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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Quarterback Kirk Cousins (08-22-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On RB Matt Jones:

"We'll keep him out for the rest of the preseason. He's made significant strides already in a couple days, so we have high hopes he'll be ready."

On the plan moving forward with the running backs:

"We have the guys here that are practicing. We'll see how Chris [Thompson] is doing. Chris is a little sore right now, but we still have, obviously, Rob [Robert Kelley] and Keith [Marshall] and Mack [Brown]. So those guys will get a lot of the first-down carries. So I think we feel pretty good there."

On if RB Robert Kelley could potentially receive first-team reps:

"Oh, yeah. Definitely. I think he and Keith will get a lion's share of the carries. It will be interesting to watch these guys. These guys have shown a lot of promise in training camp. We want to see them in game situations against a good Buffalo team and it will be a good test for them. Good for everybody."

On if Jones' injury is indicative of his durability or "just one of those things":

"We hope it's one of those things. He just landed funny, he landed on his elbow and the shoulder popped out or what have you. So it's a second-degree [sprain]. We think the recovery time will be pretty quick. He could be a little sore, but I think he's going to be fine. Sometimes as a running back, you're going to fall awkwardly, and things like this happen, but we have hopes that he'll last a season, without a doubt."

On QB Kirk Cousins' lack of action this preseason:

"Well, I think we're going to get him some reps this week. We're going to get him a lot of reps this week. Whether he played a quarter or 20 snaps last week — it all adds up. It's good to get him the experience, obviously, but I just felt like some of the key backups like Colt [McCoy] and some of the other guys – [Martrell] Spaight and those guys – I thought it would benefit them also. So that was just my decision and I think we'll get Kirk some really good reps, hopefully get him in a rhythm, get him out of there after the half or the third quarter. I think that he'll be fine, ready to go for Pittsburgh."

On what the team will try to accomplish in the last two weeks of the preseason:

"I think you want to get some positive vibes going. You want to come out with some great energy. And I think you just want to display what we're all about – the effort, getting out of the huddle, tempo, all of that stuff. Offensively, defensively, the communication, all of that is very necessary. Hopefully we get some two-minute, some different situational work to coach off of and learn from, and we'll go from there."

On the work the team has gotten in training camp and practices:

"I think we had some excellent work, not just in training camp, but in OTAs we had excellent work also. I think there were so many valuable reps that we learn from situationally that I just felt like some of the backups went and got a lot of reps with the first unit. I thought it was necessary for them to get some quality work also. This is a 53-man roster and we're going to have 46 on game day, and all those guys are expected to play when called upon. I just felt that we've got so many good quality reps. Kirk [Cousins] got the bulk of it last year and then this year in training camp and OTAs, I feel like he's in good shape right now. This will be a great experience for him against Buffalo. Rex Ryan, obviously, has always had one of the better defensive schemes in football, and to challenge him with the fronts and the coverages and the blitzes, it's going to be great work for him."

On when he wants to make a decision at left guard between Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao:

"I don't really have an exact date but I think both of them are playing very well, really. Spencer came in and played excellent at center too, but Lauvao came in and really showed he hasn't lost a step. He was physical. He got up, he was able to get up to the next level when he was asked to. He was able to redirect, change direction, so it is a great battle between those two. Spencer has done everything right in Shawn's absence, so we have two excellent left guards, I promise you that. Unfortunately, one of them is going to have to be a backup, one of them is going to be a starter, but both of them are going to be valuable assets to our football team, no matter how you cut it."

On if Lauvao has lingering endurance issues:

"I said I think that is what we'd have to work through if there is, but he showed there isn't any. He is in good shape and he has worked extremely hard to get his body back into shape. We were a little cautious with him. We probably could have brought him back a little sooner than we did, but I think it has paid off. I think he is totally 100 percent now and he looks it."

On T Takoby Cofield and CB Lloyd Carrington:

"Cofield has done good. We have asked him to do a lot. He has played a little bit of every position on the offensive line, and for a young kid in his second year, that's not that easy. He has played some left tackle, some right tackle, he's played inside at guard, he has played everything but center quite frankly and he's a work-in-progress. He's a kid that has worked extremely hard and Bill Callahan rides him every day and he's getting better and better. We are excited to see him continue to progress. Unfortunately, we have a lot of good linemen in this building right now, we feel like, and there are going to be some tough decisions for us… Lloyd has performed well. He's been an exciting guy, prospect for us. He's a physical kid and last week he hadn't played at all, he came in the first play, he was in Cover 0 and covered the guy and did extremely well for us. We have some very good young prospects on this football team and they've shown their ability to play football in the first two preseason games."

