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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Quarterback Kirk Cousins (12-28-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Did not participate: [Chris] Baker, ankle; [Su'a] Cravens, upper arm; [Quinton] Dunbar, concussion; [Donte] Whitner, quad. Limited: [Trent] Murphy, foot; [Will] Compton, knee; [Spencer] Long, ankle; [Robert] Kelley, knee; [Ryan] Kerrigan, elbow; [Jordan] Reed, shoulder; [Martrell] Spaight, shoulder; [Vinston] Painter, calf. Full were [DeSean] Jackson, jaw; and [Bashaud] Breeland, ankle."

On if Su'a Cravens will play on Sunday:

"It's not looking good. He took a personal day today. He hasn't shown a lot of progress as of today, so we'll check him out tomorrow and see where he's at."

On if he needs to see certain things from TE Jordan Reed for him to play:

"Yeah, we're still looking. He had a good day today. He did a little bit more. He was more involved, so that's a good sign. I think he's taking the right steps to recovery. As far as full recovery, we don't know yet, but he is making progress."

On if he is encouraged with RB Robert Kelley's injury status:

"He was limited today, but he did some walkthrough stuff and some individual. But we'll take it slow with him and we'll get a better picture on him probably Friday."

On what to focus on in 'must-win' games:

"Well, we have got to have great attention to detail, as always. We have to prepare – it's the biggest game of the season, obviously, and we have got to play our best football. It's Week 17, we should be mentally sound. We should be physically in good shape and ready to roll. We have got a lot to play for, so it should be exciting for them."

On if the Giants playing or resting their starters affects the team's preparation:

"No, it doesn't matter – not one iota. We have to get ready to play a very good Giant team. Whether their starters play or not is insignificant. I know that they have a very good football team and that's the important thing. Once they get off the plane and they get out here Sunday afternoon, they're going to play to win. That's the only way to play football. And I know Coach [Ben] McAdoo will have them ready to play, and we have to be ready also."

On if there were any common threads to the run game being more effective in the red zone last week:

"Same, I think we have to give it a chance. And we gave it a chance and the running game was very good down there. So it's good to see. It's very, very important. There's so many different coverages and so many different things defenses do to the passing game that sometimes you run the ball it's the safest and most productive answer. But we have to be effective at it and keep working at it."

On his takeaways from the last matchup with the Giants:

"Well, I think turnovers played a big part and we had the two key interceptions, I remember. We had a forced fumble at the end of the half there. And then, of course, the red zone struggles hurt us a little bit. But I think when you play a team like the New York Giants, or anybody for that matter in the NFL, it's going to be a four-quarter game. It's going to be a dogfight and we have to stay with the plan and do the best we can and just stay focused and hustle and pursuit and do all the good things we're supposed to do and be fundamentally sound."

On if WR DeSean Jackson's recent success has been a concerted effort or just the way things have gone:

"A little bit of both probably. I think some of the coverages dictated him getting the ball. And some of them he's beaten man coverage, which is good to see. But for the most part he's making big plays in zones, which the two catches that he had – or three – big plays that he had were in zone coverage so it's good to see him find holes in zones and the quarterback finding him. But, like I said before, we have a progression-based offense, especially when you play zone. And it's up to the quarterback and the offensive line to have the time and find the right spots in the right holes and Kirk [Cousins] did a great job. So did DeSean."

On if it looks like Jackson has slowed down:

"Yeah, he can't [laughter]. I don't think he can. I don't think he will. He's not slowed down at all. Sometimes when he's jogging it looks like he's running 100 miles an hour. He's got great speed, obviously he's got great quickness and still has unbelievable hands. And that's what you take for granted. You think of him just as speed guy but some of the catches he made against Carolina, you saw the great hands and the great ball control and body control that he has. Exceptional player."

On if he needs to talk to CB Josh Norman about Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.:

"I don't think so. I think Josh has done an excellent job playing within the system and playing within himself and, you know, the headlines are the headlines, but come game time he's got himself ready to play. He stays focused on his job, his responsibility and I think he'll do the same thing against Odell and the Giants."

On comparing the Giants' defense this year to last year:

"Well, they're significantly different, there is no doubt about it. Their scheme is a little bit different, their personnel is different. You know, when you add a Pro Bowl corner like Janoris Jenkins, that helps, and then [Dominique] Rodgers-Cromartie has been healthy, which is big. And then they add 'Snacks' [Damon Harrison] inside who is a big, huge body and they're just good people, man. Olivier Vernon is an excellent defensive end. Obvious [Jason] Pierre-Paul when he was playing was playing at a much higher level than he was a year ago, more comfortable with his injury. So they were… just schematically they were better and personnel they were a lot better and Landon Collins has, you know, he's taken one year to the next year and improved dramatically."

On if it is disconcerting that the Redskins don't completely control their own playoff fate:

"Yeah, we've tried not to put a whole lot of time into worrying about what else happens, but I'm sure after the game come Sunday if we are fortunate enough to win the game, we'll keep a close eye on that one, but right now it's all about the Giants. And we understand what type of team they have. They're 11-4 or 10-5, very good football team. We know what type of battle it was up there in New York the first time and what they're going to give us, so we'll take care of our business now."

