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Quotes: Jay Gruden, Alex Smith, Arizona HC Steve Wilks 9-5-2018

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Injury Report:

I got the first injury report; did not participate, 'Mo' [Maurice] Harris, concussion. Full participation was Zach Brown, oblique, and Colt McCoy, thumb.

On roster moves:

"There are a couple new ones. Yeah, we signed [Josh] Keyes, linebacker. Byron Marshall, put him on IR [injured reserve] -- for that spot. "

On if he plans on keeping six defensive linemen active:

"Yeah, we don't know yet. It depends on linebackers. It depends on everything, but there's a chance we keep six active. There's a chance we have five active for game day, but yes, we plan on having six defensive linemen in here."

On DL Matt Ioannidis:

"Matt's fine. Yeah, he practiced today."

On if he is confident that the team is on the same page:

"Well, we'll see. I think Arizona will have a lot to do with that, you know. I feel good that our guys are on the same page right now. There are some adjustments that will have to be made, some new things they'll have to learn by Sunday and we'll see how that goes. For the most part, I feel good about where they are from a physical standpoint. I think Jordan [Reed] and obviously Chris [Thompson] are in great shape. Jamison [Crowder] is working through it. He's back in great shape, so I feel good about where they are physically. Mentally, I think they're all smart guys and ready to roll. It's just a matter of getting on the same page, like you say, and playing together."

On game simulations in practice:

"Yeah, we're trying to simulate the crowd noise a little bit, number one. That's the most difficult thing for an offense. You know, working through the silent counts and under center and shotgun and that's really the most… the biggest change. You know, other than that, it's hard to simulate Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson. It's not easy to do but we'll do the best we can and try to give them the best looks we can, what we think we'll see. But at the end of the day, very few times in pro football do you give them the exact looks for that same play that you get. It's the main thing trying to get protection set, route concepts correct, progressions the way we see it for the quarterback and go from there."

On T Trent Williams and Arizona Cardinals DE Chandler Jones:

"Yeah, I think Chandler is unique. He's just so long and he can bend and he can close to the quarterback. So, he's got an array of moves, but really, his length, his arm length and his ability to press and then work off the defensive linemen. He can get outside, he can spin, he still has the strength too, he can spin, he still has the strength to get a bull rush in there too -- very unique pass rusher in that sense and he's good on the stunts, very quick to get up the field on the inside moves so very good. Then obviously having Trent back is a huge luxury for us. The big thing is we have to try and stay out of third and longs. When you're on the road and you're going on a silent count and Chandler gets a jump and Trent might be a hair late, it doesn't matter. Chandler is really good so we have to make sure we stay out of third and longs versus these great pass rushers."

On his confidence level in QB Alex Smith:

"I hope so. I think that's the goal. You know, he's a veteran quarterback. I know it's a new system. I don't expect perfection by any means, but we'll dang sure strive for it. I think he's a guy that can, if something's not there, I think we have a better chance at him making a play, making a play with his legs, which is a good thing. I don't think he'll make a costly mistake. He's smart with the football, but we'll see how it goes. I have confidence in Alex. I have confidence in the guys around him, also. So, just deliver the ball to the right people hopefully and stay out of those third and longs and protect the ball."

On TE Jordan Reed:

"Jordan Reed? Yeah, he's not on the injury report so he should be good."

On if Reed will be limited in the season opener:

"Yeah, we'll see. I think the rep count will vary. You know, we have two other very good tight ends I feel good about. 'Sprink' [Jeremy Sprinkle], who's had a big-time preseason and obviously Vernon Davis, so we have a pretty good package of tight ends there and other receivers. We can go three tight ends, or three receivers-one tight end. We have a lot in the package. We can give them a blow but I expect him to play quite a bit."

On if he knows how many projected carries he wants for RB Adrian Peterson:

"You know what, no. Ideally it'd be about 40, you know, because we're…you know that'd be great. But I don't know, as the game goes on we'll see how it goes. These guys are pretty good against the run. They like to stack the box also. It's a matter of how we're blocking and the big thing is, like I said, staying out of third and long. But sometimes you have to risk that to try and pound the rock a couple times on first and second down. We'll see, you know, I think he just got here. We feel good about his talent, his skillset, but we also feel good about Rob Kelley, Samaje [Perine] and Chris [Thompson]."

On if the chemistry and history with TE Vernon Davis helps QB Alex Smith:

"I think it helps to have a familiar face with you, but at the end of the day, he didn't play with Vernon for a lot of years, and now it's been a while, but they have good chemistry. I think the good thing about Alex is he pretty much meshes well with everybody and he has a good vision of the offense and where we go with the football. We are still fighting through some things and talking through some things and he's learning, and we are doing a lot of good things; a lot of good coaching out here today even. We'll coach off of film today, tomorrow, Friday and go from there."

