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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (07-27-2017)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On TE Jordan Reed:

"We're going to take it slow with Jordan. He's got an injury to his big toe, and it has affected him the last couple weeks of his working out, getting ready for training camp. So we want to make sure he's 100 percent before we got him going. He's going to get some upper body work going and as soon as he gets healthy we'll let him go. Should be about a week or so, we're hoping."

On if the team signed a tight end today:

"Yes, we signed E.J Bibbs today." 

On if QB Kirk Cousins is a "system quarterback":

"I think Kirk would be just fine in any system, yes. We try to tailor our system to our players, but actually I've always said it's about the players not the plays, and they tend to make coaches look good. So Kirk would be just fine anywhere." 

On when Reed injured his toe:

"I don't know, I think it was just a gradual thing. I think he was trying to compensate for his sore toe and he turned his ankle once. I think we just want to make sure we got him right. He looked so good at mandatory training camp and then during the offseason he went down to Miami a little bit and was training and just had a little, small issue with it. You know, we don't want to push him. We're going to get a chance to get him with the strength guys and a good week of rehab and then we'll see where he is in about four or five days." 

On how cautious he wants to be with Reed:

"We will be extra cautious with Jordan. Like I said, the way he looked at mandatory camp, the way he played at the end of the year, I think he's the type of guy that has a great knowledge of the system right now. So I think it's better safe than sorry with a guy like that, especially with the amount of tension he puts on his feet and ankles with the way he comes in and out of breaks. Let's make sure we get it 110 percent before he comes back. It could be two days, it could be four days, we're not sure, but I don't think it's a significant injury where anybody should worry. We just want to make sure we get him right, let Vernon [Davis] and Niles [Paul] and Derek Carrier and Sprinkle get a lot of work in and get them ready."

On if there is a timetable for other players on the PUP list:

"No."

On the importance of height for a wide receiver:

"That depends on the guy, that depends on the player. There's been great receivers that aren't very big that have been very productive. I don't really care. I do like to have bigger receivers in the red zone here and there to be able to throw some fades, too. What the heck, you know, I love the fade [laughter]. With Josh's [Doctson's] size, there's a lot of room for error when you have a guy who's 6-foot-5. You can throw the back-shoulder fade, you can throw it over the top, they can go up and get seam-balls. It's a friendly target, but that has nothing to say that Jamison Crowder can't do the similar-type things because he's a great target also. If you run good routes and get separation… I really have no preference. I just want to play the best player and the ones that the quarterback is most comfortable with and understands the system."

On what WR Jamison Crowder can do on the outside:

"I think that's part of the reason you miss the guys that we lost, the two starters that we lost, but like I said, when we lined up with Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed at tight end and we had two receivers playing, you've got Pierre [Garçon] and DeSean [Jackson], and Jamison's standing next to me and I'm like, 'What are you doing here? Get out there.' So I think now it's going to be more of an opportunity for him to be out on the field more and make more plays. Now we have [Josh] Doctson, if he's 100 percent, and Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Grant's obviously been a major part of our running game and Mo Harris has done a nice job, so we have some great weapons. We just have got to figure out ways to utilize all of them. But Jamison, the more opportunities he gets, the better he's going to be, and there's ways to use him in the running game also and there's also ways to get him outside and inside. He's just a special guy and special receiver, you know?... We've got to spread it around. Jordan Reed is going to get his touches. Chris Thompson is going to get his touches. We're going to run the ball. Terrelle Pryor, he wants 1,500 yards. Doctson wants the ball. So we've got to do the best we can to utilize the talent we have and let the system take care of the plays and Kirk [Cousins] make the decision and understand we have weapons across the board that can make plays." 

