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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Quarterback Kirk Cousins (11-16-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"DeSean [Jackson] was limited with his shoulder, did individual [drills]. Full were [Will] Blackmon, [Anthony] Lanier and [Morgan] Moses."

On WR DeSean Jackson's availability for Sunday:

"He did individual today, like I said. And hopefully we'll get more out of him tomorrow and see. We'll gauge him tomorrow and see how he's doing."

On if Jackson could play:

"No idea. We'll see tomorrow."

On Su'a Cravens' development and how his versatility benefits the defense:

"It helps us a lot, and it all depends on how much Su'a can handle. We don't know until we challenge him. We're starting to challenge him more and more each week and he's handled it extremely well. So that's good to see because the more we can use him, the more we can keep him on the field as opposed to just one spot. So it's very, very important for him to expand his role so he can be outside backer, he can be inside, he can maybe eventually become a safety, who knows. But he's done an excellent job handling it for a young player. He brings a lot of energy to this football team and he's a much needed commodity out there. So, the more he can do the better."

On what enables Cravens to pick up different positions:

"He's smart, that's all. He's smart. He's a natural-gifted football player with great football intelligence and IQ. And then on the field he's got great, natural football instincts."

On DE Anthony Lanier II's injury status and how he has played so far this season:

"His injury is a thigh – sore thigh, I guess – bruise. But he's been an active guy. We're just slowly starting to put him in the lineup a little bit and he's handled it pretty well. He's a young football player, but he's got some ability that you can't coach. He's long and he's disruptive as far as his pass rush is concerned. He's done a good job so far. He's a guy that really we have high hopes for later as the season goes on, next year and the year after. He's big, long, [has] natural pass-rush instincts, like I said. He's going to get better and better. We just have got to get him ready."

On if it is odd to see the Packers struggling:

"Well, I think Clay Matthews is a big part. I think he's been out a little bit and that's had an impact on their defense. He's their Aaron Rodgers on defense and he'll probably play against us and it's a different energy when he's out there. They've had some injuries they've had to deal with. They've played against some pretty good offenses. But you watch them on film and they've missed a close play here or there; they're not far away from being the Packers that we know. We know they have the ability – they have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and Randall Cobb and they've had some injuries to deal with, but they still have very good, skilled players."

On the tangibles that show QB Kirk Cousins' confidence is growing:

"What tangible thing? I think it's a combination of things, really. I can't limit it to one thing. I just think his command over the offense – his ability to call plays and get to the line [and] use the snap count. There are so many things that a quarterback has to do pre-snap that he's handling much better than he did when I first got here. Then his confidence to throw the ball and distribute the ball to the right people and not forcing the issue. His interceptions have gone down tremendously. He's protecting the football in the pocket. There's so many things that he's doing better that you just can't point to one. He's going to continue to get better. He can still improve on a lot of areas, in a lot of areas. I'm excited about his progress, but the biggest progress that I think he's made is his comfort level, his leadership and his ability to distribute the ball properly."

On if the offense is underperforming when comparing their yardage output to points scored:

"A little bit. I think we've had some issues in the red zone we've talked about, but we've done some great things. There's a lot of positives to draw from what we've done so far – obviously the negative is the ability to finish drives. That's something we've continued to address, and we'll continue to address. Whether we're 100 percent in the red zone or 50 percent – like we are right now, somewhere in there – we have to continue to work on the red zone. It's the most important part of football – red zone, and third down and ball security. We're doing a good job in a lot of areas, like I said, but finishing drives is something that we have to continue to do. So in that aspect, we are underachieving."

On WR Maurice Harris and potentially expanding his role:

"What do I like about Maurice? I like the fact that we can move him around. He's a physical guy. He can play in the running game. He can block safeties, he can block defensive linemen, he can do whatever we ask him to do and he's smart. And then from a route standpoint, he's very sure-handed and physical and that's what we like about him. That's what drew us to him and he's not disappointed us in any way, shape or form. His role may or may not expand, we don't know yet dependent on the health of DeSean [Jackson]. Obviously [Jamison] Crowder can move around and play a lot of different spots but he's a great luxury to have as far as being your fourth or fifth guy. He's doing more on special teams. So I think the future is bright for Mo and when he does get his touches I think he'll continue to take advantage of them because he's a sure-handed, physical, big receiver that quarterbacks like."

On the increase in play-action and if RB Robert Kelley has something to do with it:

"I think it's helped about the lack that we don't have a lot of negative plays. You lose your play-action when you're in second-and-11, second-and-12 and third-and-8 or you're behind. We've been in games, in front, close games, second and manageable, third and manageable, so now your whole playbook is open and that is the result of our running back not taking negative gains and our quarterback not taking sacks. Like I said, Robert did a great job, he only took one one-yard loss last week and puts us in manageable situations where our whole playbook is open."

