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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Quarterback Kirk Cousins, Cornerback Josh Norman (09-21-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Did not participate today was DeSean Jackson, knee and ankle; Kendall Reyes, groin. Limited was [Martrell] Spaight, concussion; Trent Williams, knee; [Chris] Baker, rib, elbow, toe, knee; [Josh] Doctson, Achilles. Full were [Deshazor] Everett, knee; [Su'a] Cravens, hip; [Matt] Jones, shoulder, and that's it. And then surgery, Kedric Golston had hamstring surgery repair today."

On WR DeSean Jackson's injury and Gruden's expectations going into Sunday:

"I think it happened around the third quarter. He started feeling a little pain, but he stayed in the game and finished the game. But, expectations are, I have no idea. It depends on how he's feeling tomorrow and the next day. Hopefully he'll be OK."

On the plan for CB Josh Norman this week:

"I don't know; we're working on a plan right now. We will have a plan for Josh and our whole secondary but the exact plan I don't think I'll be talking about on Wednesday, so I don't know where that came from but we'll have a plan for sure for Odell [Beckham Jr.] and the whole Giant football team. They have a good group of receivers. Shepard's playing extremely well, Victor Cruz, Eli, they have a good running game. So we have to have a plan for all of them."

On if he has had a conversation with Norman about Beckham:

"I think that happened last year on another team with a different situation. This is a brand new year, he's on a brand new team. He understands his importance to this defense. Odell I'm sure understands his importance to the New York Giants, and I think that's in the past, quite frankly. I don't think anything has to be said or done. I think they'll be fine. It's football."

On LB Martrell Spaight's progression after his concussion:

"He's still going through the protocol. He's able to do some individual stuff out here; that's why he's limited. He's not doing any team stuff as of right now. He's going to have more tests tomorrow, I believe. We'll have a better idea tomorrow."

On changing the coverage strategy for Norman:

"Well, a lot of times with Pittsburgh, they were in a lot of no-huddle, and it was a little bit more difficult to get everybody set Week 1. You know, I think Week 2 we were able to adjust a little bit. Players are starting to play a little bit more together. Week 3, we could change it a little bit more. I think you'll see us change every week from week to week depending on who we're playing and what game plan we have for that team. Just how comfortable guys are at different positions is whether or not we'll move them around or not."

On his comfort level with RB Robert Kelley:

"I am at a comfort level, and that's probably one of the most disappointing things so far is we haven't gotten him involved yet and that's probably [because] we've been behind a little bit, we haven't gotten our running game going like we want. But I'd like to get him some touches this week and I do feel comfortable. I think he's got great vision, got a great, low center of gravity. He's like in between Chris [Thompson] and Matt [Jones]. He's not as big as Matt and he's not as quick as Chris, but he's got great vision and he's a big, solid running back and I'd like to see what he can do and hopefully that'll come Sunday."

On S Duke Ihenacho and S Will Blackmon potentially pushing S David Bruton Jr. for playing time:

"Yeah, I expect to see a lot of things happen. We're pushing… That's the good thing about our guys. Our guys are pushing each other every day in practice and not just at the safety position – the corner position, the nickel spot, defensive line, offensive line – I think we have a good group of not just starters but backups that are pushing for opportunities to play. So, it's our job to make sure we get people opportunities who we feel like deserve them and have earned them out here in practice and we'll make that determination come Sunday."

On CB Bashaud Breeland practicing in the slot:

"Just going through DB drills right now and working on different things."

On the Giants' improvements on defense:

"I see the entire defense has improved, really as a whole. I think they are able to stop the run a lot better with the big addition of  'Snacks' [Damon Harrison] – I think that's what his nickname is from the Jets. He's a big body. Obviously [Olivier] Vernon is a good run defender as well as a good pass rusher. Those are two good defensive linemen right there, and then you add Janoris Jenkins back there in the secondary and a first rounder in Eli Apple and Leon Hall with all of that experience, it makes their defense a lot better. And they are playing well. They're playing well both in the secondary and stopping the run, so it's a very good defense. It's going to be a great challenge for us."

