August 2, 2015
Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center – Richmond, Va.
Head Coach Jay Gruden
On the injury report:
"On the injuries real quick, Tevin Mitchel has a shoulder [injury], he is going to undergo further evaluation. We'll know more this afternoon. Willie Smith is going to take another day or two with his Achilles strain. And Jeron Johnson tweaked his hamstring but it looks like he is going to try to go today. We have a couple guys that we're holding out of practice today just because it's a rest day – guys that are coming off injuries, we don't want to overwork them this early."
On if players like tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson can "learn" to stay healthy:
"Well, a lot of it is luck but a lot of it is also what you're doing in the weight room to get yourself ready and how you're taking care of your body off the field. A lot of it is just dumb luck. Jordan has had a couple unfortunate injuries, and same with Chris. They're both tough guys, I like to think. And knock on wood, they look excellent out there right now. But some of those guys we have got to make sure they get treatment before and after practice even if they don't have any injuries. They have got to take care of their bodies, they've got to ice their bodies down and do what the trainers tell them. And so far, those guys are on the right path."
On getting bigger along the offensive and defensive lines:
"We definitely got bigger, that's for sure. In addition to Brandon [Scherff] and Arie [Kouandjio] and Spencer Long moving into the right side – the right guard – we're bigger, and you can feel them, especially on some of the runs we're trying to do – the different runs we're doing. So far, so good. We are still working on our identity, so to speak, in the running game. We are trying to challenge our guys with different run-type schemes. It's looking good so far, but we have a long way to go."
On if he is concerned about not having much youth on the defensive line:
"You always want to have some young guys that develop in-house, but I think they still have a lot of football left in them – all those guys. And you throw in Frank Kearse who played some minutes for us last year, he's a younger guy, so to speak. So we have a couple of young guys and plenty we're going to look at and gauge. But to have a veteran group on the defensive line is not a bad thing. You had [Kedric] Golston in there also. He's a veteran. But they can all still play. Eventually we'll have to probably get a younger guy in here to develop but right now we feel good about the depth of our defensive line. And that's the good thing about it is they might be a little bit older but the amount of guys that we have in there that can rotate, we should keep them fairly fresh."
On defensive end Stephen Paea:
"I've seen he's probably our strongest player. That's for sure. He is very good in the weight room. He and Mike Clark go back there -- were together in Chicago -- and exceptional in the weight room. And it carries over on the field. He's got great work ethic and he plays very hard. So to add him in the mix as a rotational guy with [Jason] Hatcher and Terrance [Knighton] and [Chris] Baker and [Kedric] Golston and all those guys – and Ricky Jean [Francois] – should give us a lot of depth and should keep us fresh."
On if his relationship with the defensive coaching staff has changed with the change at those positions:
"I sat in on all the offseason meetings with Coach [Perry] Fewell and studying what they're doing in the secondary. I always like to learn more about the defenses and how they attack and how they react to certain things and how they adjust to certain formations. I've been more of a listener and asking questions and 'What if this, what if we give you this when you're playing this?' and challenging them a little bit with formations and questions and all that stuff. But its Joe [Barry]'s baby right now. Joe and Perry have been a lot of places and have a lot of experience, and I trust what they're doing right now."
On if he would hesitate to start a rookie over a veteran:
"No, that's not my M.O. If you look at the track record, you know in Cincinnati we had a ton of rookies playing for us and I don't have any problem with a rookie if he's playing well. Right now, Brandon is taking the first-string reps Arie is making a strong move there at left guard, he's doing a great job. [Jamison] Crowder is making plays all over the field. Preston [Smith] is doing a good job on defense. Kyshoen Jarrett is doing an excellent job at safety. We're going to let them guys keep competing and if they outplay a guy right in front of them, that's what competition is all about. We'll play the best guy."
On if the changes to the coaching staff this offseason were the right ones:
"Oh, absolutely. I have nothing but respect for the guys that worked for me before; they're all good football coaches. A lot of times in this business you need to make changes and we felt like we had to do that as an organization. The changes that we made, we feel very good about them. The results will speak for themselves once we get going. Right now, I like their energy, I like their knowledge of the game, and I like the way they coach these players. I've said it a million times. The bottom line is we need coaches here to develop the young guys and get the most out of the veterans. I feel good about where we are with those guys."
