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5 Takeaways: Dec. 3 Jay Gruden Presser

Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.:

1. Colt McCoy has the kind of mental toughness Gruden's looking for in a quarterback.

McCoy – in his fifth year in the NFL – has seen the ups and the downs, which, Gruden said, gives him the ideal perspective.

"You've got to have the talent obviously, but you've got to be mentally tough because you're going to have some rough patches," Gruden said. "You're going to have games where you have a 20 passer rating or whatever it is where you get booed and you get bad articles written about you and you get cut possibly. You've got to be able to withstand all that and continue to believe in yourself, No. 1. Have confidence in what you are doing and then continue to work on your craft, like Colt has done."

Gruden said McCoy, who was signed by the Redskins this offseason, has brought the same approach to the Redskins' facility, whether he was penciled in that week as the No. 3 quarterback or the starter.

"He went to San Francisco last year and battled for a backup spot and then this year he came here and just accepted the fact that he was a No. 3 but worked himself into a spot where if given an opportunity he was ready to go," Gruden said. "And that's what we try to preach to all our guys is once you get the opportunity you have to make something of it. So that's what he has done, he is a resilient guy that works hard and now it's his opportunity to take this job and what he does with it is up to him."

2. Several players did not practice on Wednesday.

Among them: defensive lineman Kedric Golston (foot/back), defensive end Jason hatcher (knee), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (shin), safety Brandon Meriweather (toe) and cornerback Chase Minnifield (concussion).

Top images from Washington Redskins' practice on Dec. 3, 2014, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Cornerback E.J. Biggers, meanwhile, was able to practice on Wednesday – albeit in a limited role – for the first time since suffering a concussion Week 12 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Gruden said Phillip Thomas, meanwhile, would "probably" start in place of Meriweather if the safety is unable to play on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

"We don't know where Meriweather is at right now. He is a little sore still but Phillip has got to step up and play," Gruden said. "All these guys do, some of these young guys, they have got to step up and play and know what to do, No. 1. Phillip has got good ball skills and he is a good tackler, just sometimes he just gets a little out of whack sometimes. So we've just got to make sure he knows exactly what to do and how to do it."

3. Tress Way was "a great find" for the Redskins at the punter position.

Way, a rookie, twice had cups of coffee with the Chicago Bears before he was released in favor of other veterans. He said he was getting ready to quit football altogether when the Redskins called near the end of the preseason this year and offered him a chance to compete to make their roster.

Way made an immediate impression and won the job, and now he's the league's leader in punting average.

"Tress has been outstanding," Gruden said. "Obviously he was a great find for us. He has been everything more than we expected. He has changed field position, he's great as far as backing people up and getting the ball downed inside the opponent's 10-yard line. When we are backed up, he gives great hang time and gives our punt team a chance to cover."

Gruden said Way should get serious consideration for this year's Pro Bowl. You can vote for him – and other Redskins – by clicking here.

4. Ryan Kerrigan "needs to almost be Superman" for the Redskins – "but he has been close to it."

Kerrigan has been Mr. Consistent for the Redskins since they took him 16th overall in the 2011 draft, collecting 7.5 sacks his rookie year, 8.5 sacks the next two seasons and 9.5 sacks with four games to go this season.

Gruden loves what Kerrigan brings to the table, and wants the Purdue product to expand his horizons as a vocal leader, as well.

"He needs to just take a leadership role up to another notch," Gruden said. "He is a quiet kid, he does everything you ask him to do, he plays hard. He's just got to continue to keep working."

Gruden said "you can't say enough about what [Kerrigan] has done for us so far."

"With [Brian] Orakpo going down and we just have got to get a little bit more from him – he needs to almost be Superman for us, but he has been close to it," the first-year head coach said. "We love the way he plays and the effort that he brings."

5. There are no concerns about the team's veterans mailing it in for the final four weeks of the season to avoid being injured.

We'll let Gruden do all the talking on this one.

"No, I don't have that concern whatsoever. If I had that concern, I wouldn't be here. I think these guys are playing very fast and playing physical. They all want to win. They care. They care about this team. They care about this city. They know they have not put their best foot forward. We've got four games left, three of them are at home. We are excited to go out there and compete and hopefully show that the first 12 games are not what the Redskins are about, hopefully finish this thing on a high note with some great energy and great competitive spirit and give the fans something to cheer about finally."

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