Head Coach Jay Gruden
"I have no injuries to report today. Junior Galette missed practice with an illness if you were looking for him. That's it."
On if S Montae Nicholson practiced:
"I don't think so. He's still in concussion protocol."
On if injury reports begin on Mondays prior to Thursday games:
On CB Quinton Dunbar:
"Yeah, he's OK. He played in the game. He was sick against New Orleans. Yeah, he missed the New Orleans game because he had a stomach – something – bug."
On the team's energy after the short week:
"To be expected. They've had two games in seven days. It wasn't the most energetic practice. Today, it was more about getting our pads back on a little bit early in the practice, getting our fundamentals down, taking a look at some of these new guys who we haven't seen a whole lot, getting some work in. We got our work in, it was more of a mental day. The physical part of it was pretty good. These guys are a little worn out right now so it wasn't a very long practice. We'll grind on them a little bit more tomorrow, and then obviously take off… what is today? Sunday? Monday/Tuesday will be a little bit lighter, we fly out Wednesday."
On getting the new players up to speed:
"They've put in the work. They have. And every week it's a different game plan also, so you have to also get your veteran guys up to speed on what Dallas is doing – both offensively and defensively. So it's a process every week. Little bit tougher when you have somebody that's brand new – the terminology, the line calls, defensive calls, all that stuff. That takes a little bit more time. It's been a challenge but we're handling it."
On TE Jordan Reed's progress:
"I just saw him in there. He's doing better. He was working with the trainers mostly today, and [Head Strength and Conditioning Coach] Chad [Englehart]. Didn't run today, we're going to take off that part of it here for a couple days, see where he's at."
On his level of optimism for Reed this week:
"I think we just have to wait and see. These hamstrings, as you know, you just never know. We just have to wait and see. I have to leave it up to Jordan and leave it up to the trainer and obviously Chad."
On if he has any concern with the new running backs in pass protection:
"Yeah, a little bit. I think today that's why we went out in pads. We wanted to do some one-on-one pass rush with those guys and make sure we're fundamentally sound in our approach to pass blocking. It's one thing to know who you're picking up, it's another thing how to pick them up with your body position, your pad level, your feet, your width of your feet, your stance, all that. So it was good to get some of that work in with those guys and they did pretty good."
On if the team continues to look at other running backs:
"We look at everybody. It's always ongoing. We just haven't had the luxury of bringing in a fourth running back or a fifth running back because of the line situation, with all the linemen that we've had injured. We've carried so many offensive linemen on the roster – on the 53 – that we've been short at other positions – and running back is one of them."
On if he was aware that the Cowboys waived RB Darren McFadden:
"I did not even know that, so no."
On QB Kirk Cousins and S D.J. Swearinger's roles in helping explain the offense and defense, respectively, to other players on their units:
"Yeah, Kirk hasn't had to do that a whole lot, the receivers are really good about what they know. I mean, those guys are very fundamentally sound. They know the system inside and out. Tight ends are good, running backs – you know last week, we might've had to tell [Byron] Marshall a few things here and there – but for the most part, it's been a pretty good transition. [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach] Bill [Callahan] always has got those linemen up to speed. He [Cousins] will change the line or the calls at the line of scrimmage but he doesn't tell anybody what to do. So he's in good shape there. Defensively, it's all about Zach Brown communicating the defense to make sure everybody's on the same page, or [Zach] Vigil, who was here in training camp, so he's a very smart guy. D.J. [Swearinger] communicating the coverages. It's been pretty good. It was really good against the Giants. I was impressed with the way it all went down. Just have got to continue it. The Cowboys will pose a different type of tempo from here and there and a different challenge, but hopefully we'll get it done."
On C Chase Roullier's injury:
"He was just working with the trainers. It's his snap hand, so we've got to see if he has enough functional movement to be able to snap the ball, that's the big thing, and what type of cast he can play with. Obviously he can't play with the same club that Matt Ioannidis plays with. It's a very similar injury. So if he can somehow get something where his fingers are free and can snap it, he's got a chance to go. But we'll have to wait and see."
On Cousins' consistency despite offensive irregularity around him:
"He's very focused on his job. That's what you have to be as a quarterback. You have to go through your progressions and you have to worry about what the defense is doing and count on the fact that the players around you are going to do their job. And that's the way it is around here, that's what we try to preach every day to do your job. And Kirk's doing an excellent job of staying in his lane, helping out the receivers or making some adjustments need be, but for the most part, he's just worried about his job and what the defense is doing and what they're giving to him."
