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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (9.9.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Did not participate today was Tom Compton with his calf. Full practice was Frank Kearse. Limited was Robert [Griffin III]. We're still waiting on the written result from Robert before we move forward."

On the depth chart at quarterback right now:

"Right now, we're still waiting on the result, until we get the result back. We can make a determination then."

On ways to help G Brandon Scherff contain Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh:

"That's a great question. It's Suh, it's [Cameron] Wake, it's [Olivier] Vernon, they have a great front. [Earl] Mitchell is doing a great job. I think just trying to keep them off balance. A quick passing game, running game obviously. Try to get him some help if we can but there's going to be a lot of plays where he is going to have to block him one-on-one. It'll be a great test for him. We're confident that he'll compete and do as good a job as he can."

On if there will be any differences in the play-calling process with QB Kirk Cousins under center:

"We have involvement. Sean calls the play to the quarterback. Usually I preview the plays two or three in advance and we come up with the play call."

On his message to Cousins as the leader going into Week 1:

"I think he just has to relax and do what he does, what he's done. Obviously he was a great quarterback in college and has done some good things here. Biggest thing is he can't feel like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. He has to rely on people to help him out, take what the defense gives him, hand the ball off, get us in the right run checks and play the position and have fun, man. We have total confidence in Kirk. He's just got to understand that if it doesn't go right early, hang in there and good things will continue to happen if he stays the course. I think he's going to be fine, just got to relax. Try to protect him, try to get the running game going, obviously punt when we need to punt. He doesn't have to do it all himself."

On QB Robert Griffin III's test results:

"He's had the test. We've had a verbal [result] but I'm not going to talk about the verbal. We know what happened last time. So we'll wait and see what happens with the written [result] and make it official."

On if they will receive the written result today:

"I don't know. I think it should come in today."

On if TE Anthony McCoy will be available if T Tom Compton cannot serve as the blocking tight end:

"Well, he's [McCoy] available, we've just got to see if we can see if we can get him ready to play mentally. We're throwing a lot at him. Wes Phillips is working with him day and night trying to get him ready. Compton, I don't know right now, he didn't practice today so that's a concern. But we do have Ty [Nsekhe] to back up both tackle spots, so if Compton can't go, we've got that covered and then obviously McCoy could be an option if he can't."

On what he saw in McCoy:

"He looked like a true tight end, a true Y, a blocking tight end. Obviously he's got great length, which you're looking for at the point of attack. And he can run good enough. He's had a couple injuries, like you said. Watching him on tape, he looked like he's a good long strider, gets down the field. Mainly we're looking for him in the core, blocking for the running game. It looked like he was very good at that. Now it's just a matter of getting him acclimated to our terminology. It's a totally different language for him. He's just got to learn it and as soon he gets ready he will be out there."

On talking to Cousins about his mental approach:

"I've talked to him a lot, that's part of playing the position is the mental approach also, not just the physical. He's worked very hard on his physical tools, his fundamentals, his footwork, his arm strength. Now you have to work on your mental approach. What happens when you throw an interception, you're not going to go the whole season and not throw a pick. When you do throw one, what happens after that? He showed against Baltimore, he threw the pick to [Terrell] Suggs and he bounced back and recovered and led the team on two scoring drives after that. I think he has come a long way in that regard. Time will tell. We have high hopes obviously."

On if those conversations helped him get a feel for what Cousins is thinking:

"I think it's a result of a young guy. I've said it many times, these young quarterbacks in the league they have such big shoes to fill with people that are playing the same position on other teams – the Peyton Mannings, Tom Bradys, Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, you can go on and on. People are comparing. That's what they expect to see on Sunday from a young quarterback and it's not going to happen more often than not. So it's a developmental process. You learn from your mistakes, you move on. We feel like he's got the tools to be a very successful quarterback. Now it's just a matter of going out there and showing he can do it on a consistent basis. That's what makes average quarterbacks good, good quarterbacks great is the ability to do it quarter-after-quarter, game-after-game."