On S Donte Whitner Sr.:

"He didn't practice today. That'll be to be determined but it's not looking good."

On if S Duke Ihenacho will start in his place:

"Well, we have still have Duke. We still have Duke, [Will] Blackmon and [Deshazor] Everett right now."

On if they need to add a safety before Sunday's game:

"We'll see. We'll address that after practice. You know, I think today we wanted to get everybody in here, see who's practicing, see how far we think they are away from playing and try to do the best educated guess we can and then if we need to get another body in here we will."

QB Kirk Cousins

On preparing for this week given the stakes:

"Just prepare like I always prepare. Nothing fancy. Every game is important. If we had won a game earlier in the year that we ended up losing, I think we would already have pretty much clinched. So they're all important and this one is no different."

On the morale of the team the past couple of days:

"I think it's been as it should be. I think it's a good balance of guys who have a sense of urgency but are also enjoying the process. I think we're right where we need to be in our preparation."

On RB Chris Thompson:

"He's been phenomenal. He's done everything we've asked of him in the pass game with protections and with running routes, catching the football, making people miss. Just phenomenal. And many times the size difference between him and the guy he's blocking is significant and yet he's still holding up in protection. And it takes a special person to have the courage and the toughness to stick his face on people consistently and then to do it well. He's got great technique. He works hard at it – before practice, after practice. It's really shown. So I'm thrilled with his improvement as a player all the way around."

On if there were any common themes in the efficiency of the running game and the red zone last week:

"It all comes down to individual plays. One play, we get a blitz where the screen ends up being a great call and it's well-blocked and we hit it. If we don't hit that, we're kicking a field goal once again. Another one was a zone read where the defensive end closes, we get around the edge and Vernon [Davis] makes a tremendous block to get me in the end zone. So each play has its own reason, but when you execute those plays, good things happen and you end up coming away with touchdowns instead of field goals and it makes a big difference in the final score and many times in the final outcome."

On if the Giants playing or resting their starters affects his preparation for the game:

"We want to be ready for their entire roster and anybody that could play. I don't ever want to be surprised. So however I can prepare to be ready for what could come on Sunday, I'm going to do that. Whether it's the blitzes, the coverages, the personnel, I'm going to make sure I'm prepared for the whole gamut."

On there will be a wider focus on the Giants' backups this week:

"I think you have got to be ready every week for who they could throw out there. I remember when we played against them last time I think one of their DBs went out with an injury early. They were rotating guys in, they were having different people play nickel, different people at safety, trying to figure out a combination that works and that's happened several times this year. I mean, we prepared expecting a different corner for the Bears last week and then Johnthan Banks played, so we try to learn the entire depth chart and be familiar with everybody and ready to go."

On if there is a certain percentage of deep shots he would like to hit with WR DeSean Jackson:

"We don't have a set percentage. When they're there, they need to be hit and, you know, we felt like there were a few that we could have had that could have given him an even bigger day and could've given our offense a bigger day. I think we have been very accurate down the field this season. I think it has been an improvement from past years and when they're there, we've got to hit them."

On if they have done something different that has led to the recent success between him and Jackson:

"No, I don't think so. I think it's getting the right coverages and then, you know, Desean does a great job tracking the football, running it down, making a great catch. I've got to throw the ball to the right spot, but it's not like he and I were clueless two years ago. I mean, we were still in 2014, you know, we weren't winning a lot of games, [but] we were still hitting a lot of deep balls to DeSean. So I think it's been something we done for a while."

On what led to the opportunities for Jackson across the middle:

"Again, each one was different. You know, a couple times it's a pressure. A couple times it's just zone droppers who aren't in the way of the throw. Other times it's just great separation by the receivers versus man coverage. It helps when the pocket was so clean to hold and each play has its own reason."

On if there is a difference in his game when he is able to run the ball:

"Yeah, you know, when you play man coverage, that's sometimes something the defense can be susceptible to is the quarterback running but I don't try to abort the play early or quit on a read in order to just run. You know, I want to progress through the play and only take off if necessary or if the pocket collapses. You want to give defenses a lot to think about and when the quarterback is an element to run the football, that certainly is one more thing to factor into the coverages you call and the preparation you do. So it's a great thing to have, but you never want to sacrifice it or sacrifice other elements of your game to run the ball. You just want it to be a natural thing that you do when other options weren't there. The longer I play, the more of a feel I'll get for that and the better I'll be. And I thought that this past Saturday it was good to have a few of those plays, but if we can move the chains throwing it to Vernon [Davis] or Pierre [Garçon] or DeSean or Jordan [Reed] or [Jamison] Crowder or Chris Thompson or whoever, that's good too."

On if he bought presents for his offensive linemen:

"Yeah, we did. I mean, I'll let them tell you if they want to tell you, but I don't need to advertise what we're doing. I think it can rub people the wrong way, so it is what it is."

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