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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (06-14-2017)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On his overall impression of the offseason program:

"The number one goal, in my opinion, is for them to get stronger, work on their running and weightlifting and all of that stuff. I think they accomplished that, they got stronger. Then we wanted to introduce a system, reintroduce it on offense, introduce Greg's [Manusky's] new system, get it taught and then get out here and practice a little bit, do some situational work, which we did. So I feel like it was a good offseason program, I was happy about it, so we ended it today. After practice we have a meeting at 2:00 and then they'll be on their way until training camp starts."

On if he feels like the defense can create takeaways this season:

"Yeah, I think so. It's going to be an aggressive unit, I think, and it's all going to be dependent on pressure. You can have the best coverages in the world, but if you don't get pressure on the quarterback, you're not going to get any turnovers, so I think we did a much better job of creating some pressure looks for the offense today and in return they got some turnovers. D.J. [Swearinger] had one, I think [Josh] Norman had one and then [Dashaun] Phillips had one, so it was good to see." 

On his message to the players for the time off before training camp:

"They're professional football players, their job is to keep their bodies in shape. They have to hit training camp with a full tank of gas. They can't come in here and expect to get in shape in training camp. They have to be in shape when they arrive. They've put in such great work here the last month and a half, whatever it is, two months for them to just throw it all away and go on some eating binge or whatever, to just go flop around the beach would be brutal, so I think these guys are going to work hard and come into camp ready to go. They're in a good place right now."

On if there are any themes he's emphasizing heading into training camp:

"No, I just think we just need to come back in the right frame of mind ready to work, that's all. We're trying to just focus on our job, control what we can control and get to work. Everybody put their hand in the fire and let's go."

On RB Matt Jones reportedly asking for his release, according to his agent:

"I have not talked to his agent and Matt Jones has not asked me for a release, that's the first I've heard of it. I'm sure he's a little bit frustrated. He had a starting job, he lost it, now it's his job to regain it if he's a Redskin, so we intend for him to come in in camp and compete for a starting job. That's what competitors do."

On TE Niles Paul:

"He's been here every day. He works very hard. He's the hardest working guy here and he's performed very well. He does some tight end, he does some fullback, he can split outside, very versatile. He's also a key member of our special teams. He's done excellent. I can't say enough about that whole tight end group, really. The rookie [Jeremy] Sprinkle's done a good job, Derek Carrier's been outstanding and then Vernon Davis, the ageless one, has done an incredible job also. I've been very impressed with that whole group."

On QB Kirk Cousins' attempt to "get on the same page" with his receivers this offseason:

"I think it's been good. Today we had a couple of miscommunications and he tried to force a couple. Sometimes you watch a tape and, 'I think you could have thrown that, just give him a chance to make a play.' And we're trying to get him to force the issue a little bit throwing the ball down the field and I think Josh [Norman] picked one and then we had a miscommunication with Josh Doctson and I think that's when D.J. [Swearinger] got his. So I think he's doing a good job. I think the receivers are doing a fine job being on the same page. Today was a little misnomer a couple of times, but for the most part I feel pretty good about where they are."

On if the team is sending anyone to the inaugural NFL Coaches Clinic:

"Yes, we are. I believe we're sending Kevin O'Connell and [Kevin] Carberry."

On S DeAngelo Hall:

"He's kind of been a mainstay here and he kind of keeps the boat from sinking from time to time. There's some volatile people in that defensive back room from time to time and he's a calming guy, if you can believe that [laughter]. D-Hall is. He's been great. He's been a great leader for us. Unfortunately for him, injuries have shortened his season. Hopefully we'll be able to get him back at a later date, but if we don't have him back when we want to, at least he'll be in the room and still have a major influence on the team and the defense."

On how much Hall can still contribute on the field:

"I think he was gaining momentum the more he played safety and I was kind of excited to see him play and then he went down with the injury. Now it's just a matter of how well he recovers and I can't predict that. That's going to be up to D-Hall and the trainers. If he comes back at full-strength, we'll see what he can do and where we are at the safety position. We really like what D.J.'s [Swearinger], what Su'a's [Cravens] done, [Will] Blackmon and [Deshazor] Everett and the other guys have done a good job, [Earl] Wolff's done a good job, so we'll see where we are when he becomes healthy and then make a decision."

On WR Ryan Grant:

"That's the big thing is opportunities. He needs opportunities. You can't produce very well at wideout if you don't get opportunities. Wide receivers moan about that all the time, 'Throw me the ball.' And poor Ryan doesn't moan about it, probably internally he does, but hopefully he'll get more opportunities. He's our most consistent guy, without a doubt, as a far as being able to lineup everywhere, run the routes exactly how we want them at the right depth coming out of them. He's physical across the middle, he's fast enough to go deep, so I'm anxious for him to get some opportunities and see what he can do. He's had a few here and there and he's made some great plays, so we'll see if he can maintain that."