On Cofield's absence today:

"He has a personal matter going on. He's OK though."

On T Trent Williams:

"He's fine. He practiced today and looked like he didn't miss a day."

On TE Vernon Davis as a blocker:

"Vernon is very strong at the point of attack. That is very important. He is a guy that can hold the point, and if you want to run the ball, you have to have a tight end that can hold the point. Especially some of these 4-3 teams with these big defensive ends and these 3-4 teams with big, strong outside linebackers, you have got to have somebody that can be physical in there. And if you want to run the ball inside, you better have a tight end. We feel like Vernon, obviously Logan [Paulsen], Niles [Paul] is getting better and better, Jordan [Reed] is getting better, but Vernon as a blocker has really been a pleasant surprise for us. That's kind of the reason we brought him. We knew he was a strong kid and could handle that stuff but really seeing him in person, how he has picked up the offense has really been a pleasant surprise and we are excited to have him."

On Davis focusing on blocking more in recent years after building his career as a pass catcher:

"I think the longer you play in the National Football League at the tight end position, the more you realize that being an all-around tight end is important. The great tight ends in football can do a little bit of everything. Jason Witten to me and [Rob] Gronkowski, those guys can do some great things not only in the passing game obviously but in the running game. You have to be versatile and Vernon has turned himself into a versatile tight end, which is huge nowadays because so many of these spread offenses in college football, they don't ask the tight end to block. They are split out wide. They are six-foot-five, 230 pounds and they run good, but then you ask them to come in core and block and it's brand new to them. It takes years to develop guys like that and Vernon is a self-made guy, he has learned how to do it and he is strong enough to do it and he is willing to do it. He has done a great job so far."

On QB Nate Sudfeld:

"It is hard for these No. 3 quarterbacks to get the work but he has taken advantage of his reps. He has made his mistakes, his overthrows, his underthrows, his bad decisions, all the things young quarterbacks go through, but the thing I love about Nate is he doesn't blink, man. He just wants to keep coming out and playing and slinging it and he proved that the other night. He had some errant throws early in the game and was stuck in some long yardage – third-and-long – and failed miserably. And then the two-minute drill, he just comes in with a smile on his face and leads us to a touchdown. That's just the way Nate is. He is progressing along like we thought he would despite not getting a lot of reps."

QB Kirk Cousins

On his preparedness going into the third preseason game:

"I feel like I've thrown a lot more than five passes because of how many reps I'm getting every day in practice. And as a starting quarterback I'm getting a lot of reps, so much more than I would've as a backup quarterback. So, I feel very ready and then more importantly is the fact that we have this entire week to get ready like a normal rhythm to a game week. So those two things I think gets you about as prepared as you can."

On what he wants to accomplish Friday night:

"I think it's the same answers I've been saying for most of the preseason. We want to be sharp, we want to stay healthy. We just want to move the football, convert third downs, stay out on the field and score points, and that really never changes. Whether it's the preseason, whether it's a practice session of moving the football, or whether it's a real game in the regular season, we want to do the same things whenever we're out there."

On if he is treating this game like a regular season game in terms of scheduling and game planning:

"Yeah, I would say it is in the sense that we have a rhythm of a full week coming off the Jets game on a Friday, the Bills game on a Friday. We truly have that one week to turn around and be ready to go for the next game. So it's a good simulation of our normal rhythm during the regular season. And like you said, the preparation may not be quite as extensive from a game planning standpoint but the rhythm is there."

On if he is looking at film of the Bills' defense:

"Oh, we are. Yeah, we're watching their defense and in that sense it's pretty similar to a game week of following that same rhythm day in and day out of what it would look like."