On what needs to change in the red zone:

"Well, a lot has to change. We have to take advantage of our opportunities and we do have to be better situationally. I have talked about it a lot. Our third down efficiency on both sides of the ball, our fourth down efficiency has been poor in both games. I think we are 0-for-3 on defense and we are 0-for-2-or-3 on offense. Third down efficiency, we are behind in that category and red zone has been bad. It really has. It has been surprisingly bad. Last year we were pretty dang good in the red zone, I think we were top 5, and this year we have just started out poorly and I can't put a finger on it, we just have. But it is something we have to address and correct and continue to work on and hopefully that'll change. It has to change. You have to convert red zone opportunities to be successful in this league and that's part of the reason – not the only reason – but part of the reason we are 0-2."

On the safety play of Bruton and DeAngelo Hall:

"I think they did some good things. That's every position right now. Every position has shown that they're pretty darn good football players, but every position there's some things we need to correct and that's everybody involved. I think the arrow is pointing up at the safety position. They're not quite where they need to be right now, but they understand that and they're working at it. I think the more reps they get, the more game situations, communication with the no-huddle, the more comfortable they're going to get and the more decisive they're going to be with their eyes and reads and all that good stuff."

On comments by former LB Keenan Robinson and how the team has addressed adversity in the past few years:

"I didn't see any of those. He has his own point of view and his own observations. Unfortunately, he had some injuries last year, but we faced adversity last year and we handled it quite well, I think. We were 2-4 at one time and we were 5-7 at one time and came back to win nine games and our division. I didn't see any finger-pointing to that magnitude that he's talking about. I thought we handled it extremely well.  I think we've handled it well so far this year and we're going to continue to handle it the best way we can. But we're all competitors. Nobody likes to lose, so there's going to be some grumblings. I can't make 63 guys and 20 coaches happy every day. We're not all going to be smiling and singing '[Kumbaya]' or whatever the heck song it is. There's going to be some upset people. We're not happy, but we're going to keep working and keep grinding. We have a good group of guys that aren't blaming each other, but they're willing to get better."

On the false start penalties:

"Yeah, Kory [Lichtensteiger] had one the other day in at a key situation, too. It was unfortunate and it was a snap count issue and that's something we have addressed and corrected again. That's something. We had two defensive penalties in the last drive of the game that really cost us, and penalties really…We talk about red zone deficiencies and third down and fourth down, but penalties is another area that we can correct. We can correct that and we have to correct it. We are not a good enough team to overcome false starts, losing 10 seconds, facemasks on second and 12, late hits to the quarterback – whether we can argue they were or not – we can't overcome those penalties so we have to do a better job of coaching those up and playing by the rules." 

QB Kirk Cousins

On facing adversity and what he draws on from the past few seasons:

"I mean, we draw on all past experiences – good, bad, indifferent. We're just trying to learn and grow and get better and, you know, we look forward to the next challenge, which is the Giants on Sunday."

On if he "tries too hard" at times:

"I don't know, I think you approach it the way you approach it. I don't know. There were games last year where I played really, really well, and I was trying pretty hard then too. So, I mean, you just go play. You miss a couple of throws here and there. They just happen to be important ones – third downs, third down in the red zone – where you say, 'Man if we had completed that one, the whole outcome of the game is different,' and I'll be the first one to say that. When the consequences are a little greater, the mistakes feel a little more painful. But I've missed throws in the past in games that I've played really, really well. It happens when you throw the ball as many times as we will throughout the course of the season; you're going to miss a few. It's just been in some spots where you say, man, it had an effect on the outcome of that series or of that game."

On if his one-year deal weighs on him:

"I don't think it weighs on me as much as it may seem, just because, first of all, at the end of the day, I believe that the Lord has a plan for my life and I trust that. And whether it's to continue to be here, or with another team, or not even playing football, I'm going to trust his plan and take comfort in that. And if I'm not taking comfort in that, then I'm a bit of a hypocrite. Secondly, I feel like, and I've said this a lot, a little bit of a broken record, I'm always on a one-year deal. I feel like I'm on a one-game deal, a one-day deal. I've got to prove it over and over and over, so if I had been on a contract that is lasting many more years, I would still feel like if I don't play well this year, they're going to look for someone else. So, that really doesn't have a whole lot to do with any type of expectation or desire to play well."

