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Quotes: Jay Gruden (7.26.14)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the emphasis on special teams and the influence of Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica:

"Well, we first of all have to sell the fact that it is [a] very important phase of a football game, equally as important as offense and defense. So there's a sense of accountability amongst our players that has to be taught and Coach Kotwica is a perfect guy to teach that. He's a go-getter, no question about it. He's very organized, and he is to the point, doesn't beat around the bush. I think players respect him a lot in that regard, and him and Coach [Bradford] Banta have done a good job of rallying our troops, getting them in there and when they're in there doing a good job of having organization, a purpose for what they're doing and guys are buying in."

On how involved he is with special teams:

"Special teams? Not much. I let Coach Kotwica coach those – he's pretty bossy [laughter]. I like to sit in his meetings and pay attention so I know what's going on. I've missed the last meeting or two here because we were pretty busy, but overall, Coach Kotwica is the special team coach and any crazy things that are happening, I'm sure I'm going to be well informed but right now it's about teaching the basic fundamentals, the basic schemes of what we're doing on punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return, field goal block, field goal, and there's really no sense of alarm here. I feel very comfortable when I go out there and watch practice that everything is under control."

On if a conversation he had with quarterback Robert Griffin III after an interception this morning was related to the new scheme or just basic adjustments:

"That's basic adjustments… It's seeing things. They gave us a little disguise in the coverage. They blitzed off that side and DeAngelo [Hall] was a roll-up corner and Robert just thought that our first progression, Jordan [Reed], was covered and he wasn't. You've just got to see through the progression a little bit, stay on it a little bit longer and was a little bit antsy and then fired it out there to DeSean [Jackson] and DeSean stopped his route and DeAngelo jumped it. So it was a combination of a lot of things, but that's going to happen from time to time and we just have got to fight through it. He's just got to stick with his No. 1 progression a little bit longer and everything would have been fine.''

On his philosophy for padded practices:

"I think it's dependent on how we are doing as far as health-wise, how much we feel like we are getting in. I think right now we are to a point where we are going to do pads today, pads tomorrow and then pads on Monday. And then we will take a day off and then we will see where we stand. If everybody is fairly healthy and we feel like as coaches we can continue to have the shoulder pads, we'll do it. If we need to taper off a little bit based on the health of our players, we will. But I think that is a day-to-day decision by the coaching staff."

On if practice has been more physical and intense than in past years:

"I don't know, I just like the competition. I think it's very important for the defense to give the offense the best look possible and vice versa. We can't do that if we are just muddling around playing buddy football. So it's very important to look at our players, our scheme, in order to look at your scheme and players and coach it up properly, we have got to have people playing at full speed with good pad level. Fundamentals in football come with good pad level and if you don't have a good pad level then you're not teaching good fundamentals. If you have good pad level then it's going to be physical and that's the way it is. Low man wins – we know that. If you have competition and you have good pad level then it's going to be physical. We will taper off, like I said, if it becomes too physical. We got to try to control it sometimes. We had tempers flare a little bit today, which will happen from time to time. But very important for the line of scrimmage, and it's my belief that the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively is the most important phase in football. You protect your quarterback, you can open up running lanes, if you get after the quarterback and can stop the run, you're going to win more times than you lose. That's a fact."

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On if he can imagine a situation in which he would become more involved with his coordinators and position coaches:

"Yes, because ultimately it's on me… But right now my decision is to let the coaches that I've hired coach and personnel players work with personnel and the GMs work with the contracts. Ultimately, it's my neck on the line, but right now I see everything is going smoothly and I know we are going to have some ups and downs.  I'm going to probably have to stick my head in a meeting here or there and try to clear some things up and make some tough decisions here or there with scheme or player personnel making a cut or what have you – playing time – but right now I just want to make sure that the guys that I hired are allowed to do their job and that's coaching. Sometimes they don't feel like they can do their job when the head coach is always looking over their shoulder saying, 'Don't do that, don't do this.' I want to let them coach and give them the freedom to do what they like to do. There might come a point where I have stick my head in Coach Kotwica's meeting room or what have you, but I don't see that happening any time soon."

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On how he can get a veteran like wide receiver Santana Moss to buy into his philosophy:

"That's a good question. Santana is a veteran guy and he can do everything also. He's a guy a lot like Andre [Roberts] where he can play inside and outside. He is a veteran guy who has been through a lot of big games, played a lot of big games, caught a ton of balls, touchdowns, been there, done that. So he is a very valuable asset to this football team not only from an experience standpoint [but] from a leadership standpoint in that receiver room when you have young guys – Ryan Grant – guys looking up to some veteran leadership-type guys. Santana is a perfect guy to look at. How much he is going to be used? I don't know. Right now, I like what he's doing. I don't think he's lost a step. I think he's still quick. I think he still knows how to run all the routes, which is good because he's run them all. Like I said, from the personnel grouping standpoint, if you line up with two receivers who are those two going be? Three receivers, who are those three going to be? And that's going to play out as the season goes on with injury and all that stuff. In the second day of training camp, I don't exactly know how we are going to use them, how much we are going to use them, when we are going to use them, but I like the fact that he's a Washington Redskin."  

On Kory Lichtensteiger's transition from guard to center:

"Very good, very good. Kory's done a nice job. It's not easy sometimes for a guard to move into center, but he's a natural center in my opinion. He's got great movement obviously, he's done good with the calls, and of course the snaps have been solid. We had two fumbled snaps the first day in the rain, other than that, in the OTAs and today, everything has been clean. I am very happy with Kory's progress."

