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Skins Quotes 8/27: M. Shanahan, Griffin

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Boone

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Marine Corps Virginia


August 27, 2012
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

Early Session

On if he likes having extra days for the team to heal:
“Yes, it’s nice having that extra day or two to let everybody heal in case somebody does get hurt. In a game like this, you get a chance to look at, almost a normal game situation, with your second and third team, people competing for a position on your football team and see who winds up getting more playing time during the season.”

On if he likes having extra time off during the regular season:
“Yeah, I think it’s always nice. It’s always nice having that extra time and get a chance to heal up, and get an extra two days for preparation as well.”

On if quarterback Kirk Cousins will play the whole game against Tampa Bay:
“I’m not going to go into playing time but he will start.”

On why tight end Chris Cooley did not practice today:
“He just didn’t feel very good today. We had two guys out, [for] personal [reasons].”

On running back Tim Hightower:
“He was a little sore today, and he took some meds at practice. I’m a little concerned for this game. I don’t want to push him too hard, but I should know a little bit more tomorrow.”

On the difficulty of cutting players:
“I think it’s the hardest part about the job with cuts going to 75 and going to 53. I don’t think it gets any harder than that. People work their whole life from the time they’re in high school, college for an opportunity getting to play football. And if it doesn’t work out, then you’re the person they sit down with to let them know. At least you’ve got to give them some reasons why. That is a tough part because it’s very tough on these players.”

On if guard Kory Lichtensteiger will play Wednesday:
“He definitely is not going to play on Wednesday, but he did get some practice time today so that was good.”

On if it’s tough to determine if a player is ready if he doesn’t play in games:
“I think it’s really tough if you’re the only player who hasn’t played in the National Football League. But a veteran player that knows how to play knows how to compete, you just want to make sure he is in football shape and hopefully he will be next week. By the time we get to next Wednesday, Kory could prove to us that he is in football shape and the knee is strong enough to go.”

On why he decided to go with kicker Graham Gano over Neil Rackers:
“Graham won the statistical battle in practice and in games and that’s why he’s on the team.”

On if he will sign another kicker:
“Obviously I’m not going to go through the possibilities. There’s always a lot of possibilities that could occur before the first game with everybody at every position.”

On the rap Gano gets for his blocked kicks:
“I don’t think it’s fair on his blocks. I don’t think that’s fair at all. If it’s a low kick, then obviously, he’s going to get some criticism for that. I thought his blocks weren’t his fault. So therefore, there is some undue criticism.”

On if he saw a difference in Gano this season:
“Well, we’ll find out in game situations how he plays. It’s really hard to say. Graham’s always been consistent but it’s kickers who are in the game when it counts.”

On if Gano had a turning point last season:
“Like I said before, Graham’s got a strong leg. He has a lot of ability and hopefully he has a great year.”

On if issues regarding blocked kicks have been addressed:
“We’re working on those things. We’ve got a number of different people playing different positions, but it’s still no excuse to have five blocked. A lot of different guys playing different positions have been working pretty hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and hopefully it doesn’t.”

On quarterback Robert Griffin III’s mission this Wednesday:
“It’s every starter that goes out there in the game, just like the second and third teamers are when they’re out there playing… But everyone’s into the game on our football team. Even though you’re not playing, you’re rooting your teammates on.”

On if he had a specific goal for the number of snaps by Griffin III this preseason:
“Like I said, the first game, we said anywhere between 12 and 20. The second game we usually end up with 30-35. We didn’t have quite as many plays the second game. Third game, we did less than I wanted, less plays, but I thought we were effective.”

On if he is happy with the supporting cast for a rookie quarterback:
“The fun part about the game is when you saw the running game really work. I’m talking about the red zone, and I’m talking about third downs and not turning the football over. We’re talking about eliminating penalties. And when you have a game day like that where you don’t have any sacks and you don’t have any turnovers, you’re able to run the football for five and half, six, seven yards a play, good things usually happen. That’s why you go in the red zone. That’s why you’re good on third downs. But you’ve got to take care of that ball, and if you do, you have a chance to win. We’ve been stressing that time and time again not to turn the football over. It seems like when you do and get your running game going, good things are going to happen.”

