Head Coach Jay Gruden
"Did not participate were [Quinton] Dunbar, quad; Dashon Goldson, shoulder, rib; Matt Jones, hip. Limited were DeAngelo Hall, calf; [Jason] Hatcher, neck and knee; DeSean Jackson, knee; Perry Riley, foot; and Pierre Thomas, knee; [and Trent Williams, knee, foot]."
On RB Pierre Thomas' knee injury:
"He hurt it yesterday a little bit. He made a sharp cut in the bubble and just twisted it a little bit — sprained it."
On managing the rotation at inside linebacker when all the players are healthy:
"Well, we're happy with the way they're playing right now. When Perry [Riley] comes back, we'll see what happens, but it's just a matter of playing the healthy guys. That's a problem that we'll address when they are healthy. I don't want to get into a lot of 'what ifs' because a lot can happen between now and then, but we're really happy with the way all four linebackers have played and they're doing a good job so we just have to let them roll and see how they do. Carlos Fields is another one. He's played well on special teams for us in his substitution reps."
On what it does for an NFL team to have the same quarterback week in and week out:
"Well, it makes a huge deal just because of the timing with the receivers and the snap count. There's a lot of nuances that having stability at that quarterback is very important, man. It's important to develop your chemistry, your scheme around the quarterback and your personnel as opposed to changing week in and week out. Fortunately, Kirk [Cousins] has stayed healthy and played well. We haven't had to make changes but the consistency there with the play-calling and adjusting to what he does well has been very important and very beneficial."
On balancing keeping players healthy with giving them opportunities to break individual records:
"That's quite an interesting dilemma, quite honestly, and that's something we'll have to decide on come game day — how we're going to approach that. Right now, we're approaching it, if they're dressed they're playing. Kirk is getting ready to start the football game. Jordan Reed is getting ready. All our guys are starting. They're getting ready to play the game and then how I substitute throughout the course of the game will be dependent on how we're doing health-wise and the situation of the game. Those guys put in a lot of good work. I think those records do mean something to them. They mean something to the entire offense, the entire team quite frankly. So, hopefully, they'll have a chance to get it, but if not, it won't be the end of the world. It won't be a disappointment but I think it'll be exciting if they do."
On how his approach changes entering the postseason:
"I think it depends on your opponent. Obviously, you've got to get ready for your opponent and I think your preparation can't change. I think the good thing is we've set a pretty good standard around here about how to prepare for a football game and not a lot is going to change in the preparation and how you study situational football and the time of the day of the meetings. We're not going to increase meeting times and make the days longer or practice harder or longer. We're going to be consistent in our approach and how we handle the mental part of it. The physical part of it, you know, it'll be dependent on how we walk out of this game Sunday. I mean the more injuries we have… like we've had to taper our way back this last couple weeks just because the amount of defensive backs we have and some of the injuries we have got up front. Preparation will stay the same, really. I just think, from a mental standpoint, obviously everybody knows what at stake in the playoffs and everybody is excited and ready to play. From a mental approach, it has to stay the same."
On if Thomas' performance made him rethink his rotation at running back:
"A little bit. It didn't surprise me. I think Pierre has been a solid back in the NFL for a long time. He brings a wealth of experience. The thing you like about Pierre is there's really nothing he can't do. He can run between the tackles. He can run outside. He's great in pass protection and catching the football, obviously, he proved that. So it just added another guy to the mix. When Chris [Thompson] got injured, originally we thought it was a season ender with the labrum but he came back. Now, we just added another back to our rotation which kind of muddies it up a little bit, but you know, having too many good backs is a good thing. We'll have to deal with that come next week."
On Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan:
"He's done great. We've got a very young offensive line and had to move people around like Josh LeRibeus and all that stuff. He's developed Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff and Spencer Long and got them ready. When [Shawn] Lauvao went out, Spencer jumped in and we had to get him ready. He's done a great job with Trent [Williams], obviously, also. I've known Coach Callahan for a while. He worked with my brother, obviously. He's a legend in the coaching ranks as far as offensive line is concerned. It just so happened that what happened with our staff last year, we had an opening. He's a guy that we wanted to target because of his reputation. I had known him personally. He's done a great job for us."
On the specific insight that Callahan brings this week having come from Dallas:
"He knows the guys that we're going against and the scheme a little bit. But, you know, he contributes insight every week. He's gone against all these coaches and all these opponents at some point in his career — the defensive style, whether it's 3-4 or 4-3, so he knows how to adjust to each scheme, blitz schemes and all that stuff. He's an excellent football coach been around and seen just about everything. He does have a little bit more insight this week knowing the personnel that we're going against."
On the keys to the offense's improved execution in early downs last week:
"A lot of keys – obviously just the guys making plays, Kirk delivering the football or the running backs making positive gains. Even if it's a three-yard gain as opposed to a minus-two-yard gain is very important. Keeping us in positive down and distance was very beneficial, but guys making plays, the protection was sound, Kirk getting the ball out of his hands to the right people and the people getting open and making catches and runs after the catch. It's a combination of things. You can't just point to one thing. The balanced play-calling was outstanding. [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] did an excellent job, and obviously Kirk being a trigger man getting us in the right runs and the right protections and making the throws and the players making the plays."
