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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (9.16.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening Statement:"Injuries – DeSean [Jackson] obviously did not practice, Justin Rogers did not practice with his foot. [Martrell] Spaight is in concussion symptoms, so he's in the concussion protocol. Terrance Knighton did not practice with a sore rib. Limited was Kory Lichtensteiger, finger; Tom Compton, calf; DeAngelo Hall, rib; and Trent Williams, ankle. And full practice was Jackson Jeffcoat."

On if injuries will keep CB DeAngelo Hall or T Trent Williams out Sunday:"We don't know yet. We'll have to wait and see. D-Hall was limited today. He did some good things and Trent [Williams] obviously practiced for the most part. We just held him out at the end."

On the addition of Will Blackmon at cornerback and the depth at position:"We're concerned about Justin [Rogers] obviously, so we had to sign another one and we'll go from there. But, we still have [David] Amerson, [Bashaud] Breeland is coming back and D-Hall hopefully will be good to go. So, we have three corners right there and obviously Kyshoen [Jarrett] can play inside at nickel too, so he's a valuable flex guy."

On origin of LB Martrell Spaight's concussion:"He had concussion symptoms, so he's in the protocol. So, I don't know. He must've got it in the game."

On the plan at strong safety:"Strong safety? Right now it's [Dashon] Goldson and Trenton [Robinson]."

On if S Dashon Goldson would possibly move to strong safety:"I think they're interchangeable, but right now Goldson is the free safety and Trenton would be the strong. Kyshoen, like I said, is a valuable flex guy because he can play nickel and free safety. He's good for us."

On if the starters at safety are a reflection on S Jeron Johnson:"No, I think it's more of a reflection of how well Trenton's played. Jeron will play too, you know. He's doing well also, but Trenton got the majority of the snaps last week and did some good things. So, we're just going to continue to try and build off that performance. Not to say Jeron is doing poorly, we just think Trenton is doing good."

On how much Johnson's hamstring injury in the offseason set him back:"A lot. Anytime you have an injury like that, not only does it set you back as a player but it also gives somebody else all your reps. It lets them play well and gives us a good look at them. That's kind of what happened with Trenton."

On S Trenton Robinson:"I think he's got a good confidence, number one. He's got another year under his belt. He's picked up the system pretty well and he's fast. So, he's got a little bit more speed. I think both of them are valuable guys back there for us. Both will probably see the field. It's just right now if you're calling a starter, it would be Trenton."

On how Johnson has handled the situation:"I mean, he's a pro, man. He's a heck of a guy. He works hard and he's done everything he can to get his body right his hamstring to 100 percent. I think he is right now, but working him into the lineup is another thing. And he will get some significant playing time. It's just when and we'll figure that out. He's a valuable part of our secondary and special teams."

On sustaining drives while dealing with penalties throughout the game:"Yeah, you teach the fundamentals of football and you try not to get penalties. There were a couple penalties that could or could not have been thrown on both sides of the ball, I'm sure. When they do happen, we have to do a good job of digging down deep and trying to overcome them. We did a poor job of that in the game. We got a couple of offensive holdings, couple of offensive P.I.'s [pass interference penalties]. Pierre [Garçon] had one. His hand got tangled up with [Brent] Grimes. It could've gone either way, but they called it on us and we didn't overcome, but we threw a pick on the next play, I think it was. The offensive P.I. to Jordan Reed, he was just running a route and the linebacker ran into him. They called it, backed us up. Instead of getting a field goal or going for it on fourth-and-1, we had to punt it. So, those were big plays that we did not overcome, unfortunately."

On how hard it is to practice punt coverage:"It's hard, especially with the amount of bodies you have during this time of year. You know, with a couple of the injured guys that aren't practicing, you're limited with the numbers. You've got the practice squad guys out there trying to get the exact look with the speed and tempo that the Rams are going to give you. It's difficult, but we just have to hold our guys accountable and make sure we challenge them. We've got to do a better job in all phases of special teams, no question about it. Tavon [Austin] took one back last year, we all know that. He took one back last week, in fact. He's a dangerous player both as a returner and as a receiver and as a running back. So, we have got to do a good job with the hang-time. First of all, we have got to protect out punter then get the proper hang-time and then get the coverage."

