Head Coach Jay Gruden
On if TE Vernon Davis can replace TE Jordan Reed if Reed is unavailable:
"Well, we aren't going to talk about Jordan being hurt but I have seen enough of Vernon Davis to know that he's still got a lot of juice left. He can really run and he's really showing a lot in shorts – obviously pads are a different story. Knowing Vernon, the way he plays, one of his strengths is in-line blocking. He's done that throughout his career and he's gotten better and better. He's a big, strong man, and we also know he can run. He has shown that speed still. He can fly. He showed it in one-on-ones and all that yesterday. Vernon has done very well."
On Matt Jones and Chris Thompson being the veterans among the running backs:
"Matt is really a wily, old vet now, right? I think Chris Thompson is really the veteran of that room. High-class, high-character type of runner. Very dependable, accountable, and he's everything you want. We just have got to keep him healthy, obviously. But Matt Jones is coming along in his second year. A lot of the times you see these guys – I mentioned it last year – from the first year to the second year, a lot of the times you see the biggest jump in production and confidence and all that. I expect the same thing from Brandon [Scherff]. So it's been good to watch Matt progress, not just carrying the ball but knowing who to block and knowing all the little things about the running back position. Patience with his runs, ball security has been excellent so far; we haven't been hit. But he's been very solid. Both those two guys are two good people to have in the room."
On QB Kirk Cousins' leadership style:
"He's not so much a vocal leader right now; he's still finding his own way. But he's a leader by example, for sure. He's the guy that everybody knows is going to do the right thing and he's a very unselfish player and he's going to try to distribute the ball equally. The more and more he gets comfortable, the more success that he has, the more of a vocal leader he can be. But he wants to make sure he has total, total command of the offense, exactly where everybody's going to be until he can really branch out and tell people what to do. I think he has total faith in the veteran receivers. He doesn't have to tell Pierre Garçon what to do very often. He doesn't have to tell DeSean [Jackson] -- DeSean is a very smart player. Jordan Reed is very comfortable where he is. Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder – these guys have been in a system now where there's not a lot of coaching on the field from quarterback to receiver. It's just about taking the reps, getting better every day and doing the right things. And Kirk is always going to do that."
On LB Perry Riley Jr.'s return and his ability to compete for a starting spot:
"We'll see how it goes. First we just want to just limit him a little today and see how he does. He worked during the walkthrough a little bit just to make sure he'd get cleared. We'll put him in individuals, see how he does, give him a couple team reps and then we'll go on from there. We don't have an exact plan right now, we just want to make sure he's 100 percent. Then we'll let him in there and compete with Mason [Foster] and Will [Compton] and [Martrell] Spaight and all the rest of the linebackers and [Terence] Garvin and see how it goes."
On when CB Quinton Dunbar will return:
"Hopefully he's on a flight soon. He had a nice baby yesterday, congratulations to him, baby Denim, and hopefully he's coming back pretty soon."
On when the team will be in pads and how much hitting he expects:
"Yeah, no question, we're going to put them in pads tomorrow if it doesn't rain. So we'll see how it goes with the weather. But tomorrow's the plan for pads and we'll give them off on Sunday, and then go Monday in pads, Tuesday in pads. Wednesday will be a special teams-type day. Thursday probably pads and go from there. There is a fine line. We're not going to do any live tackling that I foresee – maybe with the twos and threes, maybe a live period here and there – but the ones will not do any live tackling until Week 1 of the preseason."
On the domino effect of having an All-Pro cornerback:
"Well I think pass rush and pass coverage go hand-in-hand. If you have great pass coverage, it makes your rush a lot better. If you have a great pass rush, it makes your coverage a lot better. It's great team defense. I think our pass coverage will be a lot better this year, which in tune will give our defensive line that extra half a second possibly to get home. That extra half a second to a second means the whole world of difference when out comes to sacking the quarterback, getting around the quarterback. We're able to disguise converges, play different coverages, also play tight man-to-man and I think we can be successful. So I think Joe Barry has a lot at his disposal as far as calling coverages and being able to match up with some of the quality receivers that we see is very, very important. When you're playing zone all day, you're giving the quarterbacks time to pick you just apart. You know, being able to play tight man-to-man coverages against some of the best receivers is very, very important. And also mixing up the coverages, which I think we can do, which, hopefully, will in turn make the quarterback hold it for just that extra count and let Ryan [Kerrigan], Preston [Smith], Ricky [Jean Francois] and Chris Baker and the rest of the crew get home."
