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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Quarterback Kirk Cousins (09-07-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On RB Matt Jones and WR Josh Doctson:

"Yeah, Matt Jones practiced today. We're still taking Josh slowly. He did some individuals work and some other stuff so we'll have to wait and see."

On the left guard position:

"Right now, Shawn Lauvao is starting. Spencer [Long] is coming back from his ankle. He looked good today, but still those two guys are doing a nice job."

On DE Kendall Reyes:

"He's working off the field right now and we'll look at him again tomorrow. He's got an extra day, which helps us, especially with him."

On Reyes' exact injury:


On how Jones looked today:

"Good. He looked good."

On if Doctson had a setback:

"No, it's day-to-day as far as how he feeling and that stuff. It's a unique deal and we're still trying to figure out the best way to approach it."

On what he has seen out of DE Ziggy Hood:

"Yeah, he started out… we weren't sure what to expect from him. We knew that his pedigree was great. He was in Pittsburgh and did some good things there, missed a lot of the year the year before. So we signed him to a futures [contract] and he came in and couldn't really do a lot in OTAs, but he's a very smart player. [He] picked up the defense, but once we got the pads on him was really when he stood out. The one-on-one drills, the team drills, he was in the backfield being very disruptive. It was a consistent thing. It wasn't like one day he did well and the next day he didn't do anything. He was consistently a nuisance and a problem for our offense. He's earned his way into the starting lineup."

On what C Kory Lichtensteiger brings to the team:

"I think just the whole scheme of playing center. Ability-wise, Josh [LeRibeus] did a nice job, but as far as making calls and communication and the snap count, the snaps, just the consistent play of the center position, Kory brings that to you. He's a veteran. He knows defenses, he knows fronts, he knows how to communicate with the other guys. We can change things in the blink of an eye with him in there, and then the snaps are always on-point. So he's the guy that the quarterbacks I know feel like they can sleep well at night when he's the center. He's just a consistent, good, all-around football player."

On Lichtensteiger being effective despite his size:

"Yeah, he's not the biggest guy but he holds his own as far as when he plays against big people. But his strength is obviously getting up to the next level. He's got great quickness at the center positions. He's able get to the next level especially with those runs, and then pass protections, he does a nice job of fitting his hands and competing. So the strength of his game is getting up to the next level in the running game. And in pass protection, he does an excellent job of getting to the right people and sitting in there."

On the matchup between CB Josh Norman and Steelers WR Antonio Brown:

"Yeah, we're more interested in the Steelers versus the Redskins, really. He's just a major part of their team and is somebody that will alter your game plan. He's that type of receiver and that type of talent. So, we're going to be aware of where he is all the time. Whoever's on him, [Bashaud] Breeland, [Dashaun] Phillips, [Quinton] Dunbar, [Greg] Toler, [Josh] Norman, it doesn't matter. He's going to be a great challenge for all of them and hopefully they'll be up to it."

On improving the run game:

"We just have to do a better job. Everybody – tight ends, running backs, linemen, quarterbacks getting us in the right run. It's a great challenge for us, especially against this defense. They were excellent in yards per carry against them last year, and they always have been pretty dang good against the run. I was in Cincinnati for three years playing against them and you feel like beating your head against the wall calling a running play against them sometimes. They're strong and they're physical, but it's a great challenge for us. It's something we have to do; we have to do to make sure we stay balanced. We have too many weapons as far as our play-actions are concerned. We don't want to put too much pressure on drop back every time because they have a great blitz package and they can rush a passer. So, it's important for us to be balanced week-in and week-out and not be one-dimensional."

On what makes Brown so good:

"Why is he so good? Just look at his numbers. He's been consistently productive in the passing game and in the return game, but his routes before he even gets the ball in his hands—he's a great route runner. He's not afraid to go across the middle, and then when he does get the ball in his hands, hold your breath. He can make people miss and he's a danger, every time, anywhere. Quick screens, down the field throws, across the middle, sideline routes, there's really nothing that you say, 'OK, this is his weakness.' He doesn't have any, so he's just a great all-around player."

On if RB Robert Kelley's role will be similar to Jones' role last season:

"Yeah, I think so. I think this day and age in pro football, the days where running backs get the ball 35 times, I think are numbered. I think you need to have two or three backs to keep them fresh, especially when you have a guy who's proven out here so far what type of vision he has and the power that he has in the hole. Time will tell. Monday Night Football's going to be a great challenge for a rookie free agent out of Tulane. We feel like the mentality that he has and how far he's come along from OTAs to training camp, we feel like he's ready. We wouldn't put him in this position if we didn't."

On if Shawn Lauvao starting at guard over Spencer Long is related to performance or health:

"Health-wise initially, but both performance and health. Shawn has done an excellent job. We weren't sure how Shawn was going to recover from his feet issues and he's come back in a big way. He was our starter before Spencer became the starter when Shawn got hurt and Shawn has proven he's back in tip top shape and done an excellent job. I feel great about both of those guys, I really do. I wouldn't bat an eye whoever w in there – Spencer or Shawn – but we run out on the first play of the game against Pittsburgh, it'll be Shawn this week."

