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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Joe Barry (12.17.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Out will be Perry Riley, foot. Did not participate is Andre Roberts. Limited was [Jason] Hatcher, DeSean Jackson, Jeron Johnson, Keenan Robinson and Chris Thompson. Full was Ryan Grant with an abdomen; Trent Williams, foot; Will Compton, shoulder; [Dashon] Goldson, wrist and knee; and D-Hall, toe."

On if the injury to WR Andre Roberts' knee is structural:

"We've got to check that. It might be a meniscus issue right there. We're just trying to see if he can finish the season with it or if he has to go have surgery. I think we'll make that determination here shortly."

On if there is any concern for Sunday for the players limited in practice today:

"There's concern. If you're limited, there's going to be concern. We're obviously hopeful with [Jason] Hatcher and DeSean [Jackson]. DeSean ran around pretty good today in individual, did a couple team reps. Jeron [Johnson] is probably doing the least out of anybody right now. He's still trying to get that hamstring stronger. Keenan [Robinson] has been practicing a lot. He dressed last week so he should be OK I would think. Chris [Thompson] is really the wild card, I don't know. Without doing any contact drills it's hard to say with Chris."

On the play-calling process:

"Somebody calls the play. Sean [McVay] calls the play to the quarterback and the quarterback calls the play to the offense. How it gets there, we spend the week as far as game planning certain situations. Then during the course of the game, Sean talks to the quarterback based on recommendations from myself or [Offensive Line Coach] Bill [Callahan]. If he's in a flow, we just let him go. If I want to interject and throw a play in there, we will. It's been pretty smooth so far with the exception of the one-foot line play when the referee never told us when the clock was starting. It's been a pretty smooth deal for us. Whoever calls the play – recommends the play – is really insignificant. It's about the execution of the play. We feel good about the way we're executing the play-calling system."

On if Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay is calling plays:

"Throughout the course of the game, it depends. Sean is really the one initially starting with it. Before a series starts, Coach Callahan might tell him which runs we want to hit the next series. I might say what passes. I'll preview the third downs before we get to the third downs so when they do come up we have a play ready. The most important thing is to have a play ready to call to the quarterback so we're giving Kirk ample time at the line of scrimmage to make sure he sees the fronts and the coverages and can audible if need be."

On QB Kirk Cousins' level of input and if he is now more assertive as the season has progressed:

"Yeah, he is. He and Sean go over the game plan and Colt [McCoy] and Robert [Griffin III], they go over it pretty well in depth. Kirk has become more and more comfortable or less comfortable with certain plays and we take those out of the game plan if he's not comfortable. He has a lot of input. We try to sell him on a lot of these plays and why we're calling them and for what coverage, how we want to attack and where we want the ball to go. Then he has input on what he likes and what he's comfortable with."

On the production of lesser-known players on defense:

"If you told me Week 13 the group that's playing would be playing I'd probably say, 'Heck no,' in training camp. It's a testament to these guys getting themselves ready to go. Obviously we've had a lot of injuries and have been forced to move people around. It's a credit to the coaches but really to the players for getting themselves ready. It's one thing to sit in meetings. These guys don't take a lot of reps throughout the course of a week. You have to really hone in mentally. They do the scout team and all of a sudden they're starting and they're playing a lot of reps. So, I think, like I said, it's been a great tribute to the players really getting themselves ready to go – the Will Comptons, the Mason Fosters, the [Quinton] Dunbars, D-Hall moving to safety, [Kyshoen] Jarrett, all those guys. Frank Kearse played a little bit last week at defensive lineman, he's had to step in for [Stephen] Paea. We've had a lot of people move around and it's been good because it's helped our depth out in the long run. It'll make us stronger for future years."

On if there's a chip on those players' shoulders:

"Well, you just have to understand the opportunity. When you're a backup, you're champing at the bit ready to get in there. Sometimes players do get that opportunity and they don't take advantage of it. Fortunately for us, we've had a lot of guys that have had the opportunity and taken advantage of it. That's the biggest thing offensively and defensively. Like I said, it's important to get good players in here so when we have that injury bug hit us we have backups ready to go. Fortunately we have."

