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Quotes: Jay Gruden (11.30.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Injury update: Derek Carrier has a high-ankle sprain and a little bit of an Achilles [injury]; he'll be day to day. [Quinton] Dunbar has an open dislocation on his finger; he'll be day to day. Andre Roberts has knee inflammation; he'll be day to day. Chris Thompson sprained his AC joint; he came back in. He should be day to day."

On if he thinks the players-only meeting on Saturday night had a unifying effect against the Giants:

"Well, I hope so. You know, I didn't know anything about it, no. I left after I said my piece about 8:30-8:45 and then they had one after that, I guess. But, you know, I think those are good for those guys to get together and air out their issues or what have you or give their own motivational speeches to one another. I don't know the extent of it but sounded like it was beneficial."

On the importance of accountability:

"We try to preach it and we try to stand by our words. Starting from the very beginning of OTAs when the season begins about accountability to everything — meetings on time, weight room, training room, all that stuff. For the most part, our guys have bought in. We hold them to high standards around here and they've done a good job overall."

On TE Jordan Reed's development:

"He's coming along at a good rate. You love him in the passing game. There are some things he does in the running game – which a couple of those calls were ticky-tack, so to speak – but he's just got to learn to get his hands inside and keep them in there and not pull jerseys. Overall, you can see what type of production that he has. He's a huge weapon for us on third down, first down, red zone. We've put him outside, in the slot, in the core. He's done an excellent job for us. He's continued to develop and get better as a pass catcher, route runner and a run blocker."

On trying to create consistency:

"Well it's important for us to try to search and figure out. You know, I think it's just a matter of continuing to stay focused on the job at hand and the team at hand. That's Dallas, obviously. We have to put this game behind us. Like I said last night, it was great to see us bounce back from a loss like Carolina. And then it's going to be equally as important how we bounce back from a big win against the Giants and playing a game against Dallas on Monday night. I think our guys understand the importance and understand that the only way you can go about this league is one game at a time and take your next opponent very seriously. We will do that with Dallas obviously."

On if CB Quinton Dunbar's hand injury will require surgery:"I don't think so, no. I think we'll probably put a splint on it and see how he can play with that."

On the difference in accountability from last year to this year:"It's never perfect. There's going to be guys that are late time from time. But I think the biggest thing is they understand that they are accountable for all of their actions on and off the field and we hold them to high standards. Scot [McCloughan], myself, Bruce [Allen], Dan Snyder, we all have high hopes for these guys as people and as players. So when you're talking about playing the best players at each position, you have to stand to it and I think for the most part as a staff we've done that. We've played the guys that deserve to play. The guys who are playing are playing pretty well."

On S Dashon Goldson's leadership:

"He's a veteran guy who has played a lot of football. Right from day one when he got here, you could just see the leadership qualities that he had in meetings, speaking up and making sure everybody's attentive and understanding the importance of each play and the concept of the defense we're trying to teach. It's great to have him — a veteran guy who has been through a lot of things in his career, but he's also a guy that obviously can back it up with good, solid play and good work ethic. It's one thing to be a vocal leader and a veteran guy, but it's another thing to come out here and practice hard every day and be in meetings, be vocal and that's great. We have a couple of other guys. Trent [Williams] is starting to emerge as one of those guys. I think we have a lot of leaders in this locker room, which is good."

On the possibility of WR DeSean Jackson returning more punts moving forward:

"We'll see a little bit more of him. I think he's a great punt returner. I mean, historically… He's not going to do it all the time, but to put him back there when they're backed up and we have a chance for a good return I think is a smart thing to do. [Jamison] Crowder, nothing against Crowder, but DeSean is very explosive back there and made some big plays in his career and that's the only reason behind it. But we could see more, depends on whether or not he wants to do it, but if he wants to do it then we'll put him back there."

On mixing up the kick returners:

"Yeah, just a feeling back there that [Special Teams Coordinator] Ben [Kotwica] had. He wanted to get a look at it and put Chris [Thompson] back there on the onside kick return. We thought we might get an onside kick in that situation. Then, Andre [Roberts] had a big return against Carolina and obviously [Rashad] Ross has had a kickoff return. They're all good at it, so you know, give them all a crack at it."

On if it is harder to prepare against a team that has had additional time to prepare:

"Not really. I think we have all the games on tape. Obviously, we played them twice last year. They have a couple days of rest to get in some healing, I guess, but overall, it's not that big of an advantage. Usually, you give your team a couple of days off. You know, we're going to give our team an extra day off this week. I think both teams will be well-rested and ready to roll."

On the penalties against Reed:

"Yeah, I think one of them was a takedown. They called it a takedown. I think the guy was going to the ground and Jordan fell on him. Another one, the back bounced outside and he kind of just held him up just a little bit. I think it's just a matter of just continuing to coach the fundamentals and [Tight Ends Coach] Wes [Phillips] is doing a great job of that and teaching him where his hands are and where they need to be and how to finish blocks. Those are going to happen from time to time at the tight end position. When you're battling and a lot of those plays when they get drawn out and they bounce outside late and he's engaged, you know, they might happen from time to time. We've just got to keep working with his hands and where to place them and when to let go."