On the reason for placing S Duke Ihenacho on the Reserve/Injured list for the full season:"He's having surgery and we just thought that the amount of time that it would take for him to comeback is lengthy based on the doctors and trainers and all that. So, we decided to put him on IR."

On the key to having success on third down last week:"We did some good things. We had some third-and-makeables, number one. The ones we didn't get, we had I think three running attempts in makeable yardage. We ran an inside zone that we were close. Third-and-eight, I think we ran a sweep and we had a couple of third-and-unmakeables that we didn't get. But I just think we've been working those things and Jordan Reed made some big conversions and Pierre [Garçon] had one I think. It's just a matter of getting the ball out of your hands, protection first and making a throw and tough catch and we did that."

On how big of an opportunity WR DeSean Jackson's absence is for other receivers:"Yeah, a big chance and Ryan Grant also. Sometimes as a wide receiver you're playing behind guys like Pierre [Garçon] and DeSean, you don't get many looks. So, this is a great opportunity for all those guys and Andre [Roberts] too. They're going to get more and more reps and opportunities to show what they have and we're counting on them big time. We are banking on the fact that what they've done out here [practice] is going to transform into game-time. But only time will tell and I feel really good about Ryan and obviously [Rashad] Ross and Andre and Jamison [Crowder] picking up the slack. It's hard to pick up slack for a guy like DeSean, but I think as a group effort we have guys that are very diligent in their route-running abilities and have good hands. They can do some good things."
On QB Kirk Cousins' ability to complete mid-level throws to TE Jordan Reed:"He was consistent with that all throughout the offseason and obviously the offseason program, training camp and it was a great throw and a great catch by Jordan. Overall I think Kirk played a pretty good game and obviously the two interceptions were what they were, but we were in position to at least tie the game in the fourth quarter and unfortunately didn't make plays. I think from a game one standpoint, you never like to lose a football game, but I think there's a lot to build on with the quarterback and everybody else."

On if any one recent thing prompted the change at kicker:"I don't think so. I think basically we brought in some specialists to work out the other day just in case one of them got injured and we were really impressed with the way it worked out. I just think it's a combination of his [Dustin Hopkins'] leg strength and his accuracy out there. We just feel like with the special teams' difficulties covering kicks sometimes, it would be nice to kick the ball off through the end zone at a consistent rate. That's really the main reason and he kicked field goals accurately out here. But we'll see. We've got a good day tomorrow to practice him and the next day. Hopefully we have confidence in kicking the field goals. Kai [Forbath], you can't say enough about his accuracy inside 40 yards. He's well documented statistically and we'll miss him, but we're just trying to get a more rounded kicker that's a little bit better on longer field goals and kicking off."

On the challenge the offensive line will face this week:"Yeah, it's not like after you play the Dolphins you can take a sigh of relief and say, 'Thank goodness they're out of here.' Now you have St. Louis coming in here whose defensive line is probably better. They're faster and they pose a little bit different threat. You know [Robert] Quinn is extremely fast off the edge and very athletic. Obviously [Chris] Long is a heck of a polished pass rusher and then you've got Aaron Donald, who is a Pro Bowler as a rookie. They're excellent running to the football, getting up the field and they'll be a great challenge for them again like next week will be for the Giants on a short week. Those guys can't ever relax, man. Every week is going to be a challenge for them and we have to stay after them and keep pushing them. I think the type of guys that they are, they will do that."

On if the CB Chris Culliver suspension caught him by surprise:

"Yeah, well, we thought it could be a possibility, but it caught us by surprise."

On the plans for cornerback this weekend:

"We have [Bashaud] Breeland back. We're working through that now."

On what the presence of DT Aaron Donald allows the Rams' defense to do that other defenses can't:

"He's just really active. He gets up the field so fast. He's disruptive. You think you can just run the ball at him because he's not as big as a 3-technique or a defensive lineman as some of these guys are, but he's so active and so quick off the snap that he gets penetration and he's disruptive in the run game, also. Then, obviously, in the pass game, he's as good as a pass rusher as there is at the defensive lineman position. He just plays hard all the time and is very active, like I said. Then you have [Robert] Quinn on defensive end over Trent [Williams], and  obviously, [Chris] Long who's done a lot of good things. Then, [William] Hayes who comes in as a very strong, powerful guy, [Alec] Ogletree can run at linebacker and [James] Laurinaitis… they're a solid defense."