On Cousins' drive:

"I think he has accomplished some great things already, and I think he understands there's a lot more he can do as a quarterback. Just understanding the concepts and the pass protections, the comfort level that he has being behind center with a snap count, all the things that a quarterback has to go through pre-snap and then makes it easier for him to execute post-snap. I think he's just getting better, more comfortable. Obviously we see how accurate he is with the football. He can throw any type of ball you want – a deep ball, a crossing pass, a short pass, he's got great accuracy. But now that he understands the protections, he feels more comfortable in the pocket, the scheme, what plays we like versus what coverage, what audibles we want to get to versus certain blitzes and looks. He's just going to continue to get better and better. We just have to provide him with more information and find out what he can do and what he can't do and just go from there. Not a lot he can't do, really. He's a fun guy to coach and a fun guy to see how much he's grown from year in to year out. From his first year when I had him to now, it's amazing how much better he is."

On if Cousins being on a one-year contract impacts the division of reps:

"We're focused on Kirk. He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period. Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

On if Cousins can risk some efficiency to create more big plays:

"I think we had a lot of big plays last year. I think we were in the tops of the league almost... So, we do take our shots. I think it's a fine line between taking shots and taking what the defense gives you. I never say a completion is a bad play; all completions are good plays in my opinion. We're keeping the ball moving, keeping the chains moving. We don't want to force the ball down the field, but we do want to take shots. Now we have these big wideouts, now we have got to try to push the envelope a little bit out here at camp, see what they can do as far as going up and getting it against smaller-type defensive backs. Every play is its own entity, I keep telling them, and we'll try to push the envelope with those shot plays, but I'll never fault them for a completion."

On if DL Terrell McClain and DL Stacy McGee have defined roles entering training camp:

"We're not set at all on how we see their roles. We're going to keep probing them, see where they fit best. Base, nickel, how they rush, all that stuff, that's what we're out here for. Same thing with all the new guys we have - Zach Brown, D.J. [Swearinger], Terrelle Pryor - all these guys, we're going to try to find what best suits them and put them in the right situation. But, so far I've been impressed with both of them, now it's a matter of where to put them – inside, what packages they want to be at, nickel, dime, sub, all that stuff. We'll figure it out."

On how his approach to training camp has changed in his fourth year:

"Well, you have a system and a schedule that you want to go by. You've got to make sure you hit different phases of game-type situations. So that will all stay the same – the way we install plays, how we teach, it'll kind of stay the same. The first four or five days of practice will be about the same every year, basically, how we install. Once we branch off, we can do more situational work, more red-zone work, more third down work, more move the ball work where they're unscripted plays, maybe a couple live sessions here and there, see how the team's doing. But really the first four or five days of training camp I think in every pro football team is going to be about the same as far as installing, the types of practices you'll see."

On Defensive Backs Coach Torrian Gray:

"I think he's been great so far. I think the big thing is, we wanted to get the best technician we could find. I talked to Kendall [Fuller] and he had a lot of good things to say – he played for him at Virginia Tech and Kyshoen Jarrett did also. They both talked to me about him and when they saw that we had an opening, we called him and tried to get him here. He's everything that we thought as far as teaching technique and I think the players are receptive. He's learning the defense, he's feeling his way through there, but what you really want as far as a defensive back coach is technique and fundamentals and he's as good as anybody that we've had here, so it's good."

On DL Jonathan Allen:

"Jonathan's been excellent, man. He works hard, he's healthy, he's strong. It's just a matter of just slowly getting him into the lineup. Right now he's going with the twos, a little bit with the threes, we'll get him with some ones here once we get into camp a little bit more. Everything that I've seen so far from him from as a person, character standpoint and athletic ability has been what we thought, so he's going to be great addition for us for a long time. Any time you've got a big guy that can rush as a three-technique this day and age, especially third down, that's a huge benefit for us. He also is excellent against the run — I think he proved that at Alabama his last year. He was kind of known as just a pass rusher his junior year and then he came back his senior year and wanted to show people he was really a good run defender and he did that. All-around defensive end, defensive tackle, it's going to really help us."

On how he and Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams have been interacting:

"I talked to him today! [Laughter] Doug and I have been very close for a long time so we have no problem working together. I love his knowledge of the game — the players that we have, he knows very well so we're going to work fine together."