On preparing as a starting quarterback as opposed to a backup quarterback and if that affects the types of throws he's willing to make in practice situations:

"That's a great question. And I think the answer was that as a backup I was always trying to play well enough that the coaches would go back and say, 'We can't wait for this guy to get on the field. It may not be this Sunday, it may not be this season, but, boy, it's exciting to see the way he practices and how efficient he is. We can't wait to see what he'd do in a real game.' That was always my mindset. And then as a starting quarterback, I think you want to be really sharp, but like you mentioned, in training camp you're not trying to necessarily be ready to go for the first preseason game, you're trying to be ready to go for Week 1. So you're trying to build everything towards Week 1 a little bit more than when you're fighting for that backup spot trying to earn just a spot on the team. I've heard guys say, 'Training camp is my Super Bowl' for some of the guys who are fighting for roster spots. So, when you're not fighting for that roster spot necessarily day in and day out, you can just build towards Week 1 and like you said maybe test to see can I fit that ball in there, how can I learn from this rep and, you know, try some different things that you may fail in practice, but only for the purpose of building to be better come the first game of the regular season."

On throws or specific situations he wants to improve from training camp:

"I don't' know if it's anything specific off the top of my head that we did, but I go back to maybe just some interceptions that I threw in training camp this year that I probably… the decision making was less conservative because I'm trying to see can I fit that ball in that window and when it gets intercepted you say 'Okay, I can't.' And it was good that I did it here in training camp than on a Monday night game against the Steelers. So sometimes you're glad you make those mistakes in a less important situation so that you learn from it whether it be a red-zone throw or a two-minute situation or a third-down attempt, just where you get more aware of the situation and what the right decision should be on each individual play." 

On RB Matt Jones missing the rest of the preseason:

"Yeah, it's tough. Having injuries is a part of the game, so like everybody else who gets injured, we have to be able to step up and have a replacement and have guys who can play where we don't miss a beat. That'll be the challenge to the rest of the group and the rest of our offense. But Matt's really been coming along. I think he's really grown as a player from where he was at this point last year. It's most important that he can get heathy because we are building for the regular season and we want him to be there for as many regular season games as possible. Whatever it takes to do that will be the key."

On the advice he's shared with rookie QB Nate Sudfeld:

"I think you can watch and just learn, but also I think Nate is a good question-asker. When he has a question, he does a good job of voicing it and communicating what he needs to know. He just does a good job shadowing us, shadowing me and Colt [McCoy], and just trying to watch how we do things and see what works for him. As he goes, he'll pick up the best rhythm for him. This is a good week for the young players, the first-year players, to see how an NFL week is structured in preparation for a game so they can maximize their time. I think as a rookie, there's still some new-ness to it, where you say, 'OK, I just realized I have an hour window here at this time of the day and how do I want to best use that hour?' You have to figure that out as you go through it. There's some planning and some learning that will go on this week for those guys that I think is helpful to simulate that weekly rhythm."

On what he gets out of preseason games as opposed to practices:

"I think both are beneficial. To play in a preseason game, I think is helpful. I don't know that I need to play in four, but to play in some is very helpful, and I think that's what this Friday night will be all about is getting that rhythm so that when we do go out against the Steelers on Monday night, you feel like you've been there and you are ready to go and it hasn't been too long since you last took a snap in the stadium in a game-like atmosphere against a different opponent. That's why I'm excited about this Friday because it will be a good dress rehearsal. We want to be sharp. We want to have a really good feeling coming off the field so that we can carry over to Week 1."

On Sudfeld seeking advice from him and if that shows Cousins' growth from being young to being a veteran:

"Things are changing; I don't necessarily feel like they have changed. I think it's a gradual process where I felt like last year we were going up in games against Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Eli Manning and Tony Romo, these guys that had been to Pro Bowls repeatedly, won Super Bowls. They've been where we're trying to go. As a result, I would say I don't know that things have changed in a sense that I'm where I want to be, but I think we're on that path. We're going to find out this season if we can take another step closer, but that's certainly the challenge and what we're hungry to go after."

On the opportunities for RBs Keith Marshall and Robert Kelley in Jones' absence:

"It's really good work for them to be able to get out there with the ones, against the ones, and have to perform play in and play out. I think it's going to help challenge them. There were times for me as a first-, second- or even third-year player where I was kind of pushed into action and it stretches you as a player. It going to get you to where you need to be that much faster. I think it's a really good thing for them. There may be some growing pains here and there, but that's what the preseason is for – to see what they can do, what they can't do. Every step of the way I want to be there in the huddle and on the field helping them and providing whatever tips I can so the game can slow down for them. I think it's a great opportunity to see what they've got and I like the fact that they'll be challenged." 

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