On how much RB Alfred Morris' play last week helps the offense:

"It helps a lot. We just have to be prepared to convert on some of the third downs. This is not a team that's going to just lay back and say, 'OK, you can run the ball.' There is some personnel groupings that we like to get in that St. Louis will say, 'No can do.' We're going to have to throw the ball sometime. They're going to load up the box and bring the strong safety, do some different things, try to slow the running game down. But it does take the pressure off the quarterback. The linemen love it. They can get in their stance, come off, get their double teams, get up to the next level and they love to run the ball. They don't like to be pass-setting all the time, trying to block all these stunts and Aaron Donald and [Robert] Quinn. They like to come off the rock and blow people up and we're pretty good at it, I think. We have to use that formula for our success throughout this whole year. We don't ever want to be caught in a game where we throw the ball 65 times. It could happen, but that's not the intent here."

On the circle of communication with Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay and Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan after one regular season game:

"It's good. It's solid. We had no problem. We had one delay of game penalty and that was a communication issue up front on the protection. Other than that, the plays were in with plenty of time. Communication was fine. We have a good set of plays, a good game plan for the game. Kirk [Cousins] is well-schooled on what to expect in certain situations. It goes like that so it's not an issue. Coach Callahan does an excellent job putting his stamp on the running game. We have total communication before a series start of what we want to get to and as the series are going. It goes smooth."

On if Reed and WR Pierre Garçon will be more of a focal point with Jackson's absence:

"Yeah, no question. Pierre had a good game – unfortunate P.I. [pass interference], and then he had another catch that was called back because of the alleged pick by Jordan Reed. Pierre, he's ready to step up and make some plays. He wants the ball. He's hungry for the ball, same with Jordan Reed. But the other guys also have to do their thing. It's very important for us to continue to spread the ball around, get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and Pierre and Jordan are two of our best."

On if quarterback Colt McCoy is the No. 2 quarterback:

"He was number two this week, yeah."

On assessing the play of the linebackers, particularly Preston Smith and Trent Murphy:

"I think we did good. I think they stopped the run like we wanted to. They had a couple runs there late that were unfortunate. We missed a tackle there and they had third-down-and-eight running out the clock that was kind of frustrating. But overall, you go into the game, you want to stop the running attack, I think we did a good job of that. You want to rush the passer. We had three sacks. It's a group effort. Preston did well. Trent was very, very good in the running game – solid, rushed the passer OK, had a couple pressures. And the linebackers, Keenan [Robinson] and Perry [Riley, Jr.], they're running to the ball doing some good things. They're some things we're going to clean up and get cleaned up, but that unit I thought played fairly well with the exception of the last two minute drive of the half and closing out the game and not getting them off the field."

 Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On the things he saw on film from his performance last week:

"I think the positives were we moved the football well. We felt like we were able to do what we wanted to do. We got into the red zone a lot. Felt good about the completions we had. I felt like we were completing the football to a lot of different people. A lot of the same things I said on Sunday after the game. Wish you could do better, first of all, wish you could've found a way to win at the end. We needed to – when we got down to the red zone – come away with points more often than we did. I'm always going to look at the two turnovers as a chance to protect the football better and give us a better chance."

On if he learned anything about himself in Week 1:

"Learned a lot. I gained confidence, became a better quarterback. Each play is a chance to improve and get better and become a better player. I grew a lot and learned a lot."

On the benefits of being a starter and being able to play again next week:

"It's a very beneficial role. I do feel different now in this role. It feels a little more stable. It caters to the ability to develop as a quarterback. This is a great opportunity for me as I've said. I want to take full advantage of it and just keep building day-after-day."

On if his confidence grew in the offensive line last week and if that will impact his desire to take more downfield shots moving forward:

"I think the answer to your question, I'll just stay within myself. I'm not going to say 'Oh, now they showed this or that. I'm going to start taking shots or doing more.' Stay within myself, do what I'm coached to do no matter what is going on around me. I trust that if I stay within my rules and do what I'm coached to do that the rest will take care of itself."