On his impression of DL Jonathan Allen so far:

"High, you know, very high. Coach [Jim] Tomsula is working him very hard. He's going to get stronger. He's going to do a much better job in the weight room getting himself in better shape. He works hard. Very smart football player, can play multiple spots on the line. He's got physical, strong hands. He can shed blockers with ease. So I have been impressed with him. I think he is going to be a heck of a player for us for a long time."

On WR Robert Davis' end zone catch today and his overall development:

"It was inbounds, too [laughter]… But he is coming along good. I ruled it out. That was the last time I asked those little equipment guys over there to make a call [laughter]. But he is coming along just like a lot of these… you know, wide receiver is tough. Especially coming from Georgia State where they had about – you know, I don't know how many plays they had, but then you come out here and they are late as it is from the OTA process, so he had to come in and learn on the fly. You know, he has a lot to learn in a short period of time but I think just introducing it to him here since rookie minicamp, I think he has learned it fairly well. He has a little ways to go but he has got the talent. He has got the speed, he's got the hands and he has the desire, so that is half the battle."

On helping players overcome the mental adversity of spending a season on Injured Reserve:

"In general? That is hard. You know, we have had a lot of key players go down and every team has that issue. It is a very physical game. Guys put so much work into getting themselves ready to play for a season and they have high hopes of performing extremely well and then their season is ended. You put on that IR tag and you can't come back. We have one or two that can come back now, but… It is just part of the game. You have to understand when you sign on that dotted line to play professional football, it is the risk. But we have such good doctors all across the National Football League and great rehab people [that] will get them back ready on the field as fast as possible. That is the mentality they have to have. They have got to get their minds and bodies right for the next year."

On taking the time to check on players on Injured Reserve like he did with LB Junior Galette:

"We try to check on them. You try to keep them motivated so they don't get down too much. You're going to need them eventually and Junior will hopefully be a big player for us and getting himself ready to go. Hard work pays off, especially for these great players. Niles Paul is another great example, man, with how hard he worked. He was one of our captains of special teams and all that and he went down. It hurt the team, hurt him, but he rehabbed his tail off and here he is."  

On the importance of having enough manpower in scouting:

"It is important. To ask one guy to do a whole west region, it's hard. You have got to have cross-checks. You have to be able to get the background information, as much information as you can, on the individual. Then you have got to get the player – how they do as a player – and get their opinions on them and talk to the coaches. There is a lot that goes into writing up a player and the more opinions you have on them, expert opinions, the better it will be. You're never going to be 100 percent together on each and every player, but the more opinions you have, the better you will be – especially quality opinions"

On CB Kendall Fuller:

"Yeah, I answered this yesterday. I think last year he was probably about 85-90 percent. You know, he fought through his rehab to get himself ready to play. He played some significant playing time for us, did some good things for us. But I think now, I think his body is a lot better, in a lot better shape. He is quicker, he is faster, he is more confident in what we are doing out here. I said yesterday I think it was that you will see a better Kendall this year.  

On Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams' rapport with players and if it helps:

"Of course it does. He is an ex-quarterback so he has a way to relate to everybody. He has come up the right way. He had a tough time playing quarterback, came up at Grambling, played in the National Football League, won a Super Bowl and now he has worked his way up in the scouting ranks and now here he is. He has done it the right way. I don't know anybody that has a negative thing to say about Doug Williams. If you do, you probably have got the problem [laughter]. But, he's great. Players like all him. Everybody in the organization has a ton of respect for him as a professional scout and also as a person."

On T Trent Williams saying this was the crispest minicamp of his career:

"Well, that is because I shortened practice down for Trent today [laughter]. That guy, he comes in here for two days and comments on the minicamp [laughter]. You've got to love him though. We had a crisp practice today. It was short and sweet. Did some good things. He hasn't missed a beat. He is very athletic, very big. You know, but good for Trent [laughter]."

On WR Zach Pascal:

"We have had a history around here of having some free agent guys make splashes and make the team and have an impact. Maurice Harris was one last year and obviously Rob Kelley is another one. We have had Houston Bates as one. We have had a lot of guys pave their way as a free agent. You have to take advantage of the reps that you get and then also get your foot in the door on special teams. So we will see with training camp how he does on special teams, if he can become a special teams force for us. I know he has the skill set to play in the National Football League as a wide receiver. I think good things will happen for him but he has to figure out a way to crack that lineup somehow. It starts with special teams and then he'll earn his way as a receiver and make sure he doesn't have any mental mistakes. He has got big, strong hands, a physical guy. I like what I have seen from Zach." 

QB Kirk Cousins

On the offseason program:

"I think I took steps these nine weeks. I think our teams took steps, our offense. I thought it was productive. Guys stayed healthy for the most part and made a lot of plays. I feel good about it. It was good to experiment a little bit, test some things, see what works, what doesn't. Use this time to really just hone in and take another step."