On "the knocks" on running back Matt Jones and how Jones has progressed since OTAs:
"I don't know who was knocking him, I don't remember ever knocking him. Coming out of Florida, I think he's a big kid and he's got great feet in the hole and he's showing great vision out here so far. The only people I've seen him run into are safeties so far. I've been impressed with Matt. It's a tough position to play. You think you just get the ball from the quarterback and you run through a hole and all is good, but there is a lot more to it to playing running back. So far he's picking up the nuisances of the protections and the footwork of entering the hole and obviously catching the ball out of the backfield is something a little bit new to him. I've been impressed with his progress thus far. Randy Jordan is an excellent running backs coach and he takes these guys under his wing and does a great job of developing these guys. Matt, we have high hopes for obviously with his size and power running the football."
On the defense taking away the deep ball in practice and if that is also good practice for the quarterbacks to check down:
"Oh, no question, it's great. You get excited when you throw deep balls in practice when you're an offensive guy, but if you're the Head Coach or a defensive guy, you don't want to see any of those over the top of your defense. We gave up a lot of those in the past and we're trying to really make offenses work for every yard that they get. Every blade of grass they have to work for. If the quarterback has to check it down, we're going to rally all eyes on the ball and make good sound tackles, fundamental tackles and try and get the ball out. It is a great test for our quarterbacks to be patient. Get the ball out of your hands, let the running backs or receivers on the checkdowns do the work for you. We have taken a few shots and hit some, but overall I think our defense has done a great job at taking away the deep ones. "
On General Manager Scot McCloughan and their relationship in building the roster:
"It's a collaboration, no question about it. That's the one thing that I really feel comfortable with Scot moving forward with – he takes input from everybody. Obviously, ultimately he has the final call on who he wants to select. It never really came down to 'I want this,' 'No, but I want this'. Together we always came up with a choice that we felt good about the team. He understands what football is all about, he understands what offenses are all about and defenses and what it takes to win in this league. He believes in big people obviously in the front, as do I. We made the necessary adjustments and picks, and we're going to get better from here on out. Together – if you're asking, we collaborated together, but he ultimately had the final call."
On running back Alfred Morris and if free agency will affect Gruden's view of him:
"No, not at all. We anticipate Alfred being here for a while – knock on wood, hopefully. Alfred, sometimes he's not big-name guy – I guess because you've got DeSean and Robert obviously gets a lot of publicity – Alfred just goes about his business every day. He's been excellent with blitz pickups. He's catching the ball out of the backfield so much better. He doesn't say a peep. He just comes to work every day and you love to have guys like that. At the running back position, that's pretty rare for a running back not to complain about getting the ball – sometimes he probably should. Overall, man, I just love what Alfred is all about both on and off the field. I'm very happy to have him."
On if he is having more fun this year:
"Yeah, well, I try to have fun all the time – it doesn't look like it. I am having fun actually. You have got to love this sport. You love the competition, you love the guys out here coming to work, the coaching staff that we have, the people in the front office, everybody is working with one goal in mind and that's to turn this thing around and get ourselves back to winning a Super Bowl, a Super Bowl caliber team as quick as possible. You can see us all working and putting it in. You don't have to be a miserable guy to do that. You can still have fun with the guys and get a lot out of them and that's what we try to do."
On if the roster has been built based on the NFC East:
"Well, we are building our roster to just field the best 53 guys, number one, but we are also very aware of what our division opponents are all about – the Cowboys, the Eagles and Giants. It's no secret you want to protect your quarterback and run the ball. Obviously on defense you have got to stop the run and get after the quarterback when it's third down and we're trying to do our best to build our team to appease that. Overall, you look and see what your competition is all about, but we also have the other games out of the division that we have to worry about. We're trying to build our team so teams have to worry about us, and not us worry about them."
General Manager Scot McCloughan
On signing linebacker Junior Galette:
"The thing about it is, we have a process with the Redskins that on every team we have reports on every player and we rank them from 1-53 and the practice squad guys. It's our job, especially my job, that the 90 [-man roster] is strong as it can possibly be, and the 53 is as strong as it can possibly be. We did thorough, thorough research. We brought him in, met with him for hours interview-wise, and you know, I've been lucky enough to be in this league a long time and to be able to talk to the right people on other teams, our own players and other players and coaches. And the decision was made because we really believe he's a Redskin, and that's why we signed him."