On how much better of a position Cousins is in to do that this year:
"He's in great [position]. All the experience helps you, without a doubt. The more experience you get, the more comfortable you get. Sometimes you're going to have moving… or some change on offense. You're going to have to adjust to that personnel-wise. That's the case on every NFL team right now. Could be a new center, could be a new wideout, could be a new running back, whatever it is. We've just had a lot of new pieces. There's only been three starters – I think him, Vernon [Davis] and Morgan Moses – the whole year. He's done a nice job of taking care of his business, but I think his comfort level in the offense is starting to show where it doesn't really matter who he's playing with, he's going to be successful."
On how vital WR Jamison Crowder's role is:
"Very, very, all of them really … We spread the ball around and I think Jamison is doing a great job. He's really starting to show what he is all about the more opportunities he gets. Sometimes when Jordan [Reed] is in there or Jamison is in there or Chris [Thompson] is in there, or you've got [Josh] Doctson. Sometimes he gets lost in the mix, but now he is becoming a feature-type guy and he is taking advantage of every ball that is coming his way. Great separation, strong hands, good running after the catch. So he is going to be critical down the stretch for us to be successful. Now Josh and Ryan [Grant] and Mo [Maurice Harris] and [Brian] Quick if he has to and Vernon [Davis] and Niles [Paul] and Sprink [Jeremey Sprinkle], they have to step up their game. And [Byron] Marshall on third down if need be and Samaje's [Perine] running game. We still have to stay balanced and keep everybody involved, but Jamison will be a key component."
On if December is a "money" time for quarterbacks:
"You could say that, without a doubt. It's kind of like baseball – October right? Mr. October? Those are the money games. You have to put yourself in position though the first 12 weeks to make October or whatever month we are in – November, December – worthwhile. That's part of it too. Consistency is very important but the bigger the game, the bigger the show you want your quarterback to have. Hopefully he will put himself in a position where he can make the plays at critical times."
On Cousins' progress in that regard:
"Well, I think – I hate to just pinpoint one guy. I think it is such a team game, pro football. Everybody wants to – even when you lose – point the finger at the quarterback and when you win give him too much credit. That's just the way it is in this league. I think his progress – I mean, you would be a blind man if you don't see him making huge strides throughout his career. So I have been impressed with Kirk [Cousins] and his progress. I just think there is so much more for him to grab as far as getting better and better. The sky is the limit for him."
On WR Josh Doctson's route running:
"He is a good route runner. You watch the tape and he is getting separation on not just the go-balls and making the big plays down the field, but he is open even though he is not getting the ball thrown to him. He is doing a nice job. He can run all the cuts that we need and we ask him to run. I think he will get more and more balls. If they want to start playing tighter coverage on Jamison, maybe cheating a safety over there or a linebacker, we will get more one-on-one matchups with him outside. He will have a great opportunity to make some plays, not just down the field shots but other intermediate-type throws. He can make all those routes and catches."
On if Doctson got hurt at practice:
"No, he just landed on his butt. He's OK."
QB Kirk Cousins
On if he feels like this has been the most teaching he's had to do as a quarterback:
"I think my role on the team is changing. I think whether we had injuries or not, that probably is going to happen. Two years ago, I'm a first-year starter playing with very experienced receivers, Pro Bowl-type receivers, and that's a different dynamic than being now in my third year starting and working with younger players. I enjoy that opportunity to communicate and lead and teach and share experience. It's hard to help coach on the field if you haven't been there before and learned from already having been out there. I'm just going to draw on my previous experiences as a young player and try to impart that to the guys around me – if they need it. A lot of them don't, but I'll speak up when necessary and enjoy that opportunity and that part of quarterbacking.
On how often he had to explain the calls to new players on Thursday:
"Probably not as often as you might think or as I might've thought going into the game. I was pretty impressed with Byron Marshall and his ability to be on the details right away. Pretty much at all the other positions, guys knew for the most part what they were doing. Arie Kouandjio had been here before for a while. Tony Bergstrom has been around the league and he's a professional, so guys knew what they were doing. It was a short week, but handled it well and I'll continue to just give tips and reminders as we leave the huddle whenever I can."