On the excitement of being in a playoff race:

"Well, there is excitement, for sure. You get up in the morning – you're excited to get up. When that alarm clock goes off, you're ready. A lot of times you don't need the alarm clock. You're anxious to get in here, get your plan together and get to coaching because winning the NFC East doesn't happen all the time, man. It's a great honor and a great privilege and we've got that opportunity this year. Guys are excited, coaches are excited – the staff, the building, the fans – everybody is excited. Now it's a matter of focusing in on our job at hand. That's the most important thing. We can't look ahead of ourselves and think about the playoffs and all that stuff because if we do that we won't have a chance. It's very important for us to take it day-by-day, minute-by-minute out here on the practice field and in the meeting rooms and team-by-team."

On the correlation between sack totals rising while interceptions decline:

"Yeah, that's a correlation right there. Sometimes it's important for a quarterback to understand that sacks are OK from time to time. We don't ever want to have negative plays, like I said, but we also don't want to feel pressure and just chuck them up for grabs. I think he's making better decisions with the ball and he's making sure that he sees the throw before he lets it fly. Kirk's always been very good with anticipation. Sometimes when you anticipate a window and you really can't see it, it gets you in trouble. So he's doing a better job of making sure he sees all his throws. If he doesn't see them, he's holding on to them just a little longer which in turn might mean a sack from time-to-time. Sometimes those are better than the alternative. There's a fine line between it but I think playing the position, the more he plays it the better feel he will get." 

On if Roberts had a setback yesterday:

"He practiced Friday and he practiced yesterday. He's just been a little sore. It's something that he may be able to play with. I think the decision will come with him, whether or not he needs to decide on getting the surgery or not, scoped. I don't know the extent of the injury. I think he's going to get it checked again today."

On if Roberts has had an MRI:

"Yeah, he's had one and they're going through it right now – his doctor, our doctor and the trainers – are going through it and they'll make a decision here shortly."

On TE Alex Smith:

"He's done well. I think he's picked up – well, he knows – the system, he was with me in Cincinnati so that's the main reason he's here. Plus he's a heck of a guy and he's a big body. I know he can handle different positions quickly, that's the most important thing. These big, physical tight ends, it's great to get them in here but they don't know what they're doing, there's no point. Alex knows the offense as good as our tight ends that have been here for a year and a half because he's been here. He's fine. Mentally he's in good shape."

On Bills S Bacarri Rambo and if players sometimes need a change of scenery:

"Rambo's done good, man. I like Rambo. I felt bad when we had to let him go. I'm glad he's taken advantage of the opportunity. That does happen a lot in the NFL. You see a lot of players go from one team to another and it just doesn't work out for whatever reason. Maybe it's special teams related – whatever the reason was – they go somewhere else and they play better. I'm happy for Bacarri because he's a heck of a guy."

Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry

On making the transition smooth for new starters and new players each week:

"Well, again, the same thing – no excuses, no explanations. I know my message – our message – won't ever change. We coach and prepare every single guy every single week. When that guy's opportunity comes, he's expected to step up and go play. Every week, it seems like quite often we've been getting it, and guys keep responding and keep doing well. Obviously this week is no different."

On DB DeAngelo Hall's transition from cornerback to safety:

"A lot of times, guys just assume, 'Oh, he's a 12-year veteran. Oh, he's 31-years old.' There's a huge difference between playing out at corner and then moving inside and playing safety. It's no different than an outside backer moving to inside backer. It's a different world, you know? But I'm proud of him. I think when he was about 80 percent for a couple of weeks, I think the work that he was able to do before he was 100 percent back, we'd let him just go against the offense and play the service team safety, play the other team's safety on the look squad. I think those two weeks when he did that, I think that helped him. You know, every week he is getting a little bit better. But those are things you want to do in an offseason so a guy gets 10 OTAs and all of training camp and then when you go into the season you're like, 'Cool.' It's not something you want to do midway through the year, but he's been a pro about it. He's been very diligent. He's really worked his butt off and been a true professional. He's still got a long way to go, but he's making strides every week."

