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Quotes: Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins (11-27-2017)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injuries:

"Did not participate were Zach Brown, hamstring/Achilles; [Montae] Nicholson, concussion; [Jordan] Reed, hamstring; Trent Williams, knee; [Morgan] Moses, ankle. Limited were [Terrell] McClain, toe; [Martrell] Spaight, ankle; [Maurice] Harris, concussion; Chase Roullier, hand; and then everybody else was full."

On a report that TE Jordan Reed will be out Sunday:

"There is a report? Oh, wow [Laughter]. Well, there is a good chance he won't play, but there is a chance he will play."

On if the Reserve/Injured list is currently in the discussion for Reed:

"Not yet, no."

On how injuries at inside linebacker affect the defense:

"Well, it's the quarterback of your defense, so it has had an effect, unfortunately. I'd be lying if it didn't. You know, Mason [Foster] was the first one, that hurt us quite a bit, and then obviously Will Compton was a great… He's got a lot of experience and played a lot for this team and is a very good linebacker. Losing him hurt. And then [Martrell] Spaight's been in and out of the lineup. We've got Zach Vigil who has stepped in, did a nice job to go along with Zach [Brown], but you'd like to have a tandem there to communicate. When you're changing all the time, you know, it makes it a little more difficult, a little more challenging. But I've been impressed with the way Zach has stepped in there."

On if LB Ryan Anderson's progression is where Gruden thought it would be:

"Yeah, I think so. I think you know, early on, we weren't sure about Junior Galette's status coming off the two Achilles [injuries]. You know, you've got Ryan [Kerrigan] and you had Preston [Smith] coming back, and obviously, we had Trent Murphy coming back. So we got him [Anderson] for some depth and we were really looking at him to just kind of feel his way through here, learn a position, and in a year or two, be ready to dominate the position, hopefully. But I like where he's at. I like his progression. I'm sure he's frustrated a little bit with his playing time – as is Junior and all that stuff – but we've got four pretty good ones. And Chris Carter can fill in also if need be. He's doing a great job on special teams. But those guys have got to be patient and then, when they do get in there, take advantage of the reps, if they can."

On if S Montae Nicholson had a setback with his concussion:

"A little bit of a setback, yes."

On facing the Chargers' pass rush of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram:

"Yeah, those guys are good, without a doubt. And they move them around. You know, it's not like they're at one spot where you can plan and help. You know, I think Ingram especially does an excellent job lining up over guards, and they have different fronts where they can move him around. Both very effective pass-rushers – different, but effective. It'll be a great challenge for our guys."

On C Chase Roullier:

"We just got him out there a little bit to do some practice. He had a whole thing on his hand today, just to get him some work. We did not want him standing by the coaches all day again today. We wanted to put a cast on there, at least get him some pass sets at guard and do some things."

On if the Chargers' defense takes a lot of chances:

"Well, I think when you're playing a Gus Bradley defense, they're not overly complicated on first and second down, so you can move the chains from time to time, but what they do a good job of when they get you in third down, they're multiple in what they do coverage-wise and front-wise and blitz-wise. And they get you to force some bad throws – and that's what's happened. They got five picks I think against Buffalo. Cleveland threw a big one and they had a forced fumble, and they wreak havoc on the quarterback in those third-down situations. So there are yards to be had; it's a matter of maintaining a drive and trying to stay out of those third-down-and-long obvious passing situations. That's really where they feast on the quarterback."

On how he would summarize TE Jordan Reed's season so far:

"Well, I mean I think, what do you want me to say? He hasn't been out there the last four, five, six weeks. So he's been incomplete, I guess. You know, it's just unfortunate. Jordan is a big-time player for us and when he's not out there, it has an effect on what we do. Anytime you lose a player of that magnitude, as gifted as he is talent-wise, it's going to have a little bit of an effect. You know, Vernon [Davis] and Niles [Paul] and [Jeremy] Sprinkle have stepped in and done some good things, but unfortunately, Jordan's doing everything he can to get well. I just hate that people sometimes label him as injury-prone. It's just unlucky. You know, he had a bad toe coming into camp, and then I think with that bad toe, he's tried to just put too much weight on the other leg, and I think that's affected his hamstring. Big thing is to get him back to healthy – whether it's this week, next week, or the week after, or in the offseason."