On how Galette tried to convince him about his character:
"The thing about it, it wasn't 'convincing,' it was just him being himself. I told him, 'I want you to be you. The reason I'm here is to sit down with you face to face, one on one – hour, two hours, three hours, it doesn't matter, I want to get to know you as a person, that's what matters to me. I know your football ability, but I want to know you as a person.' And he is so sincere and so excited about the opportunity to prove that he's a good guy, prove that he's a good football player, prove that he's got a great career ahead of him. It was plain and simple."
On who is involved in the decision making process for signing players like Galette:
"On this process it was myself, it was Bruce Allen and it was Jay Gruden. We all three met with him, I met with him a lot longer than the both of them. It's us three, but when it's all said and done, final say, it's my call. Right or wrong, it doesn't matter because when it's all said and done, it's on my shoulders. I felt really, really strong about it."
On signing players like Galette:
"It's not that [he's] a bad guy. All players have issues. We all have some kind of issue. We've all made mistakes or something. I don't want repeat offenders. I don't want the guy that's not going to be the good guy and bring him in our locker room. I think we have a very good defensive staff. We have a very good defensive meeting room, where you can bring a guy in and say, 'Understand this, OK, boom, you do it again, you're going to be gone. If you don't do it again, we're rocking and rolling.'"
On the reason for signing players that might create "a cloud" that hovers over the organization:
"Because what you always read in the media and hear from the media is not always accurate, as you're well aware. We did our investigation. We were thorough, thorough, thorough with the League office and two other coaches in the League. This guy, we feel very comfortable bringing him on board – very comfortable."
On running back Alfred Morris:
"I think we are very lucky to have a guy like Alfred Morris, not just a player on the field, but the person he is in the building. He's one of those guys that every day has got a smile on his face, goes out there and works his tail off and no matter what produces. We're talking, you know. We'd love to have him be a Redskin for the rest of his life, his career. But, you know, things go on, and it takes some time. The whole organization respects Alfred very much."
On his meeting with Galette and having 24-48 hours to do research on his background:
"No, we started before 48 hours. We started awhile back. We heard the word on the street. We started a week before doing our research. We evaluate everybody on every team every year, but as a player, we knew him as a player but word got out he might be released, so boom, we're on. Now we can't contact the League office until he's officially waived or anything like that, so we had to sit back, so I did my research with people. Bruce did his, Jay did his. It's a long process. I promise you guys this, being new here and knowing where we're going and what we want to build, I'm not going to bring a bad guy in here. I know he's a really good football player, which I really respect. I'm not going to bring a bad guy in here. I will not give on that, at all. I sat with him for two hours. It was very intense, very intense to the point we were almost face to face, telling him what I expected. And if he can't bring it, then we don't want you. Someone else will sign him, that's a given. I mean, he's way too talented at 27 years old not to be signed. It was very intense."
On how much the contract played into Galette's signing:
"The thing about it, it's a good contract for us, but it's also giving him opportunity to play in the NFL again, you know, and get out here and want to go. That's what our job is, to bring football players in, make our team stronger and give him opportunity to be a football player."
On the alleged video:
"I did not like the video at all. As a matter of fact, when I saw the video, it was scary. That's why I wanted to meet with him [Galette] face to face. That's why I had to sit down with him and ask him what happened. I got the real story and I'm fine with that."
On what Galette could say in response:
"Just the truth. Like I said, I am not trying to protect him at all. He is going to have to prove himself out for us, to be with us, but just to talk to him and hear the story... And I wanted to know it, too. It's very important to me. I got the real story and I'm OK with it."
On how many people he talked to about Galette:
On the story behind the video:
"I can't [disclose] that."
On if Galette could still face disciplinary action from the NFL:
"There is a chance. It is still in the process with the league. We've been in touch with the league the whole time. Especially once he was released, we could really get some more information. There is a chance something happens, but we're definitely willing to take that chance with that knowing that he is going to be a Redskin and know that he is going to give us a lot of games."
