Head Coach Jay Gruden
On the injury report:
"Did not participate: DeSean Jackson, shoulder. Limited were [Will] Blackmon, thumb; [Morgan] Moses, ankle; Full were [Chris] Baker, toe; and [Brandon] Scherff, shoulder; and Duke Ihenacho, concussion."
On WR DeSean Jackson's shoulder and if he was getting it evaluated today:
"Yeah, he was getting checked out today, got some extra treatment. Got the MRI, we got the results and he's just dealing with a little bit of pain right now."
On if there is hope Jackson will practice tomorrow and play Sunday:
"Yeah, we'll see. We'll see how he's doing. I think that will be on him."
On T Morgan Moses:
"He had some team reps today, he did a good job. You know, he did a good job so the arrow is looking up on Morgan and I think his toughness will prevail in this matter. But still we have a day tomorrow and then Saturday, but it's looking good for him."
On what he's learned the most about LB Will Compton:
"Wow, I think number one as far as a football player goes, I've learned that he plays with great effort and it's consistent. A lot of guys can play with great effort every now and then, but his effort is every single snap. And he studies the game, he knows what to do. He can help his teammate, he makes his teammates better. That's the biggest thing we learned is how much he makes his teammates better around him with the communication aspect of it. And it's so important at middle linebacker, so the communication, the effort, makes him a great player and a great asset for us."
On Compton's attitude off-the-field:
"You know, off the field he's a good guy [laughter]. I don't go to dinner with him or anything like that. Although it would be kind of fun. But, no, he's a good guy. He's just an accountable guy. You can always count on him to be here on time and get the work in and study and be prepared, and that's all you can ask for."
On the run game:
"Yeah, you know, right now Robert Kelley is our first-string running back. When we start the game it'll be Robert and then we'll go from there and we'll decide the rest of the group later on. And then Chris Thompson obviously is penciled in as the third-down guy and No. 2. So after that we'll make a decision."
On if RB Matt Jones role will be similar to RB Robert Kelley's previous role:
"Yeah, it could, and we still have Mack Brown to talk about too. Mack Brown has been very impressive every day that he does scout team. You watch him and you're like, 'There's another good run by Mack.' He's been excellent. So we have four backs to choose from. We'll take three on game day and go from there."
On if there's any concern with LB Preston Smith's production compared to last season:
"No. He'll keep working and I think he'll make a second-half run. That's what he did last year. He took a little while to get going and then in the second half he made a big run and that's what we're hoping this year. So he's just going to keep grinding, keep working, and he'll get his rushes and he'll get his sacks. They'll come in bunches, hopefully, like they did last year."
On Jackson's MRI and if he will have to be monitored the rest of the season:
"Yeah, that's something we'll have to decide – whether or not to give him some rest and get fully recovered, fully healthy, or see if he can fight through it or not. What the better option is, we'll make that determination Saturday. The MRI just showed some issues there in his shoulder with the rotator cuff. He does have some things going on there, but we'll make a determination Saturday whether or not it's best to keep him out this week and try to get it stronger for the last seven."
On if he was skeptical about WR Jamison Crowder's size when drafting him:
"Yeah, I think when we first got him we saw him as an inside slot receiver and a punt returner, quite frankly. But really when he got here and the more you get around him and the more you see he's versatile – he can play outside without a doubt. I think he's got that ability and he's shown that he plays a lot bigger than he is. He runs great routes. He's very quarterback friendly. He understands concepts – how to get there, when to get there, how to set up the defender, man, zone, all that stuff. That's so crucial as far as a receiver is concerned. You can't really coach all the nuances of the coverages, but he just naturally sees it, feels it and reacts. He's very quick out of cuts. He's got strong hands and he's great after the catch. Really not a lot of negative things if there's anything to say about him as a wideout or as a player or as a person."
On if the running back spot will be determined on a week-by-week basis:
"I think so. I think a lot has to do with… A lot of times that third running back, not a lot, some of the times that third running back would be a help if they help on special teams, too – kickoff return, kickoff, punt return, punt. So we'll have to see how much Mack [Brown] or Matt [Jones] can fill some of those voids. Losing Niles Paul hurt a lot, especially on special teams. He was a special teams captain. So somebody has got to fill that void."
