On Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, Redskins HC Mike Shanahan addressed the media following afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
On the injury report:
"[Wide receiver Leonard] Hankerson hurt his foot playing with the kids yesterday. He did not practice today. [Safety] Reed [Doughty] with his concussion was limited in drill work. [Defensive end] Stephen Bowen was limited in drill work as well. [Nose tackle] Chris Neild, limited with his calf. Full practice was [tight end Jordan] Reed, [tight end Logan] Paulsen and [center Will] Montgomery."
On returning to Denver:
"You know it's been four and a half years, so it's not like it was yesterday or the year before. So, I think it's a little bit different than what normally happens when you're gone for six months or nine months. I've done it before when I was with the 49ers and with the Raiders you go back to the place you're at – a lot of emotion. I think this is a little bit different than most."
On returning to a place where he has a home and where his son grew up:
"It's something that you look forward to. You've got so many friends there. You spend 21 years, you raise your kids there, people that you've spent a lot of time with – a lot of great experiences there. Seven as an assistant coach, 14 as a head coach and that's been our home. Yeah, it's something that you look forward to and what a great experience with the fans both as an assistant and a head coach. Yeah, we've got a lot of great memories there, no question about it."
On what Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is doing well right now:
"Well, number one, he's got a great supporting cast to go with him and he knows the game extremely well. He knows where to go with the football as the ball is being snapped. He looks at defenses very quickly and it doesn't matter if you are coming with a five-man, six-man, seven-man blitz. He knows where to go with the football. He understands protections. He redirects the line to pick up a lot of different blitzes as well, but he gets rid of the ball so quick that he doesn't get sacked very many times, doesn't make very many mistakes. That's one of the reasons they've racked up the points they've had. They've got a good supporting cast. He knows what to do with the ball and usually puts them in a good play or gets them out of a bad play. He's pretty special."
On if he wonders what could have been if Manning ended up in Washington instead of Denver:
"You know, you really don't. You have that a lot of times when you are thinking about the draft or free agency and after you have those conversations and you talk to somebody – I really had a strong feeling after talking to Peyton. Any time you have a brother within the same division that wasn't going to happen. And so even though I enjoyed spending time with him, my gut was understanding from a family standpoint it would be very tough to come within the same division, especially in the NFC East."
On if the Broncos discussed a possible video tribute with him:
"You know they didn't. [Redskins Senior Vice President] Tony [Wyllie] told me I think on Monday afternoon that that was going to happen. I thought it was very thoughtful of them and I'm sure it'll only be a few seconds but it's a nice gesture."
On how his coaching techniques on hitting have changed as the rules have changed:
"You know, I'd kind of like to address that more after today after a decision has been made what direction they're going to go on the appeal process. It's being heard right now. Maybe it's already finished, but if you don't mind I'd like to talk about that… I had a similar case with [former Broncos safety] Kenoy Kennedy back in 2002. We were playing Miami in a Sunday night game and he had already been fined twice and he had a hit on [former Dolphins wide receiver Chris] Chambers and what I thought at the time and when I looked at the film, you know, there were a lot of differences in opinion. Right before Kenoy hit Chambers, he was pushed in the back which obviously made him go helmet-to-helmet, at least that was my view of it. We didn't get a chance to really go through an appeal process. He was out for the next week and so you really don't know. You've got differences of opinion. You go through an appeal process. But I think what people are trying to do at least from a coaching standpoint – you cannot have penalties. They're going to cost you a game. So not even talking about the way you teach, you can't have those things happen. You can't have helmet-to-helmet. If you're close, all of these officials, if they're going to make a mistake, they want to protect the player, so if it's anywhere close to being a helmet-to-helmet they are throwing a 15-yard flag, and that's what they're being told to do. If you get anywhere around that head you've got a chance to hurt your football team. We're constantly emphasizing it but it's tough in the heat of battle for these guys. You're very competitive. You want to get after them. Then all of a sudden a guy might duck at the last second, and all of a sudden you have helmet-to-helmet and they don't even look at intent. I think it's a very tough situation."
