On injuries at the defensive line position:
"One of the things we do a good job of around here with [defensive coordinator-defensive line coach] Greg Blache is [coach] guys [to be] interchangeable pieces. The six guys that we have practicing [at defensive line] are all interchangeable. You'll see us throw [DL, #93] Phillip [Daniels] and [DL, #97] Renaldo [Wynn] inside. We throw a lot of guys inside--especially on pass downs, but on run downs, too. We have enough tools, guys, schemes, and packages that we'll get through [injuries]. With as many packages as we play, we'll be able to put guys out there. [DL, #95] Joe Salave'a will practice tomorrow [Friday]. [DL, #94] Aki [Jones] mildly sprained a hamstring yesterday and [DL, #91] Cedric [Killings] has his ankle sprained, but two of the three may practice tomorrow. As long as they get a good day's practice in on Friday, our comfort level is [high]--especially [for] Joe Salave'a, who I've been around for so long--going into the ball game [on Sunday]. Actually, the rest has been good for him."
On 49ers QB, #11 Alex Smith:
"He's very athletic. He has a really strong arm. Right now, he's playing like a lot of young quarterbacks [play coming into] the league. He has a really dynamic, big-play [ability]. He has the ability to make a big play on you at any point in the ball game and then will struggle like a young guy will at times, too, when things break down around him. His athletic ability scares you at times because he can improvise and make something out of nothing."
On Redskins LB, #57 Warrick Holdman's performance through five games:
"He's been a good fit for what we do because he's been able to play a lot of different [linebacker] positions. I don't think he feels like he has played in the last few weeks as well as he's used to playing. He's played well. He has fit in good with the type of things that we ask our linebackers to do."
On how coaches attempt to counteract injuries to key players:
"One of the things that coaches do is coach in crisis mode all the time. We try to get as many guys reps in practice throughout the week as we can because [football] is an injury game. In the course of a ballgame, it's sometimes hilarious. If you take a look at the sideline, we have guys on the defensive staff who are in charge of [determining] when the trainers [may] come up [to him] with a guy who is, all of a sudden, out for two or three plays. The trainers are trained [not] to come to me. They don't come to me during the middle of a series and try to interrupt [his] train of thought [concerning] what's going on in calling the game. [Redskins passing game coordinator-safeties] Steve Jackson handles those substitution problems for us during the middle of a series. He'll delicately get in my ear and let me know, 'This package is down' or 'This package is up.' It's almost like a pit crew at a NASCAR event. We're constantly moving different pieces [to deal with] guys who are up or down. Since we've been here, the philosophy has been, 'If you make the active roster, you're a starter. You're only one heartbeat away from playing.' Certain guys can do certain things better than other guys, but from a coaching standpoint, you have to be able to throw 11 guys out there that give you a chance to win. I think the [coaching] staff and players have done a very good job of fitting into that type of philosophy."
On the effect of losing a veteran player, rather than a rookie, to injury:
"We like having veterans [available to play]. Coaches are more comfortable with veterans. That's not to say that [CB, #22] Carlos [Rogers], [DB, #32] Ade [Jimoh], and the other guys that have come in haven't done a good job. [Coaches] are all more comfortable when you have a resume of plays that you've made in the league. As thorough as we are as coaches, we can't cover everything week in and week out. There will be things that come up in the ballgame that a veteran will recognize and say, 'Yeah, I've been through this before. I've done this before. I know how to adjust to this.'"
On whether he will be satisfied with a victory on Sunday even if the defense fails to force a turnover:
"I'm one of those guys that is never happy [with a victory] until it is a shutout and [we've only allowed] one yard gained. Sometimes, if things are going tough, I look for ways to pump up the guys. More naturally, I'm probably one of those guys that always finds something that's wrong. I think that really good pros are always striving to find something to improve. [Turnovers] have been the thing that has been pretty easy to point out that we have to work on. We have to find a way to get it done. In practices, we put our hands on [many] balls. In ballgames, we put our hands on a bunch of balls. We just have to finish the plays. The plays are there. It's not like we haven't had those opportunities. They're there. We just have to finish them. We have to get the ball to bounce in a lucky way as opposed to an unlucky way. Eight out of nine fumbles [this season] have gone back to [the opponent] instead of bouncing in a way that we can get it scooped up [or even] score. We're always looking for things to improve upon. Taking the ball away is a significant part of the defensive improvement [that we need to make]."
On the new turnover drill head coach Joe Gibbs installed at practice this week:
"He installed it for the offense. Defensively, we do take-away and turnover drills every single day at practice. In fact, the defensive staff knows that they can't get out of individual period unless I see them work on it. If they don't work on it, then they go right back to the period and get a chit-chat after practice about why that wasn't covered. Those chit-chats become heated. Coach [Gibbs], this week, instituted for the offense [a new drill] so that they'll protect the ball better. [That drill] works hand-in-hand [with the defensive drills]. It's more live competition. Defensively, we've been doing [the drill] ourselves, but now we get a chance to work against fresh meat. It's good."