On the cornerbacks behind Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland:
"I'll tell you what, we've got some good looking prospects back there, for sure. And it's very exciting to watch them. [Kendall] Fuller, coming out here, he is very athletic. You see that he is very smooth in his movements. He's done good. [Dashaun] Philips has been very, very good. We got him last year, late. I think he's getting more and more comfortable in the nickel role. He's playing some outside but mainly he's playing nickel right now. He's done a good job. [Jeremy] Harris has done a fine job. We've got a lot of guys out here that are competing and doing some good things. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. Dunbar, obviously, hasn't been here the last couple of days but in OTAs and the progress that he made from being a wide receiver to corner lining up against Dez Bryant on Monday Night Football, I'll tell you what, not many people can do that. But he's got the skillset to be a great corner for a long time. He's going to be very good."
On the chemistry of the offensive line:
"I think having the same group together is very important, I think, number one. When you have Trent [Williams] at left tackle, he's been here – I think this is his seventh year, seventh camp – and you have left guard Spencer Long with the experience that he has and if we get [Shawn] Lauvao back… I think [Arie] Kouandjio, now he's more comfortable, [Kory] Lichtensteiger at center, then you have [Josh] LeRibeus who has done it, Spencer Long's now been in it and at right guard Brandon [Scherff] with a full year under his belt. Morgan Moses with a full year under his belt as starting right tackle. Those guys playing together communicate and that's very, very important. And you've got Ty Nsekhe who can play both tackles. So we have some depth. We have guys that have played together and we have a close-knit group and of course we have one of the best – if not the best – line coach in the National Football League [Bill Callahan]. All that together means they should be a cohesive group. They should play together and do very good communicating; that's half the battle."
On C Kory Lichtensteiger:
"He's looked good. We'll see when he gets the pads on, but he's up to 294 pounds – which is good for him. It's a good weight for him. He's getting bigger. Obviously, Kory is very, very important because he's so smart. His snaps are always on point. He handles all of the snap counts and he communicates extremely well with the runs and the pass protections. Very few times does Kirk have to trump him as far as protections are concerned, so Kory is like the quarterback of the offensive line. He looks good and I think he feels good. I think he's at full strength."
On if Riley's play improved when paired with LB Will Compton last year:
"I think it did. For whatever reason, maybe it was just the whole entire defense as the season went on got better. It just seemed when Will got in there, Perry's play was very, very good and then he had that unfortunate injury in practice. I expect him to come on and continue his strides that he made until he got hurt."
On where Riley improved:
"Everywhere. His reactions, playing his position, his drops were good in zones, getting on the right people, hitting the right gaps, sound tackling. He was just a good, all-around solid linebacker. He really didn't have any glaring weakness that I can remember. I just know that he was all over the place and very instinctive, more so when Will [Compton] was in there. I don't know if maybe Will was helping him anticipate some calls or some of the plays, or maybe it was just experience in Joe's system. During the first half of the year, maybe everybody was a little late to react. I think the second half of the season – when Perry started playing well – they were more comfortable."
On the competition between the wide receivers and defensive backs:
"I think one of the big things that is going to make us a better team is the competition, not just corners versus corners that are trying to make the football team, but also corners versus wide receivers, safeties versus tight ends, linebackers versus backs, offensive line versus defensive line. We try to preach all the time – great competition. We have good players at a lot of different spots. The competition is there. The last thing you want to do as a veteran or a guy trying to make the team is get your butt whupped. These guys are competing really well and I can't wait to see what happens when we put the pads on – it's going to be fun. We're going to do more one-on-one drills with the pads on – especially for the O-Line and D-Line. We'll do some more physical-type runs in first and second down; we'll do some third down challenging where the pass rush is full-speed with the stunts. It's going to be fun to watch and the cream will rise to the top. We'll see that very soon when the pads get on."