On cornerback Richard Crawford's recovery and what his role will be:

"It hasn't surprised me with his recovery. He's worked extremely hard. He's also one of those guys that's worked with Larry Hess, our trainers, and they've done a great job of getting him back. I haven't seen Richard play since the OTAs he wasn't available, so really my first look at him has been today and yesterday. I really liked his quickness, in and out of cuts. He can play nickel. He's a very good nickel, so I don't see what his role is right now. There's a major competition going on there in the secondary. There's a lot of guys that I can talk about up here that I want to see more of, and he's one of them. That's the same with the receiver room, same with the offensive linemen. We have some guys that are very viable candidates to play certain roles, but we have to let it play out, let them compete. When the Patriots come here, we'll get a lot of good looks. We have four preseason games before we make any of those decisions, before I decide what kind of role they are going to have with the football team."

On if any players practiced better in pads:

"Not really. I think they all stayed pretty true to form. I think the big thing offensively, offensive line-wise, I think we got pushed back a little bit more than I would have liked to have, with some of the guys on the interior. But defensive line-wise, they still came off with good pad level, they did a good job. So for the first day I think it might have been a feeling-out process, but overall I think they played up to what we thought they would. We have to continue to get better and get more explosive and get lower with our offensive linemen and protect a little better, but from a defensive standpoint, I was happy with the way they came off."

On running back Evan Royster and defensive end Jason Hatcher:

"Evan Royster has a slight hamstring pull. He's day to day. When he feels like he can go, he'll go. Hatch is, like I said the other day, I'm just going to leave that up to Hatch and the trainer.  When they say he can go, he'll go. I don't foresee it being a very long wait for him to be back in the lineup"

On how happy he is to avoid negative headlines about relationships between coaches and players thus far into training camp:

"We are going to have are rifts from time to time and we are going to try to keep those in-house. I'm sure for whatever reason they got exposed last year with the media. I think anytime you have a disagreement with a player, I think it's between the player and coach and hopefully that stays that way. When we talk to the media, we will talk about the team. If you ask a question about a certain player, I'll answer it. But any disagreement we have, we've got to clear it up within ourselves and then we'll talk to y'all. But it's so far it's been clean. It's early – we haven't lost a game yet and I'm sure once the bullets start flying, there will be some controversy from time to time. It's important for us to handle it like men and take care of it in-house."

On how many running backs he will keep on the roster:

"There is one thing about this time of year – there's nothing clear in my mind. I think we are going to run our plays. We are going to run our drills and we are going to let the best players start to emerge. Hopefully the cream will rise to the top. That always happens once the games start, come the preseason games. Whether we keep two, three, four running backs is yet to be seen. How many receivers we'll keep, I don't know. How many linemen we're going to dress, I don't know. I know that we have a lot of viable candidates here. We're hoping people emerge, like I said, and make it easy for us come cutdown day [and] we're not flipping coins come time to make the 53-man roster. I'm pretty sure that the type of guys that we have, I'm pretty sure we will have some guys emerge to make it easy for us."

On if there is a difference in David Amerson, Chris Thompson and other second-year players:

"I've definitely [seen a difference] with Amerson. Amerson is playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of swag about him and that's very important. I mention that about DeAngelo Hall… how you've got to have confidence and a little bit of swagger about you. You can see him starting to mature in only his second year. I really like where he is going. Raheem [Morris] is doing a great job with him and his confidence is just getting more and more. He is long, he can run, he has got great ball skills. I really think he has got a chance to be one of the top corners in the NFL for a long time if he keeps going on the pace that he is going. As far as Chris Thompson is concerned, the injury bug has hit him a little bit the last couple of years. What he has done the last couple of days has been good, solid. Protection, knowledge of the system, running around, he's got good speed. We're going to start adding more and more plays for him designed to get him balls out of the backfield here in the next few days. So we will see how he handles that."

On if he has talked to safety Brandon Meriweather about his style of play:

"That's a good point and Brandon, he plays a very physical style of football. That's all he knows. But there is a rule now obviously and he's had to pay the price for it. And he understands the next one is going to be a longer suspension. We talked about that today, actually. I told him he is going to get a two-practice suspension if he doesn't lower his target. He's a good football player. He's tough, he's physical, he wants to do the right thing but sometimes at that position though and the ball is in the air, he's trying to knock the ball out and sometimes they unfortunately make contact head-to-head and it's not intentional. I don't think he has the intent to injure people. I think he has the intent to get the player down and get the ball out. Sometimes those instances look worse than they are but he does have to really watch his area of target and hopefully we will keep him on the field for 16 weeks because he is much needed in the secondary."

On defensive end Chris Baker's growth this year:

"His mouth is growing, too. He talks a lot [laughter]. He is a fun guy to be around. He's excited to play. He's one of those guys that you can tell once practice starts, he's having a great time and he loves football and that's half the battle. Coach [Jacob] Burney is on him all the time, which helps. His weight is down. He's playing with a lot of energy and he has been a force to be reckoned with for our offensive linemen. I like where he's moving for this season to get started. He's just got to maintain his weight and continue to play with great pad level like I talked about and he's just one of those defensive linemen you throw in there that really are very good against the run. He has really improved in his pass rush skills also, which is what we need. We need another pass rusher on the inside. He's starting to become one of those guys that can not only stop the run but also be a force in the passing game."

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