On QB Kirk Cousins becoming more of a vocal leader:

"As quarterbacks go, I think everybody has their own different, unique personality. Kirk, he's still finding his way. Obviously, it's his team and we all know that right now. He's still in the process of learning, basically studying what he wants to do and how to play the position. But the leadership stuff will come. I think everybody looks up to him, the type of kid that he is, how hard he works. But as far as being a vocal leader, that may or may not be his style yet. He may grow into that type of role but there are great ways to lead — you don't have to be a vocal leader or yell at people to lead. I think if you lead by example, by your work ethic and holding people to high standards, he's in good shape. He's doing a good job of that."

On just focusing on the game ahead of them:

"That's it, we just have to focus. We have to have extreme focus on our next opponent. We have to study the tape, prepare extremely hard, practice well, practice hard, practice fast and get our minds ready to go for a Monday night game. There's no way around it. That's the only way you can do it is have consistent preparation and then hold these guys to a high standard out here at practice, make sure they're working hard. Don't get too excited reading the paper, don't pat yourself on the back over a win or don't beat yourself up too bad over a loss, man. We just have to stay consistent in our approach. I think we have for the most part. We just have to try to figure out a way to put back-to-back games together like I've said for a while."

On if they try to identify potential locker room leaders when acquiring players:

"I think when you're looking at free agents, obviously you look at their talent but you also want to look at what type of mental makeup they have as far as a possible leader. We went out two years ago and got Adam Hayward for that reason. He's a strong player on special teams obviously and a good solid linebacker, but leadership-wise he's excellent. Then you go out and get Dashon Goldson who has a reputation for being a good strong leader, a good strong person in the locker room. Those guys are important. You have to do your background on that. That's a bonus when you get a good player that's also a good, strong leader. It works out great. Terrance [Knighton], like you said, has been good. Ricky [Jean Francois] has been good. That plays a big part in who we get and how we get them."

On Cousins becoming a more vocal leader:

"I think when we're out here, I think everybody is so focused on the job that they have to do. I don't really pay attention to the 'hoorah' stuff down in the locker room and all that stuff, the pregame speeches and all that stuff. I care about the production and teaching what we want to teach them. That other stuff comes naturally to players. They all look up to Kirk and they all look up to Dashon. We have good strong core leadership in this locker room. Who's the most vocal? Who's the biggest leader? I don't know. I just know that they're all doing a good job down there and they are rallying around each other, which is important."

On keeping the team on edge in practice and keeping his message from getting stale:

"That's a great challenge is trying to keep it from being stale, like you say. I think it's just a matter of us staying on these guys and making sure they practice hard and understand what's at stake here and the importance of us getting the most out of every individual. Just continue to stay on them and working hard, running to the football on defense, finishing blocks on offense, finishing runs as a running back, finishing your routes, going through your progressions as a quarterback. Special teams – everybody running down on the punts and kickoffs. Just playing fast and having fun doing it. I don't think that's really that hard for a football player or for football coaches to make sure your players are doing that. All of our staff is very aware of that, the importance of that. I don't think it's a problem."

On how Coach Perry Fewell has been able to deploy the right combinations of defensive backs:

"You know, he just coaches them up. He's had a wide variety of players back there from all over the joint. You know, that's nickels, corners, safeties. They've been bouncing around pretty good, but like you said, the glue is probably Dashon Goldson, you know what I mean? He keeps everybody back there aware of what's going on and then Perry does an excellent job of just teaching. He's a great teacher. He's not a big 'yell at you, in your face' type guy. He's more of a great fundamental teacher. When you have great teachers like that – Joe Barry does a good job – it makes the transition from one position to another pretty smooth. We've had guys come in here like Will Blackmon on four or five days of practice learning the whole defense. That's not easy to do as a coach, but Perry is obviously a very experienced guy and that's one of the reasons why we wanted to bring him in."

On who decided to move Dunbar from receiver to cornerback in training camp:

"Well, we saw him actually in training camp. As a wide receiver, you know it was going to be tough for him to make it numbers-wise unless it was a special teams-type deal. So we tried him on special teams on the punt trying to hold up the flyers, the gunners. He was real long and was really good at that. So I just put him over there because we were short on DBs. One day I said, 'Go over there with the defensive drills with Perry and see how it goes.' We just kept him there because part of the reason we did that we were so short. [Bashaud] Breeland was hurt. I think D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] got hurt a little bit. We had a couple other injuries there in training camp. We didn't have enough DBs hardly to practice, so we had to put him over there and he just took it and ran with it."

On sitting in first place in the NFC East and attempting to earn a playoff spot:

"Yeah, we're excited about it. Obviously, we're fired up to be in the position we are in. Now it's just a matter of maintaining our focus and our work. Just continue to take one game at a time, like I say cliché-wise. I'm proud of the team to be in this position, how hard they worked, how much they've overcome from a week-to-week basis. But overall we have a lot of work to do, obviously. We're going to continue to get better, that's our goal.

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