On stopping Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson:

"Yeah, I think he has proven to be tough to stop by any defense in the National Football League. He's a guy that can hit you inside and outside with his speed and inside with his power, and obviously he can do a great job in the passing game, you don't have to take him out on third down, you leave him out there, you can split him outside, heck he's playing receiver. So, he's a dynamic football player and the big thing is we just got to bring a gang to get him. It's just about gang tackling, pursuit to the football, and doing the best we can in that regard knowing where he is at all times."

On if he notices trends in losses in previous season openers:

"Yeah turnovers really, I think most games that you lose, you lose the turnover battle, and we did that in pretty much all of them. Key turnovers cost us in all four of those first games and it can't happen. Like I said before, critical plays and critical situations, we failed to make, and the other team did make. That's what football is all about really, protecting your quarterback, getting after the quarterback, protecting the football, getting the ball, and obviously big players making big plays at critical times."

On the importance of QB Alex Smith's versatility:

"Yeah it is good. We've got versatility, that's for sure. There's a lot of ways we can get you, it's just a matter of trying to condense them into a game plan for him. We haven't found a play we haven't liked yet, that's the problem. We have too many plays right now probably on our play list. We've got to condense it down, but we do have the ability to do a lot of different things, a lot of different personnel groups, different run concepts and all that good stuff. We also want to try and push our will against the opposing team and be able to pound the rock and move the ball that way, without trying to be some kind of gimmick type thing. We have a lot of skill and we're trying to get the ball in everybody's hands, trying to get everybody to be productive in this ballgame, but at the end of the day it's about running the football and stopping the run."

On trimming down the playbook for Week 1:

"I'll never do it. I always say I'm going to do it but I don't do it. [Laughter] I got the coaches asking me to do it, the quarterback, but I can't do it. You know you've got to have a lot of different groups, because you never know who is going to be out of the game. You know, you have a bunch of plays for this guy, then all of a sudden he's out in the first quarter; then you lose half your script or you lose a tight end and you're out of this personnel group, so I like to have a lot of different plays and personnel groups. Guys will learn it, they are smart. Right?"

On not wanting to cut plays he has created:

"Yeah, I haven't met a play I don't like yet, so we've just got to practice them, get them called up in the right situations and execute. It's all about execution."

QB Alex Smith

On if he is ready for Week 1:

"I mean, yeah, yeah, I'm confident. I am and we're going to find out. There really was no other choice. I mean to get to the point of it, yeah. This date was sitting here. We knew that this was going to come regardless of opponent and you had to be ready to roll, all of us. Certainly, myself, getting caught up to speed, so yeah, there was no other choice and we'll find out."

On the Arizona Cardinals:

"Yeah, they're good personnel on the defensive side of the ball, really experienced on the back end. You know, one of the premiere corners in the league with Patrick [Peterson] and they're really, really active upfront. They get after the passer, they're disruptive. I think they led -- I mean they had a ton of sacks in the preseason, I don't know if they led the NFL, a ton of turnovers all kind of created from that. They can create a lot of chaos; they do a lot up front, like I said, very active. Then, there's the unknown. They have a new head coach who's a defensive guy. A little bit of the unknown out there that you have to prepare for."

On how he is finding chemistry with players who didn't play in the preseason:

"Yeah, I mean get as much work as we can, when we can. You know, [I've] been out on the practice field with a lot of those guys working really hard. We've had great competition in practice, you know, I think a good simulation of game-like atmospheres, but that's just trying to take advantage of those reps."

On preparing for the unknown when facing a team with a new head coach:

"It's hard. I think you just try to touch all your bases and make sure you have your answers ready. At the same time, I think you could drive yourself crazy chasing ghosts and doing a lot of that stuff. I think you prepare the best you can, try to hit all of it to a certain extent, but then I think go out there and hopefully we'll find out pretty quick what the plan is. I do think you have to let your fundamentals take over in situations like that, let your rules take over, trust what you're seeing and then go out and execute accordingly. A little bit like camp, you know, I think."