On waiving LB Houston Bates:

"Houston, he's obviously injured right now and he's going to hopefully get himself right. Once he gets healthy towards the end of the year, there's a chance that we could bring him back or next year when he's 100 percent fully. We needed a spot for the tight end because of Jordan [Reed] and Vernon [Davis] has got a little bit of a tweaked hamstring but he's going to practice, so we had to make a move unfortunately. Houston was a great leader for us on special teams, a great player for us and hopefully we'll see him again soon."

QB Kirk Cousins

On if there were any misconceptions about him during contract negotiations:

"I don't think so off the top of my head. I don't know all the misconceptions that were out there, but I feel good. I'm ready to go. I've been feeling good the last several weeks, and I believe we've done a good job communicating between myself and the team. We're all on the same page. We've done everything we possibly can do to get that settled and move forward. I think we're all in a good place right now. We've got enough to worry about trying to get our offense playing at the level it's going to need to have a great season so that I can be back in future years."

On his reaction to TE Jordan Reed landing on the PUP list:

"Thankfully we're still about six weeks from Week 1. One thing I learned last year and I said it in OTAs is that while this is really important, Week 1 of the regular season is what really matters, so we've just got to get Jordan ready for that."

On what he wants to see out of the team and out of the offense in training camp:

"Well, it's a process. We're building toward Week 1. We don't need to have everything perfect day one, but, we need to be building, we need to be taking steps. We don't want to repeat mistakes. When mistakes get made, we want to correct them that night in the hotel, learn from them and the next day be that much sharper. That's what it's all about. Just keep stacking the practices on top of meetings on top of walkthroughs, and be a much better football player in early September than we are in early August. That's the way it'll always be and that's why it's a process."

On his approach toward training camp to avoid burning out:

"I think it's just a reminder that this isn't my Super Bowl, if you will. It's a process getting to Week 1, and that becomes what really matters. In the past, training camp was my Super Bowl. I didn't know if I was going to be on the team, if I was going to be the backup, the third-string. So, every day in training camp was determining my future in this league. That's not the case as much. Whereas everyday now in training camp, it's building a foundation that will eventually this season determine my future in this league. So, putting everything in its proper perspective, I think is the adjustment I'm trying to make going from being a backup player to now being a starter."

On changes among the receiving corps and the play caller:

"Turnover is a part of this league. I think about eight out of 32 head coaches get let go every year and players are constantly changing so you're going to have a lot of attrition. We've been fortunate to have some continuity, but this year we do have some changes so we're going to show, hopefully, that we're a mature football team and that we handle those changes well and we're able to keep moving forward in the right direction. I feel good about where we are in terms of talent that's there on the field and I feel good about Jay calling plays and running this offense. So, there's enough firepower there and there's enough people in place that we just have got to fine-tune and all get on the same page and use this time — these next six weeks behind the scenes — to build that so that come Week 1, we're a well-oiled machine and ready to go."

On playing on a one-year contract last season:

"I talk about building reps and trying to get better through reps, and I certainly have reps now at playing on a one-year deal, so that helps. I think it was a good season last year — I don't think it [the contract] played any factor into how I played or how we played. The fact of the matter is so many of my teammates, critical teammates to the success of this team, are also on one-year deals, so we're kind of all in that boat together, so I think that helps. Hopefully we can all have great years and give the Redskins a lot of options come the offseason."

On what he learned from playing on a one-year contract last season:

"I think the lesson I learned was the same lesson I learned as a senior in high school when I played my high school senior year with zero scholarship offers and the same thing I learned my senior year of college when I played with wondering if I could go to the NFL. If you win football games, everything else takes care of itself and that's a beautiful thing. So, all we have to do, all I have to do, all anybody with a one-year deal has to do is focus on winning football games, and if you do that there is going to be plenty of opportunities down the road. So my focus never really has to change from that standpoint."

On self-evaluation from last year:

"I think self-evaluations plays a big role in our development as players. We have to go back and be critical and watch the films and be honest and open to criticism and to take coaching. So absolutely you go back and look at last season and look at where you can improve because you don't want the mistakes to repeat themselves. So the area that I continue to say, and I'll maybe sound like a broken record, but I want to be better in situational awareness and if I can do that throughout this season, I think the final result would be an improved player from last year and I think it is my next step in my development."