On whether he has difficulty game planning against a relatively untested NFL quarterback such as 49ers QB, #11 Alex Smith:
"Sometimes it is, but this staff is so thorough that we study his college film for tips about the mannerisms he [had] there [at Utah]. Because he was such a high pick, [the 49ers] wanted to get him a lot of time in the pre-season. We study every clip that he has out there. As far as how he will handle certain situations, we won't know until we get in and put him in some of those situations. We have a good feel and we coach our guys [to] anticipate it to happen [in a certain] way--'This will be the way that this kid responds.' He's a good athlete, but we have to defend the [49ers] offense first--[49ers offensive coordinator] Mike McCarthy's system and what they do offensively--and then defend the player within the system once we get into the heat of battle."
On his assessment of the defense through five games:
"We're one or two plays away from being 5-0. I really believe that. We're not sneaking up on anyone this year--I said that in training camp. Last year was a bluff year in the respect that people didn't think we could be as good as we are. We're going to get the best out of everyone every week, which is good. That's fun. We're bringing a really stout, good game along with us. We're playing very, very well in a lot of areas. There are a couple of areas that we have to improve upon. Again, we're one, maybe two, plays away from being 5-0. We're playing pretty good, but when you're not winning them all, to me, it's not good enough."
On the Redskins continued defensive success despite losing two starters from last season's squad:
"[Current Giants LB Antonio Pierce and Vikings DB Fred Smoot are] two really good players. [They're] fun players to be around. I really enjoyed coaching them, but that's a part of this league now. You have to plan from an organizational standpoint that you're going to have a few of those kind of guys leave every year. You hope that there isn't a whole lot of fall-off. One way that you have a chance in this league to have continuity within your organization is with the staff. Has the staff stayed in tact? I really do believe that [continuity this off-season] helped. I think [the current staff] is one of the better staffs that [Redskins owner] Mr. [Dan] Snyder has put together. I'm proud of the way the [those players' replacements] have stepped up. [LB, #98] Lemar Marshall has shown that he is able to make plays. Young [CB, #22] Carlos [Rogers] and the other guys that have rotated in and out at corner have stepped up and done pretty well. We've played some pretty good pass teams here in the past couple of weeks. We sometimes focus in on takeaways and big plays here or there, but we've held down two pretty explosive pass offenses in the passing game. We [just] have to play every play."
On how Redskins special teams have contributed to the entire team's success:
"Being a former special teams coordinator [with the Houston Oilers], I think it's one of the hardest jobs in the NFL. [Redskins special teams coach] Danny [Smith] does a tremendous job and our players play very hard for him. That was a very good performance and effort [in Kansas City] against arguably the best kick returner in Dante Hall that's been around the NFL for an awful long time. We think that punt or kickoff coverage is the first play in a defensive series. I approach it that way in our defensive meeting. I talk to our defensive guys about how important that punt and kickoff coverage is to the starting point of where we have to play defense. It works hand-in-hand. I tease a lot that people will convince me that special teams plays don't count when [the TV networks] start going to commercial breaks [during them]. It's not a commercial break. It's a very hard play to play in the NFL. Our defensive guys take a lot of pride in being on our coverage units."
On Redskins LB, #56 LaVar Arrington's performance in recent practices:
"He's had a really good week of practice. He really has. I feel good about him playing and about where he's at. The last two weeks, I really think he has taken some strides physically--not only just from a schematic standpoint. It looks like his legs are back. He's bouncing around and practicing pretty good."
On Redskins DL, #97 Renaldo Wynn:
"If I had to pick one word that would talk about Renaldo since I've been here it, [would be] 'professional.' I don't think it's any surprise why the players pick up as one of the team's player reps. He's accountable. He's very intelligent, a hard worker, tough, and smart. I hope he plays a lot longer. I don't know how many years he has left in him, but there is no doubt in my mind, [based on] how I see him carry himself, that he'll be successful at whatever he does--[such as in] business or family [life]. He's a real strong-character guy. He's the kind of guy that Joe Gibbs wants to build around his second time here [as Redskins head coach]. I know that Coach Gibbs is real comfortable with him being a leader and spokesman on the team."
On the keys to Redskins DL, #97 Renaldo Wynn's on-field success:
"He's tough. He's smart. He pushes people around. He plays tremendously hard. He does a lot of things behind the scenes. I think he has found a home in playing for [defensive coordinator-defensive line coach] Greg Blache and in playing the way that we like our [defensive] front to play. There's a reason why our middle linebacker makes a lot of plays. There's a reason why our linebackers run and hit as much as they do. Renaldo understands [his role]. He's a smart enough defensive lineman that he could play linebacker, safety, or anywhere [else] on our defense and make the calls. It's fun to have those kind of people around. From a leadership standpoint, I know that Coach Gibbs, Coach Blache, and myself are very appreciative to have that type of spokesman in the locker room. Coaches hope that they do good enough jobs that, when [players] are away from you, they don't always talk badly about you. You hope that they say one or two kind things about you from a respectful standpoint. On this team, we're all very comfortable with how Renaldo conducts himself outside of the meetings and off the field. He supports the organization and the team. Renaldo is about the team, not about individual, flashy statistics. He's about the team. I really can't say anymore good things about him. I'm not real glowing about a lot of people, but you can see that I really care about the guy."