On setting the tone for the season during Week 1 preparation:

"I try to think about some commonality with these openers. It's hard. I mean the opponents are all different. We're all different every year, so I mean it's hard, I think, to always find a commonality, I mean just to say that. I know that you can look at those and think there is some kind of correlation or something but I think these are all kind of their own kind of individual fights and we have to find a way to beat Arizona. I mean that's it. This year this team has to find a way to go beat them and I do think there are hidden things with the new coaching staff. They haven't shown a ton preseason-wise, so like I said that element to it. No, I don't think there is any secret thing. You prepare the best you can to go win a game. I think it's a fine line to -- you can get too overhyped with this and think this game is going to define your season and it's one of 16. Every team wants to start fast, every team wants to go 1-0 this week, but at the same time, I mean realize that, you know its football. Someone's going to win and someone's going to lose it's not the end of the world. It's not going to define us, but certainly, we are trying to start fast. "

On if he is curious or concerned about playing with certain players on the offense:

"Yeah, yeah, I think that's every single year though, I mean, I think regardless. Every single year there's a little bit, yeah. You're setting sail and going to find out. Certainly it is a journey. I think over the course of the season it's not always the same. Teams ascend and teams descend over the course of a year and so, like I said though, I do think it just comes down to trying to just win this game and a little bit of the, yeah, there's some blind faith that we all put into this."

On if he gets anxious during Week 1:

"Absolutely, yeah, I mean, I think every year. It's been a long time since our last game, for all of us. It's exciting. I mean, I think that's part of the reason you keep playing is that feeling. That feeling of, you know, being alive and putting yourself out there, the vulnerability of it. No question, we're going to go do it together and I mean that's the great thing about the team sport element. I think it's the greatest game. We're devising our plan, they're devising their plan, and we need to go out there and try to execute it."

On what has surprised him about RB Adrian Peterson:

"I think how quickly he's got caught up to speed. Mentally, I think he's worked really hard at getting caught up to speed in all facets of the running back position. Certainly, protections, I think are the most complex, you know, coming in, trying to master our system as fast as possible. Physically, I still think there aren't many limitations that I see, so really I think from a mental standpoint, getting caught up enough that when you go out there you can let those physical tools take over. You know your stuff and you can go out there and play. I think that's kind of what we're all trying to do."

On working with RB Chris Thompson and TE Jordan Reed:

"Yeah, I don't think there is any one thing, I think it's cumulative. You just try to get as many reps as possible just to kind of bank those. I think trying to create as much of a game-like situation out here on the practice field is part of that. I think we've done that, you know, we have really, really competitive periods out here, working a lot of different situational football against our defense, with those guys in the mix, and I think those reps are all cumulative."

On the process following the trade and adjusting to the Redskins:

"I certainly haven't had any time to reflect. You know, for me, it was full steam ahead. Like I said, trying to make the most out of a short amount of time and be ready to roll and that's it. So, I'm doing everything I can to help us win this week. I think come after the season [and in the] offseason, there will be time for reflection and things like that, but right now I haven't looked back. I haven't had time. I don't think any of us have that luxury. So for me, looking forward, we've all been staring at this date for a long time now and I'm excited it's here on the doorstep."

On what's exciting about Head Coach Jay Gruden's offense:

"I think the thing that excites me is that as an offense, both from a personnel standpoint and a playbook standpoint, that we are not limited. I don't think we're pigeonholed in anyway. I don't think that we have that many limitations and I think we can do a lot. With that though, there's a huge challenge. I think we can give teams a lot of fits and problems, because we can do so much, but at the same time, we have to master all those phases and little things and the details get magnified. I think with an offense like this and the guys that we have, I think the details are going to be big."

On throwing the deep pass:

"I think you try and make it a point of emphasis and to work on it, just like any other facet of the game, and I think those things have changed. They've changed week to week, they change based off the matchups, they change based off the schemes and how they align and certainly you don't always know when they are going to present themselves. You go into games thinking it's going to be bombs away and you don't ever get the look you were anticipating and vice versa. So, you've got to be ready for everything. Like I said, I think your training and fundamentals have to take over that when those opportunities present themselves that you've had the reps and the time to go hit it."

On the heat and weather this week:

"Yeah, I can't imagine there are teams that are more prepared for this heat than we are. I mean going back to camp, and all the way to now, we've had a lot of days in some crazy heat and humidity. It will be nice, I think, going back West. I don't anticipate it being this humid in the desert. I think we'll be alright though, practicing in the elements we've practiced in has prepared us."

On playing with TE Vernon Davis again:

"Yeah, it's been a lot of fun to get back with Vernon and the guy has just amazed me from the day I got here, just what kind of shape he's in, how well he trains and takes care of himself. I feel like he hasn't aged at all, at all. So, that's been a ton of fun, you know he and I obviously get along really well and it's been really cool to kind of step back into the huddle with him."