On Jackson's big play ability and what they miss without him:

"That [laughter]. We miss the speed without a doubt and that's something that I think we did a nice job last week of adjusting to our personnel. We were still able to take a couple shots. You know, we used Vernon Davis to take a shot, so other guys will have to step up in that role. We can still get the ball down the field if he doesn't play, but nobody does it quite like DeSean. He can really take the top off and even if he doesn't get the ball, he brings a safety over the top a lot of times which helps our running game and helps other guys get open – Jordan Reed in the middle, Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garçon on a crossing route, what have you. So, he has an impact on the game when he's in there and when he's not in there the other guys did a nice job of stepping up, but you still don't have that playmaking ability that DeSean has that only he has."

On if he has been surprised by TE Vernon Davis' impact:

"It has been surprising quite frankly. I wasn't sure what we were going to get with Vernon. I wasn't sure how fast he still was or how much he was really into football anymore. You know, sometimes these veteran guys you just don't know what you're going to get, but he's been unbelievable as far as his work ethic, his desire to get better and then of course his natural speed is still there. I mean, he hasn't lost a step. He can fly. So, he has been one of the biggest pleasant surprises on this football team without a doubt because he has really done a good job in the running game. I think that's where he has helped the most. You know, these 4.6 yards a carry that I think we are averaging right now, a lot of it is because of our tight end – blocking in the core, cut off on the backside or what have you – and he's a big part of that. Love the kid, man. He brings a lot to this football team as far as leadership goes and then ability-wise he has done a great job." 

On why he did pushups on the field before practice today:

"[Have you] seen my body? [Laughter] I just was – my ADD was kicking in. But, no, I just try to get a little exercise every now and then outside. It's a beautiful day, got a lot of work in, thought I might get some myself."

On playing his first Sunday Night Football game with the Redskins and if it's a bigger game because it's against Green Bay:

"It's a big game regardless of who we play. From where we are in the standings at 5-3-1, behind the Giants and behind the Cowboys... So it's a huge game and making it Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers coming to town and Coach McCarthy, a franchise like Green Bay who has been consistently good for a very, very long time, it's a great challenge for us. And obviously they knocked us out of the playoffs last year so we know how good they are first-hand. But we're excited about it. We've got to get these guys in shape and ready to roll mentally and physically and go out there and compete. But regardless of who we play Sunday night it's going to be a big game for the fans and for us."

On TE Derek Carrier:

"I think he'll have more of an impact the better he feels. He's still coming back from that injury. We had to kind of push him along a little bit quicker than we wanted to because of Niles' [Niles Paul's] injury. We were hoping to get a couple good weeks of practice before we activated him, but since Niles went down, we put him in there. But he felt good and he feels good today, and he's going to continue to get better and better. But I think he'll play more in the three-tight-end sets I think the better he feels and the more he plays."

QB Kirk Cousins

On WR Pierre Garçon:

"Pierre's always been a consistent playmaker for us. He hasn't lost a step at all as he's gotten older. He's still a very explosive player. He's a very unique athlete with how powerful he is. He's got very good hands, very strong hands. He's physical, he's competitive. He checks a lot of boxes as a wide receiver and as a football player. So there's a reason he's been around here for five straight years. There's a reason that he was brought in five years ago to be a difference-maker. He's delivered time and time again. And he'll continue to do that as long as he's a Redskin. Very good football player and I've really enjoyed playing with him and look forward to playing with him the rest of the year."

On TE Vernon Davis and how much he has left in the tank:

"At his age, the number of years he has in his career and now being that this is his third team, I guess I wondered how much he had left in the tank, didn't know. But it only took throwing it at a local high school one day in early April to realize he still had it. And I've kind of been scratching my head ever since that day wondering how we got him, how he got away from the places he's been. Very talented, a great teammate. He works really hard and he's made a lot of plays for us. So it's just been a positive all the way around."

On Spencer Long's growth at center:

"Well, last year being able to play at guard for much of the season, Spencer just got valuable playing time, period. Whether it was at guard or center, just being out there and being in the mix of it for that many games and a playoff game was really good experience for him. Center takes it to another level in terms of the communication, the recognition of the fronts and the players and the substitutions and being able to send the other linemen and the entire group of 11 guys to the right people and make sure everything is targeted properly is no small task. So that certainly took time to get Spencer to get there. But, boy, he's a very smart guy, very intelligent. If you know his background, you know he's a pre-med major. He was going to go to medical school. So he's definitely wired to be able to handle the position. It just takes time to learn it all, much like the position of quarterback has taken me. Wwe're kind of growing together and it's been a great experience for both of us and he's done a really good job and been a big reason why we've been able to be pretty productive on offense."

On playing with a 'high IQ' center like Long:

"Yeah, he has a high ceiling, so you know you can push him and you know you can challenge him and take it further and further and it's a joy to play with him. He's a real competitor as well and it matters to him. It's important to him and he wants to do his best every single play and he's a very conscientious football player and I'm the same way, so we have a lot in common in that sense. He's just done a really good job with the mental side of the game and obviously the physical side of actually being stout and pass protecting and making those run blocks. He's still a very young player. There's still a lot of growth and production ahead, too. So I think that's the exciting part is that by no means has he reached his ceiling. I think he can continue to get better and better as a center for us."