On why the offense has not been as proficient in the red zone this season:

"Well, it is a small sample size, like you alluded to, so it can be a little bit too early to analyze it, but you just have to go back and look at each individual series. And I think on a couple of them you'd say – I'd say – hey, I missed the throw. I mean, a guy's open, a guy's got a chance to play for us and the ball falls incomplete, so that's the 'why' behind it in that specific instance. Another time, the ball is tipped. Another time, you know maybe I threw a fade and I should've handed it off, so it's more of a decision making [issue], not on the way the ball was thrown but on the whether to throw it or not [decision]. So, each player, each time we've been down there, it's been a different reason. But because we've been able to play at a high level in the red zone in the past, the expectation should be high and we know we can play better going forward, but it's going to require a great deal of focus and attention to detail and great execution. It's not just going to 'happen.'"

On if there is added stress entering the season as the starting quarterback:

"I don't think so. I think again to a similar question earlier, there were games that I played very well last year. If you were to say 'Kirk, against the Eagles with the division title on the line on the road, were you at all stressed? I'd say yeah [laughter]. I mean, my heart's racing in that game. I took a knee, right? Right before halftime, I mean, do you think I was feeling happy go lucky going into the locker room at halftime on the road having just taken a knee to cost my team three points or a possible touchdown? No. I mean, the point is you've got to play well through whatever's going on. So, when you don't, obviously the initial reaction is it must be something, but I think a lot of those same things were present when I've played at a high level too. You know, as I've said all the time, you know a little bit redundant, but this game, playing this position, it comes with the territory. There's going to be pressure, there's going to be expectations, there's going to be failures, I'm going to throw picks. The key is going to be can I continue to just keep grinding and keep pushing, and that's really all I know to do and all I'm going to do, and we'll just let the chips fall where they may."

On if a more balanced offense could help take pressure off of him and help in the red zone:

"It's a good question. I think the short answer is it could help. It's not going to help if we're running for no yards. You know, you've got to be productive in the run game, which we have been frankly, I think. The statistics may not show that, but it feels like when I hand the ball off we are getting positive yards. Brought a little of it on myself because in a couple of those red zone opportunities, I'm throwing fades when I could hand it off, so there's a little bit of I've got nobody to look at but myself. I think the other thing would just be when we get behind and we have to get in a two-minute mode, you just can't run the ball. So there's a chunk of plays at the end of games and the Steelers game even more so where a quarter of the plays you're calling, you don't even have the choice to run it because in the fourth quarter you're behind and you've got to throw the ball. So the key to being able to have more rushing attempts would be in the first two, three quarters, play in such a way that we are dictating the tempo and have a lead and can then run the ball at the end of the game. And that's a part of the whole process."

On if he is checking out of runs more than he has in the past:

"A couple of them have come up at the line. To say 'Are you doing it more often,' I don't know. I think we go in with a plan of when we want to do it, how we want to do it. We have rules. I don't just say 'I feel like throwing it here, I think I'm just going to throw it'. The look of the defense, the way the safeties are lining up – corners, linebackers, D-linemen, the front, the pressure – whatever it may be is going to tell me what to do so it's rules we have in place, I'm basing it off that. But, there's no doubt that there are times where I've thrown it when we've had a run called. My point is just there's some of that that can affect the final numbers."

On if he feels opposing defenses are trying to take away the run and forcing him to check into passes:

"You know, interestingly, I would say no. When we went back and charted the coverages, or I should just say at halftime of the Dallas game, I got Coach [Matt] Cavanaugh and Nate Sudfeld charting coverages through the whole first half and we saw on every first and 10 that we could chart, the Cowboys had played a two-deep structure, a Tampa-two structure, where they're actually playing the pass. So that would tell you that on first and 10, they're thinking, 'They're going to take a shot, they're going to launch it deep, so let's prevent that,' and that's where you love to run the ball. So on the very first play of the game, we handed it off. I think we had a very productive game with Matt Jones. They were in a two-deep structure trying to stop the pass. So when we get in those fronts, it's the opposite. We'd love to run the ball. We'd love to get out of the pass and pound it at them. It goes on and on like that and that's the chess match that football is."

On his takeaways from the team's success on the road late last season:

"I think that ultimately on the road, it's hard enough to beat the opposing team, so you can't beat yourself and we all know the things that will do that, so we've got to be disciplined – not commit penalties, not turn the ball over, stay in manageable third downs. All those things that lead to winning will lead to winning that much more on the road. So we need to be a mature football team. I think we have the guys on the team who have been there, done that. And it's just a matter of going out and executing, and it will be that way every week."