On what his expectations were for Thomas:
"I don't know why he was on the streets. I know he had a couple workouts at a couple different places and they chose not to sign him for whatever reason. I just based it off of we needed a guy in a pinch. Chris [Thompson] was out. We needed a third-down-type back — a guy who can handle protection, a guy who could come in and learn the system in a hurry, could run routes and all that stuff — and he was the perfect guy. I've seen him do it in New Orleans many, many times. I knew he could handle it from a mental standpoint so he was the perfect guy to come in here and help us in a pinch. Had it been at the beginning of the year, he would have been the fourth or fifth back, maybe not so much. When you're talking about a guy to immediately contribute, you've got to look a veteran. That's why we went to Alex Smith, the tight end, somebody that can come in on Monday and play on Sunday. Not everybody can do that from a mental standpoint. Pierre, Alex Smith, Mason Foster is another good example, he was able to do it also. Will Blackmon, that's another one. Those are four veteran guys that we've got that we can bring in on a short notice, get them ready mentally and they can play because physically they're going to be ready."
On if he was surprised by Thomas at all:
"No, we're just a little worried about his wind. He might get tired a little bit. That's the biggest thing we're concerned about but he felt good. I just told him keep me posted on that and keep [Running Backs Coach] Randy [Jordan] if he was tired, we'll get him out of there, but he felt good and was able to play a lot of reps."
On if he would consider sitting T Trent Williams if he is unable to practice this week:
"Yeah, no question. We're going to see how he's feeling game day, really, let him go through pre-game warmup, see what it's like and make a decision then. Odds are we're probably going to have a spot for him to dress. We have to dress 46 and the numbers are looking a little scarce right now. Hopefully he improves, his knee swelled up a little bit. Hopefully he'll be ready to play a little bit on Sunday."
On if RB Matt Jones had a setback:
"He tried to push it yesterday and didn't feel right so we kept him out today."
On the release of former Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly and the realities of the profession:
"Well, it's been like that for a long time since I've been in it. Obviously I worked for my brother and he got fired – won three division championships and a Super Bowl. It's a tough business. We know when we signed up to be a head coach or an assistant coach in this league that job security – if you're looking for job security, this is not the business to be in. You just have to work and do things the way you want to do them. If you get an opportunity like I have here, try to do it your way and do the best you can. Hopefully the wins will follow and you get to stay. It is what it is, man. It's a very tough business. It's not a fair business all the time but it's awesome when things go well, obviously not so good when they don't."
On what has made WR Pierre Garçon so reliable:
"Consistency, you know where he's going to be. In practice, he's one of those guys that practices exactly like he plays and that's full speed. So the quarterbacks know exactly where he's going to be. He's got a great knowledge of the offense – where he's going to be, how he's going to line up, the routes that he's going to run. Could have a lot more [catches] obviously. I love where Pierre is and what he brings to the football team. He makes a lot of tough catches on third down. Like I said, consistency in his approach is what makes him the receiver that he is."
On how his time in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis helped prepare him to be an NFL head coach:
"I gained a lot. Coaching for Marvin – Marvin's been around, too and won a lot of games before he was a head coach. How he handled the team from a head coach perspective, I learned a lot from Marvin. Then obviously trying to get young guys in our system offensively in Cincinnati, developing young players is very, very important. That's the biggest thing really, how to manage a team from a time standpoint – meetings and practice schedules and all that stuff – but also how to handle people and how to develop players. Learned a lot of that from Marvin. We were forced to do that in Cincinnati. I think we had eight or nine rookies playing in my time there and we had to get them ready to play. He's a great guy, great man and a great organization. Obviously wouldn't be here today without working for Marvin."
On C Kory Lichtensteiger:
"Oh, yeah, he looks good. He's looked good. Had a good day at practice today, the reps that he did take. He feels stronger, he says. We'll just keep building off those performances and get him right, make sure he's there from a wind standpoint and can handle rep after rep after rep. But he looks good."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On balancing preparing for Dallas with his preparation for the playoffs:
"I'd be lying to you it wasn't on our minds, but I know the way I'm built and the message that we've had since the players came in on Tuesday is, you know, I live in the moment. Be where you are. We're in Week 17 and we are playing the Dallas Cowboys this week and what an unbelievable rivalry. They beat us the last time we played them. You know, we've got an opportunity to go 4-0 in the last quarter of the season. We've got an opportunity to go 4-2 in the division, so those are all big things to me. I would hope to God that you wouldn't need motivation, but if you do, those are it right there. That's been our message from day one when the players came back in after the Philly game is, 'We're here now. We'll worry about next week, next week.' Now obviously our quality control guys are breaking down games and getting all the legwork that you have to get done from a preparation standpoint, but our mindset and all of our energy is on the Week 17 game, bottom line."
