at a young guy as well, a guy like [running back] Chris [Thompson] and we’ve got another few guys that have the potential to do it. I hate to tell you right now because I really don’t know. We’ll take the next couple of days to evaluate it, just like we’ve talked about, and try to give them a couple of game situations, and try to get a guy that, for sure, catches it and doesn’t turn it over. That’s the number one priority.”

On the difference in releasing a veteran as compared to releasing a young player:
“Well, for me, if they are cut at this time as a veteran player, and you know he’s not going to make your team, and he’s been very good to you, what I tell them, I say, 'Hey, you’ve been great for me. You’ve given me everything that I could ask anybody to do,’ like Donté has. I didn’t want to lose him a year ago to New England, but he did leave. But I thought in his best interest since I knew he wasn’t going to be on the football team was to tell him early. Give him a chance, possibly, to get with another football team because his hamstring, right now, is healed, and, you know, wish him the best.”

On what he needs to see from running back Evan Royster:
“You always want to see guys compete, but injuries do happen. Evan’s working as hard as he can to be ready for Thursday night and hopefully he is, but you’ve got to come up with the top 53 players. It’s nice when you have some tough decisions to make, and that’s a situation you want to be in. When it’s easy to find your top 53, usually that’s not a good sign.”

On if quarterback Robert Griffin III has received more reps because of quarterback Kirk Cousins’ injury:
“No, it had nothing to do with Kirk.”

On his conversation with running back Chris Thompson after Thompson’s fumble vs. Buffalo and how Thompson responded:
“Well, it went well. 'Hey, don’t fumble that ball again.’ That was some great coaching right there. No, I just told him, in this profession, regardless of how great you are, you know, the great running backs, once you fumble the ball, you can’t play. I don’t care if you are a receiver, quarterback, running back, you know, ball security is the number one priority and you can’t turn the football over. I told him to wipe it out though. I said, 'Hey, it’s over with, wipe it out,’ and I was really proud with how he bounced back and caught that punt in a very tough situation with a low hang time and he’s running forward. A lot of guys, they are not going to hit that thing full speed, so, I was proud with the way he came back.”

On his evaluation of Thompson as a running back:
“One of the reasons why we drafted Chris is we know what he can do outside because he has a big play capability. We wanted to see what he could do inside. I like what I see, especially after not playing all last year coming off of the ACL, and I think he’ll just keep on getting better as time goes on.”

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