On the focus for the weeks until training camp:

"My focus is to rest and recover and get my mind in a place where come Week 11, 12, 13, I'm fully energized and ready to go. I think that's key. I do believe that last year I remember watching film for the Steelers Week 1 and it hit me that we hadn't played a game yet, technically. I felt like I had been going a million miles an hour since the previous end of the playoff game against the Packers. I was almost worn out, if you will, before the season started, because I had pushed so hard to be top of my game in OTA one, and training camp practice one, and preseason game one. So, I learned now after going through it one whole offseason as the starter to pace myself and to build towards Week 1. I think part of that is then during the summer during our five weeks to just take some time away but also to build your body up and do the right thing so you're ready to go Week 1 and you have the energy level."

On if he is attempting different things to learn about his new receivers:

"Today we said, just from a quarterback's perspective, we said, 'Hey, let's try a few things today,' so I think all of us were being a little bit more aggressive. Terrelle [Pryor] is really talented running down the field. I have been very impressed with his down-the-field skills with his speed. I think being such a long strider, he can really cover ground when it doesn't look like he is. I want to throw to him every chance I get on those deeper routes and that's where in OTAs and minicamp I can experiment a little bit. Probably didn't get enough behind the ball on the interception I threw today. I shouldn't have thrown it, but I wanted to get it out there and just kind of test it. The same thing with Josh Doctson. I forced a ball there to him that D.J. [Swearinger] made a good play on and intercepted. In a game, I can't do that. In practice, it's good to experiment and try it with no major consequences and threw a couple of others into tighter coverage that I don't want to make a habit of doing, but as long as I can learn from it not to do that again, but also what I can get away with and what works. I think that's where OTAs and minicamp are very valuable."

On wearing himself out last offseason:

"I think I was treating every day like it was Monday Night Football against the Steelers. I think if you do that 365 days a year, there's a thing called burnout. OK, you might get it year six, you might get it year 10, but eventually, you're going to burn out. I just realized , OK… It was like Wednesday before the Steelers game, I said literally everything I have done to this point, which I felt like was a lot, means nothing. It has no value of any kind. You know, when the season is over, I will not be measured on any of it. And, so, that hit me like, 'Now it counts, now I've got to be ready, and I'm pretty exhausted.' So, that's all I was trying to get at."

On what he learned from that experience:

"I think six weeks is a lot of time to come back when we go to Richmond and build for that first game. You know, just enjoying the summer, taking time to get away, spending time with family is all positive things. Even right now, just spending time, you know, playing golf, enjoying the time off rather than going over the plays 80 times. Trying to go over, over, over, and over it. Eventually, you say, 'Hey, I'm going to be good' and just put it away and be ready for practice the next day. I've learned that you can go out there and practice just fine. It's a balance. Life, you know, in the middle lies virtue. It's never prepare, prepare, prepare like crazy with no rest and it's never, 'Hey, I don't need to prepare. I can just show up.' Somewhere is I think the healthy medium and that is what I am always trying to find."

On preparing for fatherhood:

"I think the challenge is that the baby is coming Week 1, Week 2 of the season, so we are hitting the entire season when it does really matter and it does mean something, we're going to have a baby there every step of the way. So the timing wasn't ideal from that sense, but Julie's plan is to have another bed in the nursery and she plans to sleep there most nights so I can get my sleep and get my rest. Obviously the actual due date is going to be tough with the season, but we'll work it out. It will all work out. We're praying about it and feel good about how fortunate we are to be having a baby boy."

On his relationship with Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaffer:

"Eric has always been classy, very level-headed. [I'm] thrilled for him, thrilled for Doug Williams, thrilled for Tim [Gribble] and Kyle [Smith] as well. All those guys are deserving of promotions. Those were smart hires. Eric's done a great job all along. He's very smart. This isn't his first rodeo. I have a lot of faith in him not only in handling my situation, but when my situation is handled, handling everybody else's. I have faith in that. But make no mistake, there are titles ahead of him, you know? And those people make decision too, so, yes, Eric has a big role. There are people above him who have bigger roles, and that's why their titles are President and Head Coach and so on. So it's a team effort making decisions and Eric certainly has a voice in that – a big voice."

On if contract negotiations are an active source of stress in his daily life:

"It's a part, but it's really about playing football and winning football games, and as I've said all along, if we do that, everything else takes care of itself. I hired Mike [McCartney] because I trust him to do the job and I feel like he's done a very good job all the way along and while things he's told me I haven't always liked to hear or they haven't always been easy to act on, he's always been right as I look back. So I have great trust in his counsel and his approach and I'll definitely be leaning on him as we go forward all the way through it."

On TE Niles Paul:

"There is a camaraderie there because we've played for a long time. He understands me, he knows this offense, he remembers it back to when, shoot, I was a rookie and we were running a lot of these same plays. I know his skill set as well and I thought he was very productive this spring. He probably did even more than I thought he would. With Jordan's [Reed] absence, it opened up a door for a Derek Carrier and Niles Paul and [Jeremy] Sprinkle to get a lot of reps and I thought Niles stepped up to the plate and did a really good job. That's encouraging because injuries are bound to happen. It's a part of the game, so when you know you have depth like that, that really is a great thing for a team."

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