On what prompted the coaching staff to suggest Hall's position switch midseason:

"Well, I think at the time Bree [Bashaud Breeland] was healthy and playing well. We still had Cully [Chris Culliver]. We had signed Will Blackmon and Will was doing a good job. So you always as a coach want to get your best guys on the field and I think that was the biggest motivation, '[No.] 23 is coming back. He's almost 100 percent. How can we get this guy on the field?' And we kind of presented it to him and he welcomed it with open arms and loved it. I've praised him since I've been here just as far as a leader and a professional. That's hard for a guy that's played one spot for 12 years to all of sudden [switch]. You never know how a guy is going to take it. He was absolutely 100 percent professional about it and loved the opportunity. He's been great. Like I said, every day is a learning process for him, but he's loving it and attacking it with open arms. He's been great."

On forcing a field goal attempt on the final drive after the long pass to Bears WR Alshon Jeffrey:

"When that ball was in the air, I was like, 'Oh my God.' But the thing is, I showed the guys the sequence. I think there was three big sequences in that game. They deferred to the second half, so they had the last drive before halftime. We lose a big third down, give up an explosion play, end up giving up a touchdown. That's a huge difference going into halftime 14-0 or even 14-3 and it was 14-7. So they had a little momentum and then start with the ball coming out of halftime since they deferred. I thought it was big by us going three-and-out to start the second half. Then getting into that drive, that two-minute drive, No. 6 [Jay Cutler] and No. 17 [Jeffery] are great players for them. It was a shame – we had talked about the route – we knew it was something that they liked. It was a shame that we gave that up. When I showed the players it on Tuesday when they came in, I used the word 'resilient' after the game. A lot of times when that happens in the course of a game – you give up a 50-yard play in the two-minute at the end of a game – everyone just… But no one, starting back to D-Hall, the play that he made to tackle the guy on the 36-yard line...because if D-Hall doesn't get a great break, if he's loafing and No. 17 gets another six, seven, eight yards – that's a difference on the field goal. To finish the play like we did even though it was brutal that we gave up a 50-yard hit, but to come back and then go three-and-out and stop them, it was huge. Like I said, there's a big difference between kicking a 50-yard field goal in those conditions and kicking a 40-yard field goal. That's the difference between them missing it and them making it. But again, it's just kind of the makeup of our guys. No one flinches. They just keep playing and keep fighting, and they did and it worked out for us."

On the challenge of facing a dual-threat quarterback:

"Shoot, No. 5 [Tyrod Taylor] is their third-leading rusher. I don't mean to be sarcastic or joke when I'm up here, it's a true fact in the National Football League you've got challenges every single week. It doesn't matter who you play. Every single week that other team's got guys. They've got No. 14 [Sammy Watkins]. They've got No. 25 [LeSean McCoy]. They've got No. 85 [Charles Clay]. They've got No. 5, who I think he's thrown two picks since Week 2 or 3. So he's been really smart with the ball. When things do breakdown around him – when the coverage is great and things break down around him – he can stick his foot in the ground and run. Absolutely, something from day one that we talk about and we've got to be conscious of because they've got weapons all over the place but especially the guy that handles the ball on every play. He's playing really good football for them right now."

On LB Trent Murphy's recent play:

"I'll tell you what, I know you see some of the pre-practice stuff, but I've been around a lot of guys that work hard, but you talk about just a lunch pail guy that comes to work every single day and works his tail off, really works at his craft. The only thing I can attribute it to is just his hard work and his diligence because he shows up every single day whether it's in the weight room, whether it's in the film room, obviously the practice field and working on every aspect of his game whether it's setting the edge in the run or pass rush working his hands, working his hips. When a guy is that diligent and that dedicated to his craft, good things are going to eventually show for him. We called that the trifecta, not only getting the sack but getting the sack, causing a fumble and recovering it. That was a big play for us and a big play in the first half."

On what he said to CB Bashaud Breeland after his pass defensed late in the game against Chicago:

"Well, I mean, the first thing I said, I said, 'Hey dude, I love PBUs but I really love interceptions' [laughter]. But I think it was a great play on his part. It was, actually an equally great play by D-Gold [Dashon Goldson] with the range that he showed. [It] would have been great to obviously end it right there and get the interception, but you can't take away the fact that Bree went up and made a heck-of-a play on a guy [Alshon Jeffery] that's tough to cover down the field on fade balls. Another thing, Bree is just a guy that just loves football, loves working at it, loves working at his craft, and he's getting better every opportunity he gets."

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