On how much pressure is on TE Jordan Reed given how new the other tight ends are:

"A lot, we're counting on Jordan quite a bit. I think he's up for the challenge, I really do. I think his body is stronger, he's in great shape. Obviously Derek [Carrier] has got a lot on his plate also for only being here a couple weeks. It'll be a great challenge for that position. When we go two tight end sets, we go one tight end set, who's it going to be? We're a little concerned but I feel like Jordan is up for a lot of reps. We still have to protect him a little bit. He can't play the whole 70-80 plays of the game. We have to get Carrier going and if [Anthony] McCoy can go, get him going."

On getting TE Derek Carrier up to speed:

"He's good. He's a very bright guy, picked up the offense extremely well. Ran a similar style in San Fran with Coach Harbaugh the year before. But still, when you come to a new franchise, it's like learning a new language. There are some subtle differences in techniques, how you block outside zone, inside zone and some of the pass concepts, but he has picked it up quite well."

On how Cousins is able to avoid sacks:

"I think he makes quick decisions and gets the ball out of his hands. He also has a good feel for the pocket as far as moving, stepping around pressure, stepping away from pressure and then getting the ball out. Sometimes unfortunately he threw some interceptions because he was trying to get the ball out so quick. He wasn't exactly seeing where he was throwing sometimes which caused him problems. Sometimes a sack is better than a pick. I think his pocket awareness is good. We've just got to make sure he sees all his throws and protects the football."

On the rotation between defensive linemen Chris Baker and Stephen Paea:

"Yeah, Baker has done a great job. That's what I like about our D-Line. I feel like we can keep them fresh and rotate them in there to make sure they all get a crack at it. We're like a tag-team wrestling match, man. One guy goes out, we'll tag one off and he'll come in and wreak some havoc. I feel really good about our rotation. Whether it is five guys or six guys, we haven't decided yet . They've all proven worthy of being in the lineup. Staying fresh is a very, very important ingredient, especially against Miami who runs a lot of no-huddle, play up-tempo. So if we can alternate them drives or take them out one at a time, keep them fresh, it's going to be a big advantage for us. They're different type of guys, Paea is a different type of player than Baker. Same with [Kedric] Golston, same with [Terrance] Knighton, they all give you something different, [Jason] Hatcher. So as an offensive lineman if you see Knighton in there and then all of a sudden here comes Baker who is quicker. It's a good group."

On if he has established team captains:

"Yes, voted in Special Teams was Tress Way. Defense was Dashon Goldson. Offense was Trent [Williams]."

On if he has chosen a return specialist:

"We're working on it. We've got another couple days here to make sure who's who and who's where. We've got some good options, which is a good thing. We'll finalize that probably after tomorrow's practice."

On if he is excited to just play football:

"We're excited, man, we really are. I know our players are excited to tee it up, put that ball on the tee and kick it off and get the season started. I've seen the projections, I know where everybody has us ranked and that's great motivation for our football team. We're looking forward to it. Being an underdog, nobody talking about us, everybody thinks we're what we are, I think our guys are fired up to show what we are all about. I feel good about the hard work that they've put in. I feel good about them competing every single day in practice. I feel like we're getting better every time we step out on the field. So I'm excited about kicking this thing off."

 Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On the process of playing relaxed and within himself:

"I think every year I play in this league I'm going to get better. Every game, every snap, you learn something. You pick something up. Each day that I'm here and I'm out practicing, I'm getting better as a quarterback. Having now a season under my belt with the system, I think it'll help me. As we go through the season, I'll get better as we go. I'm excited for that development and growth to take place."

On the Miami defense:

"I see a very talented defense. It starts up front. They have a great pass rush, great run stoppers, just really good football players across the board up front. I don't see a real weakness. On the back end, I see a lot of guys who can make plays starting with [Brent] Grimes at corner who I think is one of the better corners in the league. They have players. It's going to be a great challenge for us, but you expect that, week in and week out, to play really, really good football players and Miami's no different."

On how he avoids taking sacks and what in particular helps him stay upright in the pocket:

"That's a big part. When you look at statistics that are critical to winning football games, getting sacks is a big stat and not taking sacks really helps you have a chance. It's an important part of my game to avoid those, got to get the ball out of your hands, got to make quick decisions, got to see the field quickly. It'll always be an important part. That being said, there are times when a sack is the only option if a guy gets beat. With the defensive line that Miami has, that may happen at times. It's that ability to make the right decision in a split second to know, 'Is this the time to take a sack? Is this the time to dump it off to somebody? Do I need to throw it away? Or can I throw it away?' Those split second decisions are what makes the great quarterbacks and separate them from the average ones."