On the difference between being injury-prone and unlucky:

"I just think availability and durability. You know, that's just if you're available every week, if you're not, then sometimes you get that label, unfortunately. It's no fault of the player, it's just a physical game and guys are going to get injured, it's just unfortunate it's happened to Jordan in his career. He's doing everything right. He works extremely hard in the weight room, he's put on weight, he runs, he's in great shape. It's just been very unfortunate. We just… we need him to get well for the success of this team."

On what he wants to see out of QB Kirk Cousins the rest of this season:

"Well, we want to see from everybody. We want to see everybody continue to compete and finish out the season. You know, this is a 16-game season and you're not graded on one game, you're graded on the whole body of work. And your body of work is your career. I just want to see steady growth and progression – and that's what he's given us so far. You know, he's had a lot of different linemen he's played with, he's had new receivers he's had to play with, tight ends have kind of been in and out, running backs, we've had a lot of new ones there. And he's done a great job of competing and doing the best he can. And he's still learning as he goes. I've been impressed with Kirk, his mental makeup, his physical [performance], the way he's handled some of these rushes, moving around in the pocket now. But he's still just continuing to get better and better, and that's what we want to see."

On if he's planning on playing younger players and/or potential free agents to get a better look at them:

"No, we're going to play like we're still in it. I think there are some mathematical possibilities where we can get in. I know it's a long shot, but this is a 16-game season. We know that anything can happen, so we're going to continue to play to win. That's the only way we know how."

On the evolution of Cousins' rapport with the receivers:

"I think it's been good. I think it's been good all the way around. I think Ike [Hilliard] has done a good job with the receivers getting them ready and I think the rapport – what's that word? Rapport? Yeah. You guys are all reporters, you should know. I think it's getting better and better. I really do. I think there's still some things we're going to continue to coach, whether you have a 10-year veteran or a rookie or a two-year guy, but I've been impressed with Ryan [Grant] and Jamison [Crowder] and Josh [Doctson] has done a good job. So, I've been impressed with those guys. [Brian] Quick – when he gets his opportunity – he plays pretty well. There's some things we always are going to coach and always try to clean up, but I think there's a lot to work with that group and Kirk's done a good job working with them and making sure we're on the same page."

On the importance of the inside linebackers in the scheme:

"One of them has the microphone in their helmet and they get the call and then they transfer it to the linemen and the secondary, and the communication's big. And then change of strength sometimes – you've got double-digit calls and they have to communicate based off formation or whatever it is. I've mentioned it before, but communication on defense is absolutely critical and those guys being able to communicate the defense with signals with D.J. [Swearinger] has been very important."

On how he would like to see the team finish the season:

"I think the big thing is I just want to make sure we're continuing to compete at the highest level and there's nobody in here that's feeling sorry for themselves or any of that stuff, which I don't think we have. Just watching them practice out here today and watching them pay attention in meetings every day, the mental make-up these guys have, I think they're going to move forward and do the best they can and compete and try to win a game. But at the end of the day, you say, "Other than winning," but it's all about winning and that's what measures success in this league – winning and losing. It's important for us to finish the fourth quarter out stronger than the way we started. That's all I'm looking for is for the guys who haven't had a lot of experience, for them to continue to gain experience and play better, and the veteran guys to make sure they lead the right way and continue to play better also."

On if Nicholson's absence has affected the defense as a whole:

"A little bit, probably. I think Montae's got such great range, you know what I mean? It enables D.J. to freelance a little bit more possibly. I think with Deshazor [Everett] in the game, I think he's still a young safety so it's more communication – make sure everybody's on the same page so D.J. has got a little bit more on his plate than he probably would if Montae was in there. Montae's a young player too, so, still, they're having to communicate. I think D.J. has done a great job of adjusting to whatever his role is. I think that's what really drew us to him is his ability to be a whole safety – be able to be a box safety, be able to cover a tight ends out in the backfield or whatever it is. He's an all-around safety, which has been great and he's been a great leader for us."

On Chargers QB Philip Rivers:

"Philip has always been one of my favorites. He's very accurate with the football. He's a great competitor and when you look at him, he's only been sacked I think 12 or 13 times. He gets the ball out of his hands. You can tell what a great competitor is on tape. I've never met him, but you can just tell by the way he plays and the way he dominates the game with his team and leads them. He's a great leader – accurate. He's a big-time player. Again, going on the road playing against Philip Rivers-led football team is going to be a great challenge for our defense, but hopefully we'll get ready to go. A ton of respect for Mr. Rivers."