On an update regarding tackle Jammal Brown:
“They said the surgery went fine. He is feeling better and hopefully he will be good as new in 4-6 weeks.”

On the position it’s toughest to cut:
“They all are tough. We have a lot of competition at a lot of different positions. That is why a game like this is so special because we get a chance to watch our players against theirs. On the second and third team, sometimes that fourth or fifth position you aren’t really sure and they get a chance to separate them.”

On Brown’s outlook for the season:
“I will talk to Jammal in a little bit. He is still in New York, but I will get a chance to communicate with him and after I talk with him, I will talk with you guys about that scenario.”

On running back Alfred Morris’ performance and chances of winning the starting job:
“Everybody has a shot for that starting position. He was evaluated from the first day. He sure hasn’t hurt himself. He is a natural runner and I thought he had a great day. You can see his balance and his down-hill running ability. Now we will get these other guys and see what they can do and we will make a decision after that.”

On the difference in quarterback Robert Griffin III getting experience in practice as compared to preseason games:
“There is not a big difference in game situations and practice because you try to make it just like a game situation. Obviously they are not hitting the quarterback but you can tell when you’re put in a situation that is very similar to game situations.”

On what growth, if any, he has seen from quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“It is a constant learning experience. You try to put him through different scenarios. For example, we talked about the screen in Chicago – we get a couple of screens that are covered and all of a sudden what we have to do is get better at throwing it in the dirt. It happened today. We were in a team situation when a screen was called, and it was covered, and he threw it in the dirt. Those are the type of situations that you are hoping a quarterback doesn’t make the same mistake twice. When you put them through those repetitions enough, it becomes automatic.”

On running backs Roy Helu, Jr. and Evan Royster:
“Royster is in pretty good shape right now. I think he should be ready to go. Helu is not quite as well as Royster, but I will get a better feel tomorrow.”

On his preparation for the New Orleans Saints:
“I’ve been looking at the Saints for about six months so I’m pretty familiar.”

On your satisfaction with tackle Tyler Polumbus:
“Tyler has done a very good job and I am happy with where he is at. Unless there is a miracle that happens, he should be starter at right tackle.”

On if there is a difference between the roster competitions from his first year to this year:
“It’s a big difference at a lot of different positions. We have more competition and the first couple of years [the cut] came really early. We were looking on people on other teams to fill out your squad. Now you’re evaluating your football team to try to figure out the top 53 guys and the practice guys.”


Late Session

On trimming the roster:
“[There is] a lot going on. It usually happens this time of year. A lot of conversations, but probably 99 percent of our team is with us.”

On his playing time for his quarterbacks against Tampa Bay on Saturday:
“You've got to come to the game to find out.”

On trading cornerback Kevin Barnes for a conditional draft choice:
“I think it's a win-win situation for both teams. He's got some speed, He's got some experience. They were looking for a corner in a little bit different type of scheme. So, hopefully it's a win-win for both teams.”

On how many cornerbacks are currently fighting for roster spots in the Buccaneers game:
“I'd say normally it's five or six guys that are fighting for that last spot, but you're not really sure. It's just been a close competition thus far, so a lot's riding on the last game.”

On the differences between various rounds of cuts:
“Well, any time you go from 90 to 75 and 75 to 53, obviously, everybody wants to make the football team, and when they don't, dreams are shattered. Some people get the chance to go to other teams, other people go different directions. So it's always a tough cut, especially when people are working their hearts out to make the football team. A lot of guys from college, some players are vested players that want an opportunity to make your football team… So, [it was] a lot of guys working extremely hard that have got a lot of character, so it's always tough.”

On if Barnes was told he was released but then traded:
“[We] weren't sure about when we were going to do it and what time. But any time you've got a number of people that are talking to you and somebody wants that guy, a lot of times, [with] an undisclosed draft choice -- we had a couple teams who were interested.”