On the reason for his sleepless nights last season:

"Well, it was once I was no longer playing. It was just feeling like I hadn't done the job. Anybody who has a job to do and doesn't feel like they get it done, you have that feeling of, 'Shoot. I wish I could do it over again but I can't.' Having to deal with that is tough but at the same time, I've always held to the adage and I've said it before here, 'Tough times don't last. Tough people do.' I just try to remind myself of that that I'm going to be a tough person through this. I'm going to keep going and trust that if I do that, maybe I'll get another shot. And here we are."

On when he felt like he got past that crossroad and felt renewed again:

"I don't know that there was any line that I crossed, but I think as the season went on and progressed, I just started to look forward to what do I need to do now, what's important now and keep moving forward." 

On being an opening game starter for the first time since college and not letting the moment overwhelm him:

"That's a great point, Mike. That's certainly a focus for me is being able to understand yes, it's a big game, yes, it's important, but I'm the kind of guy who is going to acknowledge that. It's my job to almost stay relaxed and enjoy the process and enjoy the moment, have fun and put a smile on my face. I think that's certainly a point of emphasis for me this week. Like you said, haven't been in this position in a few years so it's a cool opportunity though. Last time I did it, in 2011, the season went alright. It was a good year. Hopefully, we can have the same thing this year."

On if there are any tricks he's learned to not let the moment "bog him down":

"I think it's just perspective, having the right perspective. I say, some phrases that I repeat over and over, 'Just enjoying the process, having fun, not making it a bigger deal than it is.' Being able to do that will be very important."

On his cohesiveness with the wide receivers:

"I think the strength of our whole offense and maybe the strength of our whole team is the outside — the receivers, the tight ends, the playmakers and even at the running back position. For me, it's my job to get them the football, then let them go do the jaw-dropping stuff. I'm going to try to put the ball in their hands and then let them go from there. I'm excited for that job, that role." 

On how he recognizes defenses:

"It's a lot of film work. It's a lot of just going into a room and going over plays of your own, going out here on the practice field, going through walkthrough, going through different practice periods that have different emphasis. It's a combination of factors and then it takes time. You're never going to be a master overnight but hopefully you can pile it on day after day, week after week, season after season to where you start to become a master at recognizing it and understanding it."

On how much the team's running backs can help him:

"If we can run the ball well, it's going to bode well for our passing game. It's going to take a lot off of me. That's going to always be the plan. You always want to commit to running the football and never get away from that. We feel like we have the running backs to be able to do that and have success running the football."

On when he started looking exclusively at tape of Miami:

"I'd say it was the week of the Jacksonville preseason game when I was told that I probably wouldn't be playing that game. You say, 'Alright, what's next? What's important now?' That's getting ready for Miami so it was that week."

On if he started looking at Miami tape during the offseason:

"Yeah, you start talking about them. You have quality control guys breaking down film back in the spring because they know we're going to play them. You certainly can look at it that far back. At the same time, I like to have my weekly rhythm and routine. And so I don't want to get to far ahead to get out of that rhythm."

On the greatest lesson he learned last year:

"I don't know off the top of my head the greatest lesson. I certainly learned a lot. I do feel like I'm maybe a little stronger of a person having gone through it. Time will tell as we go but to give you one lesson that stands above all the others, I don't know. That'd be hard for me to say." 

On the right side of the offensive line:

"The right side of the line, they're young, a little inexperienced but I'm excited about them. I feel like there's a lot of potential there. I feel like they approach the game the right way. I feel like both of them carry themselves like professionals. They detail their work. They come out to practice with a mindset of working hard. They're not trying to find the easy way out. Yeah, they're young players and I'm sure they're going to do some things this year that at times people are going to scratch their heads or wonder, but we all do that when we're young. I look at it as for the long haul I'm really excited about those two and feel like over the long run if I get the privilege of playing quarterback here, I feel really good about those two guys being on the line for a long time. I'm sure were going to have our hiccups along the way but I'm really excited about what they can bring. Especially as we get out there and play more and more and more and improve."

