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Quotes: Jay Gruden 6-6-2018

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On RB Chris Thompson:

"He will be available eventually. That's the plan. We are just going to play it by ear, but he's made unbelievable progress. He's a lot further along than anybody anticipated except me because I knew he would rehab quicker than anybody. He's in great shape. We're not too concerned."

On if it is easier to throw new schemes and plays at a veteran quarterback like Alex Smith:

"Oh, for sure. He still has got to learn the terminology so you have got to be careful. Sometimes you assume you've been in the league a long time and he went to Utah – he's very, very smart – you throw too much at him. We still want to control our pace but there's really not a lot we can throw at him that he has not seen. It's just a matter of him verbally communicating himself and getting used to the verbiage, that's all. But he's in good shape."

On how WRs Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson Jr. can help clear space for Jamison Crowder:

"It will help out. It helps out the entire offense quite frankly. So it will help out Jamison, it will help out obviously Jordan [Reed] when he gets back and Vernon [Davis] and the rest of the guys in there, and then those guys will help out – quite frankly – Paul, so they all work hand-in-hand."

On how Crowder looks this offseason and if his hamstring issues from 2017 have lingered:

"He looks great. No issues whatsoever. Very precise in what he is doing. Strong hands as usual, plays a lot bigger than his size. No issues as far as health is concerned." 

On if he would consider carrying a fullback on the roster this season:

"Could be, yeah. We'll continue to look at Elijah [Wellman] and see how he does. It's good for our defense also to see some reps with teams with a fullback, so we are giving them a good look at lead plays and power plays and all that stuff so they can prepare for it. It was also a chance for Elijah to make the team whether we need a fullback or not."

On LB Preston Smith building consistency:

"I don't know if he has had any bad games so to speak, maybe statistically they weren't the greatest, but for the most part, I think Preston has been pretty productive and he's still a young football player. But we expect big things from him going into year four now. That's a big year for him obviously, so I think from a progression standpoint, from his weight and his body and his muscle mass, his instincts as far as on the field, I think he's just getting better and better. I really think he has got a chance of being a dynamic outside linebacker in the National Football League for years to come. He's on the right path and I think he can get better and better."

On LB Josh Harvey-Clemons' increase in reps and development as a player:

"That's what we are doing, we are developing him. He got some quality reps last year in some critical situations in games which is good, mainly in dime situations and now he's getting more in base, first and second down, so it's good to see him in that role. He came in, he was a tall, gangly linebacker worried about some of the inside run stuff, some of the lead plays with the fullback and all that stuff, but he has handled it quite well. He is a guy that can really run and having Jonathan [Allen], and obviously Daron [Payne], Ziggy [Hood] and Matt Ioannidis in the middle to take the lineman off of the linebackers, I think you can then have a lighter linebacker. He can be free to roam sideline-to-sideline. Josh is taking advantage of his reps and will have to continue to do so come training camp."

On RB Samaje Perine's next steps:

"In the second year, we expect major strides for all first-year guys. I've said it before. So just understanding pro football, what it's all about in your first year, you have the four preseason games and 16 regular season games. It's a grind, mentally. It's all-day football, not like college where you only get 20 hours a week, so I think he understands the grind and our system a lot better. He's more comfortable, and we'll see how much he progresses. Very critical year for a young football player."

On if the running backs are collectively elevating the offense:

"Yes, very much so, and Chris [Thompson] hasn't been a part of any of that, but I watched Byron Marshall catch the ball and even Derrius [Guice] catch the ball. [It's] been very exciting. Watching Rob Kelley, Samaje [Perine] run it, Derrius run it. They've all done an excellent job. Kapri came off a little bit of an injury. He's done a good job. We've got a good group of backs, and they all bring something different to the table, but they are very good players, so we've just got to let it play out and let them continue to compete, try to give them as many opportunities as possible and let it play out, like I said. I've been very, very impressed with the entire group."

On what CB Orlando Scandrick brings to the table:

"Experience. I think D.J. [Swearinger] with a little bit of experience now, he's still a young player. Josh [Norman], he seems like a veteran, but he's still not exactly an old guy. Just having an experienced guy who's been through a lot, he's played corner and nickel. He communicates the defense very well and is a calming factor for those guys. When formations change and coverages might change, all that good stuff, it's good to have a guy like Orlando who's been there, done that and can communicate with the young guys. So he's done very well, and I've been impressed with the way he's stood out in practice."

On if WR Robert Davis is another candidate to make a big jump in his second season:

"Yeah, big time. We kept him mainly on the practice squad and activated him late last year, and [he] made great strides throughout the year – his size, speed, his ability to block, run. He's got all the things you want as a receiver in the West Coast-type offense… run after the catch. Now it's just about him lining up and being comfortable in the route tree and who he's supposed to block, when he's supposed to block them and also help us out on special teams, so he's done excellent, man. He had a little bit of a toe [injury] there for a little bit, but I think he's healthy now, and you see him run, and he's got a chance to really explode on the scene."

On if he has been impressed by veteran players mentoring younger players and if he has a specific anecdote on the topic:

"The good thing is I don't have to put my finger on everything that's going on around here. I have great trust in the players that are down here, led by the veteran guys like [Ryan] Kerrigan and Ziggy Hood and the rest of the older-type guys. They do an excellent job down here, and [when] they're out at practice, they're in meetings. [Orlando] Scandrick coming in, obviously Alex Smith, Colt McCoy… Quarterbacks do a great job. Offensive linemen, [Brandon] Scherff is now considered a veteran. He just works his butt off. We've got a good group of guys. Mason Foster, [D.J.] Swearinger, obviously. It's one thing as a coach you don't want to have to worry about is just always micromanaging every detail about meetings and what's going on in the locker room. We have a great group of guys that are tight-knit, and they work extremely hard. As far as anecdotes, I don't really have anything for you there."

On if that culture has evolved during his tenure here:

"Yeah, it's evolved, and it goes into your draft and who you're getting as free agents and all that stuff. Sometimes you have to deal with some issues from time to time, but it's important for the veteran leaders to take them under their wing and try to bring them along the right path. And I feel like we have a good majority-rules-type thing that are all hard workers and good guys and good football players."

On early impressions of T Geron Christian getting reps with first team:

"It's not easy for a young guy like that to come in here and play tackle for us with the ones from the get-go. Coach [Greg] Manusky does a good job of throwing a lot of different fronts and looks at them. He's learning on the fly. Coach [Bill] Callahan has taken him under his wing and really worked with him and this experience has been invaluable for him. To me, it's so much better to get an opportunity and go out on the field and actually practice than stand there with a helmet in your hand and watch, so you can make the mistakes, you can correct yourself. It might be your set, it might be too vertical, whatever it might be, so everything has been a teaching point for him. Every play is something to learn from – running play, pass play, pass protection – and I think he's going to become better faster because of that because of these opportunities."

On initial impressions of WR Trey Quinn:

"Trey [Quinn] has come in here, and I haven't heard him talk a whole lot. He's very quiet. He's a quiet assassin and he just goes out there and is very detailed in his routes. Ike [Hilliard] has done a great job with him, and Trey, when the ball's in the area, he's got strong hands. Very quarterback-friendly target. He can run the option routes. He's learning from Jamison [Crowder], which is good, but he can also line up in different spots, so Trey is a guy that we're going to rely on to be able to play multiple spots, be tough enough in the running game to block safeties from time to time. He'll do whatever is asked of him, I know that, and maybe even return some punts. We'll see, but I've been very impressed with Trey."