On if there was a specific situation where he could have communicated a call better:
"Yeah. So, like, the interception, there's a little grey there on that protection. A lot of times we have both – the tight end to my right and the running back to my left – both running flat routes, but with certain route concepts behind it, we sometimes like the halfback specifically to run a different route. Chris Thompson, probably without saying, would have known maybe where I wanted him and I forgot to remind Byron and I told him after the fact. I said, 'You're really not wrong, because in that protection, really you're supposed to run a flat route. But, with this route behind it, we'd probably like in this specific play for you to run a different route.' You kind of have those conversations after the fact. What's cool about Byron is when I say that, he gets it right away and he said, 'That makes sense, got it,' and we had a good conversation about it. I think Byron's a player that excites me. He has some juice to him. He can catch the football and has a good sense of the game. There was some carryover from Philadelphia's offense to our offense and he just seems to understand football pretty well. I think he's got a lot of potential going forward."
On his trust in WR Jamison Crowder on the off-schedule touchdown and if they would have had that trust in years past:
"I don't know. Hard to say if I would have made that play. I think in a lot of ways, there's a lot that's routine about that play in terms of how open he was. I think the Giants would tell you that he shouldn't be that open. It's a great play, but rarely does a player get that open, especially on third-and-15. I think it goes back more to maybe I don't break the pocket or try to scramble, maybe I just throw it away or take a check-down. I don't know. There are probably other plays I would point to that are different from 2015, maybe where I've chosen to take off and run. I've done that a little more this year that I didn't do in the past. A few more opportunity balls down the field to some receivers that I probably wouldn't have thrown in the past."
On if Crowder would have known to work back toward Cousins on that play:
"I think that it's a big part of this whole off-schedule thing is that in practice, we do it so few times. Not only then do I not get a lot of practice at it, but our receivers don't. For example, I sprinted out to my right on a third-and-goal play at the end of the first half and I would have loved for Ryan Grant to know to work back. He was running basically the opposite direction I was, which makes it a hard throw – an unrealistic throw – and I really wanted him to stop and run back and trace me in the pattern I was running. We just so rarely do that in practice, it's hard to then say to Ryan, 'Hey, do that in a game,' and suddenly just flip a switch and know to do that. How would he know to do that? So, it's something that I think we need to practice more. You hate to do that because you hate to quit on a play; you want to work on your plays in practice and not say, 'All right, we're going to basically use this rep to work on a play that doesn't work and scramble.' But, that's something that we're trying to get better at that. My point in saying all that is that to play off-schedule and scramble requires everybody working. Crowder's got to jump back to the football the way he did on that touchdown. It's not just one thing."
On if he addresses plays where receivers are one-yard short on third downs:
"Yeah, the flat route to Maurice Harris, we were a half-yard short. I'm going to first of all look at, can I throw the ball in a way – like, could I have maybe stopped Josh [Doctson] with the ball instead of bringing him back downhill, where if I stop him with the ball, maybe he's already at the first down marker. So that's where you can start, first of all. Second of all, then you say, 'All right, if I did bring you downhill and kind of put you in a tough spot,' yeah, I would challenge him. Can you sense the first down marker before the ball's even snapped? Can you eye where the first down marker is? Have a feel for where your route needs to go to, and then once you catch it, know where you are on the field and try to fall forward? Same for Maurice Harris. Again, you'd like to think that goes back to, hey, younger players and younger receivers, and they've seen that happen now. I'd like to think that in the future, they would just say, 'Hey, I can't let that happen.'"
On the difference in the game plan from the first meeting vs. the Cowboys:
"I think their personnel changes things too depending on who is healthy for them and who is out. I think that can also affect the way they approach us. There's no doubt that I believe in that last few weeks that our personnel that we've put on the field affects what our opposing defensive coordinator is calling. I had heard through the grapevine that the Saints had one game plan if Jordan Reed was up and that had a different game plan if Jordan Reed was down. So I do think that what teams are going to do against us is going to vary based on who they think can beat them and who they aren't as worried about and they're going to plan accordingly. Based on who we bring into the game, based on who they bring into the game, I think personnel will affect those schemes quite a bit."