On S DeAngelo Hall's transition:
"I think he's going through it. I think it's a totally different perspective at safety than it is at corner for him. He's just got to learn to see the quarterback and get in the right position, get his eyes right and then just trust what he sees and break. I think he'll do that. It's just going to take some time. Whether he's a half-field player, middle player, covering the tight end, covering somebody out in the slot, whatever it is, he's just got to get comfortable with his landmarks, his positioning and his eyes. And the more reps that he gets – he got 25 good reps in team period yesterday, not to mention the one-on-ones and the walkthrough – the more comfortable he's going to be. We expect D-Hall to pick it up quickly because he's that type of guy. He's very competitive, very smart and he'll do fine."
Cornerback Josh Norman
On the process of learning the scheme and learning about his teammates:
"Well, it's been well. Coming back from the break, I know we got it good at OTA sessions. You know, having that break to come back and just getting acquainted with the defense, get acquainted with the guys that's out there, plus it's hot, so all those things going into one. We had [an] OK day yesterday, but it's the first day. So, now today is our second day. We look a lot better, sharper, than we did out there in the walkthroughs today. So, looking forward to this afternoon practice and seeing what it's going to hold, but we [are] getting better each and every time we step on that field and that's the positive thing."
On facing WR DeSean Jackson and making each other better:
"Guys, he's elite. His speed is elite. He's like Flash out there, so I mean his elusiveness is just off the charts. So, being able to match up with a guy like that each and every time posted one-on-one is only going to make me better because if he beats me, he beats me. He beats me, I'm going to try and figure that thing out until it like draws in my head because for me it's like finding that edge, finding that way to where I win, you know? [If] he beats me on this play, I'm coming back trying to find out how he beat me that first play. So I can come back and look at it like, 'Let me beat him now,' you know? So, that's just that competition that drives us to both be elite at our level and what we do. Because he is a special talent. He has rare blazing speed and his routes he's getting better at when he's coming back to the ball – his slants and stuff. So for me seeing a wide receiver in this division like that is going to be, you know, exceptional for me to better at because coming from the [NFC] South where we face giants, it's a bit different. So, now just being better with that and understanding to use my tools where I can be physical and where I can't be… Knowing that, D-Jax is going to help me with [it]. So, I can't wait for that challenge. It's going to be exciting as you already can tell, but looking forward to more of it because it's only going to make me better and him as well."
On if he's noticed any similarities between this team and last year's Panthers:
"Yeah, the feel, obviously. The feel. Those guys there, I mean I grew up with them, so it's a bit different to come here now in this atmosphere, setting, guys that I just newly met or like three months ago, so it's kind of like it's a friendship feel to where it can become a brotherhood like I was there in Carolina with those guys. The biggest thing I can take from it is not being in no dorm room [laughter], being in a nice little hotel room so I can lay my head down and don't have to worry about any allergies or coughing, sneezing, have to wake up and just feeling like crap. So, that's the best thing, the positive thing I've taken away from this right now. And, of course, getting better each and every day. I'm trying to find that edge, make someone else better, try to help a teammate out. That's the biggest thing I think I'll take from that team – from Carolina over to here – is just helping another teammate out, and whatever I can do to be better."
On playing against Jackson and learning how to balance when to use speed and when to be physical:
"That's what we're working on. I think that's what we're working on. Because, like I said, playing a guy like that who's off the ball and then so primarily on the ball is a little bit different from a guy when I can, you know, reach out and touch him… long arms. So, you know, I've got to be patient in that and work that patience because he's one of those guys that he'll want to see a defender strike first and wait on him to make a move and then he react off of the defender. So, I've got to be better at being patient, and once I'm patient and understand what he wants to give me, then I can play to my strengths and use my tools to combat that. But, like I said, how many guys do we see in the NFL to try to go against like that? I mean, the combination of speed and his elusive abilities is just off the charts. So, he's only going to make me better and that's the thing I take from it, that I'm most excited about, because I am not going to make every single play. But the ones I do make, and when I do get beat, it's how you come back from that… the challenges I face with. So I'm looking forward to that each and every day we out here on this football field, and so is he."