On if he has a relationship with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers:

"I don't have a relationship with Aaron. I've never really crossed paths with him outside of the playoff game. [I've] just admired him from a distance. He's a phenomenal player. I think it says it all, he has the highest passer rating in the history of the NFL. I'm a guy who just wants to study him and learn from him and that's why kind of the fact that the Packers have lost a couple of games here really is irrelevant when you have him as the quarterback and some of the other great players that they have on defense. You realize you've got to come ready to go because they're going to be hungry and they're going to be ready."

On if he'll be more 'juiced up' going against Rodgers and the Packers:

"I'm juiced up every game, man. There's really no such thing as 'Oh, now it's Sunday night and it's Aaron Rodgers, I'm going to try now,' you know? And, 'I wasn't trying against the Vikings [laughter].' No, it's you play hard every game and whether it's Aaron Rodgers or anybody else, they are all really, really good. And you better bring it every single play. One mistake, one step the wrong way could be the difference in a win or a loss no matter who you're playing, and Sunday night will be no different. So that's why your preparation, your focus, the communication with teammates and coaches has to be at a high level, otherwise they will expose you."

On if he learned anything from last season's playoff game against the Packers:

"I think there are plenty of things that happened in that game that you learn from and build upon. I don't know that I want to go into all the details and talk forever about it, but it was a valuable experience. It's one that hurt, you know. Walking away from a playoff loss at home is disappointing and didn't sit well with us. And we knew we'd have a great opportunity this season to come back and try to have a much better result."

On if there was anything in particular he learned from that game that he'd like to share:

"No, I've got nothing for you, John. [laughter]"

On if overthinking prime-time games has contributed to the team's record in prime time:

"No, I think you get put in prime-time games usually when you're playing against good football teams, and we have to play well. It's always a challenge to beat a good football team and the Packers are no different. So we'll have a great challenge in front of us, but we just go out there and try to play our best football and handle our week of preparation leading up to the game as best we can so that we have a chance come Sunday night."

On how comfortable he feels under center now:

"I'm always getting better. It's not like I've played 10 seasons. I'm still very new, relative to many other quarterbacks in this league. So I'm just trying to grow and learn every game. I think each game I take another step forward and I gather some experiences and gain some understanding of how to play the position and keep getting better each week. Eleven weeks in – or whatever it's been – I'll continue to grow. I just go out there and play each week and let my play do the talking and let the chips fall where they may when the season is over. That's ultimately when things will be evaluated and we'll go from there."

On WR DeSean Jackson's big play ability:

"Yeah, it's a lot of fun to play with DeSean because of the electricity he brings. It's not just that he's fast, he's got really good hands. He tracks the football as well as anybody. He gives you a lot of room for error. You can throw the ball in a lot of different places and he goes and gets it and makes you right. He really can compete for the football, too, up in the air. He's made plays a lot – in practice, especially – where he's covered but he goes up and gets the football on a deep throw. It's a unique ability that makes him elite. We have to keep trying to feed him and get opportunities for him because those plays are game-changing when he makes those plays for us."

On what has allowed him to be more comfortable on the field:

"I think much like any other job, as you perform it longer in the same role, you're going to get more comfortable and say, 'OK, I've been here, I've done this, I can do this.' Playing quarterback in the NFL is no different. Just continue to gain these experiences and go out to practice each day and each week and go through different challenges and just keep getting better. I think people want things to happen so fast, and say he either is or he isn't – that's just not how life works. It's a process, it's a journey. As long as I'm continuing to get better, that's what I really want to do and I think I'll be better a year from now than I am now."

On what goes into improvised plays like one when he signaled to Garçon on Sunday:

"Every play we have rules and we have responsibilities based on coverages and blitzes and fronts and pressures. Whether it's a run play or a pass play or a play-action or a dropback or a screen – every play has issues and things to be aware of and all 11 of us have to be able to recognize what the defense is doing and be able to play off of that and react accordingly and make the right decisions. The degree that we can do that – not just one play, but 60, 70, 80 plays – that's usually the difference between a win and a loss or a good offense and an average offense. A play like that, we're on the same page and we're clicking, and we just have to continue to work to do that over and over and over."

On preparing for the quick turnaround between the next two games:

"I really don't do anything. I think I just focus on beating the Packers. We'll take care of the next week when it comes. I think in the NFL, you just try to take it one week at a time and focus on the Green Bay Packers and drive it home from that game. Then we'll get ready for the next one."

On the origin of his celebration entering the locker room after the game last week:

"It all goes back to Quinton Dunbar. He's been doing it for at least several months, maybe longer. I've asked him what the genesis is and I've never really gotten a clear answer. So you'd have to ask him specifically. But I think it's creative. It was clever. It was original from him. I thought it fit for the way I was feeling in that moment. And it worked. And you heard Spencer Long behind me echo it too because he knew it too."

On how RB Robert Kelley's ability to avoid negative plays helps the offense's play-action calls:

"Yeah, that's a great stat that Rob was able to have so many productive runs. It does make a difference. It keeps our offense going in a positive direction. Play-action game can be effective for us. Some weeks it's there, some weeks it isn't. We just try to run the plays that are called and we try to put defenses in a tough spot where they have to think about a lot of different responsibilities throughout the course of the game."

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