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Quotes: Jay Gruden (8.25.14)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On if he has determined if his first stringers will play on Thursday:

"Not really. I have in my mind, but I'm going to wait and see after tomorrow's practice, but I feel pretty confident that the majority of them will not play."

On being open to the possibility of his first stringers playing:

"Open to the possibility, depending on how many bodies we have here. After you make some cuts, you find out you don't have as many people here as you thought. But I think the big thing is we want to come out of this preseason feeling good about ourselves going into Houston, and feeling good about yourself doesn't always mean you're leading the league in offense or leading the league in defense. Feeling good means you've prepared yourselves and you're healthy, and we're fairly healthy right now and that's the big thing I want to get out of this group. I want to make sure we're healthy going into Houston. So if we don't play the starters, it's only because I want them to be 100 percent healthy going into Houston."

On if he wants quarterback Robert Griffin III to play Thursday:

"I think it would be beneficial to him in some ways, but I don't think it's mandatory that he plays. I don't think it's going to make or break our season whether or not he plays a quarter or a drive in the fourth preseason game at Tampa. I think the important thing is we move forward as an offense, correct our mistakes… which there were a lot of them, I should say, not just by him but by everybody. But I think we started to do that out here today. We'll do it out here tomorrow. We've got next week to do it. So the Tampa game is not a make or break thing for Robert Griffin to have a successful season or not. That decision will come probably tomorrow after practice."

On tight end Jordan Reed:

"He has a sprained thumb. He could have practiced today, but obviously he didn't feel good enough to catch the ball. He should be OK by the time we play Houston."

On the injury report:

"[Chase] Minnifield was down with his hamstring strain. [Brian] Orakpo has an ankle sprain. He will not play against Tampa, obviously. [Phillip] Thomas has a sore foot, reinjured his foot a little bit. We're going to get it checked out some more. [Darryl] Sharpton practiced very limited. He's still pretty sore on that thing, so he's probably doubtful to questionable for the game on Thursday. Morgan Moses practiced. He was fine. Tracy Porter practiced but looked like he wasn't quite himself, might have reinjured it a little bit, but we'll see how he's doing tomorrow. And Akeem Jordan has a slight thigh contusion. He should be OK."

On if only the starting offense would play on Thursday and if he has seen enough from the starting defense:

"Yeah… I think the defense has done a great job. Offense has done some good things, too, it's just you hate to end on a sour note. You know, we ended on a sour note. It's still not the end of the world. You get on tape, you get your coaching done, you make your corrections and you move on. And that's what we've got to do. Whether they play a series or not in Tampa, it's probably 10 percent chance. I'm leaning toward no, but we'll see how we are as far as bodies are concerned out there when we get ready to play Tampa. I want to make sure we have enough bodies to play against the Bucs."

* *

On if safety Phillip Thomas will have an MRI on his foot:

"He's going to get checked out, yeah."

*On the factors that contributed to Griffin III's late throws: *

"It's a little bit of everything. That could be a function of him not trusting the coverage, not trusting his footwork, but that's something that he's got to get out of. He's got to have a trust factor that the drop is going to match the receiver's depth and all that stuff. He's got to let some things fly. He's just a little bit hesitant right now, which is normal with some new concepts. He's out here today, wasn't hesitant at all. He was throwing the ball on time and accurate today, so we've just got to maintain that confidence going into games and that's something that hopefully will come in time. But, he hasn't really shown that hesitancy like he did against Baltimore, for whatever reason. I don't know if it was a push in the pocket where he felt a little pressure or maybe he saw a linebacker or what have you, but he's got to just learn to trust the fact that he's got to let some of those balls go, let the receivers do some work for him."

On how he can build Griffin III's confidence:

"He's got to do it – he's got to continue to do it. You know, he's in his third year like I said, and some of these route combinations are new to him. He's got to trust the fact that he's got to believe what he sees, but he's got to see it first. In order to see it, he's got to have some protection, he's got to keep his eyes on the right spot, and go through his progressions and make his decisions and get the ball out of his hands. It will come. He's got the ability to do it, he's got the smarts to do it, he's got the wants to do it, he's just got to do it."