QB Kirk Cousins

On the degree of difficulty in producing despite the changing cast of players around him:

"I'd take encouragement from the fact that we've been able to have a fair amount of production in our passing game still in spite of a lot of the changes and I think that shows improvement. That shows growth, especially at the quarterback position because I don't know that two years ago if the same circumstances that have happened this season had happened then that I'd be able to produce. I think I've been able to improve each year and am now more ready for something like what's happened this year and I think that that's been encouraging. It's not ideal. I wouldn't wish it on myself, but I think we've handled it well at times and been able to move the football. The last four games are really going to tell the story as to how we can do."

On if anything changes with the team's current record:

"I don't think so. I enjoy playing the game and I love the challenge, regardless. I don't play Week 1 or 2 really thinking about the playoffs. I just think about that individual game and the individual series and the individual play. I think I can have that same perspective in these last four weeks, and we do have like a one percent chance, so I'm going to play believing that if we can do our part – which is four weeks long, so let's go one week at a time – but if we can do our part, who knows? In theory, we do still have something to play for and that's enough for me."

On how much he lets his mind drift toward his future:

"I think I've learned through my senior year of high school playing that season without a scholarship offer and knowing that I needed to play well to earn an opportunity to play in college, and then my senior year of college, knowing that I wasn't a dynamite first-round pick, so I was going to need to play well my senior year to earn that opportunity, and then being on one-year deals multiple times now in my professional career, I've learned that the best way to take care of the future is to focus entirely on the present and to be process-focused and not outcome-focused. That being said, it's human nature to want to look ahead and know the plan and know what's coming next. But, it's been great for me to exercise that muscle of every time those thoughts do show up, to say, 'Let's focus on the present. Let's be right here, right now,' and understand that that's the best way to prepare for the future. And I've certainly had to remind myself of that many, many times as my mind does drift, but as you practice that discipline, you get better at it."

On if rules preventing him from negotiating in-season help keep him focused:

"Yeah. I think I have said it before that it is a blessing in disguise that it does allow you to just focus on football and it allows both the team and the player to just focus on playing and winning games. That's where my focus is and I think that that's the best way to give yourself a chance, to give any player… I mean, anybody who is on a final year of their contract for the Redskins, you want an opportunity this February, this March? Let's go win the last four games and I've got to believe that if we do that, every one of us is going to have a great opportunity in February and March. My message to the team and to the locker room is let's focus on the Chargers. Let's focus on this last month of football. People don't always remember how you start. People always remember how you finish. Let's finish strong and believe that good things will happen for us as a team if we do that and also as a result individually."

On playing at StubHub Center:

"I was in there one time on spring break in college. I stopped by the training facility there and just happened to walk into the stadium itself and see it. I don't know that it will be too different in the sense that there is still going to be tens of thousands of fans. It's still the same size field and it's still an NFL defense to go against. But it will be a new venue, somewhere we haven't been before. We really don't know what to expect as far as the noise or the atmosphere, but we just play and so many different scenarios change in terms of the setting you play in based on how the game goes and the flow of the game. This one will be no different."

On if he has played in stadiums of that size:

"Most stadiums that I have played in – looking back – have had over 40,000 people in them, which is hard to believe. I never would have thought as a high school player that that would be a minimum moving on through college and through the pros. So I feel very fortunate to be able to say that. But I think still playing in front of 30,000 or whatever the number is in the StubHub Center, it is still a lot of people and I'm sure it can still generate noise, and if we don't play up to our standard, the crowd is going to be in it and it's going to be noisy and it's going to be hostile. If we are playing at a very high level, you can quiet 100,000 people if you're playing at a high level. We just need to go out and put a good product on the field and I think that will take care of it."

On how Chargers DE Joey Bosa and DE Melvin Ingram compare to other pass rushers he has faced:

"Really good pass rush by Los Angeles. It definitely starts with those two big names. They drafted them in the first round and they expect them to be what they have been. They have been very good against the pass this year. I think they are fifth versus the pass, only allowing just over 200 yards a game. I think they have had more interceptions than they've allowed touchdown passes. I've got to believe that a lot of the credit does go to the pass rush and then works back from there. So we are going to have our hands full as we do every week. I think you can point to just about every team having some elite pass rushers and guys that can change a game if you're not careful. The Chargers are no different."