On if Long has shown enough that Gruden would be comfortable playing him at center:

"Absolutely. He has, and it's not an easy transition, we figured that out. He is still a work in progress but we feel like his upside at center is great, we really do. He's going to continue to get a lot of work in practice and if his number is called – hopefully it won't be – but if it is, he will be ready. He's a great asset for us on the offensive line because he can backup both guard positions and he can play center as effective as our starters right now and not many teams can say that."

On the importance of home field advantage:

"I don't think we will have a problem there. I would like to think our fans are going to come out in big time numbers. There is a lot to be excited about this year. Pittsburgh Steeler fans do travel well, but I imagine our crowd will be the majority. I would sure as heck hope so. Home field advantage this day and age in pro football I think is the greatest advantage in all of sports. Home field, man, it makes it very difficult for the opposing offense to communicate. A lot of silent stuff, defensive line can get off the snap a lot better, and the momentum swings are huge when you're at home. We were 7-1 at home I believe last year and it's an advantage we take very seriously and we're proud of."

QB Kirk Cousins

On not having a lot of reps in preseason games:

"I think it's not a big deal in the sense that I have gotten a lot of reps in practice and I do feel well-prepared. Having been a backup in previous years, I probably got less reps going into the season, so from what I am accustomed to, I feel ready to go. It is just going to come down to on Monday night, in the moment, making the right decisions."

*On the weapons available to him: *

"It has been well-documented how much talent there is and not just talent but experience. I think it is very helpful to have DeSean [Jackson], Pierre [Garçon] – I've been playing with the two of them now for a third season really when you look at it. Vernon [Davis] has played a lot of football. Jordan [Reed] really now, it has been at least three seasons, so you just have that experience. And then [Jamison] Crowder was so productive as a rookie with really no foundation, and now with a foundation you'd like to think that he could take another step forward, so it's exciting. And we've said it, I remember, since the spring, that there is only one football to go around and my job is to be a good distributor, get the ball in their hands and let them see what they can do. I'd love to give every single one of them a great chance to help our team win."

On C Kory Lichtensteiger:

"Kory makes a big difference for our offense because the center, similar to the quarterback position, is more than just a physical talent position. It's quite a bit of mental, making calls, and being composed and being able to identify fronts and pressures, and then knowing what the proper call is in a split-second. I can't afford to wait. I have got to react to his call and then make my decisions. So he's got to be a quick thinker and those guys are hard to find. I think they have tried to replace Kory and it's been hard to do because he's very good at that part of the game. You can't just roll anyone out there. You need someone who can accurately shotgun snap, who can effectively snap the football consistently. There are a lot of nuances that go into playing the center position and it's hard to just plug a guy in who may not have had a lot of experience doing that in the past."

On if his mindset changes going into games that could potentially be a shootout:

"I think the short answer is no. I don't suddenly try to anticipate what's going to happen that hasn't happened yet and then change my approach. I think that I study the game plan the same way every week. I react to what needs to take place. I always have to be situationally aware. In the first quarter in a 0-0 game, you may make different decisions with the football than in the fourth quarter, down by, you know, seven points, with only a few seconds to go. So you have got to understand the situation of the game and that always affects things, but I prepare the same way and will react to whatever the game dictates and requires."

On the Pittsburgh defense:

"I think they're one of those defenses that hasn't just been good or consistent for just a few years but – I would argue – decades. Always been well-coached. They play very, very hard. They play fast. I just think it's a culture and a defense that they can plug people in that may not be very experienced or that may be new, but they can still be very effective. It's a challenge for us. They'll bring a lot of different pressures and fronts and personnel groupings. We've got to be on the screws when it comes to recognizing those things and reacting accordingly. I have a lot of respect for their defense and they'll present a great challenge."

On how the run game can improve this season:

"I don't know that I have a tight answer for that… I look at my role in the run game. So my role in the run game is to get us into the right plays and not be running the ball into bad looks. My job is to be excellent with my backfield action so hopefully I can, in my fake, hold the defensive end or hold the players so that they're not running against a guy who's unblocked. So I look at what I can do to help the run game. Outside of that, I don't try to focus too much on what other people's jobs are, but we do have good talent. I think if we can throw the ball effectively, that probably should help the run game in theory and we'll continue to try to do that and trust that if we do, good things will happen."

On WR DeSean Jackson:

"When he wants to be elite, he's elite. He's the real deal on every single route in the playbook, in the route tree. He can run every single one of them. He plays bigger than his size. He's made some catches here in the preseason that show that he plays much bigger than his size. I'm just continuing to build more and more confidence in him and really believe that when he wants to be elite, it's as good as anybody out there."

On the change in mindset entering this season as the starting quarterback:

"I think having the whole offseason to prepare and to be solidified in your role has helped, but it's all talk. You know, we talk about how the skill position players should be better; that should help us. We should be more explosive. And I don't want to create an environment where these expectations are now we can't meet them, because we're just supposed to complete every pass now and play perfectly. 'Kirk had all this time as the starter now, and he has so many weapons to throw to that he should go 50-for-50 and throw for 500 yards.' It's not going to be that. But, there's no doubt that the circumstances seem to have been set up in a way where I don't have many excuses, you know? We have a great opportunity to go be effective and play well and that's exciting and something for our fans to be excited about. But, we've got to go out and prove it. You know, we've got to go out and play well and right now it's just talk and it doesn't mean a whole lot. So, check back with me in several weeks down the road. You know it's a long, long season and a lot of games and we'll see where we are come January." 

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