On the value of taller receivers:

"Height is an advantage if you can use it to your advantage, I guess. You know, you've got to be able to put the ball in the right spot where your guy can catch it, and he's got to be able to adjust to the football and make those tough catches at a high point. So, that's what the reps in practice are all about is developing that rapport and learning how to do that very consistently against tight coverage. But, it certainly can be used to our advantage if we get better at it, and well see, you know, if we can do that over the next six weeks. 

On the offensive line:

"I'm really excited about our offensive line. Obviously, as with any position, you've got to stay healthy, and you always pray and cross your fingers that guys will stay healthy throughout the season because that gives you your best chance to have a great year, but with the group we have up front, we do feel good. Then when Trent was lost for four games last year and Ty Nsekhe stepped up and just did a phenomenal job, it just gave us even more confidence, and Arie Kouandjio stepped in for Shawn Lauvao against the Eagles late in the year, so, when you have guys who can step in and you can still go win football games, that gives you a lot of confidence. So, we love our group of guys. They've got a great identity going with the 'Hogs 2.0' and the work they do together in the summer, and the experience they've built now… Those guys all hang out together, and they're all on the same page, so that's a great comfort to a quarterback, can't say it enough. Big reason why I love being here, why I love coming to training camp, is to be able to play with those guys on the offensive line."

On betting on himself:

"That would probably be one of the misconceptions that Michael talked about. I don't know that I've ever bet on myself, I think I've bet on the system. It has nothing to do with myself. I'm just going out and playing. There's never been anything but positive feelings. I'm excited to get to work here. As I've said many times my wife and I love it here and we're in a good place. I'm living the dream being a starting quarterback in the NFL. I've got my hands full this season with 16 games. I talk about how in the offseason the ball is in the team's court, as it is, but from Week 1 to Week 17, the ball's in my court and I've got to go play football well, so that's where my focus is.

On maintaining his on-field demeanor despite fielding contract questions:

"It helps that my whole story has been this, going back to high school and college. I was never given the five-star [rating] and the 20 scholarships as a sophomore in high school and just had my whole life planned out for me. Every year it was, 'I don't know what's going to happen. Hopefully I can play well and get that scholarship.' Then through college it wasn't like I was a first-team All-American or Heisman trophy finalist. I was always trying to see, 'Hopefully, I can start' and then 'Hopefully I can lead us to a bowl game and a conference championship and hopefully I can get drafted, we'll see.' So every year you never had it mapped out. So to be in that role now may feel different, but it really doesn't to me because that's been my story all along, and I've just learned that's the way life is. Maybe that's the way the Lord wants it to be for me, and I'm OK with that. It's allowed me to trust in Him and have faith in Him and not trust myself so I'm in a good place. I think it's a healthy place for me to be. It's worked in the past and hopefully it can work going forward."

On if he still plans his day in 15-minute increments:

"Well, training camp is so different because the schedule is so different from the regular season. It's not like I sat down and planned it out for the next three weeks, but certainly when the season comes, I do try to have a very regimented schedule and good allocation of my time. Most of it is the time away from the building that I have got to maximize in terms of seeing the chiropractor and the masseuse and when to use the hyperbaric chamber and when to have the meals and when to have family time. All those things you try to plan out and maximize. Just sat down with Julie the other day before I left for training camp just to talk about when are the best times to do those things and what works for us. We found so much of it was up in the air with the baby on the way. You've got to be ready to adjust and in football you have sudden changes all the time, and in life we're going to have them too. It should be a fun year, but a challenging year as well. So we'll see where we go." 

On the balance between focusing on improving and the way last season ended:

"I think what it does is it gives us an edge, because we stay humble and hungry because we left the season realizing we do have a long ways to go. We do need to improve if we want to go in the direction that we all believe we can. In that sense we'll take the silver lining that nobody is content, nobody is entitled, nobody feels like we can rest on what we've done in the past. We do feel like a lot rides on this season up ahead. Hopefully, that gives us a sense of urgency all through training camp to be really focused, and as a result gets the best out of every one of us so that our team can play as well as we possibly can."