On how things changed once WR DeSean Jackson left the game:

"We've said it through the offseason, through the preseason, that we have good depth at wide receiver as well as at other positions. So when DeSean did go down we have total confidence in Ryan Grant and Andre Roberts and others to step up. That being said, DeSean is one of our best football players, one of the best players at his position in the entire NFL. Losing him is tough, but we go forward. You kind of expect to have this kind of adversity show up as you play. Having lost the tight ends we lost in the preseason, you just have to find ways to adapt and move forward."

On if Jackson's absence constricts the offense:

"I think the biggest thing is that we move the football. Whether it was through shots or through dink and dunk, we were able to move the football. Did it affect our offense in a drastic way? No, we felt like we moved it. We got down in the red zone and it was just those little plays at the end, not coming away with what we wanted. There will certainly be times where we benefit from having DeSean out there and the shots we were able to take last year."

On his confidence in WR Rashad Ross:

"I think the level of confidence is high just because of what he showed everybody in the preseason. I got to play with him a lot with the twos and threes. You saw what he could do in preseason games. I believe he has played in the NFL in the sense that he has played a lot, practiced with us a lot, he was here with us a lot last season. So for a guy who has quote-unquote 'never played in the NFL,' I think he is pretty darn experienced."

On what he sees in the Rams' defensive front:

"I just see a very talented defense all the way around – well coached, they play hard. Pretty much everything you're looking for in a defense. As far as what we need to do, we need to be sound in what we do. We have to be very disciplined, very well prepared, pay great attention to detail and go out and execute."

On the pressure Jackson being out puts on the offense to generate long drives:

"I think anytime you can score quick is a great weapon. I think it puts fear in the heart of a defense when you have that threat. Believe me, we feel like we can still do that. We feel like we have really good players. We said all along we have depth at that position, it wasn't because we only had one guy who could go deep. Whether it is Pierre [Garçon] or Rashad Ross or Jordan Reed matched up on a linebacker or safety, there are things we can do to still be an explosive offense. We'll always try to find ways to make the big play if it is there."

On how much the running game's success alleviates his responsibility:

"Well, I still have responsibilities but I think that when you run the football well it gives you a great chance to be successful. That's just one of those statistics when you look at teams that run the ball well year in and year out, you always have a chance to be very, very good on offense. It was really encouraging to see that this first game. It's just a matter of continuing to do it week in and week out. Can't say enough good things about what we were able to do running the football last week."

On what makes RB Alfred Morris so successful:

"That's a great question. He's very steady, very durable. He has been on the field for us, he doesn't come off. He's able to keep going. He runs hard. He is tough minded and it reflects in the way he runs the football. Tough to bring down, he's got good body control. He's got good ability to cut and change directions and all those things lend themselves well to being a good back and consistently being a good back week in and week out rather than just being a guy that flashes here and then disappears. He's able to consistently do it week in and week out because of the way he approaches the game."

On if Morris was more motivated last week:

"I don't know that it was suddenly, 'He's more motivated, now he's playing better.' If anything, Alfred's consistent. He's steady. He's going to be there week in week out. It's one week. I'm not sure exactly what to attribute it to. It's definitely a testament to his ability to just continue pushing and be durable. He's a guy we're going to rely on all season long."

On the success on third downs:

"I think we were six-for-nine on third downs in the first half, which was really, really good. They key was we were in manageable third downs – third-and-5, third–and-6. In the second half, when we were in… I keep saying, third-and-29 is slightly unrealistic. Staying in manageable third downs is the first thing. I've always said throughout the offseason, another year in the system gives me a better command, a better understand of where we want to go with the football versus different coverages, how we want to tighten down our reads. [Quarterbacks] Coach [Matt] Cavanaugh has done a great job with us in the quarterback room just developing us as quarterbacks to be that much better in those situations. There's a lot of factors that contribute but I feel from a quarterbacks perspective's just being another year down the road going into my fourth year, another year with Coach [Jay] Gruden, having Coach Cavanaugh, all those pieces have made a big difference. [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] also as the play caller has done a really good job of saying, 'What do we do well? What is Kirk comfortable with? Where does he feel good on third down?' and giving me a chance to be successful with stuff I feel good about."

On the similarities between the defensive fronts of the Dolphins and Rams:

"I said to Brandon Scherff,  'This is the NFL.' You go against [Dolphins DT] Ndamukong Suh Week 1 and Week 2 you're going against [Rams DT] Aaron Donald. It just comes after you week after week after week. And that's what makes this league so great and how it can separate the pretenders from the contenders. It's part of the NFL, yeah, great defensive line and we're going to see great defensive lines down the road consistently week in and week out. It's a test and I think our guys will be ready for the challenge and they're certainly working very hard this week to be prepared."