On if he is trying to surround Galette with veteran players:
"Well, I think we have been. I think we have that already with the guys we've signed in free agency this past offseason and the guys that are already here. Re-signing Ryan [Kerrigan], having Terrance [Knighton] in here, we've got guys in place, but still, it's our job to make sure he is protected. But it's also his job to make sure he understand what a Redskin is and take care of himself off the field, as he does on the field. I think he understands that."
On who decided to pursue Galette:
On if he had to persuade President Bruce Allen:
"No, no. Bruce and I talk every day – doesn't matter about if it's football stuff, if it's family stuff, whatever. You know, my job is to make the Redskins as strong as they can possibly be. You know, this kid's a 27-year-old pass rusher that's got a lot of production that's had some issues in the past. So I sat down with Bruce, we talked through it and he says OK, let's get involved in it and see what happens. He had other options and for some reason we talked him into us being the first visit. He came in and, I'm telling you, when he left my room, the guy was crying, he was sweating, he was so excited to be a Redskin. You know, that's passion. That's what I'm looking for is competitiveness and toughness. Now, he has to walk the line and he knows that. And he will. If he doesn't, then he's gone, plain and simple."
On revamping the safety position and the offensive line:
"The safety was very important because you know they had two veterans last year. They were let go, they're not returning. I'm very lucky to have Dashon Goldson, who I drafted when I was San Francisco, knowing not just the kind of football player he is, but the leadership he brings, the intelligence he brings, for not just for the position but for the whole secondary. You know, a guy they can trust on. You know, Jeron Johnson, I was very lucky to be in Seattle with him knowing that he's been a backup behind Kam [Chancellor] and Earl [Thomas], which is tough. A good special teams player, but also a smart guy, and a tough guy, a competitive guy. Both guys have been to Super Bowls, so they're bringing ability to know, 'Listen, this is what it's supposed to look like, this is how you're going to go to a Super Bowl, this is how a defense practices, this is how we take notes, this is how we watch tape.' So I thought that was very important. On the right side of the line, it's going to be young. You know, that's alright. We've got to start somewhere. Let's start building. Right now with Spencer [Long] and with Brandon [Scherff], we have two big body guys that are smart guys and tough guys. Are they the most talented guys in the world? Probably not. That doesn't matter to me. I want five guys up front that are going to play together and all of a sudden you have that, then you have got a chance to run the ball. Instead of second-and-8, you've got second-and-4. Instead of third-and-6, it's third-and-3, and all of a sudden, it helps the quarterback out from the standpoint of play-action."
On the position battle between safeties Jeron Johnson and Duke Ihenacho:
"They're battling, they're competing… They're very similar to tell you the truth. You know, I know Jeron better because I've been with him for four years but it's competition, you know what? And all of the sudden, you've got one, two , three, four, whatever. Whoever two is doesn't matter, whoever three is and four, if they're not starting, they're on special teams and both those cats are big time special-teams players. We have to improve our special teams, no matter what."
On cornerback Bashaud Breeland's suspension:
"I don't want to touch base on when the incident happened. We were aware of it and knew there was a chance it might happen. But it's like injury stuff. I don't touch base on that."
On losing Breeland to injury and suspension:
"Yeah, he's a really good football player. You think about for a young guy, you want him to be able to go through the process – you know, training camp, getting the reps, getting against some good players. But that's part of the game. It's awful. You can't foresee it coming, but it happens. But he's going to be a good player for us and I think he learned a lot from it which might be a blessing in disguise, but going forward he's going to be a good Redskin for a while, a really good Redskin. I've been around some corners now and he's got chance."
On if he spoke to anyone on the Saints about Galette:
"I don't want into get in that, but yes we talked to a lot of people. I don't want to talk about teams or names or anything. But, yes, I spoke with many people that knew him very well… I'm not going to go into teams. I spoke to people that knew him very well that have been around him a while – not just coaches, but players, media, a lot of people. I did too much research to tell you the truth."