On studying various quarterbacks and what he learned from them:

"Being at the Pro Bowl was helpful to be around great players, not just quarterbacks but some of the best defensive players in the NFC, and to practice with them all week and learn from them and watch their habits I think was helpful for me. I'm going to continue to look for examples to follow. There certainly are a group of quarterbacks in their late 30s like Drew [Brees], Tom [Brady], Eli [Manning], Philip Rivers – I'm probably leaving somebody out – but guys that have played as receivers have changed on their team and coaches have changed on their team, they've been a steadying force, continuing to produce year in and year out. I think that consistency and that ability to deliver a similar result no matter what's going on around them, says a lot about them as football players and as people and that's the kind of continuity and stability we want to have here in Washington. We're excited, I think the main players and the veterans here are excited to try to create that culture."

On when he realized the athleticism of WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.:

"The Browns game was the moment when I really did take notice. I was road-tripping from Holland [Michigan] back to Ashburn late last summer and ran into Terrelle at a rest stop in Cleveland. He was in line at Starbucks and he was going back to camp in Cleveland and I was going back to camp here and he stopped me. He had his hood up trying to blend in. He stopped me and I went over and said hello. We obviously both played in the Big 10 and he introduced himself. I was surprised at how big he was then, too, in the line at Starbucks. We met there, and then from there, when I watched him in Week 4 I believe it was against the Browns, I was really impressed with what he was able to do, the separation he was getting, the number of times they went his way and he was still producing. He had a great year last year, we just want to build on that and hopefully give him an opportunity to have even more success this season."

On driving his van:

"I don't remember if last year I was taking the van, this year I did take the van. So the van continues to live on… I kind of wondered the same thing if the van sticks out and gives me away when I drive around. I haven't noticed that yet but it's been good. Virginia Tire and Auto does all of the work on it so they're keeping it alive. There's one right down the street from my townhouse and I go there and they make sure that everything is good, the tires are good so we can stay safe and ready to go. So if I've got Virginia Tire and Auto on the deal, then I think the van's going to last for a long time, we'll see."

On recent studies about CTE:

"The CTE study certainly was interesting to read about. The question I would have is what is the statistic for brains not of concerned families that donated them, but of people in general who did not show unique symptoms that made them say 'We want to see if he has CTE.' I'd like to know if you just pull 1,000 brains from former NFL players and a certain number of them never had any symptoms of any kind, it'd be interesting to see what percentage of those thousand had an issue and, you know, until we see that data, it's hard to know what the real statistics are, but certainly this past study just brings to light that it is an issue. It's something to be aware of and we as players are doing all we can to wear the best equipment and to play heads up and play smart. The league is, to their credit, doing a good job changing rules and creating a game that is as safe as possible, while still not taking away from what makes football football"

On getting closer and closer to being a father:

"Yeah, it's going to be a new season with a baby on the way, but we're excited. A lot of players have done this and I notice Philip Rivers has, I think, eight kids. If he can do it with eight, I better be able to do it with one, no excuses. We'll see, I tell people, 'Bring it on, here we go.' Life just keeps going, you can't stop it and we're excited. I know Julie's going to carry a lot of the load in the fall and that'll help, but she'll be ready for me to help pick up the slack come the offseason so we're excited… Double the duty to make up for all the time she puts in this fall, but we're excited."

On his confidence heading into this season:

"Well, confidence is a great thing in this league, but you can't fake it. You know, confidence is as Jay Gruden said last night at our team meeting, he said confidence comes from competence. So you have to know what you're doing and you have to believe that you can do it to then have the confidence. It took time for me to develop that in this league, but being able to play now through a couple of seasons, that builds confidence and that helps. My teammates do believe in me. They've been supportive all the way through. They understand where we are as a team. So that really helps and I can't say it enough, I really like our locker room, I like our guys. We've got some goofy guys on this team but they're good guys. They're not about themselves, they're about the group and I love that. So, I'm excited about the group we have and couldn't ask for better."

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