On what he said to the offensive line after Week 1:

"Well, I definitely told them after the game, 'Although we didn't get the win, when you guys are able to run the ball like that and secure your blocks the way you did, it just makes my life, the play caller's life, everybody's life so much easier.' The key is going to be continuing to do it week in and week out going forward. It's still very, very early. Certainly excited about what they showed. Looking forward to hopefully being able to lavish them with and shower them with gifts for what they did this year. I would love to do that more than anything."

On if his conversion van and Morris' bicycle make them the coolest backfield in the NFL:

"I would say sometimes our swagger is having no swagger. I do drive a conversion van right now. I'm working on that, trying to get another car up here. Alfred tends to be biking to work. I guess we're a little quirky, little different. As long as we can be productive, I think it'll work. Let's win football games and then a conversion van will start to be cool."

On if there is any talk of "revenge" for being shutout by the Rams last season:

"I don't know that 'revenge' is the word. Anytime you don't get the job done and you get a chance to go back against the same team, you certainly really want to make things right. There were a lot of teams like that last year where now we're going to have a chance to come back and try to make things right and be much better. A great chance to do that this week."

On if TE Jordan Reed and WR Pierre Garçon are key moving forward:"Yeah, I would agree. I think Pierre, it's going to come-and-go. You know Alfred [Morris] is going to go for one-hundred-and-whatever [yards] in the first game and then maybe someone else will step up. That's part of having a team and having guys. You're going to have different guys step up week-to-week. Having those two, Pierre and Jordan, be as effective as they were was outstanding and we expect that week-in and week-out going forward. I'm sure other guys will show up in certain games, but we certainly as we look at our offense feel like Pierre and Jordan are very, very important pieces. When they are able to contribute catching the football and making plays, we're going to be much better."

On how sore he was after the game:

"Well, we only had one sack. I didn't feel like I took a lot of hits. That being said, my body felt pretty good but any time you battle the way we did for four quarters and have that many plays and 46 plays in the first half, you wake up the next morning pretty exhausted. I guess that's why we only play once a week. It takes a lot out of you."

On if Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams and DT Aaron Donald allow the Rams' defense to do some things that other defenses can't:

"I think they do do some unique things. I think Coach Williams has been known for that for the last few years of being very creative and very innovative with blitzes and coverages and disguises. That's a credit to them. Anytime you have the front four they have, the pass rushers they have, the front seven, it does give you a lot of freedom to do some things that are unique. When you feel like you can get home with certain players, it gives you some flexibility. I think that their talent combined with their philosophy is a combination that can wreak a lot of havoc and they've shown that the last few seasons with their personnel. So, very talented."

On why he drives a conversion van:

"The long story of it is I bought it off my grandma a couple years ago and the car that I was driving day-to-day, to and from the facility, the lease ended on it, so I've been a little lazy and haven't gotten another car to go from A to B to work. So the van has kind of had to fill that role for now. It's a great car to take to and from FedExField because it's about an hour and a half drive from all the way out here so it's great when you have family in town and that kind of thing, but I definitely could use another car just to get from A to B."

On his comfort level with Reed:

"I think the biggest thing with Jordan is that we've really only scratched the surface because of some injuries, because of the fact that I haven't worked with him that long. He's so talented, I feel like we're only in the beginning. There's going to be miscommunication at times. There's going to be growing pains but I'm excited because I think over the long haul, if he can stay out there and stay healthy and keep being productive, he's only going to get more experienced and you're going to see him more and making more plays. I'm excited for the long haul with a guy like that because it's still very early in the process of trying to develop a rapport with him. Very talented, we've said it all along from the day he got here as a draft pick. We could see it right away that he was going to be a difference maker. It's just a matter of keeping him out there and keeping him involved because we've always known that he can be a serious matchup problem for other teams."

On what his talent would be if he appeared in an Eastern Motors commercial:

"Oh man, I don't know. You guys have seen my high school singing video, so I can always fall back on that. [Reporter: 'We're trying to erase that from our memory.'] Good man, good man. I'm trying erase it from my memory, too, I think. Yeah, we'll see."

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