On his reaction to reports of locker room frustration:

"You telling me that is the first time I've heard it. So, I don't have much time to process it. I'm actually pretty ignorant to all that's being said, but, you know, stuff gets said. It's a part of the process, part of the deal. You know, people can say what they want, they have a right to do that. I have an opportunity every Sunday or Monday night or whatever the day may be, to go out and play well and try to reverse that trend or those opinions. But what I've learned in this league is that it's a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a full body of work. No one's making big, big decisions after two games. You know, we're going to play this whole season out, see where we are at the end of it. And I'll let the body of work speak for itself at that point. But, I'm excited about the challenge we have this week, and really I have enough of a challenge that I don't need to look much further forward or further back than just the Giants this Sunday."

CB Josh Norman

On if he is looking forward to facing Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.:

"I am looking forward to playing the New York Giants, man. I think a lot has been said from this week all the way up since last time we played each other so I'm sure they're going to be ready just as much as we are. Shoot, seems Sunday can't get here fast enough."

On why his matchup with Beckham was so heavily publicized:

"I don't know, probably because of the New York media market. I think they amped that game up that week going into it. I think we were 15-and-0 last year when I was with Carolina – well, going into it trying to be 15-and-0 – that was a team we were trying to get past. Leading up, a good player on defense and a good player on offense going at each other, it was…I don't know. Media frenzy that week, both of us were going in at it, top of our profession. What you see is what you got. I didn't think it was going to be to that point, but it did."

On if he is more focused on improving from the 0-2 start:

"[I] focus on winning. I think nothing more, nothing less. If you don't win the game, you fall short. No matter who you're covering [or] how many yards you have in a game, if you don't come out with a 'W,' it's really all for nothing. [We're] trying to get out here and get a win, get our season started on the right foot. I think that's the main thing, the focus that we need to concentrate on, to be honest with you."

On if he has spoken to Beckham since the game last year:


On what he will say to Beckham on Sunday:

"I don't know. There's a different person in front of you right now than Sunday, so I couldn't tell you."

On if he will shadow Beckham:

"I don't know. Somewhere I saw a leak that says I'll be shadowing him everywhere but the slot, but it's kind of crazy because I didn't get the memo. I didn't even know where he's playing. All I know is I'm playing the left side of the field like the coaches ask me to do. Where that'd come from, I have no idea. Maybe you can tell me."

On if he would like to shadow Beckham:

"Heck yeah, why not? Shoot, man, that's the competitor that's inside of me, man. I don't shy away from nobody. Oh my gosh, you go on Sunday, reeks and oozes with confidence. I don't bow down to nobody or their thoughts of me. I try to make my own and when I do, I impose my will. I try to do that each and every time I step on the football field, no matter who we're facing. So at the end of the day, you give me your best shot and I'll take it."

On his scouting report of Beckham:

"He's a good player. He's a really good player. No hate whatsoever, man. The guy can play ball. I think the competitor in me likes that – this challenge to get up for that. He's a good player."

On if he and Beckham tried to reach out to each other:

"I don't know."

On the shot he took to the head last year:

"God tells us to forgive all, so I'm working on that. But I have moved passed it. That was last year and I think that things that happened in the past stay in the past, whether they're here or not. I'm sure he didn't want it to happen just like everybody else didn't, but it did. Our feelings about it really doesn't matter, to be honest with you. It's another week, it's a new opponent, fresh game plan going out there and trying to attack it the best we possibly can. I don't really look too much into that."

On the bright spotlight in Washington and if he misses relative anonymity in Carolina:

"I don't know, it's home. I think if anybody leaves home, they want to go back. Shoot, I've been there 20 years of my life. This is the only time I haven't been there every single day. I don't know. It's an adjustment period. I think everything is adjustment, we're human. I don't think you get up and wake up in the morning and you go somewhere else and be like, 'Dang, I do not miss where I was from.' No. The guys that I had always been with, I still talk to them today. I love those guys. I miss them, of course, not seeing their faces every day and cutting up like we do. I grew up with them throughout the league, so it's kind of missed. But I talk to them here-and-there. Now I'm starting to grow with this team and learning them. I like guys on this team, I really do. I want to grow to love them so I actually get to know them and then we can have further conversations. So that's what I'm learning here. Everybody has different personalities and is cool to me and it's cool to have conversations with them and indulge in them and see what they like to do. Apparently we can come together as a group and be a family."

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