On celebrating the division title with his defensive staff:
"Yeah… Those things don't come about. I've been in the league 15-16 years. You don't win division championships every year. They're hard to come by. It was a special moment for every single one of us, but we as a defensive staff it was great to share the moment as a team in the locker room with all the players. So, yeah, it was special. There's no doubt. Those championships always are."
On if Week 17 would offer the opportunity to see some other players receive playing time:
"We've kind of had to deal with that all year long. Like I always tell you guys, we don't have backups, we have starters in waiting. We've kind of had to deal with that all year long, but yeah, that's really, I honestly do not get involved with that one ounce. That's Jay's [Head Coach Jay Gruden's] call. When and if he decides to pull the trigger on a guy, but it always is exciting just like all year long when you have a guy that gets an opportunity to go play and see what he has, so yes, if it does happen that'd be great."
On how he will juggle playing time with the secondary:
"D-Gold [Dashon Goldson] didn't practice today but everyone else did. D-Hall looked great today, had a great day of practice. I don't think that will be an issue. But again, that's, I have 'DC' on my business card. Jay has 'HC' on his. I let him make those decisions and handle those things. We have 53 men on this roster and we'll have 46 on game day and those guys will play their butts off."
On how satisfying this division title was for him after his previous stint as a defensive coordinator:
"I think if you're in this business long enough, I've experienced the highest of highs and unfortunately I've experienced the lows of lows, but that's sports. That's competition. That's athletics. You know, if you're in it long enough, it's going to happen. So I'm proud of every single man that had anything to do with us competing in a game this year because we've had a number of them from the coaching staff to all the different players, to our captains, to our veterans, to our young players. It was great. The NFL season, it is a war of attrition and the strong survive. We've went through some peaks and valleys, there's no doubt about it, but that's the National Football League, it really is. But of course I'm absolutely proud of the group of men – the entire group of men – because we've had a number of guys that factored into those wins and obviously [contributing] to the NFC East Championship."
On if doubt ever crept into the minds of defensive staff as they began to lose players to injury:
"No, really it's just the way I'm built and thankfully I work with a bunch of guys that think the same way – w e never wavered. We totally took that mindset from day one. We're going to start with this group of men and as guys fell we interjected new individuals into that group. We just kept marching and kept going forward. We didn't let that even creep in even amongst ourselves in the staff room. That was something that we weren't going to allow to happen. We were going to put a plan together, coach the hell out of it and then let the players go execute. They, for the most part… I take my hat off to them, to the players because they're the ones that went out and did a great job. We took our lumps a few times, no doubt about it. As I said before, that's going to happen in an NFL season. It's not all going to be rosy and smiley and happy. You're going to get hit in the teeth a few times. You've got to respond and we had a number of guys do that."
On DE Jason Hatcher's leadership:
"Hatch is a stud, he really is. I think he's a guy that he's been through a lot in his career. He's a success story. Small college guy, making it. I think the great thing, and I've said it before, is that we have studs in each one of our rooms, meaning in the D-line room we've got Hatch, we've got Kedric Golston, then you add guys like Terrance [Knighton] and Ricky Jean [Francois]. I mean, those are men. Those are guys that have won a lot of games and battled through a lot and they're great leaders. Some are vocal leaders, some do it by example, some do it by work ethic. Every room we have that. We have that in the linebacker room. We have it in the DB room. But Hatch definitely is the guy that – him and Dashon Goldson have been great this year just as far as setting the tone for us as a defense."
On the defense's turnaround against the run:
"Even the Bills game, going back and looking at that, I can remember showing the guys if – you can't do this, you can't pick and choose stats, but we give up a 60-yard explosion run and then the quarterback almost had a 100 yards rushing – if you take the quarterback out… And you can't, but I think the guys just… tackling, attention to detail, not that we were not doing those things earlier, but it's amazing in this league when you don't give up explosion plays, statistically how well you play. That's the only thing I can attribute it to is that we tackled better, we didn't give up those explosion plays. It's amazing when those things happen. Just look at the Philly game the other night, holding them to 2.8 yards per carry, a team that lives and dies on the explosion run. When you do your job and you tackle, it's amazing what happens."
On surprises among the players the team added midseason:
"Yeah, because there's so many of them. Not that we preach, but we just kind of, when you walk into the huddle you're a starter. When you're one of those 11 guys on the field you're a starter so play like it. That's kind of just the way we go about our daily business. But I think the two guys that really – and I've told Scot McCloughan this – probably the two guys – for us to go out and get a Will Blackmon and him to come in and do what he's done for us at that position, Mason Foster, same thing – those two guys to come in… I hate to use [this term], you don't want guys to come in and be a 'band aid,' but they came in and have played their butts off. A number of guys, I can stand up here and list 10, 12, 15 guys. Those two guys are great examples of guys that were on the couch at their house and we signed them and brought them in. They not only helped us make it through a week or two, they've played at a great level for us for a number of weeks, more than half the season. A bunch of guys have done that but I think those two are two great examples of guys that have really done a great job of coming in off the street."