On risk versus opportunity when throwing the football downfield:

"I mean that's the big defining thing for quarterbacks all the time. When to take the shots, when to take a little risk, and then when you do, to hit them, be accurate, be on time, miss in the right places. You can't go out there cautious but I mean at the same time you've got to see things, trust your eyes, trust what they are telling you and I think like I said, when those opportunities present themselves you've got to try to hit them. A lot goes into that, it's easy to sit up here and say, but it's hard to actually do it on the field when it's happening fast. But there are so many things, from understanding protections, the line and the backs and myself, all being in sync with that kind of stuff. Because a lot of times I feel those are incorporated with turnovers. When protection is good and sound, and everyone is on the same page, more often than not, good things happen."

On if he is confident throwing a deep ball after throwing interceptions:

"Yeah, I mean I'd like to think so. I think I'm better equipped for that. You have to be ready for anything and I think you have to take those situations as they come, and for me, I think it's being locked into every single game situation, doing whatever I can to help us win. Certainly, if you're ever to start like that, no doubt you better be able to snap into the moment and move on."

Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Steve Wilks

On the excitement of Week 1:

"Oh it's great. You know, it's been a good process. I think we're moving in the right direction. It's always going to be a different test once the season starts, but I think the guys are in a great place, and for me, just really trying to control all the emotions and just stay focused on the task at hand."

On if he feels like he has an advantage since it's his first season as head coach:

"I don't really think it's an advantage. I mean, to be honest, you don't really know what we're going to do. You don't know what they're going to do, so it's all about really trying to stick to your rules and your fundamentals and technique."

On his experience working with CB Josh Norman:

"It was great, you know, one of the best players I've ever coached. The guy is truly dedicated to his craft, puts a lot of time and effort into it and has a tremendous skillset."

On how he formed a close bond with Norman:

"Well, I just think, you know, being his position coach. I think all position coaches are like that. If they're not, they should be. It's about building relationships with your players and getting to know them, so therefore you know exactly which buttons to push. I say it all the time, you're going to teach the guys the same way but you have to coach them differently because they are different. So, it was just a relationship that we built outside of football and I was able to relate to him and get him to play at his best on the field."

On what helped Norman become successful:

"Again, I just think it's his drive and his determination to be great. Again, I think he perfects his craft. He works on it daily. He's out there early. I'm sure you guys have seen him out there after practice -- that probably hasn't changed with him. You know working on the little things, having his coach throwing balls, having someone just go through the drills with him and where he turned the corner was when we were able to sit down and start watching film together, one-on-one, and start understanding the concepts of what the offense was trying to do. He has great ball skills, tremendous eyes, understands his own concepts, reading 2-to-1 and, you know, his game started to flourish."

On how the defense flourished when he coached with the Carolina Panthers:

"Everything is a process. I think you have to lay a foundation and we did that. We got to the point where the players started taking ownership and in the locker room, on the field, and we just started taking off. We were very fortunate to have great players and then, you know, when we went out to get some free agents, we got the right ones. I always think that's important to bring the right mix into your locker room – good chemistry."

On surviving the free agency process while evaluating the best players:

"Well, I think you have to, and what I've established here is a certain DNA that you look for in certain players, whether it's in the draft or in free agency, guys that really love the game, students of the game. You do your research with these guys coming out of the draft – how important is it to them, are they smart, is it going to take them a while to learn the system, those kind of things and you know the physicality. I believe in trying to establish a tough mentality with the players in all positions – receivers blocking, corners tackling, so these are just exactly what you are looking for and you can't waiver from that."

On the most important trait if a player is a fit:

"Again, just their love for the game because you can't control that. When guys are somewhat off on a Tuesday and guys are in the building trying to watch film and get with the coaches, you can't force him to do that. Guys are going to want to do that on their own and those are the kind of things I look for and how important it is to you, your priorities."

On preparing for Alex Smith:

"You know, number one is just his athleticism. The guy is extremely smart as well, just seeing him over the years and the things he was able to accomplish at Kansas City. He does a great job of avoiding the rush, getting outside the pocket, buying time with his eyes down the field and pinpoint throws. So, we've got to do a good job containing him and then also just his ability to scramble and run the football."

On defense having an advantage facing RB Adrian Peterson after practicing against him from last year:

"I don't know if you really want to call it an advantage with him being here last year. AP is AP. He's tough, he's hard-nosed, he's physical, and he's going to run with a mission. As I just talked about, we have to do a great job tackling and getting off blocks. So, he's going to be ready to play, I know that for a fact and we are going to have our hands full."

On Peterson's preparation:

"Well, I just think I was able to see him early on in his career in Minnesota when I was in Chicago and I've been a part of some of those treacherous games you are just ready to be over because you just couldn't tackle him. You know, you don't lose that, you may lose a step, you may lose some speed, but that inside determination is still there, so he's going to run hard."