On if the starting running back role will be evaluated every week:
"Yeah, I think so. I think in this league people get promoted and demoted all the time. It's up to the person that's starting to keep the starting role and it's up to the person behind them to keep pushing and getting better, and when your time comes take advantage of the reps. That's just the way it is. There's only one ball and there's only one starter, so to speak. But we expect everybody to be involved and everybody to have an impact on this football team whether you get the ball five times or 25 times. That will be our determination, not theirs."
On who will fill the fullback role in Niles Paul's absence:
"If we can get Derek [Carrier] ready, he could be a possibility. Jordan Reed's done some of that before and Vernon [Davis] can pop back there and do some of it also. If we choose to do that, we have a lot of different ways to attack people with one-back plays and things of that nature – offset gun plays. So it's not totally necessary for us to have a fullback, but if we do need one, we have options with those three guys."
On if the package with Ty Nsekhe at tight end will have to be shelved while he is starting at tackle:
"That's a little bit harder to run, especially with Ty coming in there as the extra tight end. So that probably could be. But we have [Vinston] Painter will probably be up and he could possibly fill that void if we choose to do that."
On limiting penalties:
"Well, we have to adjust the penalties, without a doubt. We show the official videos and we talk about the penalties and then hope for the best on game day, quite frankly. Some of them we agree with, some of them we disagree with, but we always have to coach up penalties. It's a major part of the game. You're coaching against the opposing coach and the opposing team, but you also have to guard against the referees and the penalties, you really do. It's a very impactful part of the game that sometimes goes unnoticed, but they're such big plays – the PIs [pass interferences], the illegal hands to the face. Third down and eight and we get a stop, but no, it's illegal hands to the face, automatic first down. Those plays change games – roughing the passers, offensive interference that we had the other day – they change the course of the outcome of the games. We have to really do our best to play within the rules for us to have a chance. It's hard enough to beat the opposing team, but when you're shooting yourself in the foot with false starts and penalties, you have got no chance."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On the bye week:
"Well, I think the bye… I mean, I've never been a part of a bye that isn't at the perfect time, but I think right at the halfway mark, this truly was perfect. Especially after the London trip, coming home from that, it was much needed. Well needed for the players especially, just to let them get away and rest. The grind of the season obviously has taken its toll, so it was good for them, it really was. And it was good for us as coaches just to be able to go back and refocus on ourselves, refocus on our future opponents coming up. So it was outstanding. It was a perfect time for a bye."
On the Vikings' offense:
"No question – I like how you use the jersey numbers, I'm rubbing off on you. Good. I don't know about the hat, but [laughter]… You know, guys, this is the National Football League and there's going to be ups and downs, but every single team has players on their roster and this week is no different. Obviously you mentioned No. 8 [Sam Bradford], he's been doing it for a long time. Obviously was the No. 1 player taken in the draft. He's a very good quarterback in this league. There's no doubt about it, and he has weapons around him. I think they have a stable of backs. They do a great job using all of them whether it be [No.] 44 [Matt Asiata], 21 [Jerick McKinnon] or 33 [Ronnie Hillman], they all kind of have different roles. And then as far as guys him throwing the ball to, [No.] 82 [Kyle Rudolph] is a Pro Bowl tight end, very good player. And then the wideouts, has a number of them. I think the guy he really likes is [No.] 14 [Stefon Diggs]. That kind of is his comfort. And then there's a big play guy anytime he gets his hands on the ball in [No.] 84 [Cordarelle Patterson]. But again, this is the National Football League. There's weapons on every single team. There's going to be issues and weapons every single week, and obviously the Minnesota Vikings are no different."
On Su'a Cravens' performance so far this season despite missing a few games with a concussion:
"You know, that concussion was a little bit of a setback for him. You've heard me stand up here before – with any player, but especially with young players, especially guys that are as young as 21 years old like he is, he needs to play. He needs to practice. He needs every single rep. So it was a little bit of a setback for him when he missed – what did he miss – two or three weeks. But Su'a is a gym rat. He loves football. He loves working at it. He loves practicing. So my stance on Su'a has not changed. I'm very excited about him. I think he's got an incredibly bright future just because he's a really good football player, but he's a football player that likes football, he likes to work at it. He wants to get better. He's going to force himself to get better. And, as a young player, the only way to get better, you've got to be available. So that was a little bit of a setback for him, but he's rolling right now and hungry and eager and excited and mainly healthy."