On if trading players just prior to cutting them is preferable:
“Here's a football team that needs a corner. Here's a third-round draft pick that's got some great speed in a little bit different scheme, so we have a couple different teams talking to us, and all of a sudden someone would give me an undisclosed draft choice on the chance that he makes the team, or you get something in return [and] they get a good football player. But he's got to make your football team, so it's a win-win situation for both teams.”

On the feeling for the team’s secondary moving forward:
“Well, it's an evaluation process. We're going to take a look at guys all the way through the OTAs, through these preseason games, and we're going to pick out the best players regardless of where they're drafted or how much money they're making in free agency, guys that we feel give the best chance to win.”

On the outlook for tackle Jammal Brown:
“Yeah, you really don't know. He's saying right now that the surgery really helped him and that he's feeling really good, so you just keep your fingers crossed that he's able to come back sooner than later.”

On which hip Brown had surgery on:
“It's the same
hip. I think the other hip is a little sore, as well, and get got that injected and he's feeling much better -- at least, according to the doctors. I haven't talked to him yet.”

On if it’s hard to be optimistic about Brown’s recovery:
“From my perspective, you never know. You're always hoping that a guy's going to come back, but it's bothered him for a while, so you're keeping your fingers crossed that his surgery is going to help him. They think that they found something that will alleviate a lot of the pain, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.”

Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On his overall progression during the preseason:
“The thing about preseason is that you just want to get out there, get a feel for the game and go out and do what you practice on. Coach says it all the time, the best way to judge yourself is through game tape. I went out, put some footage out there for myself to go out and learn from. We had fun, so that’s the biggest thing. You want to stay healthy, have fun and make sure you get better. We did all those things.”

On playing in a game and waiting almost two weeks to play again:
“We’re just trying to make sure all our guys get back healthy. It gives us extra time to work on stuff to get ready for the Saints - same thing they’re probably going to be doing for us. It’ll be a fun time, but we’ll make sure we stay focused, even though we’re off, and keep our tempo high in practice. That way, we can continue to get that game-like atmosphere.”

On if he would play Wednesday if he had a choice:
“That’s Coach [Shanahan]’s decision. Everybody wants to play, but the most important thing for us is to make sure we’re playing when it counts. It is preseason and it’s the last game, so he wants to make sure all the starters make it to next week or the week after that so we can play and be healthy against the Saints. I’m honored with that decision he made. He doesn’t want us to play so we’re not going to play. But, as a competitor, you always want to play.”

On if the coaches are already going over game plans with him for New Orleans:
“We haven’t got to that stage. We’ve got a game on Wednesday, so they put the install in for Tampa Bay. We haven’t talked about anything regarding the Saints yet. I think guys are watching film on their own and we’ll go from there for a couple more days. Once we get back after this game, I think Coach [Mike Shanahan] will really start hitting it hard.”

On if he has started to watch Saints film on his own:
“I have. I downloaded all of the footage onto my iPad and I’ve been looking at it, really all of preseason. You really don’t get a good feel for much of what they’re going to do this year with the new D[efensive] Coordinator. We would like to watch their personnel, see who’s going to be healthy whenever they play us and just get a feel for how they play.”

On if he has watched any film of St. Louis’ defense:
“You watch that. Coach Spag [Steve Spagnuolo]– he did a good job, also with the Giants. We watch all that film and make sure we can see kind of what he took to wherever he went. But, of course he is going to throw some wrinkles at me, especially being a rookie quarterback. He’s going to do some things that aren’t on tape and just try to confuse me.”

On if he feels he has had enough game time in the preseason to be able to connect deep passes with Pierre Garçon:
“I don’t think we need game time. We don’t need to go out and miss a couple more deep balls and then we’ll hit them. It’s just about throwing the deep balls and we need to practice that a little bit more in practice whenever we get a chance to. If it’s on our own, we can do that. It’s something that just comes. The more comfortable we get with each other, I can figure out their speed and how they like the deep ball thrown for them individually. Then, I can throw it that way for them. It’ll just take a little bit of time, not a whole season or anything like that. That just comes with more practice, not necessarily missing throws in games.”