On how much the roster has improved and what would constitute a successful season:
"From the standpoint of wins, doesn't matter; I mean it matters, but I'm not going to put a number on it. I've been very lucky to be around good teams and bad teams. I've been here for six months… seven months, being able to be see this offseason and see the coaches excited, see the players getting better every day, I'm not going to put a number on it, but I know this, when you play the Redskins this year, you're going to know you played us. You're going to feel us from the standpoint of being physical. The next morning, you're going to be sore. We're not going to win every game, but I tell you what, we're going to compete no matter what. We're going get after you and we'll not back down from anything. I promise you, we will not back down from anything. If we do, changes will be made, but we're not going to. We're going to get after it. The NFL, there's a lot of parity in it, but also it's about staying healthy. It's about just knowing that we're playing a very tough schedule, everybody knows that – who we're playing – but we're going to be a competitive team every Sunday – or Monday or Saturday or whenever we're playing – and you're going to know you played us. That's all I ask for right now."
On his role in roster cuts:
"I have final say on the 53, but the coaches are going to be highly involved. My personnel department is going to be highly involved. It's not about me, it's about us. And it's very, very important. It's the whole building. I have to make the final decisions, but I trust the coaches because they have their hands on them at all the time in the meetings and all that. I have faith in my scouting staff that makes decisions about who can and can't play, but I make the final call."
Cornerback Chris Culliver
On the chemistry and potential of the secondary:
"I think overall the defense is coming along good. We're just bringing everything together. Like you said, D-Hall, he's coming back, looking good out there. I think we're excited for each other to be playing with each other against opponents. So I think it's an exciting moment right now."
On how he and cornerback DeAngelo Hall complement each other:
"I always admired D-Hall's game, and he told me the same thing. Like I said, it's pretty much just being happy, being out there together and being able to compete with each other. Some things he sees and I don't see. He's a little older, so I try to pick his brain for some things that he see and I don't see, so the communication and the brotherhood is there. We're just putting it together and just continuing to grow."
On wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and the receiving corps:
"We've got a good group of receivers. As you mentioned, we've got them two [Jackson and Garçon], we've got some young guys coming up, and they're doing phenomenally well. We're just out there competing, having fun."
On if he has had a chance to talk with linebacker Junior Galette about "off-the-field" issues:
"Yeah, I'm not sure about any of his off-the-field issues. I stick to football and keep it kind of in that sense. But I'm glad to have him as an addition to the team. I'm sure he's going to do a phenomenal job and as you can see his tape proves it all."
On General Manager Scot McCloughan's conversation with him before he signed with the team:
"Just pretty much the belief in me and just the way I carry myself and try to carry myself in a professional manner. Everything pretty much worked out for the best."
On McCloughan's response:
"He trusted me. I knew Scot from San Fran and that type of deal, so, you know, a little bit of trust there and he trusted me to get the job done. And I trust in him to believe in me in that aspect."
On if that trust helped:
"Yeah, I feel like that did help me. You know, like I said, just having a little chemistry and him having faith in me and, like I said, me taking care of my part definitely is a positive thing."
On trying to turn his passes defensed into interceptions this season:
"Man, that's my job every day. I try to. RGIII sometimes likes to look my way and then look off, but, like I said, it's just friendly competition out there. And, yeah, I wish all 29 [passes defensed] were 29 picks, but like you said, it's part of the game. I try my best to keep the ball out of the hands of the receivers."
On the talent level in the secondary:
"Oh, I definitely feel like the talent here is special. It's a good group of guys coming together. Like I said, man, it's just brotherly love out there. We're bringing it together and trying to stay positive and keep prevailing and going and going forward. Some things sometime occur out there that we weren't expecting, but we always push our brothers to keep going and things like that. But, man, things have been wonderful out there – the communication and just the standpoint of just coming together. Everybody out here in camp and just communicating and going through the reps together, you know? So that's the best way we're going to be great."
On safeties Duke Ihenacho and Jeron Johnson:
"Duke and JJ are really good players. They come from the Broncos and Seattle. So, I knew JJ before. Duke is a good player who can contribute a lot to our team also. He's been out there going at it, running around. Like I said, I don't have nothing bad to say about those guys. We are just coming together and doing good."
On how Ihenacho and Johnson compare to each other:
"You know, they are different. Everybody is different in how they play. He has his own tendencies of however he plays or his mentality, how he may backpedal may be different or anything like that… They are both just outstanding players for us. I don't really see too much of 'how this person is different, how that person is different.' It's just about how to get the scheme correctly how Coach pretty much wants it."