On how he can get Cravens on the field:
"We have different packages, we have different ways to do that. I think we were on our way to creating that. The injury kind of stunted that a little bit. Absolutely, it's always a good thing when you've got a number of productive players that you can get on the field at the same time. So, yes, absolutely we'll do that."
On LB Preston Smith:
"Well, obviously I would think Preston would be the first guy to say it – up here if he was here – obviously you want production. The thing, John, sometimes with pass rushers that is a little misleading is that you can affect the quarterback without having the sexy numbers. I think Preston has done that. Now, in addition to affecting the quarterback with hurries and hits and harassments, we obviously want the numbers as well. We want the sacks, as does Preston. He kind of had a similar start last year where he really came on the second half of the season. I think all those guys are doing a good job. But absolutely, we want pure numbers out of them – as do they."
On if Smith has improved in the pass rush:
"Yeah, he has definitely made [improvements]. Now, is he ultimately where he needs to be? No. I talk about Su'a being a young 21 year-old; Preston is a year older. Preston's a young player, he's a developing player. But he's getting better every single day. He is developing. Now, obviously ultimately you want that development to show into pure numbers, and that obviously has to come this half of the season. Preston is doing a great job as far as working [and] getting better, and I expect big things out of him obviously in the next half of the season."
On what the team liked about DL Jordan Hill:
"You know, that's the one thing with the way our profession works is that you get to know guys during the draft and even if you don't draft a guy, even if you don't have that guy on your team, you remember him. I remember Jordan coming out of Penn State a few years ago when he was a third rounder for Seattle and obviously liked his ability coming out. [He is] what I kind of refer to as a 'juice guy' as far as coming off the ball. Not the biggest, most dominant defensive lineman but that's not his game. His game is getting off the ball, causing havoc, pass rusher. Obviously Scot [McCloughan] had a great feel for him being in Seattle with him. We brought him in a few weeks ago and worked him out and then Scot and his crew pulled the trigger on him and brought him in. I'm excited to have him just because, again, you kind of refer back to ultimately what you thought of him coming out and I thought very highly of the kid when he came out as a prospect out of Penn State a few years ago. So, as you said, yesterday was our first day around him up close and personal, so I'm glad he's here. We'll keep looking at him and see what he brings to the table."
On what he has learned about LB Will Compton:
"You know, Will is I'd guess you'd really classify him as a self-made guy. Anytime you see stories like that. I think it's great just because it goes to show you, you don't need to be a first or second round draft pick to make it in this league. You can do it the hard way. You can come up the hard way, undrafted, make the team, be on the practice squad, grind, show up every day, work and become a starter in this league. That's the great thing about this league. But just a football player, a student of the game, obviously plays the game above the neck, which when you play that position, you've got to do it. It's not only relying on physical, God-gifted ability, it's mental. Part of the game, especially playing that – I refer to the Mike linebacker on defense as the quarterback – no different than the quarterback on offense. You've got to play the mental aspect of it. You've got to play the chess match and Will is outstanding with that – getting everybody lined up, communicating both to the D-line in front of him, the backers next to him, the DBs behind him. He does a wonderful job with that."
On the biggest difference since Compton became the starter:
"Well, I think communication is so key in this league on any side of the ball, getting all 11 guys on the same page all the time and it's a constant battle. That's obviously on either side of the ball. When there's success, it usually is the failure of communication or a breakdown on the other side of the ball. So, I think he's… not to say we haven't had ultimate success on every play, but when you have a guy that gets everybody lined up, all 11, all 11 people in sync, it gives you a chance to be successful. And when you have a quarterback on either side of the ball that does that, it gives you that chance. And Will's excellent at that. He's our glue that keeps everyone together."
On if the changing of the Vikings' offensive coordinator affects the defensive game plan:
"I'd be lying to you if… For example, last week, we spent Monday and Tuesday on the Vikings and then Wednesday morning, the news hit. At least for us, a little bit, it gave us one game with Pat [Shurmur] actually calling the game. But, no, I really didn't see wholesale, dramatic changes. At this stage of the game it would be hard to do that – to completely change your run game, to completely change your protections. And also, you have got to remember, No. 8 [Bradford] just got there eight weeks ago. There's going to be subtle changes, obviously, when you change play callers, but for the most part it's not going to be completely drastic."