On what stands out about Bosa and Ingram:

"I think not being a left tackle myself, I don't go and study every move they have. I more look at how the defense is aligned and how it affects my calls. Obviously I just want to feel the rush rather than really study it. But I just think the fact that they were both first-round picks and you're not drafting a guy third overall to just be an OK pass rusher. If you're drafting him third overall, he needs to be going to Pro Bowls and showing up on All-Pro lists and getting double-digit sacks year in and year out and dominating. That's what they expect of those guys and I think with some of the results they've had this year you can see they're getting it. Our tackles, our guards will have their hands full this week, but every week there is some really good pass rushers we go against and as you look down the schedule you could name a few for each team we play. It will be a great challenge and I have a lot of respect for what they can do on defense."

On if he is encouraging T Morgan Moses and T Trent Williams in their rehab this week:

"I'm trying to give them every motivation possible, but, you know, I've been blown away, pleasantly surprised, by just the mindset and the attitude of my teammates and I can say that and then who knows, we have got to put a good product on the field on Sunday, but guys want to play. Guys are ready to go. Morgan is positive and is going to work through it and he's just got a smile on his face and is wanting to continue to play. Trent, much the same way. I think that that… I've talked about how I like the locker room. I like the culture. I like the resiliency. There is a little bit there. You can see it in the way guys are responding from what we have been through and the way they want to continue to go out there and fight."

On the quarterback-center dynamic with Tony Bergstrom:

"It's gone well. Tony gives me a lot of feedback. He's a positive guy and he likes to try to keep as much off my plate as possible. So when he does have something for me, he almost asks apologetically, you know, not trying to put too much on me. And I feel the opposite toward him, I feel, you know, 'Put as much on me as possible. You've only been here a few weeks.' So he's been a great teammate in that sense and he's played a lot of football. He's been around and you can tell he's a pro and understands the game well. It's been a good dynamic and I've enjoyed his presence there at the center position. He's a real pro."

On what he's learned about his current receivers compared to last year's group:

"Well, I've been talking the last few weeks about how encouraged I've been by Josh Doctson's development. I do think that, unfortunately, we've had to use some weeks during the season to build the kind of rapport that you'd like to build in OTAs or training camp. But because of the hamstring injury and the Achilles injury and some of the things that have happened to him, this is like his rookie year and we weren't able to get that full offseason together. But I think he's shown what he can do. And we have to continue to develop it and find the plays and the looks that give him the best chance to be really successful because he has some unique traits. I could go on down the list of our receivers. Really like what Ryan Grant's done this year, he's taken another step in his fourth year. You know, we've relied on him much more and he's delivered. Jamison Crowder, I still think he's been the same receiver he's always been. Very good in the slot, great hands, plays a lot bigger than his size would indicate, tracks the ball really well in the air, makes me a more accurate quarterback because of the way he tracks the football. And I really like Brian Quick, I like Maurice Harris. We've got to get those guys out there more because they continue to show in practice what they can do. We've got to give them opportunities and keep them healthy."

On how much the offense has had to adjust without TE Jordan Reed:

"I think the biggest change or challenge has been for the coaches. I think when they come in on Monday and Tuesday and they sit down and say, 'All right, how are we going to attack this defense?' When you have Jordan Reed up and healthy, a big part of how you're going to attack the defense is with Jordan Reed. I think now that he hasn't been available, that's where I think the challenge lies, for the coaches to sit and say, 'how do we want to attack this defense without Jordan? Who do we want to feature? Who do we want to use? What do we want our reads and our play calls to look like?' I show up Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning to get the plan, or Thursday morning to get the third-down plan, and the plays are already established. I just say, 'You tell me how you want to read it. I'll read it that way and execute it.' So it doesn't change a lot for me as much as it probably does for the game planning early in the week. But once we get that game plan, then I just go to town on, you know, owning it inside and out and getting the ball to whoever needs to get it based on the looks we get."

On if that Reed's absence affects game planning more:

"Yeah, I think it definitely affects the plan for the coaches. I think once I get the plan, you know, whether they tell me, 'You're starting with the Y, you're starting with the Zebra, you're starting with the X, you're progressing to the Y, if it's split-safety you're working right, if it's single-high you're working left,' whatever they may tell me. I just say OK. It doesn't change a whole lot if it's Jordan Reed or Chris Thompson or if it's Byron Marshall or Vernon Davis. You read it out and trust the process and find the open guy. But there's no doubt that, you know, at times, when you do get a guy like a Jordan back, you hit a pass or two and you say, 'I remember that, that's kind of nice. Welcome back.' That certainly helps when you can have players like that."

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