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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (12.30.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Did not participate – [Jason] Hatcher, neck and knee; Trent Williams, knee and foot; DeAngelo Hall, calf; [Quinton] Dunbar, quad; and Goldson, Dashon Goldson, shoulder,  rib. Limited were Perry Riley, foot; Matt Jones; DeSean Jackson, knee; and Pierre Thomas, knee."

On if he will play his starters in Dallas or let them rest:

"Right now, we have the intent of playing our guys that are going to be healthy. That's the intent. This injury report here going into tomorrow, we'll see how many of these guys will be out, but like I've said before, there are only seven guys we can keep inactive and this will have a major impact who will be inactive and who won't. We're preparing to play the Dallas Cowboys and try to win the football game with the healthy bodies that we have."

On evaluating which players will play:

"Yeah, I mean, we'll have to play it by ear and see who's up and the situation. I think… there are a couple different ways to look at this and that's something we're going to have talk about as a staff and as an organization. It's important for us to be healthy come playoff time but it is also to have some kind of momentum also going in. I'd like to end on a four-game winning streak, win three games in a row on the road, finish the fourth quarter 4-0, finish 9-7. I think it's a hell of a step in the right direction. The guys that are able to play are planning on playing and competing."

On if he has discussed resting starters with other coaches or if he has a good feel for it already:

"Yeah, I have a good feel for it, so we just have to make that determination. Like I've said, number one, it's the health of our football team with these injured guys who are legitimately injured and can't play. And then, from there, we'll have to figure out the able bodies that we have — personnel groupings will be adjusted — and then throughout the course of the game, we'll make adjustments depending on the situation."

On where the offense would be without TE Jordan Reed:

"I have no idea. The good thing about this team is we've had guys step up throughout the course of the season at every position. But Jordan Reed is a special player, creates mismatches all over the field. You're seeing when he's right, it's very difficult to defend him. He's a very important part of our team, but like I've said, injuries have happened on other positions on the field that you'd say, 'Oh, my gosh, we can't overcome it,' but we have and the players have stepped in have done a great job."

On which part of Reed's game has grown the most:

"No, it's the entire position that he's grown. He's grown in his blocking; He's grown in his assignments; He's grown in his routes; everything – protecting the football. He's just becoming a better and better all-around tight end which is very, very impressive."

On if LB Perry Riley, Jr. could play Sunday:

"He's one of those guys that's on the list as far as we're not sure yet, but I'd love to get him out there — at least pre-game warmup, let him run around, maybe get a series or two. But I don't know if that's possible or not yet. We'll wait for the trainers to make that determination come Friday or Saturday."

On how they determine who will get the ball at running back:

"Well, we have to hand it to somebody. Right now Alfred [Morris] and Chris Thompson are the only two 100 percent healthy guys we've got. They're going to get the rock right now. Hopefully, Pierre [Thomas] will be OK or Matt Jones can fight through it, and DY [Darrel Young] we still have — we can give him the ball a little bit."

On if center Kory Lichtensteiger is getting more reps this week in practice:

"This week we're very limited. Our defensive backfield is pretty banged up. Running backs are banged up. So we had a couple periods full speed and a couple walkthrough periods. But he's slowly getting more and more work."

On preparing for three potential playoff opponents:

"Well, our quality control guys are breaking down each opponent – each possible opponent – so we have a jumpstart when we do get the final word who we're playing and when I'll at least have them all broken down already. Right now we're trying to focus on the Dallas game, make sure we have a good plan in place for our players so they can go in there and compete and do what we do, Redskins football-wise. Then when the game is over we'll have ample time to get ready for our next opponent, whoever that is."

On if running back Matt Jones could have played last week:

"No, he's hurt. He's got a hip pointer and he doesn't have full mobility where he can't stride it out, stretch it out very good. Still feels a lot of pulling and tugging and pain. Tough spot, tough position for a hip pointer at running back."