On how closely practice simulations mirror what he experiences in the game:
“They definitely do. Third down, when you’re getting a team that’s going to blitz you a whole lot, knowing who your hot reads are, knowing what you can do to make sure that you’re not hot and actually go through all your progressions… all those things come up – whether it’s goal line, backed up, everything that he’s put us through has come up in some form or fashion in the game. I think that he’s done a great job of that, of getting us all ready – not just myself – but everybody ready for those situations.”

On if he could have benefitted from more work this preseason:
“I don’t think it will make a huge difference. I think I’m ready to go for the season, Week 1 against the Saints. I think all the guys are ready to go. Coach did a great job of giving us the playing time he did give us. You want to play enough to where you get better, but not too much to where you can leave yourself out there for injuries. We’ve got a lot of guys getting back healthy right now and that’s the most important thing. I don’t feel like I didn’t work enough. I feel like we got a lot of work in. I threw the ball on third downs, moved the chains, we went and scored some touchdowns and that’s all you can ask for.”

On the difference in philosophies for endorsements between he and Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck:
“You do it when you’re supposed to do it. The guys realize that. When you have your time in the offseason, that’s when you do the commercials and endorsements and things of that nature. Andrew [Luck] had to go back to school at Stanford, so a lot of his time was cut out. I was free, for the most part – graduated already, was in grad school. I made sure I took care of that responsibility and then I made sure I took care of my responsibility with the playbook and getting to know these guys. They laugh about it because Santana [Moss] tells me he’s laying in bed at night and his TV says, 'Robert Griffin III, the official restaurant of training athletes everywhere’ for Subway. He’s waking up like, 'Is RG in my house?’ It’s a fun thing that guys make fun of me for a little bit, but I think it all draws us closer together.”

On what he does Wednesday while there are still guys fighting for roster spots:
“Run with the rest of the guys before the game so we can make sure we stay in shape. Watch Tampa. I don’t know if they’re going to play their starters or not. I don’t know if they’re going to show us anything we can learn from for down the road when we play them during the season. Mostly, just watch and support those guys and see how all those guys step up in this big moment. A lot of guys are fighting for jobs and talking to the veterans, they always say you’ll get used to seeing faces disappear. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that, but hopefully not. It’s just tough. All those guys are fighting for a job and their livelihood and they will be when they play on Wednesday.”

On if he thinks what the atmosphere will be like for the opening game in New Orleans:
“Not too much thought. I go back to my true hometown. My whole family is from New Orleans. My mom and dad are both born and raised there, so it will be fun. I’m sure I won’t get many cheers. It’ll be loud. It’ll definitely be loud. It’s our job to go out there and make sure we play well and come away with a victory.”

On if he has studied other quarterbacks who performed well as rookies:
“I have not. The one thing I did do is I made sure I talked to veteran guys. I made sure I talked to Peyton [Manning] and Eli [Manning]. I talked to Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner, guys like that – just for a little advice about what to do on gameday, how to approach your coordinator if you have a question or things of that nature. Those guys have really helped me with advice here and there. It’s not that we’re sitting down and having counseling sessions, but they give me advice here and there. The one thing I do say is that you pay attention to history but you try not to repeat it. My job is to learn the offense and make sure I do what I can do to help this team win and just learn from that, so the advice they’ve given me has really helped.”

On running back Alfred Morris’ performance against Indianapolis and how a successful running attack helps his game:
“You ask any quarterback in the league and they’ll say a successful running game takes a load off your shoulders. Alfred has done a great job of running the ball for us. We had a bunch of backs banged up and he’s come in and been a workhorse for us in the preseason. To run for 107 yards in a little over a half is pretty impressive. Like I told him at the game, I grew up with Captain Planet, so we said we’ve got our rookie powers uniting. He’s doing a good job.”​
 

Bulldog

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Shanahan said it, the difference this year is the Redskins are evaluating their own talent rather than looking to see who gets cut from other teams to fill out the roster.

That is a sea change in 2 years.

Guys like Barnes and a guy like Banks would not have been under any pressure 2 years ago for a spot on the roster.

Barnes is now gone after failing to develop into a starter and Banks looks to be among the final cut list.
 

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