On comments by Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and if they motivate him:
"I don't know what to say about that. I don't know, I guess if a guy talks about you that much, you must be doing something right… Means nothing to me, obviously, 'cause the same fact, he's talking about me but I am not talking about him. So, it's kind of like, 'Well, dang.' If he once was the hunter and now you're the hunted, so it's kind of like why am I talking about you? For what? So, I have nothing to say because now we are the hunted and not the hunter."
On S DeAngelo Hall saying he felt resentment in Oakland when he arrived after signing a lucrative contract and how Norman has been able to avoid that same resentment in Washington:
"Be the same guy, be the same guy. For me, it's always been God, la familia and football. Everything else is second to irrelevant. When I had that coming in here – new team, new face, new people to meet – it's just like going to a new school; you've got to make new friends all over again. But, for me, I think it was easy because I was open. I was here to listen. Just because I got paid and I'm one of the highest paid guys on the squad, it's no different. I don't feel like I've got the money, to be honest with you, because I'm still working. I'm still trying to be better at something, man. What that is, I don't know yet, but I'm still trying to climb and elevate my level of play. And I guess guys see that and they respect it because we're out here trying to win, we're not out here trying to lose. We're trying to help and benefit somebody else. On the field, me and him [Hall], it's just like he's inserted into that nickel role and we're going like that [snaps in rhythm] knowing that I've got his back and he's got my back. We're playing alongside each other. That builds that trust and that relationship like, 'Whatever goes down, don't worry, I've got you.' So guys like that, and then put them with the secondary and the linebackers – Will Compton – and the D-Line… It goes on and on, man. I could talk about that and then touch on the offense – Kirk [Cousins], DeSean [Jackson], Pierre [Garçon], offensive linemen, running backs… We crack up all the time because he [RB Matt Jones] knows when he comes to that hole, I'm looking for that ball. I'm punching; I'm looking to get it out of there. And he's been holding that thing high and tight, and I don't know if I got him once yet. So I told him, my goal is five forced fumbles this camp. So I'm going to be lurking, trust me, I'm going to try and get it. And that makes him better because he knows he's going to have to hold that thing tight. So it's just little things like that, man, just competing with each other in a fun way but also knowing that we are here for an ultimate goal, man, and that is to win."
On if he has noticed CB Bashaud Breeland's confidence:
"Absolutely, man. South Carolina – Carolina boys. I think that just resonates in him to be the all he can be, to outdo me, outdo anybody else that's out there on that football field, to be the best he can be because he can be, you know, the best once he puts his mind to it. Once he develops that confidence and swagger about him to where no one can beat him, he'll be just fine because he has that in him to be. So I'm looking forward to him having a super year. Whatever I can do to help him and show him just by not only talking to him but just by showing him to the actions that we do, that's going to be a good challenge or good test to see towards that because we're going to have fun with it. We really are."
On bringing a soccer ball to practice:
"It's something to do, man. It's fun. It's fun, man. Anybody knows that soccer is worldwide, so just kicking the ball to someone, that builds that relationship to them that you can have and spark that conversation. You know, kicking the ball to somebody that you don't know, 'Oh man, I didn't know you know how to play.' All right, so you go along and further that conversation. For us, it's just bringing some type of fun and outside the box thinking to it. You don't always have to be grinding, grinding, grinding. It can be a little bit of, you know, toe-touch in there. Throw it to them and see what he can do with it and then joke about it if he can't. It's fun, man, and so I brought that here and see what happens. Who knows? It's something that sparks a good relationship and a friendship can develop from it."