On defensive end Jason Hatcher's emotional response to clinching the division title:

"He's just one of those veteran leaders, man. He comes in and has been through the fire as far as playing experience goes, brings a wealth of experience to the football team, to the defensive line, to the whole defense, to the whole team in general. Very energetic, very passionate about the game and that rubs off on everybody. To have him healthy is going to be very, very important. And to reward him and his hard work, coming in in the offseason and preparing and getting his body ready, flying out to Denver to get what he needs to get done to try and get ready for our game and playing his butt off is great for the younger guys to see how hard he works and the work that he puts in to get himself ready for every Sunday."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On the debate about maintaining momentum or resting starters:

"I'd say that's a coaches' decision, not mine, but I can only speak for myself. I feel good and I want to play and I feel as a young player that I want to continue to develop and get a rhythm. I'll always defer to the head coach with whatever he decides. I think it's a pretty fluid situation as we go."

On if it is difficult to stay focused on this week with the playoff game looming:

"No, I don't think it's difficult. I think it's our job as football players to focus on the task at hand, which is the Dallas Cowboys. If we can't do that, then we probably shouldn't be playing at this level. We've got a chance to go 4-2 in our division, get to 9-7, win our third straight road game, win our – I believe – fourth straight game; I've kind of lost track. We've got a lot of good opportunities here in front of us. There is plenty to get excited about and to feel like we've got something to prove."

On if finishing the season 9-7 is on his mind:

"It's better than being 8-8. So I'd rather be 9-7, yeah. I'd like to go out there and play and earn our way to that, yeah."

On being able to convert in third-and-long situations:

"I think it's very important to take what the defense gives you. Sometimes, it's a completion of two or three yards that may end up moving the chains. Sometimes, it's not being greedy. Other times, if they play aggressive and give you something open down the field, then you take it. But I think it's all about the old adage of taking what the defense gives you, and when you do that, usually, you have good success or at least you avoid critical errors and it gives you a chance then to win."

On the offense clicking well this season:

"I think we have talented players, so talent always helps. I think we have a really good scheme. I think [Offensive Coordinator] Sean McVay did a really good job of preparing before the season, and then as the season developed, 'What's our best chance to be successful?' and designing plays and calling plays to give us that best chance. I think those two pieces play a big role. And then I think as the year goes on, you just improve and you get better, and as we've said over and over how it's a process, it takes time. And as you keep playing and as you keep going out there, you keep getting better and developing that chemistry and you hope that in doing that you can become a pretty strong, talented offense."

On where the offense would be without TE Jordan Reed this year:

"I don't know. You know, I don't really deal in hypotheticals. We did have Jordan Reed and we've had a lot of good plays. I've enjoyed having him and he's made a big difference. He is a matchup issue for teams. We've really said that all season long. The key is keeping him healthy along with the other guys because when they're unhealthy and on the sidelines, they can't help us and so we've got to keep them healthy, got to keep them out there. When they are out there, they are very, very talented players that make a big difference for us."

On being aggressive with play calls:

"I think play calling has been aggressive. I don't think that we've gotten conservative. I think we feel like we have a lot to play for and a lot to prove and it's hard to let up when you feel like you have more to prove and that you're the one doing the chasing. We feel like we still have got a long ways to go and I think that helps."

On the strength of the passing game and what that has meant for the running game:

"I think we always want to run the ball successfully and I think in any game if we are capable of running the ball successfully, we would have no reason not to continue to run it. I think it's in the games where you feel like the passing game is giving us the best chance to win, then that's what we're going to do. It really is week-to-week, game-to-game, quarter-to-quarter, series-to-series, what's going to give us the best chance to move the football and convert first downs and ultimately score points. There have been games where it's been the passing game and we've made the decision to kind of go that direction, which is why you see 40-plus attempts. There have been other games where the best option was to just run the ball and pound it, and game situations dictate that a little bit too. In some of these games where you've had a lead in the fourth quarter, we run the ball exclusively to try to run out the clock. Situations and week-to-week can dictate that, but I do think we've had a little bit more success throwing the ball as of late partly because of that week and what that defense presented."

On wide receiver Pierre Garçon's recent performance:

"I think a part of it is just, as we said, having a few more passing attempts. If you're dropping back more you're giving a guy like Pierre more opportunities to make a difference. If those plays are going to Matt Jones or Alfred Morris on handoffs, he's not able to show what he can do. Doesn't mean he can't do it. He's doing a good job versus man-to-man coverage of creating separation and getting open. He's doing a good job versus zone coverage of being disciplined with his routes. He's always been very detailed in his work, a total professional. He's the kind of guy you can rely on. He pretty much is fearless with his body in terms of catching the ball in traffic. That's the kind of guy that you love to play with and love to throw to because of the way he plays and how he helps make me right as a quarterback."