On what bothered him mentally last year:

"I think, like I said, anytime you have a job to do and you feel like you didn't get the job done, it's going to eat at you if you care about it. For me I deeply care about it and so it was eating at me. It was important then to say, 'Alright, what do I do now? What do I do about it now?' Obviously I couldn't go right back on the field and try to fix it. But that may have been a good thing to just be able to go back and learn from it and slowly try to grow and build off of it."

On how he crawled out of that mindset:

"You just go back, I started watching some different cut-ups, tried to study some of the better quarterbacks in the league. Different concepts, just try to go back and be a student of the game, really learn and challenge myself, make the most of the opportunity I had. Being that I wasn't active for some of those weeks, I wasn't having to prep in the same way for the team we were playing. I felt like, I'll go back and just study my own game and try to improve my own perspective. You're always looking at how can I get better, with the circumstances around me and the situation I am in. What can I do to get better and deliberately practice, whatever that is."

On not having to look over his shoulder if he makes mistakes:

"I think it's just like anybody else who starts the season. The starting quarterback, obviously, everybody has a limit, you've got to do your part, you've got to play well. But I do feel believed in, I haven't questioned that, I've never questioned that. I feel like I have all the pieces around me to be able to be successful."

On the impact of Quarterbacks Coach Matt Cavanaugh:

"Matt's been a major help. I think Sean [McVay] had a lot to handle last year. Having Matt here also helps Sean, because it gives Sean an ability to focus on other things. It gives Matt an ability to focus on some details with us in the quarterback room. It's helping our whole staff, I think it's helping our quarterback room, our offense. He's really detailed some reads. He brings experience from different teams he's been with, successful teams as both a player and a coach. I really value his experience, having played 14 years and then now coaching, being in this league I believe it's been almost 30 years or more. There's just a lot of experience that I can gain from him. I'm excited about what he's brought and what I hope he will continue to bring throughout the season."

On QB Robert Griffin III and if his presence could distract him:

"He's been great. He's always been classy. I don't feel a distraction in the building. The distraction is if I turn on the TV, answer my phone, get on Twitter. So the distraction is [waves at crowd of media]. As long as I'm in the building working hard, 'ignoring the noise,' even if there is something on the outside being said, I don't feel it. Playing in Washington, D.C. for the Washington Redskins in the NFL, there's always going to be something going on that's going to be there. It's so important to just look forward and not look right or left."

On how he makes sure not to look over his shoulder:

"I think it goes back to Jay's really communicated belief in me. I do feel like I've grown a lot as a player. I have a little bit of an 'OK, I've been here before, I've played in some games, I've had some experiences now.' Getting those experiences under my belt I think will serve me well going forward and give me a little more confidence."

On if Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay will be calling in the plays from the sideline:

"I don't know exactly how the plays get called, but I know it's coming through Sean ultimately. There's a lot of different people who are going to weigh in throughout the game but it's Sean calling [in] the plays."

On how he prepares on Saturday and Sunday and if he'll relax by watching Michigan State:

"There's always some nerves and some excitement as the game gets closer and closer. As I said earlier, it's just so important to take deep breaths and say 'All right, this is big. It's a great opportunity but I don't want to make it bigger than it is.' I'm going to play my best when I can be in that sweet spot where I'm relaxed but focused. Every athlete is trying to find that sweet spot each weekend. Yeah, Michigan State plays Saturday night and it'll be tough because I'll be wanting to tune in but I'll know I need to get to bed. It's certainly a big game in East Lansing this weekend. I'll tune in for a minute, put it on to at least see the scene, I want to see the scene in East Lansing. I'm sure the place will be rocking, after about 10 minutes I'll be turning it off and trying to get some sleep."

On learning from defensive veterans:

"You're always trying to learn, I think it's so important to pick the brain of players, especially a guy like DeAngelo [Hall], a guy that has played 12 years, has a ton of experience, has seen a lot.  I go around the building and try to pick as many people's brains as I can, especially when you get someone like a Coach Cavanaugh who comes from Chicago and has been around the block. It's 'What was this guy like? What did he do? What made him successful? How did he prepare?' I try to be a great question asker and I feel like if I'm a great question asker I'm going to learn a lot. That's something I will always carry with me when I'm in this league."

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