On if not game planning for the preseason has affected Griffin III's performance:

"We're running concepts that should be successful. They should be more successful than they are. We ran a couple outside zone plays where the guard went the wrong way a couple times and that can never happen. We had some other pass plays that should be OK – shouldn't be as bad looking as they were. We should be better at what we're doing. There is an element of things we haven't done yet, but that's no excuse for us. We should have been better against Baltimore than we were. The short week is no excuse, the lack of major installing of offensive plays shouldn't be an excuse. We've got to be better executing at what we do. We ran the outside zone, that's what we do, and we ran some play-actions off of it, that's what we do, and we ran some dropback pass concepts that we will have against Houston that we should have been better at."

On if defensive end Jason Hatcher has any setbacks following his first game back:

"No. He's good. He played well and he felt good today, so that's a good sign."

On what factors he will consider when deciding whether or not to play his starters Thursday:

"I think the major consideration is how many guys we have at what position left on the team. We have got to make sure we field enough guys that we can play a football game. We have 75 guys now – two punters, two kickers… a long snapper – so we've just got to make sure we have enough healthy bodies that we can function against Tampa Bay. We're not going to wear out the guys that are playing, so that's one consideration. The other one is let's see how we're progressing in practice and making sure I feel good about resting the guys that I'm going to rest, that they're ready to play in the regular season."

On safety Phillip Thomas:

"It's a concern because it's the same foot. He's going to get it checked out again, and it's just sore. It's still bothering him. You can see a little bit that it looks like it's bothering him a little bit, but we've got to get it fixed because he's a good football player and we need to make sure he's healthy when he's ready to play."

* *

On releasing linebacker Rob Jackson:

"Yeah, it is tough. He's a good player, great guy. He's worked hard, but part of the factoring – it's not just how well you play that position, it's what you do that can help the team in other spots, special teams for instance. Unfortunately, we drafted Murph [linebacker Trent Murphy] and we have some other young kids that are playing well and it was just time to move on. There's a chance we could bring him back later on if he doesn't get picked up, but he was a good Redskin for a while and we wish him the best. But it is a very process when you let anybody go, especially a guy that's done so well for your franchise."

On hits by safety Brandon Meriweather:

"The first one where he tackled the running back, I thought that was a legal hit. And then the second one, he did the best he could, it looked like. [Joe] Flacco threw a late one across the middle and he saw the ball and he tried to lower his target. Unfortunately, as he was lowering his target, the receiver felt him and lowered his head also at the same time. It was a bang-bang play. It's going to be up to the commissioner and the people looking at that whether or not he's going to get fined or what have you. It's out of my hands. But I thought he tried – in his best interest he tried his best to lower his target and avoid the helmet-to-helmet contact, but sometimes when you're lowering and your receiver lowers at exactly the same time, it's very difficult. But he's trying to lower it. Ryan Clark had one later in the game on [Dennis] Pitta. He did a great job of lowering his target with his shoulder and got him in the stomach/rib area and it was a clean hit. We've just got to keep preaching that to our secondary guys that it's an emphasis on it, obviously. It's important to not try to go helmet-to-helmet for their sake along with the other players' sake."

On if he is concerned about a possible suspension for Meriweather:

"I have no idea. I'm going to leave it up to the commissioner. I don't have any idea as far as that rule is concerned right now. I thought he did as good of a job as he could to lower his target, like I said. Whatever they do disciplinary-wise, I have no idea."

On the offense finding its own identity:

"You always want an identity. Our identity needs to be found. What are we going to be? Are we going to be a running team, I guess? I think for us to think we are going to be a straight dropback passing team is a little naïve. For us to think we are just going to hand it off every time is a little naive. I think our identity has to be diversity and we have got to be able to be good at both. We have got to be able to run the ball. We have got to be able to get some play-actions off of the run and there are going to be times when we have to do some dropback. There are going to be times we are down 14 or 17 to nothing where we can't run the ball. We have to throw the ball, pick up the pace. We need to be pretty good at everything but obviously the strength of our football team at this moment would be – I would say – our running game. We have to continue to work on that and work on handing that ball off and being good at something, really good at something and I think we are pretty good in the running game."

On Reed:

"He hurt his thumb, sprained his thumb. He will be OK. He just didn't feel good about catching the ball, a little sore. He did a lot of running on the outside though so he will be fine for Houston. Out for Tampa."

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