On being prepared for gimmick plays:
"Oh, yeah, I think we preach that all the time. This is the National Football League, you have got to be ready for anything and everything all the time. Whether it be gimmicks, whether it be new wrinkles that they want to throw in, you have got to play the call, you have got to read your keys, and you have got to react. I think that's not just with them, that's every week that you have to be ready for that stuff."
On the availability of safeties Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon for Sunday:
"Well, you know, I think the bye, getting back to that last week, I think it came at a perfect time for them because it would have been highly questionable if they would have been able to go if we would've had a game after the Cincinnati game. So I think the bye helped them. Duke, I think, is fine. We practiced on Monday and Duke was full-tilt. Obviously he had a great day yesterday. Will was a little… he practiced yesterday, he was fine. I think today, tomorrow will be telling a little bit. But they both practiced, they both are ready to go, and I don't foresee them having any issues on Sunday playing."
On if Cravens could get reps in the secondary on Sunday:
"You know, we always could throw Su'a in multiple places. So I think that's a potential, absolutely."
Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay
On if the absence of T Trent Williams changes play calling:
"Oh, certainly. You know, Trent being as athletic and as special as he is as a player, it does alter a couple of things, but we have a lot of confidence in Ty [Nsekhe] that he's going to step up. When he's played, whether it be on the right or the left side, he's done a great job for us and we're very confident. We know this is a great rush we're playing against but we expect good things from Ty."
On the Vikings' front seven:
"Yeah, they're excellent. They're excellent all around. I think both from a personnel and a schematic stand point, they present a lot of issues. They've got great players all across the board, really on all three levels and then I think Coach [Mike] Zimmer does an excellent job mixing it up – some of their different blitz packages when they get you in some of those obvious passing situations – so you can see why they're one of the top defenses."
On how he would describe a Mike Zimmer defense:
"Well, I think he does a great job situationally. He's mixing up some of his coverages where they're playing some split-safety looks, they're playing some single-high coverages and then when they get you in those obvious passing situations, obviously he's very infamous for the Double-A package and they do a variety of things out of that, but he's also got some other things where they're bringing out of some odd spacing and they present a lot of issues. I think he does a great job using his personnel and those guys are playing really hard for him as well."
On the biggest strides T Ty Nsekhe has made in his game:
"I think in everything. I think Coach [Bill] Callahan is one of the most detailed coaches I've ever been around. And you talk about fundamentals and technique, both in the run and in the pass game, understanding angles on the run game, second-level departures, you know, just hand sets as far as pass protection goes, different types of angles based upon the timing and rhythm of the drop, so he's done a great job just kind of absorbing all of the material and nuances, whether it be the run or the pass game from what Coach Callahan has coached him with over the last year."
On in what areas he's seen growth from RB Robert Kelley:
"Well, I think you're still continuing to see that. Last week or a couple weeks ago against Cincinnati was really his first time that he got a bunch of carries and I think you can see he's a strong, downhill runner, does a great job when he puts his foot in the ground leveling runs off and finishing falling forward. He's really tough. So, he's a mature young back too. You can see he's just kind of got a nice way about himself where nothing is too big for him and we expect to see him just improve as the season goes along."
On preparing without WR DeSean Jackson:
"Well, he's a special player. You know, you always want you guys out there for practice if you can have them, but obviously throughout the course of the year guys are inevitably going to be banged up and it's most important to get them as fresh as they can be for Sunday. So, with a guy like him, he's a veteran that knows how to take care of his body and he's able to transition if he's able to go on Sundays, but certainly you always want your guys out there if that's possible."
On what he saw from WR Jamison Crowder last year that led to an expanded role this year:
"I think when you look at it, Scot McCloughan and their staff did a great job really evaluating him coming out of Duke. He was a really productive receiver there, where you could see they moved him around [and] used him in a variety of ways. He's one of those guys, he's just a great all-around football player. He's got great awareness, great instincts, good natural hands. You can see when he gets the ball in his hands, good things happen. I think he's continuing to get more comfortable in our system, using him majority in that slot role, where he's got a great way about working edges on people, understanding leverages based on man coverages, where are the soft spots in zone. He's one of those guys when you talk about those slot receivers – I think he's playing as well as anybody around the league at that position, but that doesn't mean that that's all he can do. He's a guy that also has the ability to be able to play outside and do some different things for us. I think you'll just see him continue to grow because of the way that he approaches the game. I think that's why he's improved so much in year two."