On if being close to the team's single-season passing yards record will factor into his playing time:

"I'll just let the head coach make that decision. I think any records that we're close to obtaining or that we do obtain is a reflection of the whole team, the whole offense, the whole coaching staff. It's not a reflection on one person. This is a team game. I think it's a testament to everybody if we're able to accomplish anything that is record-breaking. I'll let the coaches decide that but certainly would be a reflection of everybody, not just one person."

On if he will watch the later games on Sunday to look at potential playoff opponents:

"Yeah, I always try to watch with a keen eye when I get home from games. I love football, so when I'm home and our game is over, I choose to watch football. In the offseason, I'm usually watching football. That's what I do. When we get home, yeah, I'll turn on the games as best I can and watch. Like you said, we don't know until it's over so we'll see. Be ready for whatever."

On what he learned from the playoff berth in 2012:

"What I remember from the end of the '12 season going into '13 – we actually played the playoff game [in '13] – the atmosphere in FedExField, I'll never forget how electric it was. It felt like it took on a whole other level of excitement. I think that was special and I would expect that to be the case again. I just remember the intensity and knowing what you were playing for added a little bit to it. Then knowing that you're playing a really good football team, I mean at that point you've kind of whittled down to really good teams and teams that are playing well and have hit their stride. It's big time football and you want to be a guy who consistently plays in the playoffs and is a guy who has been there done that and has that experience. So in order to do that we've got to get there, which we were able to do, but now we've got to go win." 

On the Week 13 game against the Cowboys:

"I think in that game we did some good things at times. At the end of the game we had a good play there. I think we just came away from the game saying, 'Hey, maybe we should've been a little bit more aggressive and a little less conservative.' I think you've seen the fruits of that from the games following that game. So, again, we'll see as the game goes on what we can do, what we're doing well. It was a tough loss, one that we were right there at the end, but it just didn't go our way. Each game is a learning experience whether you win or lose and that one was no different. I think we'll be a little sharper going into this one than we were about a month ago."

On if there was specific moment when he realized the team could respond to adversity last week:

"There wasn't a moment. We had been moving the ball pretty well in the first half and I felt that when we got the ball back in the second half that we could be able to do the same if we could have stayed the course. Sean had a lot of good plays that he still had in his back pocket ready to use in the second half. We felt good about what we would be able to do in the second half, but we just kept going. I think the focus was, 'Hey, just get back out there, keep playing. Good things will happen if we just all do our part.' That's what happened. So I think it's just a point to just stay the course and not get caught up in one play. There's a lot of plays throughout a game, and it's a long game and a lot can happen. Just keep playing and see where we are at the end."

On the goal moving forward:

"I think the goal is to win. The goal is to beat Dallas this week, and then when we have a home playoff game, the goal will be to win that game. I don't really need to look much further than that. I've got Dallas this week. I'll focus on them. And then when we get to where we know we'll be, which is a home playoff game, let's try to win that game and just take it one week at a time. I don't need to look any further than that."

On the offensive line:

"The offensive linemen have done a phenomenal job. I think we've given up 26 sacks, down from 55-plus last year; I think it was more than that. If we could stay under 30 after this game against Dallas, I think that would be a big accomplishment to almost cut our sack total in half, which is a credit to those guys. Just very pleased with the way people have stepped up in the absence of Kory Lichtensteiger and Shawn Lauvao, the way Morgan Moses has battled through several injuries in really what is his first year starting and contributing consistently. It's exciting to be part of a group that has this much potential and promise in the way they work together, in the way they stick together – very, very impressive. I think they're growing. I think they're trending in the right direction. It's trending up. That's encouraging because you're not just looking at this week against Dallas, but for months and years to come, you've got some guys in place there that can be pretty special."

On Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan:

"To answer your question about Coach Callahan, I mean, ultimately he's the guy behind all of what makes them go. I think it started with his commitment post-practice, pre-practice, when you watch him in training camp staying out there extra with the guys. It builds a culture and that's a mindset that to be champions and to play at a high level, we've got to do things a little differently, take it a step further. For these guys, it's not a hobby. They've had to really work at it, and I think the results have shown in the way they've played. I think it's exciting to think where we can continue to go if we just keep working and grinding."

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