On if teams are rolling coverages toward WR Josh Doctson:
"I think teams have had different plans. I remember the Vikings had Xavier Rhodes travel with Josh, which surprised me, really, because they had played pretty much left and right on film and yet they wanted to make sure they had their best corner on Josh throughout the entire game no matter where he lined up. Teams vary their coverages. I noticed the Giants' – more predominantly this past game – was to rush three players, drop eight players in zone coverage or to play man coverage underneath with two high safeties. They were playing a lot of coverage and they were still getting some pressure with three guys so maybe that's why they like doing that. Each game, each week, you're going to see what they want to do. Sometimes they have a plan going in and if you convert a couple third downs, they scrap that plan and they have to change it up on the fly. You never know what their plan is as it evolves."
On if his personal game plan changes each week based on who is playing offensively:
"The game plan changes drastically. What our coaches are going to put in and then what they're coaching me to do and how they're coaching me to read the defense is going to change quite a bit based on the personnel that we have. Sure, my thought process as I drop back is going to certainly factor in personnel and what guys have been there before and done that and how many reps do we have banked in a certain play or experience in and where we are a little newer and sometimes just have to… we have to trust it. We have to go and just play and believe that however new this player is, he's got to make the play. He's got a jersey and a number and he can do it."
On the age to which he thinks he can play:
"That's a good question, Master. I've always fel, like my dream would be to be able to walk away from the game on my terms, rather than to say, 'Oh, my body couldn't do it anymore,' or, 'The team cut me because I wasn't good enough.' So it's a dream of mine to be able to leave this game on my terms where I could still do it, but I say, 'No, I'm good.' And that goes back to taking care of yourself, eating right. That's why I invested in a hyperbaric chamber. That's why I have a lot of people praying for me. You want to have those things around you that give you that chance. There's no doubt that other than Peyton Manning, the best quarterbacks in this league, the most established ones in this league when I entered the league in 2012 are all still here. They haven't… nothing's changed in six seasons. I find that interesting that they haven't really made room for anybody else to come in because they're all still there in the same roles they were in back in 2012. I hope… They've set the bar really high and I hope that the next wave of young quarterbacks, guys that are my age or in their 20s, can hopefully repeat the process in the next wave of guys and that we can still be there for a long time. I'm certainly going to do everything in my power – during the season, in the offseason, in my lifestyle, the way I operate – to make sure that I'm out there and can play for a very long time and provide a good return on investment."
On wanting to go out on his own terms:
"I would just hate to be told I can no longer play if I want to. I think the ability to have that freedom to say, 'It's my choice and the ball is in my court,' I think that's the dream and you never want to be told that you can't do something that you want to do. As long as I want to be here I hope I can give myself that chance but most guys – very, very few, one percent of one percent – get to leave the game on their terms."
On if he measures himself differently in the later part of seasons:
"Not really. I always look at the 'why' behind a poor play, a poor performance and sometimes the why isn't, 'I have to get better.' In a win, sometimes the why is I have to get better. We have to do some things. I'm always looking at the reason behind a poor finish or whatever it may be. I just look at it right now as we are in a position that we really have these one-game… We have got to go 1-0 each week. If we do that, we do have a chance at the end of this season, but we can't put ourselves in that position at the end of December unless we win this week. So there is really no point in looking beyond this week and that's where I am going to focus. If we can go 1-0 each week, then we will put ourselves in a good position down the stretch. Yeah, do everything we can to make sure we finish strong. We always talk about starting fast and finishing strong and we have an opportunity here to finish strong and if we do we could put ourselves in a great position. It starts Thursday night in Dallas and we have no reason to look any further."
On if he is participating in My Cause, My Cleats this year:
"Yeah, I haven't gotten them yet, so I hope they are on their way. My 501(c)(3) that I have always partnered with is International Justice Mission, based right here in the D.C. area. I will wear cleats that has their slogan on them that says, 'Until all are free.' They are committed worldwide to bringing justice to places that don't have justice. In America, it is hard to understand a culture of impunity, where literally you call 911 and you say someone is invading my home and is stealing and there is nobody to come and get you, to protect you, to fight for you. There are countries and cultures and places where that is the case. And so IJM goes into those places and works with local government authorities and brings justice and brings justice to impunity. That is something that Julie and I have a heart for and we want to raise awareness for it and hopefully… What they need is funding. They need people to support them and their work so we do that passionately and we want to raise awareness and help other people to do the same."