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Quotes: Jay Gruden (12-30-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Out will be Su'a Cravens, upper arm; [Quinton] Dunbar, concussion; and [Vinston] Painter, calf. Questionable will be [Chris] Baker, ankle; [Will] Compton, knee; [Rob] Kelley, knee; [Ryan] Kerrigan, elbow; [Spencer] Long, ankle; [Trent] Murphy, foot; [Jordan] Reed, shoulder; [Martrell] Spaight, shoulder."

On the safety position between Will Blackmon, Duke Ihenacho and Deshazor Everett:

"We'll see. I think those three will take the majority of them, obviously with Duke and Will Blackmon and Everett. Those are our three main guys. [Bashaud] Breeland's been schooled to play some safety also in a pinch. So we've got those three and then obviously we signed Josh [Evans]."

On the running back position if RB Rob Kelley is out:

"We have four good backs here that we have no problem giving the ball to, so I think we'll be fine. Robert did a little bit more today. So it's a positive sign for him. We'll wait and see tomorrow."

On assessing the preparation this week and the team's mood:

"I think we're around each other for so long and it's such an important game here at the end. It's a little chippy out there from time to time. That's to be expected. I think they're anxious to get out on the field and play this game. It's been a long year and we have a lot to play for. These guys are excited to play, and it's time to go. And I think they're fired up to get it done."

On the injuries at the safety position this season:

"Yeah, it's tough, it's been tough.  But I think the guys that have been asked to play have done the best they can and have done some really good things. I think the transition from corner to safety is a little bit harder than we anticipated. But I think Will Blackmon and Deshazor Everett have done a very good job of picking it up and learning it. D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] was really coming along at a good rate, a good clip, until he got injured. And then obviously the other guys have had to fill in. [Donte] Whitner coming in late, at least he's played safety his whole career, so it was less of a learning experience for him, and then he got hurt. But we feel good about the three that we have and then obviously if Josh [Evans] has to play in a pinch or if [Bashaud] Breeland has to play back there, I think we'll get by."

On how the secondary is affected by consistently rotating players because of injury:

"Well, it's such a key position because of communication – change of strengths, you know, the coverage may change, the run fits may change, all that stuff. So you've got to be a great communicator back there. And if you're new to the position, you're not quite as confident sometimes as you would be if you were a three-, four-, five-year vet at the position or played it your whole life. So that's been a little bit of a challenge. But I think these guys, by now, I think Will's [Blackmon] done a great job. I think [Deshazor] Everett's done a much better job. And obviously Duke [Ihenacho] is coming along good too. So I think with those three guys they should be good."

On what has made the transition from cornerback to safety tougher than expected:

"Well, you think as a safety, I'm just going to play a deep half or a middle third and just play coverage. But there's a lot more to it. There's different coverages involved. There's different run fits involved, obviously. So there's a lot more to the position and there's a lot of learning that goes with it. So it's been a process for him. I think Coach [Perry] Fewell has done a very good job with those guys and they're ready to roll."

On how TE Jordan Reed looked this week:

"Jordan looks great, man. He looks like ballerina out there, man. He's very light on his feet, running and jumping. We're not doing a lot of contact now, but I think he feels pretty good with his shoulder. Tomorrow we'll get a better look at him, again, and monitor him in pregame warmup and see where he's at, see how he feels when he puts the pads back on, and go from there."

On if Reed looks different than he did the week prior to the Carolina game:

"Yeah, he looks more confident right now, for sure. But, we'll see. We'll talk to him and we'll talk to the trainers and go from there. That's just me looking at him, so that doesn't mean a whole lot."

On keeping a balanced offense:

"Well, we have to keep a lead, that's important. We have to stay close. I think the games that we weren't balanced – I think Pittsburgh the game plan was more of a 'throw it' mentality. But every game plan that we've had so far – other than probably Pittsburgh – has been a balanced attack. But, if you get down, then obviously it's hard to be balanced. It's important for us to be good in the down-and-distance, number one. Number two, convert third downs so we can maintain some drives to stay balanced. And obviously stay close."

On where the team stands going into the last week of the regular season:

"Hopefully we should be at the top of our game, really. I think last week was a great rebound game from the Carolina game, to go out there at Chicago and then put a game of four quarters together. We had five turnovers on defense and put the ball in the end zone on offense – did some really good things. Hopefully we keep that momentum. That's what it's all about in pro football is being able to maintain momentum. At this time of year, if you can grab some momentum and stick with it and hang on to it, you'll be in good shape. The teams that get hot late are the teams that do well in the playoffs. Hopefully we can take one game in Chicago, turn it into two games, and then hopefully three, four. That's what it's all about."

On where the team stands:

"We are where we are. I think it's important to understand the importance of this game, which we understand. I think we've had a lot of positive things happen to us. We've learned from a lot of negative things, obviously. I think we've had a lot of ups-and-downs, we've done some good things, but I like the way that this team has shown resiliency and played through some tough times and overcome some adversity – which is big. We've seen just about everything in this pro football season. We've given up a two-minute drill to lose, we've held teams in the two-minute drill to win, we've scored at the end to win, we've had some close games – a lot of them – both winning and losing. These guys have obviously been through a lot and they understand situations and overcome adversity. So I like where we are, but we still have one more game left to finish the deal."

On what it says about QB Kirk Cousins and the offense as Cousins approaches 5,000 passing yards:

"Yeah, I think it says a lot about Kirk, number one, but also the supporting cast has been outstanding. The receiving corps has been great, and like you guys say, when we're balanced, he's a lot better. But you can't say enough about the offensive line and their protection. All those guys together on offense… Anytime an individual player has an award, whether it's a rushing title or throwing for 5,000 yards, offensively it's a team award – a total unit award. Offensive line, tight ends, backs, backs in protection. We mentioned Chris Thompson yesterday, he's made some huge pickups. Receivers winning the one-on-one battles, quarterbacks finding the holes in zones and the line giving them protection, the backs running hard getting tough yards on third down, converting third downs. So it says a lot about the entire team when an individual does something like that."

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