On the league protecting offensive players from hits but not defensive players, specifically the hit on Reed Doughty against Chicago:
"I'm going to bring that up at the next meeting because that was one of the most vicious hits I've ever seen. I don't think I've ever seen a guy get hit quite like that – at that speed at 10 yards and Reed just being completely helpless. I think that will be changed for the safety of the players, but that hasn't been brought up yet. We all want players' safety first, but there's a lot that goes into it as we just talked about."
On if he thinks defensive backs are having the hardest time adjusting to new tackling rules:
"We used to have – wide receivers could block below the waist. There's been a lot of changes. You can't have wide receivers now block below the waist. The only way we could get people to kind of get off of the wide receivers with bump coverage was to get into their legs. Now that's illegal to do so there's a lot of give-and-take through the years by both sides of the ball. Chop block on offense, you know, peeling back on somebody on a screen. We made some strides on both sides. It's not perfect, but we're at least going in the right direction."
On what running back Roy Helu Jr. does in the red zone:
"I think I tried to emphasize this – when we were in that fast-paced offense and Helu came in, I think he was a little bit fresher than everybody else and he's an excellent running back as well. So when he had a couple of big plays there I think because he was fresh, he hit the hole hard. We did a good job blocking for him, but I think his ability to be fresh at that time did help us out."
On if Helu brings something that running back Alfred Morris doesn't in the red zone:
"No, he's very talented and when a team is tired and he's talented and you block fairly well, he's got a chance to get in the end zone. I think that's what happened."
On how much of an effect the altitude in Denver has on visiting teams:
"Oh, we just made that up a long time ago, there's nothing to it [laughter]. No, there is something to it, there's no question. If you ever go outside the area and you come back and you haven't been working out and you try to work out there and you haven't been working in that environment, it does take you a while to get used to it. That's why a lot of Olympians have trained in that area just for a conditioning standpoint. It is a little bit different. You try to go in as late as you can, and over the years they feel that is the best way to do it."
On if defenses can disrupt the flow of the Broncos' offense:
"It has been pretty hard. You've got to play harder and you've got to play better. He [Manning] does present a lot of different challenges to your defense and we'll obviously have a game plan and hopefully we can do better than a lot of teams have."
On the effect of having three running threats and if he remembers having a similar situation in Denver:
"First of all, if your quarterback can run, he presents a lot of problems to the defense and they have to respect your running game, especially if you have a chance to run an option every once in a while because it changes the responsibility of the defensive players. So that's a little bit of added pressure, but you still have to run a National Football League passing attack. The more you can do and obviously the better execution you bring the more effective your offense will be."
On how coaching the defense changes if they play cornerback E.J. Biggers or backups at safety:
"Everybody has injuries during the season. You've got to deal with those injuries. A lot of times it's not the perfect scenario, especially going against a guy like Peyton, so we'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully Reed will be ready and [safety Brandon] Meriweather will be ready. If not, we'll have some guys step up and play well."
On if his comments earlier in the week about Meriweather's possible suspension were a guess:
"It was just my guess. I was trying to help myself too."
On how much of quarterback Robert Griffin III's rushing success the past two games has been related to a change in play calling or improvisation by Griffin III:
"I think it's a little bit of everything. We talked about it early, if you fell behind, you couldn't run that style of offense. Robert is feeling more comfortable with himself. We feel like we can do some things we couldn't have done a little bit earlier. Then you get in a game like that, they did take away [running back] Alfred [Morris] the whole game which gave Robert some opportunities to run the football. Next week might be just the opposite; they'll take Robert away and Alfred will be carrying the ball or it may slow down a team rushing the quarterback. There's a lot of different things we look at and we're trying to run an offense that gives us the best chance to be successful, and part of that is the evaluation of your personnel – their injuries, their talent and different things we talked about a year ago."
On how much of a help it is to have cornerbacks that can play safety if needed:
"You have to have depth. We do have some depth. Like I said before, everybody is going to have some injuries and guys have got to step up once they get that opportunity."
On if there is optimism that Doughty and Bowen will be able to play against Denver after seeing them participate some in practice today:*
"Yeah, you really don't know, especially with Reed. He's got to take these concussion tests and it's based on how he does on those tests. Like I said, that hit that he had was… you don't see a hit like that very often. I haven't seen a hit like that in a long time in the National Football League."