On the expectations set by Defensive Backs Coach Perry Fewell:
"We talked about that. Just to be good. Pretty much, we don't want any balls to go over our head obviously, as defenders and keep everything in front of us. That is our first standing point and if we take care of that we'll just keep on moving forward. Also having bigger goals as far as the most interceptions, I'm sure everybody says that, most defended pass breakups and stuff like that. As long as we do good as a defensive unit and try to go out there and give it back to our offense, at the end of the day, that's what we care about – getting a W."
On why players gravitate toward playing for McCloughan:
"Scot is a real down-to-earth player. He will tell you straight up what he is looking for. Also, he wouldn't be talking to you if you couldn't provide that. He's pretty much a straightforward guy. No sugar coating, no, 'Hey, uh, this or that.' Sometimes you get that from different organizations. Scot is a good guy… The things that he is doing, all the coaches and everybody coming in here together, trying to build, just keep this thing going, keep prevailing and keep rising."
On his history with McCloughan and his first memory of him:
"Actually, I had not met him in person, but I had talked to him at the draft and all of those types of things. I don't know actually the whole story of obviously what happened or anything like that. I just know he was real interested in me and took a chance on me and, like I said, it kind of started there. You know, whatever happened happened, as far as the Trent Baalke – general manager I think over there – and all of that deal and stuff like that, so I don't know. But like I said, Scot's a wonderful guy. The communication and the belief in one another is there. So he does his part, I do my part, and we come together and it's pretty much working like that."
On McCloughan's ability to spot talent:
"Scot, he definitely does have a good… he can find talent. Just like you said, he has a nose for it. He has a niche for it. Sometimes a lot of people like to just see a size or [say], 'Oh, he has one thing or another,' but sometimes you have to look deeper into that. It's not just about how big or just because you have this aspect or that aspect, it's how you become a football player. How can you see this person potentially growing and becoming a better man and all of those types of things? I just feel like he has a niche for that. That's his deal. That's his gift. Like I said, we have a good deal going here and you see everything is going well. We're trying to keep it together and keep rising."
On how a strong pass rush can help a cornerback:
"It does everything. It lets me steal anything. It lets me pretty much just watch them rush and watch them get to the quarterback. Them disrupting the quarterback or getting back in the pocket fast or hands up — anything like that — always disrupting the quarterback and if I'm positive to the receiver, that's positive for us. Maybe an interception, maybe a tipped ball from, like you said, [Junior] Galette or one of the guys — an overthrow or something like that. It definitely affects the quarterback when you have great guys rushing and things like that, especially for the secondary. So it's going to be interesting. I'm excited even to talk about it so you're going to see it out there, like I said, we're going to put it together and just keep going."
On leadership and how he helps the rookies become professionals:
"You know, really some of the guys you can kind of see it in each individual. Like you said, everybody has their own niche. I actually have a guy right now, a rookie, [Kyshoen] Jarrett. He's actually working out and sometimes being a rookie, they don't know about lifting weights kind of every day or doing the extra stuff. Just because you come out and play football, it's not over. That's what we're just are trying to teach the young guys to keep doing extra stuff, because the extra stuff helps you to be great."
On what he learned about winning in San Francisco and how that will help him in Washington:
"It's hard to win, it's hard to win in this business. I'm sure everybody knows that and understands that. It's kind of like a saying Coach [Jim] Harbaugh used to say, 'Everything pretty much has to go perfect for us to win the game,' and if it do, it do. You know, if it's a tight game about two points, three games, and if it goes in our favor, then it does. I kind of understand what he means. And being a vet and winning and things like that, you definitely have experience. Just giving the guys the outlooks and just the breaking down – I can go on and on. You're doing good early in the first quarter or something like that, but you know, just because you did good early in the first quarter, the game's not over. You have got to keep competing, keep being patient, keep obviously focused and using your technique and things like that. Just keep working, you know?"
On if he can automatically bring "a winning attitude" to the Redskins:
"No, you can't just bring it in… It's a repetition thing. You have to be out there every day. You have to be out there. It's not just you wake up out the bed and just get to hop out and everything's perfect. You know, you have to work on things. You're going to have some busted coverages. You're going to have some people being upset about this or upset about that. So you just have to come together, communicate and just work on it together. That's how you start becoming good and start to get better, once the communication and everything is good across the board, sometimes it's kind of hard to beat."